Vacation Express: worth a hard look | TravelResearchOnline

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Vacation Express: worth a hard look

When it comes to a quality product, a lot of times, smaller is better. Better control, better knowledge, and better service all come to mind when looking for reasons to deal with a smaller supplier. A lot of times, you can get lost in the crowd when dealing with a mega-supplier. Even worse, your clients’ concerns, wants, and needs can get lost in that same crowd. There are many suppliers offering packages to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Costa Rica, but few do it as well as small but mighty, 20-year old Vacation Express.

It is impossible for an agent to visit all properties in all destinations. One thing that truly sets Vacation Express apart from the other suppliers serving the Caribbean and Mexico is that most of their reservation agents have actual on-site experience with the destinations and properties they sell. They are not reading from a web site or a slick resort brochure, so you are likely to get a much more accurate picture of a property for your clients. When you are doing an effective job selling a vacation and setting the expectation properly, you will gain a loyal and valued client—Vacation Express is an outstanding partner to help to that end. Vacation Express believes in the agency distribution model and nearly 90% of all of their passengers are from the agency community. Their commissions start at 10% and can increase to 15% based on agency production and certain monthly promotions.

Based in Atlanta, the majority of their annual passengers head to the warm climes of Mexico (65%), while the rest head to the Caribbean (30%) and Costa Rica (5%). While scheduled air is available (and commissionable) from anywhere; they also have a robust charter program (with expansions in 2009) to Mexico from Atlanta, New Orleans, Charlotte, Cincinnati, and Nashville.

I recently spoke with Gantt Cookson, Vice President of Operations, and he reminded me that in 2009, Vacation Express will be celebrating their 20th anniversary in a big way. He would not elaborate, but suggested we all stay tuned as they celebrate this milestone. It seems that every supplier sells Mexico and the Caribbean, and I asked Gantt, candidly, what sets Vacation Express apart from the competition. “Our size is what sets us apart. When you look at our competition, their people are not necessarily invested in the product. Our res agents have literally been there and done that and we are thrilled to pay for them to experience the products we sell.  This gives us (and ultimately the agents that sell our product) more knowledge and more expertise. In addition to being small, we are agile, and responsive. If you need to speak to our President, you can call him. Not many of our competitors can say that.” While Vacation Express works with all of the usual suspect hotels and resorts, Gantt advised TRO that their top brand is the Palace Resorts with the top property being the Moon Palace.

Vacation Express is based in Atlanta. You can contact Gantt Cookson or any of their reservation agents online at their travel agent website www.vacationexpress.net or toll free to their reservations line at (800) 486-9777.

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