Back in 1997, Solar Tours was my preferred consolidator to Central and South America. Without hesitation, we would call Solar and get outstanding prices and exceptional service, and immediate payment from their Washington, DC headquarters. Solar Tours began in 1984 as a wholesaler for Foreign Independent Tours (FITs) to Latin America. Due to their success and the relationships they built, expanding into airline consolidation made a lot of sense and Solar became known for their consolidation business. My how times have changed.
Today’s Solar Tours is still that great consolidator for Latin America, but they are so much more. They have taken their extensive FIT background and developed a program for agents not only in Latin America, but in Europe and the Asian-Pacific markets as well. Over the past five years, Solar Tours has invested on growing their business to include other products—one that every agent will love. How helpful would it be to be able to book a multi-destination FIT on one secure website that includes airline consolidator pricing? To Europe? To Asia? To Latin America? Look no further.
To work with Solar Tours, a partner agency needs to register. However, unlike many “agent only” sites, Solar approves agencies manually after filling out an application. They believe in relationships. They do not require IATAN, but will make the determination based on your individual agency. With 110 employees located all over the world, they are prepared to handle your calls from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Just give them a call at 800-388-7652.
One thing about Solar Tours is that they are not in a rush to expand for the sake of expansion. They are managing their growth by designing programs that work well. Once that is accomplished, they move on. With the proven success of their multi-destination FIT packages, they are now looking to expand their offerings in Asia and to offer some smaller, more intimate properties for their other destinations. Another focus is the more affordable, smaller properties located outside the more traditional city centers.
They are great agency partners. Since the commissions vary between travel types (air, car, hotel) there is not one standard commission; however the commission is displayed to you on their agent only portal. Another huge plus (at least in my book) is that they pay the agency when they are paid. If you purchase a consolidator ticket, a check usually arrives with the confirmation in the mail. When they prepay one of their FIT vacations on behalf of your client, a check accompanies your documents. Additionally, agencies have the ability to add service fees or an additional mark up on any of their products—but these mark ups are monitored on an individual basis to prevent any unfair pricing.
Last week, I spoke with Rafael Checa, President of Solar Tours to discuss the growth of the company and their future direction. Rafael indicated that quite a few years ago, they realized that expanding beyond consolidation was the future. “Especially when there was not a multi-destination FIT product on the market, we saw the opening.” And of course a favorite question of mine is “What sets you apart from the rest?” And Rafael’s response really summed up what they have accomplished over the past five years very succinctly, “We like to do that which is hard to do.” And from my angle, they have succeeded.
Solar Tours is headquartered in Washington, DC. For more information or to become a preferred partner, please call 800-388-7652 or visit their website at www.solartours.com