Travel Weekly's Home-based Agent E-letter: Feb. 5, 2007

VACATON.COM added Marriott International to its roster of preferred suppliers, marking the first time the country's largest agency consortium has had a preferred-supplier pact with a hotel chain. Stephen McGillivray, Vacation.com's vice president of marketing, said that Vacation.com already has a partnership with SuperClubs and it promotes other inclusive brands through its preferred tour operators. Marriott represents a new direction for the group because it is a worldwide company with nearly 2,800 properties. Prior to this, he said, Vacation.com has had more modest marketing alliances with some hotel chains but never a "full preferred-supplier relationship."

NICHE MARKET: Kate Delosso, an at-home retailer affiliated with host agency Travel Counselors, found a niche that is both personally and financially rewarding. She specializes in "motherland tours" for foreign-born adoptees and their families. "Three of my children were adopted from Asia and since 1996 I have been offering tours for adoptees and their families to Korea. A few years ago, I started offering the same type of tours to China," said Delosso. The trips are geared to adoptees who are eight years old and older who want to explore their cultural heritage in the country of their birth. Delosso said she has two motherland tour groups booked for 2007, one to Korea and one to China. Delosso, who runs her business from her home outside Philadelphia, said she also specializes in booking non-profit groups.

Have you developed an unusual niche for your business? The Home-Based Agent E-letter would love to hear about it. E-mail the editor at[email protected].

DATEBOOK: The Central/South New Jersey chapter of OSSN has several seminars on tap for home-based agents. All events are held at the East Grand Buffet, East Brunswick, N.J., and begin at 6:30 p.m. On Feb. 6, participating suppliers will include Viking River Cruises, Homeric Tours and Outrigger Resorts; on Feb. 22, Classic Vacations and Keith Prowse; on March 13, Happy Vacations and Walt Disney World. Cost is $10. No RSVP required. More details are available by e-mailing [email protected].

IN YOUR POCKET: Island Resorts hiked agent commissions to 15% on room rates and packages at its nine Caribbean properties, which include Dian Bay Resort & Spa and Grand Pineapple Beach, both in Antigua; Sugar Bay Club on St. Kitts; and Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort on St. Lucia. For details, visit www.eliteislandresorts.com.

FAM OF THE WEEK

Malta

Trip: Visits the Citadel, Dwejra, Ggantija and Zlendi Bay in Gozo, and Mdina, Rabat and Valletta in Malta.

Departure: Feb. 17 from London to Malta via Air Malta.

Length: Seven nights.

Sponsor: Academic Tours, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Cost: $599 per person, double. Includes roundtrip air, hotel, ferry transfers between Gozo and Malta, ground transportation, all meals and sightseeing.

Noteworthy: Single supplements and companion rates available upon request. Air from the U.S. can be arranged. Taxes are additional and are about $105 per person.

Contact: (800) GO-MALTA.

Home-Based Agent Editor: Donna Tunney

Phone: (508) 221-3674

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].

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