'Hotter' campaign delivers discount packages

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RAMSEY, N.J. -- A $2 million consumer advertising campaign, titled "The Miami and South Beach Just Got Hotter Florida Sale," is working well -- and helping agents, according to officials involved with the promotion.

The campaign touts a 25% discount on spring and summer packages of three nights and longer to Greater Miami.

Bookings must be made by April 21 for travel completed by Aug. 31. For the lowest prices, clients must travel midweek.

A similar sale is planned for stays from Sept. 1 through Dec. 15; bookings for that period must be made between May 19 and June 16 to qualify.

The ad campaign, which launched late last month, is backed by the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau -- its budget bolstered by a special allocation from Visit Florida -- American Airlines, Gogo Worldwide Vacations and Travel Impressions.

Travel agents are supporting the program, said Richard Rodriguez, Florida marketing director at Gogo, based here.

Agents can earn 10% to 14% commission (based on volume) on each Gogo package sale, despite American's zero-commission policy.

Because contracted (bulk) air space is used rather than scheduled seats, Gogo was able to continue normal commission levels, he said.

"With 25% off the American fare plus an equal hotel discount, we are able to offer a true 25% off the entire package," Rodriguez said. "Some of these prices are what people are used to paying for [published] air alone," he said.

Rates start at $249 per person, double, at the Paradise Inn (Miami Beach) and $275 at the Ramada Miami Beach Resort.

Other Miami Beach hotel plans start at $335, using either the Radisson Deauville and Roney Palace; $359 at the Mutiny (Coconut Grove); $415 at the Fontainebleau Hilton; and $509 at The Hotel.

All rates include accommodations at more than 35 participating hotels, room tax and roundtrip air from cities including Atlanta; Boston; Hartford, Conn.; New York; and Washington.

There also are low add-on fares from Midwest and West Coast cities such as Detroit ($38); Tulsa, Okla.; ($58) and Seattle ($107).

The consumer ads are running in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Hartford, New York, Philadelphia, Washington -- and for the first time in Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif.

The first four days after the sale was advertised last month, Gogo took in more than 300 bookings, Rodriguez said. "We are very optimistic by what we are seeing with current booking patterns and count on our southern Florida business to move into the plus side in April [vs. April 2001].

"While everyone seems to be taking more last-minute business, we are pleased that still 50% of our bookings are for travel more than 60 days out," Rodriguez added.

In March, Greater Miami business was off by 10%, a significant improvement from October 2001, when it was down by 50%, he noted.

Asked about the zero-commission decision by the major airlines, Rodriguez said Gogo's management is "confident" that because the firm is one of the largest U.S. wholesalers, it can become travel agents' "business solution" because commissions are paid on the entire package -- air and hotel.

He said the company has strong trade support and intends to back agents "every step of the way."

For more information on Gogo's packages, contact a local Gogo office. Details also are available in the major GDSs and on the company's Web site, at www.gogowwv.com.

Travel Impressions rolls out free night, upgrade specials

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. -- In addition to offering a 25% discount on air-land packages to Greater Miami, Travel Impressions also has specials with select hotels.

For example, on stays of two nights and longer at the Palms in South Beach, the fifth night and breakfast are free when four nights are paid.

At the Shellborne, the fourth night is free when three are paid, and at the National Hotel, there are free upgrades (if available) to oceanfront rooms on stays of two nights and longer.

At the Renaissance Eden Roc, a fourth night is free when three are paid. The same deal applies at the Doral Golf Resort when a superior or gardenview room is booked.

For more information, call (800) 284-0044 or visit www.travelimpressions.com. -- H.M.

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