US Airways Vacations offers 'Distinctive' tours

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ORLANDO -- US Airways Vacations' decision to expand its Distinctive Vacations product to Bermuda will mean a new source of revenue for agents selling the destination.

It also will mean the ability to deliver two-night and longer vacations that should satisfy the expectations of upscale clients, according to Kris Potter, vice president and general manager of the Mark Travel-owned tour firm.

Distinctive Vacations, what US Airways Vacations calls its "finest vacation packages for discerning travelers," had been limited to Europe for the past two years but was expanded last month to include Bermuda and the Caribbean.

Potter said that even without the Distinctive Vacations product, the tour operator's Bermuda and Caribbean passenger count increased by 8% during the first eight months of 2002 vs. the same period last year. Agents, she said, provide 80% of the operator's Bermuda business.

Potter said that the Distinctive Vacations line should be offered only to those clients who ask for more than the usual vacation and can afford to pay for it.

US Airways' frequent flyer clients who use their miles to fly first class are welcome to buy the Bermuda Distinctive Vacations land package, although the vast majority of the sales are expected to involve revenue passengers, Potter said.

Agents selling the Distinctive line earn 10% base pay on both land and first class air (which is mandatory), she said.

After two years in Europe, US Airways Vacations expanded its Distinctive Vacations program to Bermuda. Above, the lighthouse at St. David's. "Commissions exceeding 10% can be earned by agents holding Preferred Partnership agreements," she said. "For clients, there can be a possible savings on some flights, as bulk first class fares may be offered."

To find out about these savings, agents should ask the reservationist, she said. However, clients always will pay the lowest first class fare, she added.

At times there may be other value-added features provided, she said, such as sightseeing and bonus miles for frequent flyers.

Distinctive Bermuda Vacations cover roundtrip air, luxury accommodations, airport transfers, hotel tax, hotel service charge and $77.60 in international travel taxes.

Elbow Beach Bermuda, the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and the Fairmont Southampton Princess are the hotel choices. If demand warrants, the hotel choices will be expanded, she said.

Rates

Some sample three-night Bermuda rates, the lowest available for off-season periods, are valid for Monday departures Nov. 4 through March 31.

The plans include first class air and accommodations at the Elbow Beach Bermuda.

The rates are $1,377 per person, double, from Boston; $1,433 from New York (LaGuardia); $1,444 from Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia; $1,496 from Pittsburgh; and $1,588 from Charlotte, N.C.

For the Fairmont Southampton Princess, prices are $1,400 from Boston; $1,456 from LaGuardia; $1,467 from Baltimore, Washington or Philadelphia; $1,519 from Pittsburgh; and $1,611 from Charlotte.

For the Fairmont Hamilton, rates are $1,309 from Boston; $1,365 from LaGuardia; $1,376 from Baltimore, Washington or Philadelphia; $1,428 from Pittsburgh; and $1520 from Charlotte.

Rates are higher for arrivals through Nov. 3, reflecting seasonal demand.

Value add

US Airways Vacations also offers 10% commissionable Vacations Your Way sightseeing options, which must be booked in advance, Potter said.

These include admission to the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo at $9 per adult and $5 for ages 5 to 12. The same rates apply for Crystal Caves.

Also offered are admission to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, $10 per adult; $5 for ages 7 to 16.

Another choice is the seven-day Heritage Pass covering a variety of attractions, such as Fort St. Catherine, the Bermuda Maritime Museum and the Bermuda National Trust Museum, available for $35 per adult, $17 for ages 6 to 18.

For details, call (800) 455-0123 or book through Vax Vacation Access or the major GDSs.

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