Universal Orlando now courting agents

Universal Orlando's new senior vice president of sales, Dan Cupertino, has put his new sales team in place and intends to "rebuild" Universal's travel industry relationships.

Cupertino's mandate signals a change at Universal, which is moving its focus from online sales to travel industry sales.

"We didn't have the resources committed to calling on the agency community, at least for the last few years," said Cupertino. "There was more focus on consumer-direct, online sales. But now there is a reassessment of the value of the travel agent community."

Cupertino joined Universal in June. He most recently was a sales executive with the Walt Disney Co.

"We're trying to make the decision to visit Universal a decision that takes place before [visitors] come to Orlando," said Dennis Quinn, Universal's vice president of travel industry sales. "We're driving that sale to the outer market."

And for that, the company is tapping travel agents. Besides building up its sales force in the field, Universal's new EarlyBird Exclusives deal, announced last month at ASTA's TheTradeShow, is designed to give agents an edge and motivation to sell Universal.

The pass is commissionable to travel agents and is not being offered through online direct channels, Cupertino said. The offer gives purchasers an entire week of free access to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure for $85.

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