When MLT Vacations took over management of United Vacations from Mark Travel Corp. at the start of this year, the Minnesota-based tour operator, which also manages Delta Vacations and Continental Airlines Vacations, increased its access to Hawaii’s air capacity from about 1 million seats annually to 3.3 million, or roughly 50% of the destination’s total available seats
“In 2010 we delivered over 50,000 passengers to Hawaii and produced about 100,000 room nights,” said Ken Pomerantz, president and chief marketing officer for MLT. “This year, our goal is to grow those numbers by 60%. And even though we are only a few weeks into this year, we are off to a great start. We have more than 20,000 passengers booked to travel [to Hawaii] this year already. We believe this is the beginning of a steep growth path that we as a company are going to experience over the next couple of years.”
Pomerantz added that United Vacations makes MLT a more viable option for agents throughout the U.S. looking to sell Hawaii.
“There are a lot of travel agents in different origin markets around the country that may have known about us, but because we were only offering air service on Delta and Continental in the past, it may have been inconvenient for their customers to fly those airlines,” Pomerantz said. “So if you’re living in Chicago or you live in San Francisco or Washington, D.C., you now have access to the United network and the great flight and connecting opportunities that they offer through the United Vacations brand. So there is a great opportunity for us to extend what we think our core advantages are to a whole new set of travel agents in the country.”
MLT also hopes its unique relationship with three of Hawaii’s larger air seat providers will help keep its product pricing for Hawaii particularly competitive.
“We’re certainly attempting to offer the best price in the market,” Pomerantz said. “Because we have the lowest air price and we have the scope and the buying power in Hawaii on the hotel and the tours, excursions, cars and everything else on the land side, we think if we’re competitive on that side and have the advantage on the air side, the package price is going to be lower for the end customer.”
MLT partners with 119 hotel properties across Hawaii, and while Pomerantz doesn’t expect that number to grow substantially because of the United Vacations addition, MLT is planning on some product growth in the destination.
“Primarily the product expansion is going to be at existing properties where we add even more of the room types and service offerings,” he said.
MLT is currently offering travel agents who sell United Vacation products to Hawaii a 15% commission on the entire land portion of the package.
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