Less than one month after the Mark Travel Corp. ended its
long-standing partnership with Mexican ground operator Lomas Travel in May,
competing packager Classic Vacations tapped Lomas as one of its destination
management companies (DMCs) in the Mexican Caribbean, a move that stands to
help Lomas regain lost Mark Travel business and potentially bring Lomas-loving
agents over to Classic.
"I think there's definitely a winning proposition for
both parties," said Classic Vacations president David Hu. "From our
perspective, Lomas is [a company] we've always felt very aligned with in terms
of their operating philosophy. They have a very human touch to the way they do
business." And, he added, "They have a huge following" with
Hu acknowledged that the agent angle was a big part of the
draw. He said that in the first week after Classic said it had partnered with
Lomas, it had already received "fantastic feedback" from agents,
including potential new agent clients who are interested in Classic now that
they're linked up with the DMC.
The 37-year-old, family-owned and -operated Lomas had been
Mark Travel's primary Mexican Caribbean DMC for 30 years, and Mark Travel had
been Lomas' top business source. Following Mark Travel's May 1 merger with
Apple Leisure Group, Mark appointed Apple-owned Amstar as its DMC in Cancun,
effective June 13.
The move was a blow to Lomas, which according to Dolores
Lopez Lira, general director of Lomas Travel and co-founder of the company with
her husband Joe Martinez, had developed a relationship with Mark Travel that
had come to feel more like family than just business.
"Mark Travel was a significant partnership, for which
we handled upward of 415,000 passengers [each year] with the transfer business
alone," said Lopez Lira. "The loss of their business is significant
in many ways."
She said Lomas plans to "work tirelessly" to
ensure that the livelihood of its 1,500 employees will not be impacted in any
way by the move.
The partnership with Classic is one way to do that, along
with developing other partnerships and working directly with agents, which
Lomas does as well. Lomas also has numerous other businesses. Lomas Travel is a
part of Grupo Lomas, which includes transportation, catering, wedding,
activities, entertainment, media and communications businesses. It also owns hotels,
including El Dorado Spa Resorts by Karisma, Generations Resorts by Karisma,
Hidden Beach by Karisma, El Cielo Winery & Resort by Karisma and the
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya.
Lomas heard from many Mark Travel agents who were "saddened
as we are by Mark Travel's decision," said Lopez Lira.
"We absolutely adore Lomas. They have built such a
great DMC that provides outstanding service," said Jennifer Doncsecz,
president of VIP Vacations.
"It was such a huge relief to see that Classic
Vacations was now partnering with Lomas, as I was worried that without Mark
Travel, many Lomas employees would face layoffs," Doncsecz said. "I
truly believe this will draw agents to using Classic, as Lomas has a very
strong reputation and has built strong bonds with travel agents all over the
USA and Canada."
Mayaland Tours continues to serve as Classic's primary
provider in Mexico, but as of this month, agents who book Classic can also book
Lomas for transfers and land tours in the Cancun area.