Gay cruise and vacation purveyor Atlantis
Events acquired RSVP Vacations, a longtime competitor. Financial
terms were not disclosed.
Officials at West
Hollywood, Calif.-based Atlantis Events said the company planned to
maintain RSVP Vacations as a distinct brand. RSVP will maintain
separate headquarters in Minneapolis and will be headed by new
president Charlie Rounds, a former co-owner of the
"The two companies
are stronger together than they are apart, and taken together
demonstrate the strength and vitality of the gay travel market,"
said Rich Campbell, CEO of Atlantis Events.
entire cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts. This year, the
company hosted 11 events and about 20,000 clients.
meanwhile, has seen its products and market share dwindle. While
RSVP's destinations in 2007 included the Caribbean, the
Mediterranean, central Europe and an all-gay transatlantic crossing
on Cunard's Queen Mary 2, the company is offering just three
sailings in 2008: to Barbados, the western Caribbean and
officials said RSVP would roll out more all-gay cruises in "the
very near future." At least one new destination for 2008 should be
announced by Oct. 31, according to Campbell.
RSVP had been
acquired just last year for a reported $10 million by San
Francisco-based media firm PlanetOut, publisher of Gay.com and
magazines the Advocate, Out and OutTraveler.
the acquisition as "a great opportunity for RSVP to truly
differentiate our vacations from Atlantis vacations and to better
serve our very distinct customers."
companies offer similar products, in gay travel circles Atlantis
has been considered more appealing to young, single, gay men who
spend money on upscale vacations.
RSVP, tagged with a
somewhat stodgier image that PlanetOut was working hard to update,
was known to attract a greater number of older, partnered and more
diverse vacationers, including more women.
While Atlantis and
RSVP will at times compete for a share of the same demographic --
gay men in their 30s looking for a chartered winter cruise to the
Caribbean, for example -- the brands will work to differentiate
products and source markets. For example, Atlantis will probably
retain a monopoly on all-inclusive stays at beach resorts, while
RSVP will specialize in European river cruises.
Each brand will
also continue to charter different cruise lines. Atlantis works
mainly with Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, while RSVP sails with
Star Clipper, Holland America and Princess.
Rounds, a former
travel agent, said RSVP -- whose founder, Kevin Mossier, was also
an agent -- would turn to retailers to rebuild market share under
the new ownership. "On our Web site it's going to say quite
prominently, 'Call your agent,' " he said.
clients trying to book directly with RSVP will be redirected to
agents where and when possible, Rounds added.
"We have to be in
the direct-booking business, but our No. 1 sales focus will always
be the travel agent -- and that's not a line," said Rounds. "We
were built out of an agency and the agencies built this business.
We need them to grow this business back. We can't do it without
RSVP, which was
founded in 1985, is credited by many with originating today's
all-gay cruise concept.
contact Destinations editor Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].