Last spring, Apple Leisure Group and the Mark Travel Corp. completed their merger, creating a larger Apple Leisure Group.
That brought together a large group of brands. Previously, Apple Leisure Group consisted of Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions, Cheapcaribbean.com, AMResorts, Amstar, Worldstar and Unlimited Vacation Club. Mark Travel added Funjet Vacations, Southwest Vacations, United Vacations, Blue Sky Tours, My Destination Wellness and Mark International; Mark Travel sister company Trisept Solutions also now falls under the Apple Leisure Group umbrella.
The merger has undoubtedly led to a lot of changes. For Travel Impressions, it's brought about a lot of positives for travel advisors, according to president Scott Wiseman.
One of the biggest changes came when Travel Impressions migrated away from its previous booking system, Quest, to VAX VacationAccess, a Trisept Solutions-owned booking engine.
"For the most part, the agents have been quite excited," Wiseman said. "They know that there's huge benefit for them."
Travel Impressions migrated to VAX in September. Some agents still miss Quest, Wiseman said -- "if you weren't familiar with VAX, there's a learning curve" -- but most were excited by the move.
It's also brought a number of benefits, like expanded inventory, thanks to different connectivity. Wiseman said Travel Impressions previously offered around 20,000 hotels, which has expanded to 200,000 globally.
As a result, he said, advisors are increasingly using Travel Impressions to help clients with shorter trips, like getting a hotel room to visit children in college.
Travel Impressions' top-performing agents tend to have one thing in common, according to Wiseman: They know their clients.
"The Travel Impressions agent is very knowledgeable about what their clients want, and that's really helpful," he said.
They typically come to the table with a decent idea of their clients' needs, but stay open-minded enough to stay curious about other options. That also helps them capture more of their clients' travel spend, Wiseman said, especially when it comes to offering trips to multiple destinations around the world.
On the horizon, Wiseman said he's excited about agent loyalty programs. Travel Impressions' program has always been a favorite, but a larger program is coming.
"Within the overall Apple Leisure Group umbrella, we're actually going to be having a larger, one-platform loyalty program," he said. Agents will be permitted to combine points if they book with more than one brand and turn those in for things like travel and gift cards.