Thursday, March 31, 2011

From Soup to Nuts : Booking a holiday with MLT Vacations

With no shortage of resorts in the Caribbean from all-inclusive on the beach to rustic resorts for the more adventurous, agents can tailor vacations to suit various budgets and requests. However, confirming a holiday means not only booking a hotel but also booking flights, travel protection plans, airport transfers, spa treatments, golf time, tennis lessons and tour options.

With access to a large air inventory and package pricing as well as a wide selection of properties in the world’s most popular destinations, MLT Vacations is one-stop-shopping providing travel agents with industry-leading marketing tools , knowledgeable customer support , generous commissions and an impressive variety of vacation brands including Delta Vacations, Continental Airlines Vacations, United Vacations and Worry-Free Vacations as well as luxury packages and destination wedding and honeymoon packages. Through its unique airlines partnerships, MLT Vacations offers the lowest available airfares, discounted rates at thousands of hotels worldwide, a broad selection of sightseeing excursions and bonus miles for travelers through frequent flyer programs.

“One reason vacation packages are popular with travelers is because purchasing one simplifies the planning, buying and travel process significantly, “ said Ken Pomerantz , president and chief marketing officer, “ and as so many people have learned this winter with all the weather events, when you purchase a vacation package, all the elements of your vacation are handled by a single entity. If you flight is delayed or cancelled, you don’t have to worry about how the land portion of your vacation will be handled.”

In the vacation business for more than four decades, MLT Vacations is headquartered in Minneapolis with the reservation center in North Dakota. More than six hundred employees make up the team with 150 new hires in the past eighteen months. One call to a reservation agent and the entire holiday from soup to nuts is confirmed. No additional calls to the airlines, the spas, the restaurants and the golf courses. “MLT Vacations now offers vacation products to travel agents on a national scale, “added Ken Pomerantz, president and chief marketing officer, “if you are an agent in Bangor, Maine or San Diego, we have products that will be very attractive for your clients.”

The Blue Sky Holiday

Looking forward to a few days in the Mexican Caribbean and wanting to get the best bang for the vacation buck, I decided to test drive a luxury vacation package, rather than book the various pieces of a holiday individually. With one phone call to Continental Vacations, I reached a perky reservation agent named Michelle who not only was thoroughly informed about options in Riviera Maya but oozed efficiency and professionalism from the get-go. Explaining that she was located in North Dakota and has been with MLT’s luxury division for two years, she told me that she has the “best job in the world” because she makes frequent trips to the Caribbean and Mexico in order to know the product before she sells it. She answered all of my questions from budget to concerns about safety in Mexico. After discussing the pros and cons of several resorts including Maroma Resort, Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, Azul Beach Hotel and the El Dorado Royale, we settled on the all-inclusive Playacar Royal Hideaway, an Occidental property in Playa del Carmen.

Add-ons that fit the budget included private airport transfer which I highly recommend after traveling from the US. Check-in at the property was a breeze and the room was exactly as described. No surprises and no glitches. Nice touch! “If we carry the property, we will do all possible to book any room category for our customers, “notes Ken Pomerantz, president, “ We will try to get an immediate confirmation on all hotel requests, the majority of them being handled while the travel agent is still on the phone.”

Hugging the breathtaking beach on the Yucatan Peninsula, the Royal Hideaway Playacar marries stellar service with distinctive style. As the world's first adult-only all-inclusive to earn the AAA 5-Diamond Award, the uber-swank resort offers an oversized cascading infinity pool , relaxation pools , seaside solarium decks and a superb beach. Six gourmet eateries and unlimited 24-hour room service kept hunger at bay while windsurfing, sailing, tennis and aqua aerobics helped work off the added calories. Gratis Wi-Fi in all the rooms is an appreciated necessity these days.

Las Ventanas is a fine food eatery with specialties that were a treat to try from sautéed octopus and scallops in mole sauce to desserts well worth the splurge. Spices by the beach dishes up divine guacamole and burritos, the Deck grills juicy burgers while Palazzo served creative Italian dishes like goat cheese ravioli wrapped in melon. Tasty sushi is the specialty at Azia and for a nightcap; Bar Allegria is casual elegance with bartenders who excel in shaking and stirring fruity martinis. The Spa is sublime with a medley of massages for singles or couples. For resort information, visit

The Whole Enchilada

As of January, MLT Vacations signed an agreement with United Airlines to take over the operation of its private label vacation packaging operation United Vacations which had been operated by The Mark Travel Corp. since 1994. United Vacations is the third major airline brand vacation packaging operation taken over by MLT Vacations in the last two years. The company also took over Continental Airlines Vacations in 2008 and Delta Vacations in 2009. Since taking over Continental Airlines Vacations, MLT has gone through a rapid expansion with 70 new destinations including Dubai and South Africa.

In addition to offering a ‘Travel Protection Plan’ or ‘Travel Protection Plan PLUS’, Pomerantz adds “MLT supports agents with a host of products, programs and policies.” For example, final payment is now due 31 days from departure in lieu of the previous 45 days, a vacation purchase now becomes non-refundable 3 days prior to departure instead of 10 days under the former policy and cancel fees have been reduced. “For travel agents, it's important to note that in addition to the lowest available airfares, “said Ken Pomerantz, president, “ we also offer access to more seat inventory and more fare classes, and we pay commission on every airfare, including business and first class, and on all land components, with no caps.”

The merger between United and Continental is in the works with final approval expected by the fall. “We look forward to working with Continental and United to optimize their package vacation revenue as they create the new United Airlines, “adds Ken Pomerantz.

Through WorldAgent Direct - agents can book packages on Delta Vacations, Continental Airlines Vacations, United Vacations, and Worry-Free Vacations.

Agent tools include financial incentives and rewards, online training opportunities and e-marketing tools. MLT University, a three-day agent trade show, is held each fall and new business development managers are in place in Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Washington DC.

As of March 30, Larry Chestler assumes CEO duties. In this new role, Chestler will be responsible for the overall strategy and performance of MLT Vacations. “Larry is an accomplished executive and his promotion is well deserved,” said Pomerantz. “I could not be happier for him personally and I look forward to continuing to work with him as we lead MLT Vacations in the years to come.”

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