V-com’s hosted cruise groups
renamed Distinctive Voyages
By Tom Stieghorst
Vacation.com hopes to expand the sale of
its hosted cruise groups by rebranding them
and adding new cruise lines to the mix.
The product, known now as Vacation Vignettes, will be sold going forward as Distinctive Voyages.
In addition, the chance to sell into the
hosted cruise groups will be extended to all
Travel Leaders Group brands.
The program enables Travel Leaders Group
agents from all over the country to aggregate
clients into a group for a cruise that has an
onboard host, a complimentary cocktail party and one or more exclusive excursions.
Fares available through the program are
about the same as elsewhere, Travel Leaders
spokesman Steven Loucks said, but the custom tours and the individual attention afforded by a dedicated host offer added value.
Stephen McGillivray, chief marketing officer for Travel Leaders, said it is the
consortium’s most utilized program and
has drawn more than 12,000 cruisers since
starting in 2006.
Vacation Vignettes launched with a Hawaiian land/cruise package on Norwegian
Cruise Line’s Pride of America. It has grown
steadily, reaching 133 offerings in 2009,
more than 200 in 2012 and is scheduled on
more than 300 cruises this year.
For example, a Distinctive Voyage on
the Celebrity Reflection next month will
include a tour of the ruins at Ephesus, Turkey, followed by lunch in an olive grove
with Turkish folk dancers entertaining and
a visit to the Temple of Artemis.
Distinctive Voyages is now on Azamara,
Celebrity, Crystal, Holland America, Norwegian, Regent, Royal Caribbean and Sil-versea cruise lines and will be expanded to
the Cunard, Seabourn and Windstar brands
next year. “Cruise lines have been very eager to participate,” Loucks said.
That has brought more opportunities for
travel agents to host. (Travel Leaders polices
the program to be sure hosts don’t poach
clients, Loucks said.)
For example, Trevor Burton and his wife,
Mary Ellen, who are V-com agents at SST
Travel in Mooresville, N.C., have hosted
several trips. They focus on Regent Seven
Seas and Crystal Cruises voyages and typically guide a group of 20 to 40 passengers.
Each host has a different interest. Trevor
Burton’s is wine, so he supplies everyone on
his voyage with a book of wines from the
region where the cruise is going. The Burtons keep tabs on their own clients from the
ship’s Internet cafe. “We run the business
from sea,” he said.
Other agent groups have similar programs. Cruise Planners offers the Mariner’s
Club through its affiliation with American
World Travel Holdings doesn’t have a
branded program, but it offers comparable
packages through its groups department,
said Karen Reynolds, director of customer
Ensemble Travel Group offers more than
300 escorted sailings in its Hosted Cruise
Collection. Co-president Libbie Rice said
the private-label cruises give its agents a
chance to stand apart. “They can say, ‘Be-
cause I’m a part of this organization, look
what I can get you,’” she said.
A Distinctive Voyage on the Celebrity Reflection next month visits Ephesus, Turkey.
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And as always, your clients will enjoy a hassle-free experience with easy
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JUNE 24, 2013