January has kicked off an impressive start to 2020. To date, we have seen double-digit bookings growth – led by strong online bookings. We are truly energized to see all of you embrace the easy-to-use commission benefit of VAX.
Further positioning all of us for success in 2020 and beyond, are some exciting new changes within Apple Leisure Group® Vacations. As a leadership team, we took time to reflect on your feedback, assess our strengths, and determine how we can best serve you – one of our key stakeholders. The efforts of our deep dive into the business have strengthened our brand leadership, with the goal of enhancing Travel Agent support, while maintaining brand differentiation. These structural leadership changes will position us all for collective success and help us grow all of our travel agency brands, which includes Apple Vacations, Funjet Vacations, Travel Impressions, United Vacations, Southwest Vacations and Blue Sky Tours. I’ve highlighted the key leadership changes below:
Scott Wiseman, SVP & General Manager of Brand Management, will focus on the financial performance and overall direction of our collection of industry-leading Travel Agency brands. John Tarkowski, SVP of Brand Strategy, will focus on developing and enhancing key programs, policies, strategic efforts, to maximize the performance of Travel Agency brands. Together, with their combined expertise, background, and leadership, Apple Leisure Group Vacations brands are well-positioned for growth. With this change, each of the brands will continue to operate and maintain their unique value and personality, with the benefit of enhanced support and resources from the centralized organization. Ron Jacobs, SVP, has moved to a role outside of Vacations, supporting the global ALG business.
Wendy Hoekwater, SVP of Marketing, will dedicate her focus to Travel Agency marketing. In particular, she will ensure continued brand differentiation so you can work with the brands that serve your customers’ needs the best.
Jim Tedesco, VP of Sales, has expanded his sales territory and now oversees the sales function across the United States. In addition, to better support you and help maximize your earning potential with ALG, ALG will move its West Coast team to a multi-brand Business Development Management (BDM) platform. This move will provide the opportunity for stronger relationships with agent advocates, provide a single point of contact who can quickly react to feedback and concerns, and streamline processes, resulting in faster resolutions. Travel Agents on the West Coast will hear directly from their sales team to learn the specific details.
Mike Ehlers, VP of Groups, has returned to his role to lead the Groups team. We are excited to see how Mike builds off of our recent successes to continue to strengthen the Groups Sales & Services teams. While these changes should not impact your daily interactions with ALG and the ALG Vacations brands, you should notice faster decision making and improved programs. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your BDM team, and remember to regularly check Primed for Peak for updates.
It is an honor and a privilege to lead this extraordinarily talented group of professionals who are deeply committed to ensuring success among our Talent Agency community. Your success is our success and I look forward to seeing what we will achieve together.