Apple Leisure Group Vacations’ (ALGV) new CEO, Alejandro Reynal, spoke to ALGV advisors about his biggest takeaways from the group’s first annual “Ascend” conference earlier this week in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
Reynal, who took over for Alex Zozaya (who still acts as the company’s Executive Chairman), shared with attendees that he could see the passion travel advisors have for the business. And equally important, Reynal praised the deep and lasting relationships travel advisors and travel suppliers have built as an industry.
“You have our commitment,” said Reynal. “We have our challenges as an industry, yet I believe the future opportunity outweighs those challenges. I am going to work tirelessly at ALG to support you.”
Jacqueline Marks, executive vice president of trade sales and engagement, said issues in the travel industry, amplified by sensationalized news stories from the main stream media, have created challenges for travel advisors as well as Apple Leisure Group (ALG). “This first year post-merger hasn’t been easy for any of us,” Marks said when addressing the nearly 500 travel advisors in attendance. “We have been working tirelessly on your behalf and I believe you will all feel the result of that work in the coming months.”
As for improvements, Marks cited investment in people including call center and groups support, and also in technology including new features added to VAX VacationAccess, the award winning leisure travel marketplace and technology provider for ALGV. “Many of the features that are familiar to Travel Impressions and Apple Vacations advisors from legacy technology will be added to VAX, making it even more efficient and effective for you. We’ve been listening and we are all very excited about 2020,” said Marks. Marks also expressed her gratitude to travel advisors for their patience and resilience as an industry.
In a statement to the audience, Alex Zozoya, ALG’s executive chairman, emphasized that as an industry we must respond to combat recent sensationalized news in the main stream media. He specifically referenced the Dominican Republic urging travel advisors to support the destination and arm themselves with the facts. “The Dominican Republic needs our help,” said Zozoya.
Statistics show that travel to the Dominican Republic was up in 2018 and based on recent news had declined drastically in 2019 despite a drop in death by natural causes in the destination. The country attracts more than 2.7 million American tourists per year. In a statement, representatives from the Dominican Republic’s Tourism Bureau pointed out that the U.S. State Department has not raised the threat level for the country, which was issued in April 2019 and remains at a two, the same level as countries like Spain and France.
It was clear that the Ascend conference, at its core, was all about coming together as an industry. One travel advisor in attendance made it clear that it was refreshing to see that both the ALG and legacy Mark Travel brands still maintain their from-the-heart approach to their relationship with travel advisors. “Ascend is all about growth. It’s about rising upward together as an industry,” said Marks. “It’s about connections, tackling issues and rising above the challenges.”
Stay tuned for announcements from ALGV about upcoming Ascend conferences in your area as well as the dates and location for next year’s industry event.