MLT's Growing Family
PHOTO: John Caldwell president of MLT Vacations.
MLT Vacations is well positioned to capture the family travel business with new products that travel agents can offer to clients, says John Caldwell president of MLT Vacations. As the operator of Delta Vacations, MLT works closely with the all-inclusive resort brands and also has introduced self-catering vacations.
A 29-year travel industry veteran, Caldwell recently discussed family travel trends with Vacation Agent.
Is MLT doing a lot of family travel business?
Yes we are. When you take a look at MLT’s business and the brands and where we go, a majority of our travel is family-based travel, with a vast majority of trips taking place in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii. Those all are huge family destinations. And within the ecosystem of families moving around, the demand is growing.
And it’s not just families in general, but multigenerational families. We hear this a lot — that the multigenerational family business is growing, in terms of family reunions and friends and families getting together at a destination. As a result of this trend, we are extremely well positioned with our partners. But we’re also recognizing that this trend is driving new needs for our products.
What kind of new needs are being driven by the multigenerational family vacation trend?
Two things are happening in terms of our product. First, we have a great lineup. Take a look at the Caribbean or Mexico and the all-inclusive resorts. We have partnerships with all major all-inclusive brands: A&M Resorts, Barceló, Beaches, Hyatt All Inclusive, Iberostar, Karisma and Riu. And what’s going on in that segment is that they are seeing the same growth. Even though they tend to have both families and couples, the family side has really grown.
The all-inclusive brands are continuing to add product and services to cater to the families and the multigenerational families. They’re adding everything from little touches like juice boxes and sand toys and snacks in the rooms, and then expanding on the water parks, bowling alleys and you name it.
They’re continuing to upgrade, making it much easier for families to come to these established resorts that we offer. But then you also have families looking for something more personalized and what we call self-catering vacation options. They not only want to have great facilities but also facilities they can have more control over.
Can you tell us about the self-catering product?
With self-catering, [guests] are bringing in their own food. They’ve got a fully stocked kitchen. It allows for five or more members who are traveling together to stay there. We are adding more and more of that product to meet demand of family travelers who want something a little bit more personalized and closer to home when they are traveling, and more flexible with the amount of people who they’re traveling with.
Just recently, we announced that we were adding several apartment-type accommodations in New York City. That’s gone off very well. But also a year ago, we added the Wyndham Vacation Ownership properties in traditional family destinations, such as Hawaii, California and Florida. They have kitchens and more flexibility. Wyndham Vacation Ownership is adding some additional options in Europe as well, some new apartment offerings in Paris and so forth.
So you’ve got the traditional all-inclusive family resort type of portfolio that we’re very strong in, and those products continue to see upgrades to meet the needs of the families. And now we have the self-catering apartment offerings that we’re adding to try to meet some of that demand.
We also offer what we call Flexible Getaways. It works well for a family or a multigenerational family that might be gathering together from a variety of origin points around the country, and then they end up in a destination and behave like a group. It’s basically kind of a group program that allows you to get additional amenities and benefits at the destination because you’re bringing in a lot of people.
And within our great lineup of resorts, we have some additional benefits for families who are traveling to those resorts. If an agency is shopping with us online with World Agent Direct or through reservations, we identify those resorts as “All Inclusive Plus.” This means that the partner resort has worked with us to give us additional benefits and amenities, like express check-in, ultimate à la carte dining and special touches for the kids, so we have incremental amenities for the children as well.
We’ve got a really great family-friendly offering throughout your traditional beach destinations and even in places like New York and California and so forth that are real exciting.
Over the years the hotels and resorts have been all about that family unit and having the flexibility to have adjoining rooms and other amenities that make it more accommodating for families. That’s what we’re seeing with our existing lineup. And now we’re seeing demand even more specific where you control it yourself. So we’re adding that as quickly as we can because there seems to be that sweeping demand coming at us.
For more information, visit www.mltvacations.com.
More by David Cogswell
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A version of this article appears in print in the May 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.
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