Travvy Awards Winners Spotlight: MLT Vacations
MLT Vacations, the operator of the Delta Vacations, Air France Holidays and Alitalia Vacations branded vacation package products, is one of the most popular and successful wholesale tour packagers on the market.
MLT won a majority of votes from travel agents in two categories of the Travvy Awards: Best Tour Operator Caribbean and Best Vacation Packager U.S. & Canada.
It’s not surprising for MLT to score victories from travel agents in these areas because the company goes to great lengths to cultivate its relationships with travel agents through partnership marketing, special promotions and education, as well as to maintain the integrity of its products and services. One of the most important ways MLT keeps travel agents close is through an annual educational event that is unique in the industry: the MLT University.
MLTU is an educational event and trade show that gathers travel agent partners of MLT Vacations in Minnesota every September for an intense three days of product and destination training for its products in 250 destinations worldwide. The event offers hundreds of classes, a trade show presenting many of MLT’s 4,000 supplier partners and networking events.
The trade show of MLTU brings together supplier partners from the Caribbean, Florida, Nevada, Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, the U.S. and Canada to gather in a single place for travel agent education.
MLT continues to expand the educational opportunities it offers travel agents. Last December the company opened up a vast expansion of its MLTU educational offerings with a new program for providing 24/7 on-demand training via webinars online.
The webinars can be accessed on-demand through MLT’s Marketing Hub, which is accessible through its travel agent online portal at www.worldagentdirect.com. Access to the information on the site is reserved for travel agents who register with MLT at the www.worldagentdirect.com home page.
Now agents can access from their computers educational seminars such as “Sales Tips for Greater Profit," “Benefits of Booking with MLT Vacations," “Grow Your Business with Groups," “How to Market and Sell Family Vacations,” and a series of supplier training videos on specific hotels and resorts.
MLT also recently introduced a new marketing hub that allows agents to create marketing pieces through an online system and greatly speeds up cooperative marketing projects.
The new system allows agents to go ahead and create marketing pieces themselves, and the online system makes sure they are done within the correct specifications.
The process was a necessary evolution, according to MLT President John Caldwell. “We already had a process to help them joint market, to put out an ad in the Sunday circular or put a radio soundbite together, but it was a very manual process,” said Caldwell. “Our marketing team gets together and tries to figure out how to get that done for the agent, to figure out the size of the ad, the image, etc., and next thing you know everyone is locked down trying to get ads out for everybody. We decided we had to find a better way, so we went out and found really the best technology available that was designed and built around this need to facilitate joint marketing campaigns in an automated fashion.”
It’s one more way that MLT is constantly upgrading its systems for working more effectively with travel agents.
MLT always had a harmonious relationship with travel agents, based in part on its own origins as a retail travel agency. MLT Vacations was founded in 1969 as Main Line Travel. The agency went into wholesaling when it started offering packages to Las Vegas, then gradually expanded its offerings to other destinations.
After demonstrating its success as a wholesaler, MLT was purchased by Northwest Airlines in 1985, which sold off the retail arm but retained and developed the wholesale operation. At that time, MLT operated Northwest Airlines World Vacations for scheduled air packages and also operated charters under the brand MLT Vacations. With its airline ownership, the wholesaler mastered the art of aggregating packages for an airline. It was a skill the company developed further over decades as it operated a number of airline brand vacation packaging operations, including Continental Airlines Vacations and United Vacations.
After Delta merged with Northwest Airlines and United merged with Continental, MLT stopped operating United Vacations, but continues to operate three airline brands: Delta Vacations, Air France Holidays and Alitalia Vacations
When Delta and Northwest merged in 2009, MLT became part of the newly aggregated Delta Air Lines. The company continues to grow, develop, add destinations and product, and expand its systems for enhancing its relationships and creating more productive partnerships with travel agents.
More by David Cogswell
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