US- and Singapore-based B2B travel company ID Travel Group has expanded its core program of upmarket hotels branded under the ID & IDx brands, which include packaged itineraries dubbed “ID Ultimate Itineraries”.
In operation for 35 years, the business features a portfolio of luxury hotels in “sand and sun” locales around the world, including the Caribbean, Mexico, the Maldives, French Polynesia, Hawaii and Asia.
While she was in Sydney last week to launch the 2019 Traveler’s Collection Brochure, COO of ID Travel Group, Laurie Palumbo, said this market continues to grow each year.
The company has been operating in Australia for seven years, and last week was ID Travel Group’s fifth consecutive show Down Under, offering luxury travel advisors the chance to meet with a dozen representatives from some of the nearly 400 properties promoted within the Island Destinations and IDx portfolios.
Palumbo said the IDx brand alone consists of over 200 properties, the vast majority of which are in the Caribbean and Mexico. Each property is showcased on a full page within the annual IDx Collection brochure (view the brochure here). Each hotel and resort has been personally inspected by the team to ensure they meet ID Travel Group’s expectations.
“We are very discerning of who we invite into the brochure, because they have to maintain a certain level of luxury. And beyond luxury, they must have service and understand what an advisor does, and what we do, and how we all work together,” Palumbo said.
“There are a lot of all-inclusive hotels in these destinations that all claim to be five-star, but in reality, some are as low as two-star. How could one ‘five-star’ hotel cost $700 a night, and one be $200? When you get there, you find they are serving watered-down alcohol and inedible food. So we curated a collection of hotels under the IDx brand that are truly qualified four- and five-star, to make it easier for advisors to know what to sell,” Palumbo explained to LATTE at the show.
Effectively, ID Travel Group is a sales and marketing representative for its hotel partners.
“We act as another form of distribution for members. My team of specialists are well travelled and educated on all the products. They know specifically what to recommend to travel advisors who may be undecided for their clients. What are they looking for, do they like the beach, is it a suite that they are after, what kind of a view are they after? We’ll tailor it exactly to their needs.”
“A travel advisor has to sell the world, so you should call a company that’s an expert on what you need, and they’ll make you look like a rockstar. And that’s our business model. We know our product inside and out, and if you haven’t been recently, we’ll tell you what the differences are between each hotel and then you can make the decision for your client on what’s best.” Laurie Palambo, COO, ID Travel Group
Advisors booking with IDx have access to a range of exclusive deals and specials, including a guaranteed upgrade at time of booking, air credits, food & beverage credits, special touches and more.
“We have dozens of exclusives. That is something that we are very focused on and negotiating with our partners.”
IDx also has a range of incentives and promotions for travel advisors, such as “SPF24/7” which provides clients with a full refund should they need to cancel a firm reservation, with advisor commission protected.
While the volume of bookings from Australia for IDx is a “small percentage”, Palumbo said it is “growing very nicely, and it’s giving us strength in Asia and the Maldives”.
“Los Cabos in Mexico is one destination that is booming for sales from Australia,” she said. “There are another three luxury hotels opening in Cabo in the next two years: Four Seasons, Aman and Ritz Carlton. Hawaii numbers are good, and there’s some interest from this market in the Caribbean.”
The ID Ultimate Itineraries have been developed for product in Southeast Asia and Cuba, providing a combination of accommodation and touring. Palumbo said it was ID Travel Group’s vision to grow this range of holiday options.
The 2019 roadshow visited the staple of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, with healthy participation at each show. Expansion to other cities is under consideration for future years.
Quizzed by LATTE about whether the company is exploring options outside of island-specific locations, Palumbo said “we’re always looking to expand”.
“What makes us special is that there are only a couple of hotels in some destinations. We don’t have 4,000 hotels, so our partners stand out in our brochure. I’d like to take new destinations where we could be of value to an advisor, so that’s what we’re always looking for. Where can we add value: where do advisors need help, [where] they haven’t been selling? So that’s what we are looking into.”
Another area of potential interest for ID Travel Group is in the wellness segment.
The roadshow also saw the company acknowledge top sellers, with awards handed out in Melbourne to Executive Edge Travel – 2018 Ultimate Agency Award for highest percentage in growth; Goldman Travel Corporation– 2018 Ultimate Agency Award for highest production; and Global International Travel Service, which took out the 2018 Ultimate Rising Star.
In Sydney, the 2018 Ultimate Agency Awards went to both MTA Travel and Spencer Group, and the 2018 Ultimate Rising Star was awarded to Mosman Travel.
ID Travel Group has preferred agreements with Virtuoso and Signature Travel. In Australia, the company is represented by Lynne Ireland from Inspired Luxury.
For more information, see idtravelgroup.com.
Lead image: Laurie Palumbo, ID Travel Group; Lynne Ireland, Inspired Luxury; with Joanne Ng and Katie Hawkins, ID Travel Group.