ID Travel Group into Africa through joint venture

200 lodges, resorts and hotels across Africa now online through ID Vayeni Africa

ID Travel Group formally introduced its newest destination to Australian travel advisors this week during its first local roadshow in three years. The New York-headquartered B2B accommodation specialist has added Africa to its list of global locations, with a portfolio of close to 200 lodges, hotels and resorts.

Laurie Palumbo, Chief Operating Officer, of ID Travel Group said she was thrilled to be back in the country after a COVID hiatus to catch up with frontline sellers in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

“Everyone is so busy,” she said. “It’s so exciting to see all this pent-up demand. We experienced the same thing in the US.”

“We opened up before you did and I talked to so many owners here in Australia, and I said to them, try to keep the team. You can’t believe what’s going to happen. Hang on, just hang on. As soon as it opens up it’s an explosion, and that’s what is happening right now and it’s fabulous to see,” she said.

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During the pandemic, ID Travel Group expanded beyond your typical island destinations (the acronym in the brand name), launching a collection in Greece and Europe. The latter not necessarily being island-based accommodation.

“That’s why we changed the name from Island Destinations to the ID Travel Group. Because we started to expand and we knew we had a plan.”

Palumbo told LATTE in Sydney this week that both Europe and Greece markets are tracking “very well”.

“Europe is so important right now. From the US, over the summer months of May to September, it’s a very big market for us.”

Palumbo also used this week’s showcase to announce the reactivation of ID’s Sri Lankan specialist as that destination reopens to tourists, but it was the partnership with Victoria Falls-based travel company, Vayeni, that was a key focus.

Branded as ID Vayeni Africa, the program is a joint venture between ID Travel Group and Vayeni.

Launched in 2011, the African specialist works with properties in 11 destinations across Africa: Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda. The stable also includes the islands of Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zanzibar.

Among the collection of luxury properties are brands such as Singita, Belmond, andBeyond, One&Only, Sanctuary, Red Carnation Collection and Six Senses.

Luke Brown, Partner/Managing Director of ID Vayeni Africa, told LATTE he’d initially approached ID Travel Group to explore a partnership five years ago, but it was during the pandemic that talks evolved to be more serious, when it was apparent that as borders would begin opening, demand for Africa would be hot.

The brand was soft-launched in the US last spring before an official launch in autumn.

Brown said, “with ID, the skies the limit”.

He said that for first-time visitors to the continent, South Africa was most popular, while for returning visitors, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya and Zimbabwe were favoured.

Palumbo told LATTE ID Travel Group “always had the ambition to add Africa, but unless we could do it properly we weren’t going to do it. So when Luke approached us during COVID for a partnership it was the right time.”

“They’ve done a phenomenal job,” she said. “We have all the top properties, four- to five-star, and we have fabulous pricing as we’re cutting out a third party and negotiating contracts directly, so it makes our pricing very attractive.”

“We have the perfect combination that we need right now but we’ll grow as new luxury lodges open.”

Questioned about how general business for ID is tracking, Palumbo said the company was already at pre-COVID revenue levels.

“We’re already above 2019. Transactions are just getting there. The rates have gone up so we’re seeing some very good sales and I suspect probably within the next month or two, transactions and everything will be all above 90.”

The launch of ID Vayeni Africa – a non-island destination – also lead LATTE to quiz Palumbo about the potential of an ID Travel Group Australia division for the future.

Her response? “You never know. You never know.”

“There’s absolutely enough luxury product and now I have a luxury advisor in Belinda Layt on my team here, that changes the game and she’s already talking to us about product that we should have, so you never know.”

“The goal of the company is to have the best resorts throughout the world. That’s the bigger picture, but only when we can do it well and when we could deliver something to the marketplace, to the advisors, that they need.”

Events held in the east coast capitals for travel advisors were also used as a platform to launch the 2023 Travellers Collection.

Palumbo also used Wednesday night’s event at Kimpton Margot Sydney to recognise ID’s latest Australian Silver Star recipient, Debbie Collins from Spencer Travel.

Debbie Collins (second from right) was recognised for her ID Travel Group star status. She is pictured With ID Travel Group's Belinda Layt, Associate Director, Asia Pacific; Laurie Palumbo, CCO; Debbie and Joanne Ng, Destination Specialist, ID Travel Group.

Meanwhile, ID has an incentive in place for travel advisors, offering complimentary nights at over 110 hotels and resorts within its portfolio. The 2023 ‘Celebrating You’ promotion will see travel advisors rewarded with 1 free night for every 4-night paid booking, and 2 free nights for every 7-night paid booking, valid for stays between 5 January and 15 December in both 2023 and 2024, when booked by 15 December 2023.

Properties participating in the incentive are mostly in the Caribbean, as well as the Maldives, Bali (Viceroy Bali), Greece (Mykonos Riviera Hotel & Spa) and Fiji (Likuliku Lagoon Resort).

Lead image: Belinda Layt, Associate Director, Asia Pacific, ID Travel Group; Luke Brown, Partner/Managing Director, ID Vayeni Africa; and Laurie Palumbo, COO, ID Travel Group. 

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