Sceptre Vacations, seller of custom-designed travel programs to Europe with a focus on Ireland, is looking to build its business with its travel agent partners, President Marc Kavanagh told Travel Market Report at the USTOA Conference last week at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Florida.
“Travel agents have always been Sceptre’s life and blood,” Kavanagh said, acknowledging that, before he bought the company, the tour operator was focused more on B2C. Since then, Sceptre has moved away from the consumer side to focus on its trade partners.
Part of that includes creating an online educational program, as Sceptre overall continues to develop technology and programs for travel agents. Kavanagh said he is in the process of partnering with tourism boards to build a three-tier travel agent training course. He hopes to have it live by the middle of next year.
The company also launched a travel agent portal on SceptreVacations.com earlier this year, introducing dynamic packaging to the online booking system. The system gave travel agents the ability to assemble their own custom packages by selecting various components, or choose from pre-designed vacation packages. It also provides access to flyers, brochures, and upcoming events.
Kavanagh has spearheaded the trade-focused initiatives since purchasing Sceptre in 2016, which he bought from the Accomando family, owners of DH Enterprise and Associates, Inc. He also is the president and founder of Journeys Connect, a travel provider offering group and specialty vacation packages to destinations throughout Europe, which he began in 2013. A native of Ireland, Kavanagh has also spent time at companies including Celtic Tours, Brendan Vacations, and Ryanair.
For product development in the new year, Sceptre is looking to capitalize on the success of its Game of Thrones-inspired packages in Iceland. Other possible locations include Sceptre’s bread-and-butter (Ireland) which was among the top European destinations for Americans in 2017. A strong dollar, making overseas trips cheaper, coupled with new air service has led to a tourism boom in the country. A record 10 million tourists visited the country, according to Tourism Ireland. Sceptre is also continuing to develop its golf, chauffer, and group business to its destinations in Europe.