In a move it hopes will add convenience for vacationers and build exposure for its area golf courses, the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau has entered into a partnership with The Leisure Company.
Through the partnership, The Leisure Company, one of the country's largest tour operators, began in November to provide telemarketing and sales support for Mesa Area Golf Packaging, a cooperative formed by several Mesa, AZ, hotels to attract golf travel. The Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau, which had previously handled the marketing for the cooperative, found that partnering with a tour operator would add convenience and accessibility for the prospective vacationers.
“They have more employees, more services, more options. They can include air travel and rental cars, which we didn't do before,” said James McKnight, communications manager for Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It's just more convenient for the customer; they can call one source and get everything.”
The Leisure Company, Tempe, a subsidiary of America West Holdings, the parent company of America West Airlines, has partnerships with several major airlines and rental car companies and can include cancellation insurance and other features in its travel vacation packages.
In addition, while the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau closes at 5 p.m. (mountain time), The Leisure Company has travel representatives answering phones weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (mountain time) and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
Vacationers can still book hotel and golf packages directly through area hotels, but all brochures promoting golf vacations in the area will now list The Leisure Company's toll-free number.
In addition, the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau's marketing will be supplemented by marketing efforts from The Leisure Company that could include advertisements in magazines, in newspaper sports sections, on television, on the radio, on the Internet, through brochures, and through direct mail.
“We're basically giving them the opportunity for added sales and support through a cooperative marketing effort, said Jeffrey Van Straten, The Leisure Company's vice president for golf products and travel.
Telephone travel representatives are fully trained on the products of companies that have partnered with The Leisure Company, Van Straten said, noting that in the case of Nicklaus/Flick Game Improvement courses, which were added to The Leisure Company roster in July, call center agents took the game improvement lessons.
The company's call centers in Tempe, AZ, and Virginia Beach, VA, handle mainly inbound calling, but also doe some outbound telemarketing, particularly for clients who have established relationships with corporate clients for travel vacations.
Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau will have the opportunity to oversee marketing efforts through status reports from The Leisure Company, McKnight said.
The Leisure Company now handles sales and marketing support for Mesa Area Gold Packaging.