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Delta Vacations CEO: Booking revenue is up 20%

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·3 min read
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The surge of Americans traveling on COVID-19 delayed getaways is driving up revenue at Delta Vacations. 

"If you look at what we see just as recently as June, our booking revenue is up 20%, relative to 2019," CEO Dwight James told Yahoo Finance Live.

Delta Vacations is a privately owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines (DAL), which reports second quarter earnings Wednesday. Delta Vacations does not report revenue or earnings, but its parent company Delta groups it with other subsidiaries in its earnings report. The group, which includes Delta Vacations, saw revenue of $1.2 billion in 2019.

Delta Vacations is like a travel agent. It provides customers with one stop vacation planning that also fills Delta flights. It packages tours with thousands of hotels and resorts across the globe. According to James, Delta Vacations serves 330 destinations, and 60 to 70 countries worldwide.

People are ready to splurge, James said. "Money that they would have normally spent for vacations in 2020, they've been able to apply that towards vacation and travel in 2021 and beyond," he said, adding that customers are open to spending more on "luxury than what they would normally spend money on."

'Very aggressive with hiring'

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) reported 2.2 million passengers traveled through airport security on July 11. "We know that domestic leisure is very strong, and that we're back to pre-pandemic levels," Cowen senior research analyst Helane Becker told Yahoo Finance.

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James said that increase in leisure travel is fueling a hiring binge at Delta Vacations. "We have been very aggressive with hiring. If you look at our call volume within our customer engagement center, that number is in excess of 20% to 30% of what we saw in 2019 volume," he said. Before the pandemic, Delta Vacations employed 500 people but the number fell to 300 as the industry locked down with the rest of the world during the pandemic.

James said the most popular destinations right now include the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska and U.S. national parks. European destinations are slowly reopening. Delta Air Lines added several daily flights last week from the U.S. to Amsterdam, Athens, Paris and Rome. 

But COVID-19 continues to throw unexpected turbulence in the path of the airline industry's recovery. French President Emmanuel Macron announced Monday that starting July 21 people will have to show proof they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to board a plane. 

Delta Vacations said it helps passengers navigate the constantly changing COVID-19 regulations in different countries. "That is actually part of what we do to ensure that we're taking the ease of travel and putting it right there in front of the customer," James said.

Delta provides that information on its website but James said the airline's partners are required to have appropriate messaging so customers are briefed on what they need to do on the ground in other countries.

"Making sure that the experience they receive is top notch, both from a Delta Vacations perspective, but also with our partners worldwide," he said.

Adam Shapiro is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live 3pm to 5pm. Follow him on Twitter @Ajshaps

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