Kate Scopetti, MARS & Companies

Kate Scopetti is the principal at MARS & Companies, a diversified wholesale tour operator serving a wide range of clients in the travel industry.

Click the play button to watch the entire interview

Marketing-wise, MARS has been strong and steady with promotions for groups looking for a post-pandemic vacation in 2021. The firm is using this time to educate clients with marketing promotions to keep everybody aware of what is available.

“We’re booking very strong for the spring. There is demand for that, especially Cherry Blossom and our Tattoo program,” said Kate. “We’re selling a lot of our Southern Porches program, with particular interest in shorter, 4-day/3-night packages.”

Like some other operators, MARS has tours on the books for this fall. “Our first tour runs in September, it’s 25 passengers to Montana,” Kate explained. The trip isn’t without pitfalls as they’ve encountered a myriad of difficulties in operating tours during COVID. “We have to all be flexible during these times. Anything could change at any time,” she concluded.

MARS has also made a pivot to the student performance travel market. There’s some concern about the immediate future of student travel, but the firm’s director of performing arts has been working with teachers for quite some time. Absent of guidance and direction from school administrators, it’s hard to say how the spring travel season will shape up. “I don’t expect a lot in the spring of 2021, maybe in the fall for those groups that were unable to travel in the spring. On the performance side we can set up a workshop virtually anywhere. That will be helpful to us,” Kate said.

“We do have a festival planned in March where we can space ensembles,” she said. “We are booking some student groups in May and June into next year. Now, of course, they don’t know what their administration is going to say, but they wanted to have a program ready. Everything remains to be seen yet.”

In the meantime, the firm is doing a lot of social media and email marketing with a lean towards educating their audience and keeping them connected to the markets.

MARS is also involved in the Spotlight Travel Network, a series of trade events for the group industry. Their fall in-person event has been cancelled and switched to a free virtual event for this year. Plans now call for a live 2021 event in Myrtle Beach with the rescheduled 2020 event going back to Fairfax, Virginia in 2022.

The Spotlight group also renamed their two events Spotlight East and Spotlight West going forward.