Last updated: 07:42 AM ET, Mon October 17 2016

Getting It Wholesale

Vacation packagers take the all-inclusive resort value proposition to a new level

Vacation Agent | Features & Advice | David Cogswell

Getting It Wholesale

Photo via ThinkStock

When it comes to all-inclusive resort vacation packages, in many cases agents would be well-served to go against conventional wisdom and not eliminate the middleman. It is often more beneficial for agents to purchase hotel nights, air tickets and other vacation components from a wholesaler rather than directly from individual suppliers.

For starters, booking all-inclusive resorts through wholesalers invariably results in higher commissions. Booking a package tour with a preferred supplier – particularly if the agent has met certain sales levels – can result in commissions of 12 to 15 percent rather than the standard 10 percent.

Because wholesalers purchase in bulk it is often possible for them to use their buying power to secure rooms for resale at prices reduced enough that they can tack on a profit margin and still sell the products at a lower price than is available on the open market.

“The value of a wholesaler is that we aggregate all the product, we vet the product, we grade the product, make sure it’s meeting our operational and client satisfaction standard, so that everyone we’re carrying in our product portfolio is, if you will, Funjet- or Mark Travel-approved,” says Mike Going, executive vice president of The Mark Travel Corporation, which in addition to Funjet Vacations operates Blue Sky Tours, Southwest Vacations and United Vacations.

“And wholesalers are generally very supportive of the agent community. For someone booking directly there’s no real price advantage. So when people can consolidate their hotel, their air, their ground transportation, features and attractions with the wholesaler or the aggregator, it’s just a better transaction both for the agent and ultimately for the client.”

Buying in bulk not only enables wholesalers to offer the best prices, but it also makes them highly important to all-inclusive resort operators, and that in turn makes you and your client more important to suppliers than one lonely customer might be otherwise.

If there are problems of any kind – be it with an airline or hotel, the weather or safety concerns – wholesalers will use their influence and clout to support you and your client. Wholesalers work with given destinations and all-inclusive resorts day after day, year after year. They know what is new, what is good and bad and what is better or worse than it used to be.

READ MORE: Go All in With Inclusive 

Another perk of booking all-inclusive resorts through wholesalers is that your clients will oftentimes receive special inclusions as part of their vacation packages. “Pleasant Holidays works with hotel partners to obtain exclusive rates and added values that are then packaged with airfare and other products to create a comprehensive vacation package,” says Jack E. Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays. “Added values may include daily breakfast, spa discounts, kids-stay-free offers or guaranteed connecting rooms. So travelers who think they can only afford hotel and airfare are often pleasantly surprised with the extras that truly make a vacation memorable. Agents should review the total package price when comparing quotes as airlines, flight schedules and room categories may be different.”

Added all together, the wholesale-retail partnership has much to recommend it. “Knowledgeable travel agents know that working with a wholesale travel provider such as Pleasant Holidays can be a win-win for themselves and their clients,” said Richards. “The tour operator has a vast network of resources that can often make the difference at each step of the journey – for both agents and their clients.”


If you are new to the industry, selling all-inclusive resort packages may be a great way in which to increase your sales. It worked for Bonnie Lee of Travel Leaders in Albertville, Minn., who built her business by doing just that.

In Lee’s view, wholesalers make it easy for agents to sell their packages. “Everything is there so all you have to do is really work to understand the tour operator and what it offers and its marketing and how it deals with travel issues.”

For new agents, learning how to field pricing questions from prospective clients might initially prove challenging. “For beginners, getting over the ‘I saw it on the Internet’ comment might be difficult if they are not working with a vendor who does indeed price match the OTAs,” Lee says, adding that agents also must learn how to work with tour operators’ booking engines.

She also notes the importance of giving serious thought to which wholesaler they choose to use as their preferred suppliers. “Any vendor that makes your job easier, stands behind its product, and takes good care of our mutual clients should be in every agent’s back pocket,” she says.


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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the October 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.