What Do Travel Agents Look For in Caribbean Resorts?
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The Caribbean is a hugely popular destination with travelers, but not all of its hotel and resorts are created equal in terms of their appeal to the travel agents booking those Caribbean vacations.
So what exactly do agents look for when advising clients on Caribbean accommodations—and what makes them ultimately choose one hotel or resort to book over another in a crowded, highly competitive field?
We asked several Caribbean specialists for their views. Here’s what they had to say:
Offer fam trips – “Get them down to see the property via fam trips and agent stays. It’s really hard to sell something you’ve never seen or experienced,” said Mitch Toren, TripGuy Travel, Holland, Pennsylvania.
Build a BDM team to forge strong relationships with agents – “Have a qualified business development management team build a partnership with their agents. BDMs must have the capabilities of selling more than a brochure, but have a true understanding of the good—and bad—selling points for each property. Each property has its own distinct features that the agent must be aware of to be successful,” said Toren.
Have easy-to-navigate web sites and learning opportunities – “Easy-to-navigate web sites are a plus so travel agents can easily see what’s available. Educating agents through trade shows, partner relationships, webinars and property photos with rooms in all categories really helps,” said Debra Kerper, Cruise Planners franchise owner, Carrollton, Texas.
Offer agents ample marketing materials and information for email blasts – “It’s very helpful if the hotel or resort puts together something agents can send out to their clients,” said Kay Merrill, Are We There Yet/It’s Our Time, Larkspur, California.
“Protect” the sale – “If a client is working with a travel professional, do not attempt to lure clients away by offering them incentives to book directly. Be honest with your policies and don't promise the sun and stars if all you are going to deliver is the moon,” said Susan Leonidas, Your Travel and Cruise Concierge, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida.
Offer value for dollar – “I typically look for a hotel that adds the most value to clients’ vacations: 24-hour dining, a la-carte dining options with no reservations, great beaches, nice rooms with a comfy bed, good air conditioning, name-brand liquor, outstanding service with a smile, and good food options. Although price is important, it’s best to make sure they are looking at the value of the property and what is being offered,” said Brenda Punchak, Cruise Time Plus, Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Insure that staff is providing exemplary service – “I think one of the defining reasons to book a Caribbean resort is not only the look and feel of the resort, but also the services offered and, most importantly, the level of service clients receive—how the entire staff reacts to requests or issues, be they good or bad,” said Gina Griffin, FROSCH, Dallas, Texas.
Give clients the luxury amenities they’ve come to expect – “Spas, concierges, Bali-beds, private yachts – luxury amenities galore. Over the years resorts appeal to a clientele that is prepared to relax and be pampered,” said Anita Carson, Villas and Voyages, Alexandria, Virginia.
More by Robin Amster
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