With more than 750 hotels, resorts, residences and unique hotel groups across 85 countries, Preferred Hotels & Resorts is the self-proclaimed world's largest independent hotel brand. Not only is this company continuously expanding its portfolio of global hotels, but Preferred also takes an evolutionary approach to commission payments.
Rick Stiffler, Vice President of Leisure Sales, spoke with TravelPulse to provide more insight on how exactly Preferred Hotels & Resorts works with the retail travel community as well as highlights of the independent hotel group's newest additions.
TravelPulse: What's new at Preferred?
Rick Stiffler: It has been a very exciting, busy year for Preferred Hotels & Resorts so far in terms of growing our dynamic portfolio of independent luxury hotels. This year, we will welcome more than 23 new hotel openings within our portfolio that are sure to be hot recommendations for travel advisors looking to introduce the yet-to-be-discovered gems to their clients.
These include Lelewatu Resort Sumba in Sumba Island, Indonesia; Hotel Bennett in Charleston, South Carolina; Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden in Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Santarena Hotel in Las Catalinas, Costa Rica; Hotel Samzeo in Omalo, Georgia; Wave Resort in New Jersey; The Fullerton Hotel Sydney in Australia; and so many more.
In addition, Preferred welcomed 25 new-to-us hotels to our brand portfolio in Q1 2019, ranging from Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, California and Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro by Intercity in Brazil to Palazzo Damo in Rome, Italy and The Inn at Perry Cabin in Maryland.
TP: Who the typical guest is that stays at the company's properties?
RS: Preferred Hotels & Resorts caters to travelers of all ages and demographics who seek a truly authentic, independent hotel experience.
Our guests are travelers who proactively seek an alternative to the "sea of sameness" or familiarity that can come with staying at a chain hotel. Our guests appreciate the unique programming, vibe, and perspective on local culture and life that our properties have to offer and seek opportunities to engage for a full immersion in the destination.
Our guests are always willing to try something new with Preferred as their brand because they know that every experience is backed by our Integrated Quality Assurance program and high standards of excellence, which means that while each hotel stay will be completely different-quality of the facilities, service, and amenities will be a consistent level of luxury.
TP: What are some of the interesting or unique experiences that guests can enjoy while staying at a Preferred Hotels & Resorts property?
RS: The beauty of representing more than 750 outstanding, singular properties across 85 countries is that there are so many different experiences that a traveler can enjoy, whether traveling solo or with friends/family, for business or leisure (or something in between) or looking for an urban adventure or a remote getaway or an active experience or one where you veg out at the spa.
Through our five collections, we present travelers with several options and price points to choose from, ensuring that regardless of the reason for travel, our guests will have appealing, exciting options across the globe so they can stay within the Preferred brand for their travel needs. Every hotel offers something different but here are a few examples of the unique experiences that stand out to me:
-At Carneros Resort in Napa Valley, you can take a hot air balloon ride over the region to see all of the vineyards and stunning landscapes.
-At The K Club just outside of Dublin, Ireland, you can have a professional golf lesson on the Arnold Palmer-designed Championship Ryder Course, which hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup tournament.
-At Montage Los Cabos in Mexico, which features one of the only swimmable beaches in the area, you can enjoy a variety of water sports in Santa Maria Bay, from standup paddleboarding and kayaking to snorkeling
-At The Siam in Bangkok, you can train to be a "Muay Thai" boxer for a day under the hotel's expert coach and gain a deeper understanding of Thailand's national sport, or, for the truly adventurous, get a Sak Yant tattoo, which is done by hand as part of a sacred Thai tradition by the hotel's in-house master
-At Il Castelfalfi in Tuscany, guests can explore the resort's agriculture fields, doing pizza-making classes or doing wine and olive oil tastings.
-At The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming, you can embrace the beauty of the outdoors through fly-fishing, horseback riding,
The list goes on!
TP: How does the company work with retail travel agents?
RS: Travel Advisors have always been an essential component of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts brand mission and our success as a company since 1968. Without them, I wouldn't have a job! The company has always understood that the travel agency community is an asset and ally to the success of our company.
We know that our hotels make up a large part of their livelihood so this is why we put such strong efforts is prompt commission payment for bookings made at our hotels. With that, we designed our I Prefer Hotel Rewards program with the travel advisor community in mind, as it was structured in a way that protects their commission-which many other programs don't.
Specifically, travel advisors get paid commission on IATA bookings when using their client's I Prefer number, and also get protection during the redemption process thanks to the Reward Certificates that are used like cash upon checkout rather than up front for a lower-cost or no-fee (and therefore non-commissionable) booking.
We have travel agency VIP desks in key regions that provide our top managed accounts that extra concierge service to make sure their VIP guests are well taken care of in a prompt and personalized manner. Our website PreferredHotels.com has a dedicated travel advisor section that assists agents with general questions about the brand and also provides commission assistance.
We have more than 80 global sales directors who work very closely with travel agencies around the world. We also make sure to place our brand at key global event such as Virtuoso Travel Week, ITLM and Signature Travel Conference to work closely and support travel agents in these luxury programs.
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