From left to right: Apple Vacations vice president and general manager Mark Noennig; Apple Vacations sales manager Consuelo Valdez; Barry and Tiffany deCocq of Tropical Sands Vacations, Corona, Calif. // © 2011 Apple Vacations
Outrigger Maui Condos Go Green
Apple Vacations has been enhancing its travel agent services and incentives for Hawaii bookings, and agents are enjoying juicy rewards as a result.
As part of its loyalty program called Royalties, Apple started rewarding agents with double points for Hawaii bookings in 2011, which means more opportunities for agents to redeem points for hotel stays and merchandise. In addition, every Hawaii booking with Apple now counts double toward the travel agency's preferred partner status level.
"This is significant because agents who achieve Golden Apple partner status or higher get great perks like co-op advertising funding," said Apple Vacations vice president and general manager Mark Noennig.
To further encourage bookings to the islands, Apple has created its Hawaii MVP program, recognizing top travel agents in each sales region for their Hawaii business. In November 2010, the wholesaler invited its Hawaii MVPs to a three-day roundtable meeting on Maui and a free three-night pre- or post-stay on the island. This year's winners will earn a similar trip to Waikiki in the fall of 2011.
To help agents achieve success with their Hawaii bookings, Apple has expanded its webinar program this year, said Noennig.
"Not only are we continuing to present excellent training webinars in conjunction with our hotel partners but, this year, each agent who listens to a webinar and completes a short questionnaire has an opportunity to win a stay at various
resorts," he said.
Another appetizing tool is the Travel Agent Cafe, Apple's agent-only online information center featuring news of current promotions, incentives, fams and the like. In more good news for its travel partners, Apple is rolling out an agent booking engine in the summer of 2011.
"In addition to a more modern look and feel, the site will present a significantly improved shopping experience for agents who are making FIT bookings, plus many advanced and intuitive search functions and the ability to filter the results," Noennig said.
Hawaii remains a very important part of Apple's product portfolio, said Noennig.
"We continue to grow our Hawaii business each year, and we are increasing the focus from both a sales and marketing perspective," he said. Apple has a Honolulu-based staff that contacts clients personally after their hotel check-in to make sure everything is going smoothly. Noennig noted that even as the economy improves and Hawaii prices rise, travelers will still look for added value such as free breakfast, free nights, free upgrades and resort credits. Apple is responding with such Hawaii promotions as Step Up Your Stay, allowing clients to upgrade their guestroom category for just a few additional dollars, and Go Topless, providing free upgrades from mid-size to convertible rental cars.
From agent benefits to online support, Apple is working hard to make selling Hawaii as appealing as possible for agents, Noennig added.
"We will continue to offer excellent incentives and windowed sales that will attract new customers," he said. "Apple's team keeps receiving more training so they can help agents generate new business and close sales. Partnerships are imperative to our business."