Accommodating Partners

Geraldine Korss, sales/marketing director, Pan Pacific S.F. Although the airline industry is currently experiencing a bit of “turbulence,” most hotels are 100% committed to the livelihood of travel agencies. Not only are travel agents an extended sales force for most properties, they are also experts who

By: Geraldine Korss, sales/marketing director, Pan Pacific S.F.

Although the airline industry is currently experiencing a bit of “turbulence,” most hotels are 100% committed to the livelihood of travel agencies. Not only are travel agents an extended sales force for most properties, they are also experts who provide great value to the end user our guests. Savvy hotel executives are implementing travel agency marketing programs in order for all sides to win. For example, The Pan Pacific San Francisco, among many other hotels, has introduced temporary increased commission structures. Although initially designed to complement Pan Pacific’s 30th anniversary, the hotel’s 15% commission will reappear during certain “need periods.”

In addition to rewards, strategic hotel marketing efforts should include timely room packages that make it easier for travel agents to sell a property and/or destination during a particular lull period. For instance, in conjunction with the recent SFJAZZ 20th Anniversary Series, Pan Pacific San Francisco designed a commissionable room package valid during the concert season and promoted to travel agents through an e-mail blast as well as sales managers knocking on the doors of the hotel’s preferred travel agent partners.

And lastly, although services and amenities are not necessarily commissionable, they do provide great added value to the consumer, thus making it easier for travel agents to sell a particular property. Smart hotels are not only maintaining high levels of services right now, they are also developing worthwhile perks that set their properties apart from the rest, such as free amenities for children, pet-friendly accommodations, pillow preference programs and menu items to take aboard return flights.

Working together in this economic climate is critical and the strategic alliances hotels or hotel companies develop with travel agent professionals will carry over to more profitable times. It is the responsibility of individual hotels to educate and communicate with travel agents, create industry incentives and develop products that sell in a timely fashion.

And, it is in the best interest of successful travel professionals to, in turn, work with travel agent-friendly properties to develop and sell marketable “merchandise” that provides value to the end user.

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