Activity-Planning Site Makes Splash With Agents

Direct-booking capabilities, instant confirmation are among the highlights of

By: Robert Carlsen

A new online site, Aruba4Travel, is giving agents an opportunity to cash in on activities and excursions.

The site, operated by Crofton, Md.-based Destination Experts, allows agents to directly book and receive commissions for snorkeling trips, island tours and sunset cruises.

The Dutch Leewards island of Aruba is the company’s first destination, and plans are under way to add the other ABC islands, Bonaire and Curacao, in the near future, with other Caribbean islands down the line.

Two hundred agencies have officially signed up to use the site, which has already been accessed by 2,000 travel agents.

“Our goal, ultimately, is to get 10,000 to 20,000 agents using the sites,” said John Allen, director of travel agency sales.

According to Allen, the impetus for came about over the frustration of clients trying to find space on popular excursions and activities while already at the resorts. He relayed a story about wasting valuable vacation time on Paradise Island trying to find space for an activity that was sold out. He said he sat patiently while a local tour operator made call after call to her chums on the island.

Allen said Destination Experts owner, Linda Hamill, decided it was time for agents to plan a client’s whole vacation, including activities, and get paid for it.

“I think agents are getting tired of getting cut out of commissions,” Allen said.

The site guides agents through virtually everything there is to see and do in Aruba. Agents and clients can click on every available Aruba tour and activity that interests them and obtain up-to-date information, detailed tour descriptions, availability and pricing. They receive instant confirmation.

In addition to the agent making the reservation, agents can even provide their clients with an access code that allows them to book the activities online at home.

“The agent still earns commissions on every confirmed reservation,” Allen said.

While on Aruba, clients can visit the Aruba Experts Visitors Information Center, located at the Royal Plaza Mall in the heart of Oranjestad, for information and assistance. Allen said Aruba Experts is a local company, privately owned and not affiliated with the island’s government-run tourism entity, the Aruba Tourism Authority. Destination Experts is the parent company of Aruba Experts.

Upon arrival at their hotel on Aruba, clients receive an island welcome package containing their tickets, a vacation planner, samples, discount coupons and other features that vary from time to time.

The site offers some apartments, guest houses, villas and bed-and-breakfast inns on Aruba, though not the major casino and beach resorts.

Product Preview

Some of the site’s products include:

" A four-and-a-half hour Explore Aruba sightseeing tour, visiting the lighthouse, St. Anna Church, the Natural Bridge, rock formations and one of the island’s caves, plus a swim and snorkel at Baby Beach. The cost is $26 per adult.

" Theater tickets to the Let’s Go Latin show at the Crystal Theater, for $33 per person.

" A half-day tour in a Land Rover, visiting Casibari Rock, Bushiribana Gold Mine ruins, Natural Bridge, the donkey sanctuary and the Black Stone Shoreline, for $49 per person.

" The Jolly Pirates Starlight Dinner Cruise aboard the ship, the Pirate’s Poison. Includes dinner, drinks and live entertainment, along with a moonlit dip and rope swinging. A 10% discount is offered; price depends on season.

Destination Experts will cut the 10% commission checks within 30 days of activity completion. Agents need to register online to receive commissions.

Payments are made via credit card, with no fees attached. Full payment or deposit will be required, depending on supplier. will appear at the ACE (Aruba Certified Experts) convention on Aruba in December, as well as the Caribbean Hotel Association Marketplace in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in January.