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Free nights. Cash back. Client amenities. Those are just a few of the perks for travel agents who sign up for hotel loyalty programs in Hawaii.
Robyn Basso, senior director of travel industry partnerships for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, urges agents to participate in as many programs as possible to take advantage of the benefits available to them.
“Agents who are connected with a wide range of Hawaii hotel loyalty programs get the inside scoop on the latest news and promotions, allowing them to recommend the accommodations best suited for their client’s visit,” Basso said.
The hotels get something out of it, too. By creating compelling loyalty programs, they drive bookings and establish strong bonds with agents.
“Travel agents can offer important insights into the needs and desires of their clients, which helps hotels evaluate their services,” she said.
Although hotel loyalty programs are standard practice around the world, the initiatives found in Hawaii demonstrate distinctive ties to the destination, Basso notes. For instance, many provide client amenities that are unique to the islands.
Here’s a look at some of Hawaii’s leading hotel loyalty programs, designed to keep agents booking their rooms while thanking them for their patronage.
Aqua-Aston HospitalityName: Travel Agent Cash Booking Bonus Program
Description: Agents earn cash bonuses of up to $250 per booking at properties across Aqua-Aston’s portfolio of about 50 hotels.
Notable: Agents work with one point person regardless of the property booked. That builds relationships and allows agents to keep better track of bookings.
“Our loyalty program is very simple and, for those agents who have grown to love it, quite lucrative,” said Matt Bailey, president of Aqua-Aston.
Classic ResortsName: Classic Rewards
Description: With every booking of at least five nights, agents earn both cash and free nights. The exception is Classic’s Lahaina Shores, which provides agents with free nights only.
Notable: Heidi Denecke, leisure sales manager for Classic, brings years of Maui experience as she works closely with agent partners.
“When agents show their loyalty by booking our properties, everyone benefits,” she said. “We develop loyal agents and guests, and we find that our repeat guest factor increases.”
Grand WaileaName: Cash Booking Bonus
Description: Agents who make three bookings get a $500 bonus, while five bookings earn them a $750 bonus. Each booking must be a minimum of five nights.
Notable: Clients receive a complimentary welcome amenity.
Hyatt Resorts in HawaiiName: Slice of Paradise
Description: Agents booking clients for four or more consecutive nights get one free night for themselves.
Notable: “When agents redeem a reward, we strive to provide them with an enhanced on-property experience, such as access to our new Regency Club at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa,” said Carolyn McCammon, regional director of sales, wholesale for Hyatt Resorts in Hawaii.
The Kahala Hotel & ResortName: Kahala Stars
Description: For every nine nights booked, agents receive one free night for their personal use. Agents also get a cash bonus for every three-night booking.
Notable: Bookings of any length of stay can be counted toward the agent’s free night.
Marriott HawaiiName: Book & Stay/Dollar Days
Description: With Book & Stay, agents booking 20 room nights get a three-night stay at a Hawaii Marriott. With Dollar Days, agents get a $25 American Express gift check for each four-night room booking ($100 for suites).
Notable: Arriving clients get a gift and thank you card from the agent.
Outrigger Hotels and ResortsName: Outrigger Expert Agent
Description: For each client-night stay, agents earn up to 30 rewards points, redeemable for cash and gift certificates. Participants get 100 points immediately upon certification.
Notable: Perks include booking bonuses, client amenities and fam invitations.
“We also offer online courses providing our Expert Agents with the chance to learn and earn additional points,” said Bob Froio, director of sales for North America for Outrigger.
Prince Resorts HawaiiName: Plumeria Rewards
Description: For each five-night booking, agents earn one Plumeria point, good toward free nights.
Notable: Agents can redeem their points for other rewards, such as dining and golf. Mahalo Month in May and September features lower-than-usual rates for agent stays.
Starwood Hotels and Resorts in HawaiiName: Mahalo Rewards
Description: For every four-night-minimum reservation, agents get a Visa gift card worth up to $150.
Notable: Starwood’s Aloha Amenity program gives arriving clients a gift from their agent. Amenities vary, from logo beach mats at Sheraton Maui to catamaran sails at Sheraton Waikiki.
“The right first impression can set the tone for a truly memorable vacation,” said Dale Carstensen, leisure sales director for Starwood Hawaii.