Learn more about the relation between the Luxury Travel Agents and the Exhibitions as well as which features attract a Strong Agent!
There is a common assumption in the hotelier industry: No matter how much a hotel’s direct bookings have been increased, no one should turn away from the classic marketing methods, which are not other than the tour operators…
The reasons are many: Firstly, the global markets do not “buy” vacations in a particular way. Furthermore, the collaboration with a strong tour operator gives many solutions to the hotelier. For example; the low-cost advertisement and promotion of the accommodation on the global markets (see brochures), the power to create destinations, charters and strengthen greatly the hotel during its low season.
The more the hotels in Greece increase their standards and follow the “boutique” character, the more they tend to search for more exclusive tour operators, which are not other than the luxury travel agents. Also referred as small boutique agencies which specialize on a more selective but luxurious market.
The reason is obvious. Because the reservations coming from these small tourist agencies:
- Require lower commission (usually 10-12%) compared to the tour operators (usually up to 25-30%).
- Increase the Average Daily Rate (ADR), since the clients of these channels buy the more expensive types of rooms.
- Increase the income of the services-facilities-outlets of the accommodation, since usually the clients consume more from the hotel.
Which are the secrets to create, and finally take advantage for the benefit of your hotel business, a mutually beneficial relationship between your hotel and a strong luxury travel agent? AXIA Hospitality summarizes its experience bellow:
- The first thing to do is to «read» our hotel. Look back at the statistics of our hotel and find out with which markets we are collaborating with, the last 3-4 years. We should find out if these markets have reached their maximum potential, in order to expand to other markets, or strengthen the already existent in case there is space for improvement.
- According to the markets that we have chosen, we will start compiling a list with interesting luxury travel agents for collaboration, which will work directly with the selected markets that have picked our interest.
- In no case we should act dismissively and reject completely the collaborations with the tour operators. Let’s not forget that many luxury agents choose to cooperate almost exclusively with tour operators, and not directly with the hotels (ex. One of the biggest tour operations in the America, Classic Custom Vacations, cooperates with more than 3000 agents) for security and profit reasons.
- Nonetheless, the above statement should not be discouraging, but it should mobilize our promotional actions and marketing plans. Therefore, it’s important for the small agents to learn about us, to get to know us, to trust us, even if they proceed to buy our hotel rooms from the tour operators.
Find the right one
One of the most basic ways to meet Luxury Travel Agents are the exhibitions. However, they have some peculiarities and secrets, which AXIA Hospitality reveals bellow:
- The most popular exhibitions gathering the majority of the Luxury Travel Agents are the global ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market).
- At ILTM Americas and Pure, taking place in Mexico and Morocco respectively, you will meet up to 90% American agencies. So, if you are targeting the American audience, these exhibitions are ideal for you. Attention: In order to attend Pure (the most specialized and selective fair during this period), you need to be invited by the owners. In that case, you must pick their interest with other promotional campaigns 1and collaborations of yours (like the groups of Virtuoso and Signature).
- ILTM of Cannes attracts agencies of the Luxury tourism from all over the world, and due to our small country, monopolizes the interest of the Greek hotels.
- Exhibitions are like education, so visiting only once is not enough: Repetition is the mother of good relationships with the luxury travel agents. Hence, if you want to invest on this section, you have to build a long-lasting strategic plan so as to give results. In order for the agents to follow you, they have to notice your continuous presence at the international fairs and road shows.
- Even in the case of an exhibition, you have to know the market habits of the destination. For example, if you attend at the ILTM of Shanghai, targeting the Chinese market, you should know that the Chinese agents cooperate only with DMC (destination managers. A luxurious Chinese agent will never cooperate directly with a hotel. They prefer a local agency to work with. Concluding, if you target solo in Kina, we are talking about waste of time and money.
- The participation in the exhibitions (especially for the small boutique hotels) is a very pricey sport, often prohibitive. This is the result of the booths’ high cost of rental and design, as well as the additional costs for your promotional campaigns, tickets, accommodation etc. Also, the results of an exhibition do not affect the hotel’s sales directly. If you are not collaborating with a company like AXIA, so that you can be represented in the exhibitions, or if you are not part of an affiliation (for a more competitive price in a shared booth), you just have to organize a road trip at the countries – markets that concern you and try to create contacts with Luxury Travel Agents via face-to-face meetings.
- The individual road trips need early and cautious preparation in order to ensure suitable offices, people (influencers) and timing. Markets such as the American need an one-two months pre-scheduling. Road shows should include various types of events including mini conferences, fam lunches etc.
These are the four key points of a hotel that attract a luxury travel agent
- The concept. The fact that the particular hotel offers different experiences from its competition. Let’s not forget that some agents do not search for simple accommodation, but also activities and experience for their clients. Hence, each hotel should offer completed packages to the agencies (cruise, spa therapies, etc)
- The popularity of its location.
- The positive reviews.
- The good photographic material.
Arrange a fam trip for the luxury travel agents, invite them to visit your hotel, or even organize a road show at the country they are located and represent. They will appreciate it!
For the article, we used photographic material by small hotels which are the ideal product for Luxury Travel Agents.