Recommend attended Palace Resorts’ first Global Conference last week where the all-inclusive brand recognized the travel industry’s PRO award recipients. Travel agents from Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. were recognized for top profitability, growth of sales, and the spirit of excellence—those who go “over the moon” to excel. The conference also featured motivational talks, breakout sessions, and site inspections.
During the conference, attendees had a chance to unwind with a Mexican fiesta, a Jamaican beach bash (to celebrate the opening of Moon Palace Jamaican Grand in February 2015), a roaring ’20s gala, and a tribal Mayan performance during the general session. “We love travel agents. Travel agents help build this company and your success is our success. We are going to invest in you,” said Frank Corzo, v. p., U.S. field sales, during the opening general session. Not only did the conference discuss how agents can gain by partnering with the Palace brand, but guest speakers gave agents tips on how to be successful in this digitally driven world; how to remain loyal to their clients and have them be loyal to you; and the importance of self-branding and marketing.
Branding & Momentum
“Your brand is what your clients expect from you,” said Jennifer Doncsecz, president, VIP Vacations, during the general session. She noted that exceptional brands are those that are unique, compelling, resonate with their clients, and capitalize on their strengths. She also said not to “sell luxury if you can’t imagine spending $500 to $1,000 on a room; and if you can’t stand working with brides, don’t sell weddings.”
Authenticity is key, pointed out Doncsecz. She mentioned that travel agents could show off their expertise and post testimonials with images since photos are a vital part of communication nowadays with the increase in social media. It’s no secret that consumers like to see what people are doing, not just read about it. “Your brand comes to life in how you constantly behave, promote yourself, and present yourself to others,” said Doncsecz. “People don’t buy what you sell, they buy what you believe. Marketing is no longer about what you sell, but about the stories you tell. We sell dreams to people—it’s a feeling.”
Doncsecz noted that travel agents should be updating their websites every five years and also using social media to reach clients, but limiting their time on the platform. “People think it’s free. It’s not, it costs time,” she added. She also said that it’s important for businesses to keep a score card with their employees and review it once a week. “Studies find that anything that is measured and watched improves.”
Motivational speaker Stuart Cohen, meanwhile, said that agents need to learn to be there for their clients when they return from their vacation because clients want to share their experiences and know that their travel agent cares. Abandoning them, he added, gives them the opportunity to shop around and find another agent. Cohen also said that agents need to keep their clients happy, do remarkable work, and give remarkable service for clients to remain loyal. “Once you have a client, they’re yours to lose,” he said.
In one example Cohen gave the audience, he said that when agents book a resort vacation for their clients, they should let them know that they also book cruises and are knowledgeable in that area. He said it’s best to keep in touch with them to inform them of what they specialize in, or what destinations they are experts in, because agents should not lose a client to another agency simply because they didn’t know you also book cruise vacations, too. If agents are loyal to their clients, he said, they’ll be loyal to you.
Let the Brand Work for You
Quinn Rand, Business Development Manager of Palace Resorts, led the discussion on the Palace PRO Specialist tools available for agents, such as the online training portal, FAMs, and travel agent academy. For example, Palace Resorts will split the cost of a booth at a trade show with agents, if the booth is exclusive to the brand, and they will provide materials and have a BDM attend with the travel agent. Palace can also create customized radio spots with an agent’s travel agency information; for storefronts, Palace will print three window displays of any size for a door, window, or a small display for free, as well as brochures, fliers and handouts; and agents interested in a car cover wrap can get one customized with their company information.
Palace also offers monetary perks such as the Cash is King rewards program. Agents who book three to four nights earn $50; five to six nights earn $75; seven or more earns $100; and for those who book 10 or more rooms within a calendar year, earn $250-plus. There are different levels within the PRO agent program. For example, if agents book five to nine rooms they receive a Bronze status; Platinum status is given to those who book 75 rooms or more. Each PRO level offers agents additional perks, rewards, and free nights.
All Weddings Are Not Created Equal
Weddings are a big part of Palace’s business, and in turn, huge earnings for you, too. Between the seven Palace Resorts properties, there are over 100 bridal locations. Moon Palace itself can host a Catholic wedding at the Seaside Chapel, a Hindu celebration with a Hindu chef, or a Jewish and interfaith celebration. Your clients can choose video and live streaming of their ceremony to share with guests who can not attend, both of which are commissionable, as well as the cake, linens, music, fireworks, and any other add-ons; honeymoon packages are also commissionable.
Agents aren’t the only ones earning as couples can get free rooms, which are good for 24 months, meaning that instead of sharing the free rooms with guests, the couple can choose to save them for a return visit or an anniversary. Wedding guests earn too when booking in a group: each guest will get $1,500 in resort credits to use at the spa, for tours, or even upgrades to select wine brands.
Resort Credit for the Spoiled Rotten
Palace also spoils travel agents with more flexible resort credits that can be used for different onsite amenities from golf to a spa treatment; the flexible resort credits are now extended through Jan. 31, 2015. In fact, Moon Palace created a smartphone app that keeps track of the $1,500 resort credit.
If you missed this year’s conference, trade show, and awards gala, start planning for next year as the Second Annual Global Conference will take place Sept. 17-20, 2015 at Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort. For more information, visit moonpalacecancun.com or palaceproagents.com.