Sol Melia offers travel agents the Club Amigos incentive plan

By Grant Flowers
MIAMI -- Sol Melia rolled out its Club Amigos travel agent incentive program in North America on Oct. 1.

The Spanish hotel company, which has about 250 hotels in 25 countries, introduced Club Amigos to European travel agents three years ago, but this is the first time that North American retailers can participate in the program.

The program has 30,000 European members and in two weeks of road shows in North America, Daniel del Olmo, marketing manager for the company's Americas division, based here, said that Club Amigos has signed up 7,000 agents.

Del Olmo predicted that worldwide the program would have 50,000 agents by the end of the year. "Travel agents are an extremely important part of Sol Melia's business life," said del Olmo. "They give us most of our business."

Sign-up for the program is free and agents receive a Club Amigos card with an identification number.

For each room night that an agent books with any Sol Melia hotel, the agent will earn 100 Amigos points. These points can be used toward free nights of their own (an average of 6,000 points is required for a Sol property), gift certificates or products from a catalog.

Points are awarded on an individual basis, but can be earned through tours, group and Internet bookings, in addition to the more usual methods.

Del Olmo said Sol Melia decided to stick with a flat award rate of 100 points a night, instead of basing the award on the room rate, like other loyalty programs, for the sake of simplicity.

The program also enables the company to better educate the travel agency community about its product. "It's the best way for us to communicate with travel agents directly," said del Olmo. "Lots of travel agents only know us for our hotels in Latin America and the Caribbean, but we have 250 hotels worldwide."

The Sol Melia portfolio, which has hotels in three brands, Melia, Sol and Paradisus Resorts, has about 170 hotels in Europe and has hotels throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and Mexico (including the Melia Mexico Reforma, in downtown Mexico City, which was purchased in late June for $50 million).

For more information about Club Amigos, send a fax to 877-CU-AMIGO, or send e-mail at clubamigos@sol-group.com.

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