As Mexico launches a TV campaign to draw its North American neighbors back south of the border, some hotel companies are more actively targeting U.S. travel agents with incentives, promotions and improved websites.
With the campaign and more active marketing, retailers will be hearing a lot about Mexico in the coming months as the country's leaders and its tourism industry try to turn around what has been a very difficult year. And it will be hearing a lot from the country's hoteliers, as well.
One such hotel company is Velas Resorts, which launched a travel agent incentive program and dedicated website, at www.velasresorts.com/travelagent, for booking the company's properties in Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya and Riviera Nayarit (north of Puerto Vallarta).
"We want to get more aggressive with retailers," said Ana Gon-Ryan, vice president of sales and marketing. The site offers "more personalized service," helps track commissions and makes booking easier, she said.
The company inaugurated its newest property, the luxury 490-room Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort Riviera Maya, in mid-June, with Mexican President Felipe Calderon leading the ceremony.
The new Velas Incentive Program includes a $75 bonus for each reservation with a minimum three-night stay at the two Grand Velas Resorts and a $50 bonus for each reservation with a minimum three-night stay at Casa Velas Hotel Boutique or Velas Vallarta Suite Resort.
Agents also receive $50 for registering for the program and booking before Dec. 15 and a $250 bonus after the 10th booking of a three-night minimum stay at any of the resorts.
Another company with an enhanced retailer program and a newly enhanced website is El Dorado Spa Resorts and Azul Hotels, by Karisma. Its site, at www.karismahotels.com, now enables consumers to search for a travel agent who participates in the company's GI Vacation Consultant program, and giving consultants an added boost to their marketing power.
The two Karisma resort brands include six properties in the Riviera Maya south of Cancun.
Agents who participate in the consultant program pay $250 a year and receive sales and marketing material, a listing on the new website, Web training and participation in a "call to action" in Karisma advertising.
Karisma also launched a sweepstakes that offers vacation giveaways to consumers and leads for agents.
Participating GI Vacation Consultants gather registration forms from entry boxes they have placed in local retail stores. Consumers fill out the forms for the chance to win a monthly drawing of a vacation; the bottom half of the form, which the consumer detaches and keeps, is the agency's business card.
The top half is entered in the sweepstakes and contains information about the entrant. After the drawing, that information is collected and entered in a database to generate leads for the local agency.