Villas of Distinction sweetens pot for agents, expanding to other places

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The Coral House on Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos, is priced at $5,500 a night.
The Coral House on Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos, is priced at $5,500 a night.
Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

The average travel agent booking for a one-week stay at a property in the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe in the Villas of Distinction portfolio is $22,000 so far this year, up from $16,000 in 2015, according to Steve Lassman, the vice president of the company, a villa provider owned by World Travel Holdings.

Lassman reported a “good winter season on top of a strong 2015. We’ve not had cancellations or many inquiries regarding the Zika virus, the dollar is strong and consumer confidence is steady.”

Lassman said, “Villas are a great source of commissions, but they often are overlooked by agents. We’ve sweetened the pot with two new marketing initiatives that make villas an even better deal for agents.” 

A $500 concierge credit, available at 125 villas in the Caribbean, Mexico and Italy (out of a total of 1,600 properties), can be used by clients to add extras to their stay, such as spa treatments, a zipline tour, a sunset cruise, services of a personal chef, tee times or car rentals, all of which can be arranged by the concierge assigned to each villa.

“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Lassman said. “Reaction has been very positive.”  The program launched March 15; bookings must be made by April 30 for departures through Dec. 16, he said.

Also new is the bonus commission program. 

“Our standard commission is 10%, but agents who book clients for travel before Jan. 7, 2017, can earn a bonus of up to $750, depending upon the amount of the booking,” Lassman said. 

For every one-week booking over $5,000, the bonus is $200; over $20,000, it is $500, and over $40,000, the bonus commission is $750.

He urged agents to book now for the holidays, especially for beachfront properties. 

“Some are sold out already, but we have a large inventory and can offer seven-night stays as well as 10- and 14-night stays over the Christmas-New Year period,” he said.

Villas of Distinction will launch apartment stays in New York in early April.

“We have an inventory of 100 apartments, some really fabulous ones,” Lassman said. “We’re going to add stays in private homes in Orlando and Miami later on this year.”

The company is looking at Cuba to determine if there is a villa product that “synergizes with our luxury collection,” he added. “I’m sure there will be opportunities in the future, but the infrastructure right now does not appear to support luxury villa stays.”

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