Boutique hotel group seeks rapport with agents

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MIAMI -- The new president of a group of eight small hotels in Florida and the Caribbean said he plans to increase business with travel agents, who generate 60% of the group's overall business.

Chuck Katan of Coral Collection of Fine Hotels & Resorts said he is retaining sales representatives to call on agents in Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota and other areas where retailers generate business for select properties but receive no follow-up sales calls.

Katan noted that Florida travel agents generate up to 45% of the Florida properties' guests, but the majority of guests come from the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

The group also established a telemarketing program, using lists of targeted travel arrangers who work with middle-class to upscale client groups, he said. Firms such as American Express and in-plant agencies with access to employee groups are on the list, he said.

The telemarketing effort was designed to help the hotels fill rooms closer to arrival, Katan said. The booking window, which was 90 days out before Sept. 11, now is anywhere from 15 to 45 days, he said.

Agents earn 10% pay on room and in-house package sales, Katan said, and on deals they find on the group's Web site. Katan said $50 per day agent rates also are offered all summer.

Agents who want to use a tour operator can find the properties in programs of American Airlines Vacations, Certified Vacations, Gogo Worldwide Vacations and Mark Travel-operated companies.

Seven of the Coral Collection hotels are in Florida. They are the Chesapeake Resort, Islamorada; Hotel Escalante, Naples; the Blue Moon, Essex House Hotel & Suites and WinterHaven Hotel, all in Miami Beach's South Beach district; Casa Ybel, Sanibel Island; and the Vero Beach Hotel & Club (formerly Ocean Guest Suites).

Katan, who recently was promoted from vice president of sales and marketing, joined Coral Collection in 1999 after serving with Noble House Hotels, Resorts and Hideaways. Katan took on his new responsibilities after the recent formation of Coral Beach Hotels & Clubs, of which Coral Collection is a subsidiary.

The group's Web site can be found at www.coralcollection.com.

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