FORT LAUDERDALE -- A CruiseWorld panel on all-inclusive
resorts tackled pricing parity and why agents should specialize in selling
Ash Tembe of AIC Hotel Group, operator of Hard Rock Hotels,
said that "if you're doing it right," specializing in all-inclusives
can be highly lucrative.
"Working with a tour operator partner -- maybe
companies have bonus commission programs -- you could make 21% commission on a
transaction," he said.
He also emphasized the importance of focusing on selling
just a few products, whether it's all-inclusives or other travel products. "A
lot of people sell too many brands," he said. "You have to look at
what value do you give the consumer if you sell 500 products, and know nothing
about 500 products, vs. knowing a lot about 30."
"If you don't sell all-inclusives, you just leave a lot
of money on the table," said Howard Tanenbaum of Playa Hotels and Resorts.
Jermaine Brown of Sandals Resorts International talked about
his company's efforts in agent support and education.
"No matter what city and state you're in, we do offer
resort certification close by," he said. "Our support knows no
That commitment to agents extends to pricing, he said. "Your
clients can't go online and find a better rate," Brown said. "When
your clients book through you, they are getting the best rate, because what you'll
do is shop around for insurance, you shop around for the best airfare, and if
the rate goes down before the final payment date, they're entitled to that
"People say, 'We support travel agents,' but we show
you the money," added Carlos Gonzalez of AMResorts.
Talk of pricing turned to the subject of parity among agent,
OTA and direct channels. Tembe and Annabelle Romero of Palace Resorts both said
their companies strive to offer the same rates regardless of booking channel.
But in terms of agent-friendly initiatives, "You
actually have an advantage depending on how you sell yourself, with the
relationships you have with the resorts," Romero said. "I know we
offer discounted rates for groups through our Pro Agents program, an advantage
you would have over any OTA."
That echoed a sentiment from moderator Geoff Millar of
Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel, who earlier said that what agents sell isn't
travel per se: "What you sell is your knowledge, your experience and your