Dear Travel Agents/ Advisors,
Thank you to all who read last week’s blog: Fake It Until You’ve Been There, and especially to those who commented on it. One comment sparked the reason for this blog.
“Totally disagree. Case in point. Two resorts looked very much the same. The research I did made them seem the same. Both had the same inclusions. Until I visited, I had no idea how very different they could be. I can sell anything to anybody. I just don’t want to sell something I don’t know. My experiences have proven it.”
I explained that we were talking about countries and not about hotels or all-inclusives but thanked the writer for giving me a great opportunity to write about this issue.
So how can a TA know ALL the hotels in a city or a country? No one can!
Even if you have an opportunity to visit a hotel or an all-inclusive Resort at any point, you can’t guarantee how it will be in a couple of years.
Many travel agents/advisors use the internet to check out hotels, but which sites can you trust? How old are the pictures on the site you are checking? How updated is the information for each and every hotel or AI?
Many people rely on and trust TripAdvisor.com. Not only is this a booking engine, you don’t really know the criteria of the people who are reviewing these hotels as compared to your clients who might call you at 3:00am to complain!
For All-Inclusive Resorts, go through the BDM. Learn as much as you can about the AI Brands and what is important at each one. Learn how they are structured and what their procedures are in terms of how often they update, and if they keep same standards in all countries, etc.
Once you are familiar with each brand and build a rapport with a BDM from the ones you want to work with, it will be a piece of cake – or a bucket full of dreams and shells!
For hotels, it is a little bit different. First, you need to understand that what is considered 5 stars in a different country is not necessarily 5 stars in the US. There are some countries that list 5 stars, and 5 stars (by US standards.) TA BEWARE!!!!
In Europe, most hotels in great locations are very tiny (location, location and location!) Be careful when quoting a price and thinking that 3 people can fit in a room!!!
When choosing hotels in other countries, first understand the star system for that country. Then learn about hotel brands: American brands have a different standard than European ones, than Chinese ones and so forth. Learn the structure within each brand, for example: the hotel groups from IHG: Sheraton, Westin, Hyatt, Hilton, Doubletree and more can all be independently owned as a franchise.
Feel free to pick my brain for more information on how to select hotels without visiting each of them personally.
Stay tuned for information about different cruise ships and how to choose each one of them.
Cheering for you!