If you only stay at certain hotels so that you can take advantage of their loyalty programs, you might not see the point of using a travel advisor. Your thought process might be that if you know you are going to stay with a certain brand, it narrows down your choices and removes the overwhelm. While this is a fair point, there is much more to a trip than the hotel. There are the logistics, transfers, tours, activities, dinner and spa reservations, etc. Maybe you use a travel advisor for the bigger, more complicated trips but think that weekend away is not worth bothering your travel advisor. Regardless of which camp you fall in, you may want to reconsider your position because there is one thing you can not do when booking your own travel …
you can’t VIP yourself
Would you call the hotel ahead of time and tell them that when you arrive, you expect a room upgrade if available or a guaranteed hotel credit? Probably not. Even if you did, you probably would not have access to the contact information of those at the hotel that can make these things happen. However, the top hotel brands in the world have developed relationships with certain travel agencies so that these agencies can automatically offer clients exclusive amenities such as upgrades upon arrival based on availability, hotel credits, early check-ins, late check-outs, welcome gifts, and more. These travel agency hotel programs also ensure that travel advisors have easy access to contact information for everyone they may need to contact to ensure clients feel like VIPs. The best part of these programs is that clients get all these perks while also earning their loyalty points.
These travel agency hotel programs are not easy to get into. They are by invitation only and require an application process to ensure that the travel agency is a good fit for the brand. These programs are set up to enhance the experience for clients staying at premium and luxury brands, even if the hotel loyalty program extends to mass market brands.
Make sure when selecting a travel advisor that they have access to these programs. Here are some of the programs to look out for:
- Marriott’s Stars program for their luxury brands (The Ritz-Carlton, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, Bvlgari, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Edition) and Luminous
for their premium brands (all W, JW Marriott,& Autograph Collection hotels as well as select Marriott Hotels, Westin, Le Méridien, Renaissance, Tribute Portfolio, and Sheraton hotels)
- Hyatt’s Privé program combines its luxury and premium brands under the same umbrella. The program is for clients staying at Park Hyatt, Andaz, and Miraval hotels, as well as select Alila, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Centric, Hyatt Regency, JDV by Hyatt, Thompson, and Unbound Collection properties.
- Belmond’s Bellini Club for their 34 luxury properties spread over five continents
- Accor STEP Program covers brands like Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel, MGallery, Pullman, and more!
- Four Seasons Preferred Program is one of the most exclusive agency programs out there, and that is about all I can say about that! Please contact me to learn more!
If you are a traveler looking for deals and are price driven, then I would not recommend using a travel advisor. However, if you are looking for value, that is a different story. Below is an real example of the value of using a travel advisor that is associated with one of these programs:
If you book your own Garden View room direct for $500 for 3 nights, the price you pay is $1500 and the value of your stay is $1500.
If your travel advisor books a Garden View room direct for $500 for 3 nights, the price you pay is still $1500, but the value of your stay can increase dramatically:
*breakfast for 2 each morning = approximately $75 per day x 3 = $225
*upgrade to Ocean View room valued at $150 per night x 3 = $450
*hotel credit (examples are spa credit or food & beverage credit) = $100 per stay
*welcome amenity (up to $50 in value) = $50
The total value by using a travel advisor to book the same rate is $825, and you get to keep your loyalty points!
It’s not just about getting these extra amenities (although they are nice!). It’s about developing relationships. A travel advisor who is part of these programs is able to develop relationships with these Sales Managers at industry events throughout the year. The travel advisor is also developing a relationship with you, the client. Knowing what makes your stay an elevated experience as your relationship with a travel advisor grows can be relayed to those same Sales Managers that the travel advisor is building relationships with year after year. Prior to arrival, a travel advisor is in touch with the hotel several times to ensure that the client is arriving to a VIP experience. Doesn’t that sound nice? You deserve it, so make sure to contact a travel advisor for your next trip.