If your clients like villas and apartments, dynamic packaging is the way to go, says Emily Ashwell
Imagine earning more than €21,000 in commission from booking a dynamic package? Well that’s what one UK agent did this year when they booked a private villa for a client through IAVRA.
Agents used to dynamically package to offer clients flexibility and cheaper travel. These days there’s a new incentive: it’s a way of offering clients individual, unusual accommodation that simply isn’t available through a standard package holiday. And the commissions available on these types of bookings are excellent.
New entrants into the accommodation sector such as Onefinestay are targeting travellers who are looking for an alternative to hotels.
Onefinestay head of worldwide sales John Clarke says: “We have noticed a much bigger desire for authentic travel experiences. This has been around for a while, but it was activity driven. Now it’s coming into the accommodation sector. People want something a bit different, to be able to please themselves and the opportunity to submerge themselves in a different culture.”
Alongside the trend for more individual accommodation, there have been new entrants into the market providing the technology that connects agents with accommodation suppliers.
There are many well-established villa booking suppliers who are trade friendly – Hoseasons, Villa Parade, Mallorca Farmhouses and Sovereign to name a few. However it’s worth updating your product knowledge on who’s new – both in terms of accommodation suppliers and connectors.
THE CITY APARTMENT BOOK
The concept: The City Apartment Book used to be incorporated with The Villa Book, but in January this year it became a standalone brand with its own website. Owner Susie Marquis says: “The idea was that people wanting city apartments like to be in the centre of a city or town so they can walk to restaurants, shops and exhibitions. We have an events listing and recommended activities such as exhibitions, walking tours and cookery lessons.”
Product is worldwide and generally mid-luxury. Its larger destinations are Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Barcelona and New York. The Villa Book has been around eight years and specialises in the south of France, followed by Tuscany and Greek islands. Both companies can organise extras such as private chefs.
Agent lowdown: The trade is a big part of its business and it pays agents 10% commission. It sends regular e-newsletters and agents are welcome to get in touch via email or phone.
The concept: At Onefinestay you’ll hear them use the word ‘unhotel’ a lot. Basically, they mean somewhere to stay that doesn’t have the uniformity of the hotel, but reflects the character of the owner and destination. The aim is that guests live like a local staying in a unique home, but also benefit from the high quality and convenience of a hotel service.
Launched in May 2010, it first offered accommodation in London. New York apartments were added last year and two more destinations will be unveiled in the near future. It has just launched neighbourhood guides on its website.
Agent lowdown: Agents can currently book via phone or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is developing a special agent web portal, hopefully for launch later this year. On the site agents will have their own log-in. Commission rates are variable.
The concept: The International Association of Villa Rental Agents is a website that connects travel agents with villa rental agents worldwide. It has more than 1,800 agent users and 5,000 villas spread around 51 countries. Travel agents register on the site, add their logo and then can go through the inventory to make very specific selections – right down to details such as whether the villa has a private chef, distance from the sea, wheelchair access and whether or not it has a steam room.
The agents can then send their client the villa selection via email, which is over-branded with the agent’s logo and contact details. Once the villa has been selected, the agent contacts the rental agent directly to book.
Agent lowdown: Developed specifically for agents, it offers luxury accommodation and there are no user fees. Commission is agreed directly with the villa rental agency. IAVRA says it only works with agencies that work directly with the villa owners.
The concept: The aim is to solve a connection problem between agents and villa and apartment suppliers. It offers 90,000 three-to five-star properties. Co-founder James Marchant says: “We recognised there was growing customer awareness of these sorts of properties, but among people who would never book with an owner and who always book their holidays through an agent.”
The suppliers it works with include some overseas rental agencies such as South Africa based Nox Rentals and some that will be better known to the trade such as Mallorca Farmhouses, Quality Villas or Freelance Holidays. Pathway GDS checks out all its partners’ properties are health and safety checked and suppliers are bonded.
Agent lowdown: Agents can use Pathway GDS via a desktop connection, XML or bespoke solution. It is also available via Traveltek. It brokers introductions between agents and suppliers, who agree commission levels between themselves.
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