Sirenis Hotels & Resorts has launched its first travel agent program, Sirenis Passport, offering U.S. agents marketing tools and sales resources to sell the brand’s two all-inclusive properties—Sirenis Punta Cana Resort & Aquagames in the Dominican Republic, and Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya Resort & Spa in Mexico.
Along with webinars, images, logos, marketing materials and web banners, the travel agent portal will soon be offering 10 percent commission when agents book via the program, and to celebrate the launch, Sirenis is giving away a 3-night/4-day stay at one of the all-inclusive properties. (Sign up by July 31 to register to win.)
Recommend’s managing editor, Deserae del Campo, spoke with Amanda Carlow, director of sales and marketing, about the brand’s new program and its recently opened sales office located in Miami, FL.
Deserae del Campo (DC): The Sirenis brand has been around for many years. Why did it create this travel agent program now?
Amanda Carlow (AC): Well, one of the main reasons for opening up our office here in Miami was to have better interaction with our U.S. agents. We recognize that the U.S. market really differs from our international market and they have different needs and wants, so we realized it was really important to show the U.S. agents our support. Our program, Sirenis Passport, really has a dual purpose of both educating the agents to provide them with sales and marketing tools to help them sell the brand and to incentivize them, or reward them, for doing so. I think with this program they’ll feel more confident to sell our resorts and also feel our support as well.
DC: In the press release announcing Sirenis Passport, it says that the two all-inclusive properties are “relatively new to the U.S. market.” When were these properties introduced (grand opening dates) and if they are still new to the North American market, where are most of your guests coming from?
AC: Our Sirenis Punta Cana property in the Dominican Republic opened in 2000, but we do have the addition of our brand-new Sirenis Aquagames water park that opened last March. Our Mexico property, Grand Sirenis Riveria Maya, is our newer property and that was built in 2006, so they have been around for awhile. Prior to us opening this U.S. office, we really only had two employees in the U.S.—a business development manager and a director of sales—but now that we have our office, we are really able to concentrate on the market. I have a fully dedicated sales and marketing team able to effectively promote and sell the brand both to agents in the U.S. as well as consumers.
Currently, most of our guests are from Europe and Canada. Both are very strong because our company is headquartered in Ibiza and they are better able to promote and sell to the European market.
DC: In regards to your Miami office, how are you reaching out to travel agents?
AC: We are definitely attending all of the main trade shows like Funjet and Apple Vacations trade shows as well as consumer shows—we were just in a consumer bridal show in Detroit. We are also doing sales calls and I have two sales managers that travel once a month to their markets door-to-door to build relationships with the agents.
DC: How is Sirenis Passport different from other all-inclusive resort travel agent programs?
AC: Right now it’s fairly simple because it’s a new program, but there are going to be many, many more enhancements to come in the future. I’ve had the opportunity to work on other agent programs in the past, and myself and my team are making sure to really research all the different programs out there in the industry to see how we can differentiate our program. I guess right now the thing that differentiates us the most is to make it visually appealing to the agents. Many programs out there are very simple and functional, but also very plain and they don’t necessarily entice the agent to stay on the page and explore further. We want to make it visual in that respect and also we wanted to make it a turn-key, easy to use system that agents feel comfortable and confident using.
DC: For travel agents unfamiliar with the brand, can you give them an idea of which clients they should book at the all-inclusive properties?
AC: The resorts really appeal to a wide variety of consumers. Both are family-friendly so we definitely appeal to family travelers especially with the opening of Sirenis Aquagames. We have this huge expansive water park right now where we can keep the kids and even the parents busy for the entire day, and that’s right next to our property in the Dominican Republic. Both properties also appeal to romance travelers, but our Mexico property is newer and more modern and also features our award-winning spa, Spa Sirenis, that has many great treatments as well as advanced technology treatments too. At that property, we also have stunning private locations for destination weddings and honeymoons, and we even have a chapel on property for those wanting a Catholic ceremony.
DC: Will Sirenis offer travel agent FAMs?
AC: We have not offered travel agent FAMs in the past; well we have, in conjunction with tour operators, but not on our own. I just finished my marketing plan and budget for 2014 and that is one of my main goals—to have at least two FAMs in 2014. We definitely encourage agents to stay up-to-date with our hotels and to look out for that information, which of course will be posted on our Sirenis Passport program.
DC: Through Sirenis Passport, agents can now earn 10 percent commission. Is this the first time the brand offered commission to travel agents for bookings, and if so, why?
AC: The 10 percent is not actually available now, but it’s soon to come in the next month or two. U.S. agents will be able to book directly through the portal and obtain the 10 percent commission, so this is the first time it’s offered to the U.S. market. Our main goal is to encourage agents to book through their preferred tour operator, however we do realize some agents prefer to book direct, so we don’t want those agents missing out or feeling that we are not compensating them for their hard work. By offering this commission, we are now able to show those agents our support and compensate them again for selling us and promoting our properties.