Not one to sit on its laurels for very long, Apple Leisure Group (ALG) just launched Travel Protection Plus, which provides commission protection along with a host of ancillary benefits beyond the scope of traditional insurance products (we’ve got the scoop on recommend.com). This is just one of the many ways that ALG is working with travel advisors to ease workflow.
To learn what else ALG is doing to make its partnership with you more seamless, as well as the company’s take on the travel business as we step into the new decade, we sat down with Wendy Hoekwater, senior v.p., marketing vacations, Apple Leisure Group.
Hoekwater says that going into 2020, the surefire growth is going to be in technology. “Advancements are always in technology. For example, how do we expand upon our VAX program to make it easier for agents to book—ultimately, what we want is to make the platform easier.”
She notes that she sees ALG growing not only in the Caribbean, but “I see us expanding into Europe.” The company, she says, is not shy “about talking about AMResorts in other destinations such as Portugal.” It’s important, she says, “to be part of the global marketplace.”
That said, she notes, growth in the Caribbean is “really important. We always look at the customer travel behavior and see what new places will help to bring new experiences and culture to the travel experience.
“When I think about travel I always try to look at it from the customer’s perspective and then see how you back that up into travel advisors. It’s interesting to follow the trends of travel in general and the different generations and what they are seeking. So how do you make sure you elevate the travel experience…” and “how do we work with travel advisors for help in defining those experiences. So it’s our job, I believe, from ALG’s standpoint, to be able to share all those different levels of experiences that can be garnered by booking travel through us.”
Something else that she says is very relevant going into the new decade is sustainability. On that front, ALG is developing a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy to implement over the next couple of years—ALG Cares 2022. “We are in the early stages of creating a baseline for our environmental, social and governance practices across the business units,” she points out, and the key objective is to enhance existing practices. They are looking at expanding the number of Rainforest Alliance-certified hotels in AMResorts across brands and destinations—currently at 65 percent of portfolio; adopting Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria through Travelife for tour operators across ALGV offices, Amstar and other business units—to educate and engage team members, develop best practices for green offices, meetings, etc.; and developing an Impact Giving program focused on causes relevant to the industry. The latter, she says, “range from donations, in-kind giving and the development of volunteer projects that help our communities and the environment, so they can thrive in the places where we work, live and travel.” Other initiatives will include “creating a green hotel portfolio, and engaging and educating the travelers to be part of the solution, working with our supply chain and destinations to adopt sustainability practices. We hope to start reporting on our CSR initiatives by mid-2020.”
Apple Leisure Group: appleleisuregroup.com