The sheer number of quality hotel companies for whom Travel Impressions offers exclusive deals, commissions, upgrades, and other incentives for agents is a long one. For example, Travel Impressions partners in the Caribbean include Hyatt, Karisma, Iberostar, Atlantis Paradise Island Resorts, Blue Diamond Resorts, Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts, AMResorts, and Palladium Hotels & Resorts, etc. Executives from a half dozen or so of these hotel companies offered presentations about their incentives for agents booking through Travel Impressions, and one of the most interesting of many of them was from someone who doesn’t represent a hotel company at all. That’s right: Steve Lassman, v.p. and general manager at Villas of Distinction.
“The average price for a travel agent booking with us is $21,000 per transaction,” said Lassman, but that means half the bookings are for higher numbers. As an example of that, he showed a photo of a white, contemporary 6-bedroom villa in Turks and Caicos that costs $7,000 a night (not too shabby a week’s commission). On the other hand, he noted, Travel Impressions could also help you book a 7-bedroom property in Orlando that starts at $842 a night. “All of our villas in Orlando have home theaters,” he added, and beyond that, he pointed out choices that include everything from a private island to a villa with an ice skating rink in it.
Villas Are Scary
Nice, but how to compete against the do-it-yourself “sharing economy?” His answer to that question started with three little words: “Villas are scary.” After all, said Lassman, “There’s no brand recognition,” so there’s no easy way for the public to know for sure how “sharing economy” lodgings work until it’s too late. “We offer 2,100 villas, and we have to be bonded and have insurance. The DIY services, with 3.4 million accommodations, never set foot in a single product they sell.”
By contrast, “We vet every villa ourselves,” he declared. “Your clients get full concierge service and 24/7 customer care. Our interest, your interests and your clients’ interests are all aligned because your clients won’t just rent a villa, but get the right villa—we don’t have any special interest in any one villa—so they come back to you.”
He told a story about another way travel agents are protected. When the local manager of one villa rebooked a family whose first stay had been booked by a travel agent, Villas of Distinction told the manager, “You have to pay commission on that booking.”
Recharged and Renewed
Technically, said Lassman, everyone is the right customer for a villa experience, but in reality, most villa renters are between the ages of forty and sixty, and women make most of the decisions. Villa guests may be couples, friends, or families, but above all, they are seasoned travelers who crave experiences and “a customized trip that leaves them recharged and renewed.”
To that end, Lassman promised, our concierges can arrange virtually anything. “Yes, even tickets for Hamilton.” Although that, he admitted, will not come cheap.
“Every day, 11,000 Americans are turning 65,” he concluded, “but, according to an ASTA study, only 22 percent of them have used a traditional travel agent. This means opportunity exists. The wind is at our backs.”
For further information on booking villas through Travel Impressions, visit travimp.villasofdistinction.com.