In a recent interview with CT Magazine, Melia Hotels International Vice-President Tony Cortizas took some time to share his sales expertise and product insight. Read on for our Q&A.
What is one constant that your guests will find consistently throughout the Melia profile?
We have six brands that are part of the same family, and one of the constants is that the quality, price, value that we offer is really quite exceptional. It can be on the upscale, or on the more midscale; whatever it is, travel agents can be sure that whatever they present to their clients really represents an excellent value no matter what.
What are the key sales tips for travel agents?
I would love for the agents to take some time and look at our training portal as part of the Melia Pro program that we’ve developed, because it really does a great job explaining the brands – we have the six brands as well as the key flagship hotels in the portfolio. What we really have is a diverse offering – it caters to really just about all customer segments, whether you’re talking about the baby boomer couple travelling without any children or a multi-generational trips, or a honeymooning couple, or a young millennial travelling for vacation or a business trip – we’ve really got strong brand concepts that speak directly to each one of those different segments. We have a diverse portfolio of brands with different concepts that are really well developed so that they connect with the different target customers that you’ll have in front of you. We also have a rich geographical profile; we’re in 40-plus countries. For the Canadian market, where there’s a major focus on the warm-weather beach getaway, we are in the Caribbean, in Mexico and other accessible destinations.
What are the advantages for a travel agent to book Melia over other product in the market?
As a company, we value the travel agent community tremendously. We’re a resort-led company; half of our global inventory is in resorts. When it comes to the emotional purchase of a honeymoon or when it comes to the investment of time and money in a family vacation, the services of the travel agent are always going to be super important and we’re always going to be a company that relies heavily on the community to recommend and sell.
So, not only do we have the product to sell, we’re also investing in the agencies with the Melia Pro program, so we have Melia Pro Rewards, which is loyalty based. It is not a direct channel program; it is a multi-channel program for agencies to book our program and earn rewards as they book. There is also a direct-booking program for agencies to connect and book directly with us. The rewards program and the agent program are valid through tour operator channels, as well as direct. We’ve also invested heavily in education, and have developed a training program in Melia Pro, which is very rich in video content. We’ve created different characters – “special agents” – who go through the different brands and solve their problems, and we teach about the concepts of the brands and the key flagship properties in each brand in a very engaging and entertaining way. It’s not quick, but we would love to have more agents go through it. We have 1,860 registered Melia Pro agents in Canada already and would love to see 1,860 more.
What is the best sales advice that you’ve ever been given?
I couldn’t break it down into one piece of advice. The first thing we should all do – and this pertains to us as well, when we develop concepts – we need to be listening to the customer because they’re telling you a lot about what they want and what works for them. Also, don’t assume what a customer wants. I think a lot of times there is a presumption about what a customer’s budget is, there’s a presumption about what exactly kind of hotel or destination that a customer wants – but if you listen to the customer and engage with them properly, you might be surprised as to what they are willing to spend or what type of experience they might be open to.
They may also come in asking for something, but you have to remember that as a travel agent, the reason you’re in business is because you’re helping people make decisions, so if they already knew what they wanted – how to buy it, where to go and where to stay – they wouldn’t be in that conversation. So it’s important to listen to them, but it’s important not to assume and presume too much. Involve them, engage them and investigate all the possibilities and you might be surprised by what you upsell and where you end up booking them.