Travel Agent met Thursday with Matt Bailey, president and chief operating officer for Aqua-Aston Hospitality, and learned how the recent merger of Aston Hotels & Resorts and Aqua Hospitality will benefit travel agents.
Back in late 2013, Honolulu-based hotel management company Aqua Hospitality was acquired by Vacation Holdings Hawaii, the parent of Aston Hotels & Resorts and a subsidiary of Miami-based Interval Leisure Group.
In August, Aqua Hospitality and Aston Hotels & Resorts announced the group will now operate under the Aqua-Aston Hospitality banner. Bailey said a natural part of the integration process has also been to develop a refreshed identity.
"Our stated goal at the time was the take the best of both," Bailey told Travel Agent, "so as far as agents are concerned, we looked at the incentive programs that we had and what agents were looking for. We adopted the Cash Booking Bonus program that Aqua had used. Interestingly enough, Aston had used it in the past. And we thought that was a good way to provide an incentive for the agent who is sitting across from the client. Not that we want to short-change the agencies with their commissions. This is in addition to the commission that we give the agency. And so far it has been well received."
Although it changes slightly at each hotel, Bailey said the Cash Booking Bonus program essentially pays the agent a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $250 depending on the volume and length of booking.
"And that was just one example of taking the best of each company and providing something that was better than the sum of the two parts," says Bailey.
The group’s five brands include Aston Hotels & Resorts, Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Lite Hotels, Instinct Hotel Collection (formerly known as Monogram) and Maui Condo & Home.
"The other thing that we are doing for agents that I think will be very well received is that we are one of the leaders in direct connectivity," says Bailey. "We work with a very wide array of third-party partners and in fact had been chosen as a bata test site for some of these partners and it provides real time inventory, real time rates so they are never at a competitive disadvantage. Again, when they are sitting in front of a customer, they got the rate that is selling at that point and time."