|Xavier Mufraggi, CEO, Club Med North America|
A new Great Agents Loyalty Program is the latest move from Club Med that reflects a shift in the company’s overall philosophy toward agents. “Travel agents have changed in the last few years,” CEO Xavier Mufraggi of Club Med North America tells Travel Agent. “We decided to be sold by fewer travel agencies. The ones we’re working intensely with now, they’re more of a vacation planner. They really provide a service to their clients, and they have a more upscale clientele.”
The loyalty program is designed to push agents to look for something new to offer to their clients, he says. “It’s for us to work with fewer experts, to provide much more training and opportunities to experience the resort to help them explain the difference to the buyers.”
The Club Med Great Agents Loyalty Program will offer perks including advance notification of promotions, invitations to fam trips, grand openings and re-openings, and a tailored digital logo for websites and signatures. The program will also give the chance to earn one complimentary room night for every 14 room nights paid and the chance to win a free seven-night vacation from quarterly drawings. All graduates of the Expert Agent course will be automatically enrolled. Agents will enter bookings either on Travel Agent University or at the dedicated microsite, www.clubmedexpertagent.com.
The change in approach toward travel agents parallels the larger changes in the all-inclusive concept within the travel industry over the past few years. “In 2005, we started to look at these numbers, and for premium all-inclusive, 50 percent of affluent travelers would say ‘this is never for me,’ ” Mufraggi says. “Now, with the premiumiziation of all-inclusives, affluent people understand the convenience of it. Before people would choose it for value, but now affluent people choose it for convenience.”
The expectations surrounding what constitutes an all-inclusive vacation are also changing. “[We notice] more active vacations,” says Mufraggi. “We see that as a big trend and it’s going to get even bigger. More people who look for a vacation don’t necessarily want to just rest at the pool, but they want to train on their favorite sports at the same time. In the past, people would say that with all-inclusives, you can’t really discover a country, but with the development of the all-inclusive cruise business, people realize that it would be really nice to explore and yet stay in one bed.”