Are hotel marketing gimmicks for luxury hurting selling travel in the long run? Protravel International seems to believe so. The company recently shared a letter to the industry with Travel Agent and, based on feedback we've received from readers on our site as well as at AgentNation, the agency is not alone.
Responding to our thread on AgentNation, David Thomas, consultant for Wanna Tours of Virtuoso On-Site Thailand shared his two cents, writing:
We fully agree with Priscilla, these "Exclusive Membership" scams (for that is really what they are...scams !) are just another mis-marketing example of the "bean-counters" panicking over occupancy.
They should be concentrating their efforts in cultivating relationships with established luxury producers (such as Virtuoso, ProTravel, etc.) to provide them with long-term, sustainable "revenue" - not go in for fanciful ideas to justify a way of filling rooms at discounted prices.
Commenting directly on the published letter, Michael Holbrook agrees with both ProTravel and David, posting:
For the most part these websites merely scavenge off, or poach the work of others and reinforce the general public's misperception that it costs more to make a hotel booking through a travel professional. We have the power to direct our clients most of the time and if we continue to support properties with no pricing integrity we will all continue to lose clients. When we run into these situations we make sure to let the management know that the reason we are not selling their property is that they allow their property to be devalued on these websites.
Meanwhile, Brenda Punchak vented her frustrations while sharing her personal experience, stating:
I have been very upset about this happening to my clients, after booking them with one of the tour operators. I spent a lot of time and research helping to plan their vacation to visit 3 different places in Hawaii. The hotel chain actually e-mailed them direct with a special they were offering, which was about $600 discount than the original price we had booked them at and it even included breakfast for two. I had to cancel the booking with the tour operator and book direct with the hotel. This happened with two different well known names in the hotel industry. So I lost quite a bit of money. It is hard to compete with that. What person wouldn't want to save $600 at a resort. Not to mention that they sent me a check that they shouldn't have only to cancel it. So when they stopped payment on the check , my bank charged me a $15 charge for the check. They did say they would pay me, but we will see.
The most recent comment in favor of Protravel's actions came from Christopher Baer, who posted:
As boundaries and constraints continue to vanish, hotels will certainly attempt to reach past travel professionals to sell rooms to clients. Travel professionals must in turn convey their value in the process: specifically that information does not equal experience, and relationships are not replaced by technology.
Shrewd properties will always cater to travel professionals because they vet clients prior to travel and send more good clients to properties than the unfiltered internet. Travel agents are also believers in directing business to the best properties for a client ---which is good for the property also.
Lastly, the do-it-yourself luxury trend is neither genuinely luxurious nor as simple as it appears: it wears off with age as both time and the quality of the travel experience ultimately outweigh the sweetness of an instant internet deal.
Thus far, the only reader who appears to be going against this grain of criticism inspired by Protravel is Glenda Bosky, who wrote:
This is ridiculous. These marketing platforms are driving Gen X-Y to travel during the down economy. We should be thanking them.
Do you have a personal experience, such as Brenda, to share? Are you, like Chris, Michael and David, in agreement with Protravel's statements? Will Glenda be the only one to disagree with the argument made in the re-published letter?
Share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you. Post a comment below are at the original posting that includes the letter. Write us on our Facebook page. Send us a tweet at our Twitter page. Join the discussion thread at AgentNation. We'll share your feedback if you share your two cents.