New Four Seasons Direct Marketing Campaign Riles Travel Agents

by Doug Gollan
New Four Seasons Direct Marketing Campaign Riles Travel Agents

Photo: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts 


Some travel agents are unhappy about a new marketing initiative by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts that promotes direct bookings.

A spokesperson for the hotel management company told Travel Market Report in a written response, "We deeply value the partnership we have with the travel advisor community. The strength of that partnership is based, in part, on transparency and ongoing communication. We respect the relationship and tremendous value they provide to their clients, and thank them for the trust they continue to place in Four Seasons."

Still, though, the company did not address specifics around its new promotion directed to clients of its top producing “Preferred Partner” agencies.

An email sent by Four Seasons under the signature of senior vice president of global sales Jonathan Sicroff read in part, “This month, we will begin testing the use of closed offers promoted through targeted email campaigns. In those campaigns, we are excluding your core clients, those past guests who book exclusively through Preferred Partners. We know that those loyal Preferred Partner clients see immense value in the travel consultation services you provide. Past guests who have booked through multiple channels, including a Preferred Partner, may receive an email.”

The travel agents who spoke to Travel Market Report on the basis of anonymity said the company has not addressed questions about client booking history.

“It talks to us like we are fools,” said one agent. “If my most loyal clients made a direct booking with Four Seasons at some point in the past, or maybe on business through their corporate travel department, Four Seasons is saying they think it’s OK to market directly to them. At least be honest or be more open with the exact criteria.”

The email promotions are bookable via agents, but another agent was upset that Four Seasons apparently won’t disclose what the offer is. “So I have to ask my client, what are they offering you?” this agent said. “Other hotel companies give us the offer a day or two in advance so we can reach out to clients and close the deal. The execution of what they are doing makes me look like I am out of the loop.”

Another agent said, “I just did a $50,000 booking at a location where the client didn’t even know there was a Four Seasons hotel. I happen to have a good relationship with the general manager, and the hotel the client was interested in for this trip wasn’t the right hotel. I had to convince this person to stay at this Four Seasons; he said, ‘Four Seasons are for my dad.’ I sold him on why this property was great, then I open my email and get some like this. It’s a real insult."

This isn’t the first time Four Seasons has done a direct-booking promotion, but "it’s new in the past year or two,” the agent said. "There is a lot more competition in the luxury segment and more choice. More and more I have clients who are interested in other hotels and I have to explain to them why I recommend Four Seasons. (Four Seasons) isn't’ the only game in town. I do a great job booking suites, and I am a Preferred Partner because I deliver sales, and this is the reward. It doesn’t taste very good "

Asked if this will impact his choice of hotel partner in the future, one agent said, “Definitely. Since I received the email there are several bookings I could have delivered to Four Seasons but there were other equally good alternatives, so (the bookings) went to Mandarin and Peninsula.”  The agent said, “I’m really disappointed. Four Seasons does a really good job in terms of delivering a great product. If they had targeted clients who have booked directly or via other channels in the past two years or something like that, I would have at least been, ‘That’s reasonable.' But this makes my blood boil.”

  9
  0
Tip of the Day

Something could happen to any of us, the loved ones we travel with, or in this case, to the magnificent marvels put up by those who came before us. So we must travel as far and as often as time and money allow.


Stefanie Katz, The Travel Superhero

Daily Top List

Five Good Reasons to Tell Your Clients About Loyalty Programs

1. Saves money for your clients.

2. Saves time for your corporate clients.

3. Gets all sorts of perks for your clients.

4. Offers enhanced reporting to corporate clients.

5. Provides better service and better client relationships.

Source: TMR.

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=b75eceda-865f-e911-b4aa-782bcb66a2f2

5 Good Reasons to Tell Your Clients About Travel Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs, also known as frequent buyer programs, have been around for a long time. But you might be surprised to know that many travelers don’t know about them. Here are five good reasons for travel advisors to spread the word to their customers, both leisure and corporate travelers.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Tour Operators Frustrated by Vague Cuba Policy Announcement
Tour Operators Frustrated by Vague Cuba Policy Announcement

Little is known about what the new Trump administration policy changes will mean for American travelers to Cuba.

New Apple Vacations President John Tarkowski is Setting His Course
New Apple Vacations President John Tarkowski is Setting His Course

The wholesaler’s challenges, says Tarkowski, are the same as those that face the retail travel advisor.

Avanti Launches Educational E-Brochure for Travel Advisors Selling the Galapagos
Avanti Launches Educational E-Brochure for Travel Advisors Selling the Galapagos

Cruises are the most popular method to get around the Galapagos islands, which the tour operator says is one of its top three destinations in South America.

Central Holidays Rolls Out Small Group Tours
Central Holidays Rolls Out Small Group Tours

The new, more intimate tours are being introduced in the company’s original home destination of Italy.

Intrepid Sails to Significant Growth on Wave of Sustainable Tourism
Intrepid Sails to Significant Growth on Wave of Sustainable Tourism

The adventure travel provider is seeing bottom line gains resulting from its dedication to practices of responsible tourism.

Abercrombie & Kent Adds New Luxury Expedition Cruise in the Baltics
Abercrombie & Kent Adds New Luxury Expedition Cruise in the Baltics

The tour operator’s Luxury Tailor Made trips begin with prepared itineraries that are designed to be a starting point from which customers build the trip of their dreams.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards & Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Tropics and Exotics 2020 -2021 Collection