Face-to-Face: Rubén Casas

Rubén Casas
Rubén Casas

This week, Travel Daily chats with Rubén Casas, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing for Asia Pacific with Meliá Hotels International, about the company’s travel trade programme, Meliá Pro…

Q)    Can you please explain a little more about Meliá Pro and what benefits it offers to travel agents?

Meliá Pro is an exclusive portal tool for B2B tourism professionals. On this newly-upgraded platform, travel agencies, travel agents and meeting planners have access to the most innovative tools and software to maximise their income. In addition, Meliá Pro provides important information about Meliá Hotels International, allowing for a seamless transaction process that creates a mutually beneficial system.

Key benefits include an online booking platform, immediate commissions (agents are able to book at net values and their commission is automatically discounted from the price), centralised commission payment through Hotel Paycom, and access to the Meliá Pro Training e-learning programme.

We also offer Meliá Pro Rewards, an exclusive loyalty programme for travel agents. Through this programme, members receive even more advantages including 25% discount on personal bookings (maximum two rooms), earn points toward free nights, and experience exclusive services during their stay.

Q)    Have you experienced much interest from Asian travel agents in MELIÁ PRO, and what are your strongest and fastest-growing markets?

In 2016, we recorded 71% growth globally for the Meliá Pro programme. The biggest growth came from Spain, a market where we have the very strong brand awareness. After Spain, our next biggest markets for Meliá Pro are the USA, UK, Brazil, Italy, and France. However we have tracked a big growth in Asia Pacific during the last two years which lead us to strongly promote the platform in those markets.

Currently more than 75,000 travel agencies in 120 countries are already registered at meliapro.com, and more than 45,000 travel agents are registered at Meliá Pro Rewards.

Q)    What proportion of your Asian reservations currently come via travel agents, and how does this compare with other global regions?

The interest from Asian travel agents is continuing to grow. Compared to last year, we have doubled the number of Asian travel agents participating in the programme. We look forward to continuing to grow Meliá Pro in the Asia region. B2B strategy for Melia Hotels International is extremely relevant, supporting a big portion of the revenues, and we aim to provide better tools and benefits for our partners.

Q)    With many hotel groups trying to drive more direct bookings, why is Meliá continuing to focus on travel agencies?

Meliá Pro allows direct booking through our system; travel agents can easily access the best rates available with very attractive commissions and benefits. Our own channel melia.com is also important to us, but we at Meliá Hotels International believe there must be a different strategy for B2B and B2C. We have had B2B partners since 40 years ago and want to continue supporting each other.

We have created this tool for professionals in the travel industry to easily book their individual clients or groups through us directly, encouraging repeat business and customer loyalty. We target primarily high-end travel agents who focus more on “bleisure” and business travel. These travel agents are able to maintain close relationships with their clients, leading to a greater sense of security and confidence. We truly value our partnerships with travel industry professionals and the Meliá Pro programme reflects this belief.

Q)    What further developments from Meliá Pro are being planned in the future?

Following the launch of this new platform, we are also developing a social media strategy and more payment options to make the portal as attractive and functional as possible for the travel professionals using Meliá Pro.

To encourage travel agents to participate in our E-Learning program, we will also be offering various incentives and prizes for those who complete the training. We want to ensure that the travel agents using Meliá Pro are experts on our brands and understand our company’s values, thus being able to find the hotel that best matches the needs of their customers.

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