There’s a good reason Iberostar Hotels & Resorts values the travel trade so highly – its owner started out in the industry as a travel agent. As it begins to open more hotels, industry partners remain at the forefront of the group’s success. UK Business Development Director Aishling McLoughlin tells us about a new, agent-friendly loyalty programme, as well as plans to open more properties.
What’s different about your new loyalty programme?
We have just launched a client loyalty programme called Horizons, designed to create unique personalised experiences. Unlike other client loyalty programmes, which are only valid for direct bookings, Horizons is valid for all bookings, including bookings made via our valued trade partners.
We have had a very high direct repeat client base for many years, so now these clients can book via their favourite travel agent and still enjoy the benefits of being a Horizons member.
Don Miguel Fluxa, the owner of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, started out as a travel agent and values our trade business which continues to be a very high percentage. This is evident not just in Horizons but also Star Agents, our travel agent loyalty system, where agents can log all bookings to earn points which they can redeem for their own free nights, and access discounted agent rates of 50%.
Iberostar has kept some hotels open during the pandemic. Tell us more.
We began reopening hotels last summer – more, in fact, than we initially planned for, due to demand. We were then able to keep open hotels in destinations such as the Caribbean and Canary Islands all winter. We have continued with even more reopenings in Tenerife, Mexico, Cuba and Dom Rep in the last few weeks – and have also reopened destinations such as Mallorca, Montenegro (pictured above) and Fuerteventura, with more reopenings planned in the coming weeks
We worked with a medical advisory board to put our How We Care health and safety initiative into place last spring, to keep our clients, colleagues and local communities as safe as possible, while, of course, looking after the environment.
What COVID-safe protocols do you have in place in your hotels?
We have over 300 measures in place. They range from limiting the number of clients in hotels and creating a social-distanced environment in public areas, restaurants, entertainment spaces, pool and beach areas. We have always adhered to a strict hygiene approach in our hotels and now have an ‘always on’ hygiene protocol using top grade certified cleaning products and materials. Clients can use the Iberostar app to check in prior to arrival and can use it during their stay to access information, make reservations for restaurants and the spa, and speak to concierge.
How have clients reacted?
Overall, the feedback from clients has been extremely positive, with over 92% valuing our How We Care initiative. As well as keeping everyone safe, it creates a more luxury experience overall, as it’s allowed us to continue our popular entertainment and activity programme and reopen facilities such as Star Camp (for our mini-VIPs, from four to 17 years of age) and our spas, which all makes for happier clients.
What’s in the pipeline?
We are continuing with the investment into our portfolio, with hotel renovations and also new openings, including Iberostar Cala Domingos, a beautiful four-star resort nestled in a secluded bay along the east coast of Majorca. It’s a stunning hotel with wonderful gardens surrounding the low-rise village style resort with lots of facilities and entertainment to enjoy, including Star Camp.
We’re expanding into a brand-new destination, Peru, with the opening of the five-star hotel Iberostar Selection Miraflores in the popular tourist area of Miraflores in Lima. With views of the ocean and attractive contemporary, modern design and décor, it will be a fantastic addition to our expanding portfolio, and just the positive news we all need to hear right now.
Is sustainability still important to you and your clients?
Now, more than ever, is the time to ‘build back better’ and sustainability has become even more of a priority to clients.
We are very passionate about the environment and have invested heavily over the past four years in our Wave of Change sustainability project. We have already achieved many of the goals set, including becoming single-use plastic-free across the portfolio; having coral reef nurseries and a Coral Lab in our Caribbean resorts to research and improve coastal health; and building compost heaps to work towards a waste-free environment.
Our goals will continue – with a target to become carbon neutral by 2030 and creating a circular economy in our resorts.
We believe that Wave of Change will inspire partners and clients,and set the standard within the industry with regards to future sustainability efforts. You can find out more here.
Find out more about the Star Agents travel agent scheme