With its beautiful beaches, vast array of value-added properties and easy access from Canada, Cuba has traditionally been an easy sell for travel agents. But there are ways to make the process even easier, and we have Hola Sun to thank. Having launched a new e-payment structure for agents and a commissionable insurance plan, the Cuba specialist is putting agents first in their plans for 2019 and beyond. We sit down with Hugo Rocha, Sales Director, to learn more about what’s to come.
1. Travelweek recently reported on Hola Sun’s transition to e-payments for agents’ commissions. What prompted the decision to make the switch from cheque to electronic, and what feedback have you received from agents thus far?
Switching to e-payments allows us to save resources and time delivering the commissions to our retail partners. Agents appreciate when they receive the commission through e-payment because it is safer and quicker.
2. The company also recently launched its new Hola Safety Ring Plan. Is the plan commissionable t travel agents? And what are the main benefits of the plan?
The Hola Safety Ring is commissionable, which is amazing because it is another source of commission for our retail partners. Many of our clients are taking advantage of the plan. Not only is it affordable but it safeguards against unforeseeable situations. Passengers can cancel their trip 3 days before departure with a full refund. They also have the flexibility of making changes to their reservation at no extra charge.
3. With Cuba being so easy for Canadians to get to, are you still seeing a lot of last-minute bookings? Or is today’s traveller booking further in advance?
We are aware that the market continues to move towards last minute booking, however we have seen encouraging signs for the upcoming winter season. There are many sold out flights for departures around Christmas, New Year and March Break. There is also an increase in early bookings for January and February compared to previous years.
4. Varadero and Cayo Coco have always been top sellers in Cuba. But for the repeat client who wants to experience something new on the island, which destinations would you suggest?
Cayo Largo is a hidden gem, this destination is highly recommended for those travellers who want to experience a lovely relaxing destination to just rejuvenate. This untouched island offers Playa Paraiso, which is one of the best beaches in the world. Cayo Largo del Sur is a great destination for scuba diving and fishing because of its beautiful clear water. More importantly, clients can experience an amazing destination at an affordable cost.
5. What specifically is new for 2020?
This year, on Nov. 14, Havana will be celebrating its 500th anniversary and we will be there. We scheduled our Fam Trip for that week and we are excited to be a part of this significant celebration. Cuba continues to expand its product line as new destinations and resorts will be available this winter: Cayo Cruz, a small key located close to Cayo Coco will open its first two all-inclusive resorts: Valentin Cayo Cruz and Hotel La Marina Plaza & Spa. In Cayo Guillermo, Kempinski will open its first upscale beach resort in Cuba: Kempinski Cayo Guillermo. Gran Muthu Rainbow will be the first friendly LGTB community hotel in Cuba. In Havana, Sofitel will offer its new upscale property in Cuba, So Paseo del Prado.
Cuba continues to be one of the leading destinations for Canadians, we are always amazed and grateful for our many repeat clients. The island offers some of the best beaches in the world, friendly people, beautiful hotels, and an overall safe and peaceful vacation, all at an unbeatable cost.