After several months in stealth mode, Sandals Resorts rolled-out its integrated tour division, Island Routes Luxury Adventure Tours, and travel affiliates are well positioned to generate incremental ancillary revenue by selling their customers tours and excursions that spotlight the history, people and attractions of each island where the deluxe resort firm operates.

TravelDividends first reported in our May 15th blog post that Adam Stewart, the CEO and owner of Sandals Resorts and its sister company, Beaches Resorts, was creating a new strategic business unit aimed at providing customers at his – as well as other Jamaican and Caribbean island hotels and resorts – with access to the finest selection of off-property island activities, travel experiences and events.

According to Dominique Peterkin, general manager of Island Routes, each activity and experience selected for inclusion in the Island Routes program must first go through a comprehensive and rigorous vetting and certification process.  Passing the tour operator’s Certified Partner Program ensures that clients staying at a Sandals or Beaches property are then presented with a choice of only the “best-of-the-best” island activities and excursions, says Peterkin.

Although Island Routes Luxury Adventure Tours officially set-up shop in early June, they have been aggressively developing their product portfolio beyond their home-base of Jamaica.  With more than 80 destination experiences in and around Negril, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Jamaica’s South Coast now in its coffers, Island Routes is poised to roll-out similar local tour products and activity programs throughout the Caribbean.  The Company’s recent press release notes that similar luxury ‘soft adventure’ programs will be launched in Antigua and St. Lucia on November 1, followed by the Turks and Caicos in late December and the Bahamas in early 2010.

If these future programs are anything like the original, then TravelDividends thinks Island Routes will be a ‘winner’. For example, swimming with dolphins (which costs about $200 per person), soaring through the tree tops on a zip line, learning the secrets to cultivating Blue Mountain Coffee or river-tubing programs (which run about $70 per person), are just a few of the many experiences offered by Island Routes in its home-base of Jamaica.

What we particularly like about this program is that Sandals and Beaches Resorts (along with sister chains The Royal Plantation Collection, and Grand Pineapple Beach Resorts) allows – and enables – their travel affiliates to add-on an Island Routes tour activity as part of their customer’s resort booking package prior to travel, thus providing the travel affiliate and opportunity to generate incremental revenue from the sale of the core product.

If you are a travel affiliate and you haven’t yet assessed the attractiveness of either Sandals’ or Beaches’ travel affiliate program, you can begin the process by reviewing the information on the Sandals and Beaches travel affiliate website page, or by reviewing the details of their affiliate programs on Commission Junction, their preferred U.S. affiliate network (if you’re a British travel affiliate, this information can be found at buy.at, their U.K preferred network).

As TravelDividends has pointed out frequently in our blog, given the dynamics and challenges in the global travel market, all players in the value chain – whether they be travel suppliers, travel retailers or travel affiliates – must look to ancillary revenues as a key – if not critical – source of revenue.  Travel suppliers that offer travel affiliate programs which offer ancillary sales opportunities – like Island Routes Luxury Adventure Tours – will increasingly play a more pronounced role in many travel affiliates’ product portfolios.

If you are a travel supplier or a travel affiliate, how important are ancillary revenue programs to your company today?  How do you see these types of programs evolving in your business during the next 3-5 years?  What do you think travel suppliers and travel affiliates should do to harness the mutual benefits that can be derived from these types of programs?

We’re interested in your views and experiences on this subject, so let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment or dropping us an email.  Many thanks for sharing your knowledge with TravelDividends and your peers in the travel affiliate industry.

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