Frequently Asked Questions

About Skylark


What is Skylark?

Skylark is a revolutionary travel platform—the first hybrid luxury agency with innovative and intuitive DIY online capability and a full-service, white glove agency to support and service clients. An independent venture spun out of Ovation, Skylark integrates the personal advice and dedicated service you’d expect from a traditional luxury travel agency with the convenience, ease of use and familiarity of an online distribution platform. Hotels are found on the site through querying the nearest city or the property name, embedded in custom collections, editorial articles, recently found deals, highlighted promotions and homepage features. Hotels are sold in two forms: without flights (listed at BAR) or bundled (hotel+air package with a single price). By pairing luxury hotels with unique, privately contracted air deals, we are able to deliver incredible value to our members while maintaining fully opaque rates and your brand's integrity.

What are the benefits to my property of being featured on Skylark?

We understand the challenge of moving inventory at lower prices while maintaining price and brand integrity. We intend to set the new standard for the digital travel buying experience with the following approach:

  • Acquiring New Luxury Customers: Skylark is a digital channel for acquiring luxury travelers who prefer to shop online without sacrificing the services and benefits of a traditional agency. Our target customer is notoriously difficult to acquire through traditional offline means, but is easily turned off by existing mass market, impersonal digital experiences.
  • Opacity & Flexibility: Using a dynamic “pairing” model, lower prices will only appear once at least two individual travel components have been paired into one total price (these components are currently air and hotel – additional travel products will be added in the future). This allows your rates to remain opaque to protect price integrity while allowing the client choice and flexibility in their travel options.
  • Real Curated Membership: Skylark members must pay a membership fee or be a member of a partner organization to join and enjoy the benefits. Discounts will not be open to the public and access to Skylark is by login only. Skylark tracks each member’s email address and interaction with the site to better fulfill travel needs.
  • Luxury Content Only: Skylark only works with luxury hotels from its curated collection. Our site is designed to showcase the best features of your property and avoid the commoditized look of most online booking channels, thus preserving your brand position in the luxury travel space.
  • The Perfect Hybrid - ½ Online, ½ Agent: Every time a traveler selects an itinerary on Skylark, a travel consultant then contacts them to service the trip and truly wow them. Skylark bookings are supported by the talent and expertise of travel consultants from our full-service travel agency, reinforcing the fact that “digital” doesn’t have to be impersonal and ensuring that the quality of service they receive at your property is reflected in their buying experience.

Who is the target audience for Skylark?

This distribution channel was developed for the next generation of luxury travelers, typically successful professionals ranging from age 25-45,​ who prefer to shop online without sacrificing the services and benefits of a traditional agency. Skylark members must pay a membership fee or be a member of a partner organization; rates will not be open to the general public.

How is Skylark different from other distribution channels?

Skylark is more than a booking site. It combines the best of the internet with the service and support a luxury client can expect from an experienced travel agent. Via chat on the site or iOS app, email or over the phone, we offer technology when clients want it and full service when they need it.

This allows Skylark to bring real service to the online space. As such, we are part internet distribution channel, part full-service agency. Built from Ovation’s DNA, Skylark differentiates itself by giving its customers access to a live expert 24/7 to help with all aspects of travel, from research and planning, to in-transit issues and accommodations.

Consider Skylark an alternative distribution channel to acquire an additional revenue stream from a new generation of luxury travelers, who prefer to book online without sacrificing the services and benefits of a traditional agency.

When did Skylark launch?

We began a private beta launch in 2015 and began booking vacations for a specifically limited group of clientele in 2016. An invitation campaign for Ovation corporate clients began in Q3 of 2016 and we officially opened the site and began accepting membership requests from the general public at the end of Q3.

Rates


What types of rates are you asking for, and how will they be booked?

Skylark can work with both commissionable and NET rates through the GDS. Note that SKY rates are not explicitly mandatory to join the Skylark Hotel Collection; however they qualify you for preferred pricing on our annual marketing program and give you a competitive edge on the site. We recommend any of the following options.

Options for qualifying rates for preferred program pricing include (choose one):

  1. Virtuoso equivalent amenities + 15% commission
  2. 20% net off BAR and choice of either complimentary daily breakfast or $100 resort credit

More about these rates:

  • In either of these examples, blackout dates or seasonal limits can apply.
  • These rates are loaded into Sabre under our SKY rate code (S3Y) for exclusive use in Skylark’s opaque pricing model and will not be quoted without air unless you give us express permission to do so.
  • These rates will only be quoted online/booked after being paired with air into one price. We have secured great wholesale airfares with all of the major US carriers and their codeshare partners, ensuring the client will truly never know where any discount is coming from.
  • If a client prefers to book hotel only, or hotel and air separately, the pricing will be displayed as BAR with amenities (or published for airfare).

In order to fully benefit from this program, we strongly recommend that you have distribution via the GDS.

Who can book these rates?

Skylark reads off the GDS and the IATA and PCC in the instructions are specific to Skylark. While Skylark can pull any rates accessible to Ovation, and Ovation agents will not be able to access what's loaded separately under Skylark, i.e. an Ovation agent wouldn't be able to access and quote these rates to a client. SKY rates are truly for exclusive use in our opaque pricing model on Skylark.

Should you wish to provide a special rate for Ovation Vacations agents to book without air, you may do so under our OVC rate code.

What is the potential production?

As planned in 2016, we successfully ramped up production at a measured pace with Skylark so that we could learn from a limited client set and consistently improve our product and user experience. We are now inviting batches of Ovation and Lawyers corporate members d​aily​​, and we hope to reach even more new consumers through strategic partnerships we continue to explore with major travel publications and financial companies. Bookings should follow, but it could take some time. We appreciate you experimenting with us.

How do you pull your rates and who can access them?

Skylark reads off the GDS and the IATA and PCC in the instructions are specific to Skylark. While Skylark can pull any rates accessible to Ovation, and Ovation will not be able to access what's loaded separately under Skylark, i.e. an Ovation agent wouldn't be able to access and quote these rates to a client. SKY rates are truly for exclusive use in our opaque pricing model on Skylark.

Should you wish to provide a special rate for Ovation Vacations agents to book without air, you may do so under our OVC rate code.

Are these based on allotment or free sale?

Rates are based on free sale, with the ability to apply seasonality and blackout dates.

Can a hotel be booked alone (without air) on Skylark?

Yes. Once a search has been conducted, there is an option to toggle between viewing pricing with and without air for the selected dates. Clients may also reach out to a Skylark agent and request to use points or book their air separately. In this event, the Skylark agent will quote and sell the hotel at BAR, just like a normal travel agent. Plans are in place to eventually allow this feature of shopping hotel alone at BAR in the initial date search.

Would you work with BAR rates?

We have to balance our choices with what hotels are offering - most hotel groups and individual hotels have taken the opportunity provided by the opaque pricing to put very compelling offers in place. We will do what we can to market you and increase exposure for your property, but ultimately the client decides among the options given and their own research.

How does payment work?

When booking as a bundle, the hotel will be prepaid by Skylark a couple of days before the guest's arrival. When booking at BAR (unbundled or hotel-only), the client's credit card will be on file with the hotel.

Participation


How do I participate?

Simply fill out the form at collection.skylark.com/join and be sure you click submit. Once your rates are received and approved, submit your marketing content for use on Skylark via a customized link from the Skylark team.

How will my brand’s reputation be protected?

Skylark only works with luxury hotels from its curated collection and is designed to show off the best features of your property. Your property will be positioned alongside only a handful of other properties in your competitive set, avoiding the commoditized look of most online booking channels.

How will my price integrity (parity) be protected?

We protect your price integrity in two ways. First, Skylark is accessible only to members via login, and therefore pricing is not publicly searchable on the internet. Second, Skylark has best-in-class wholesale airfares with all of the major US carriers and their codeshare partners worldwide which are sold together with luxury hotels to protect rate integrity while delivering a strong value proposition. Skylark reads off the Sabre GDS, combining airfare and hotel into one opaque price before displaying the results on the site and allowing the client to select preferred dates, class of service and hotels. If a client decides they would like to purchase hotel and air separately, Skylark reverts to BAR and published rates with amenities.

Will I have any control over the price and display of my property?

Yes! You will have influence over the content we display about your property. Our editorial team will work diligently to show your property in the best possible way, using a combination of editorialized text, high-resolution photos and maps. If you have comments, questions or edits to that content, we are happy to consider adjustments to the site at your request.

Is there a fee to participate?

This year there is no fee for basic participation in Skylark. We want to work with you to offer a product that is valuable to our clients as well as a great distribution channel for our hotel partners. There are fees associated with our 2019 leisure sales & marketing opportunities − either as an annual program or a la carte − that uniquely leverage the buying power of Ovation and the category-creating ingenuity of Skylark delivering content, pricing, service, and support the way travelers want it: online, mobile and real-time.

Is participation available to everyone?

Absolutely not! Only a select group of exceptional properties are invited to participate. We are focusing our efforts with a few select brands and individual hotels where reporting shows us the potential to increase incremental revenue and prove ROI. Each hotel and its offering are analyzed to ensure it will be attractive to our customers.

What criteria do you use to choose the hotels you work with?

We are currently being very selective across the globe both in terms of destinations to focus on based on current and anticipated client demand, and the right number of hotels to offer in each destination. Only a handful of properties are selected for each destination to avoid the commoditized look of most online booking channels and reduce consumer fatigue. Our curation approach takes into account service level, location, décor, room product, amenities and client preferences in a given destination.

ARE CITY-CENTER HOTELS ELIGIBLE FOR THIS PROGRAM?

Yes, absolutely. However, as mentioned above, we are currently being very selective across the globe in terms of the right number of hotels to offer in each destination. Only a handful of properties are selected for each destination to avoid the commoditized look of most online booking channels and reduce consumer fatigue.

MY HOTEL DOES NOT HAVE DISTRIBUTION IN THE GDS - IS THERE A WAY TO BYPASS LOADING RATES?

We are currently unable to price properties without GDS distribution online, as our pricing algorithm pulls directly from the GDS. We are looking into alternative direct connect solutions for live availability in the future, but unfortunately at this time, the GDS is our only option.

In the meantime, we can host a hotel's listing online showing up as a tile at the bottom of destination search results. This is accompanied by a message to our clients specifically encouraging them to to reach out to us if interested in these additional hotels, at which point our agents will reach out to the hotel by email like a regular agency booking. As this type of listing has its limitations however, participating in our marketing programs is not recommended for 2019.

MY HOTEL IS ALREADY LISTED ON SKYLARK AND I’VE NOTICED A FEW CHANGES I WOULD LIKE MADE.

Simply email hotels@skylark.com for assistance.

ARE CITY-CENTER HOTELS ELIGIBLE FOR THIS PROGRAM?

Yes, absolutely. However, while we are in this experimental/beta phase, we are being very selective in terms of destinations to focus on, and the right number of hotels to offer. Only a handful of properties are selected for each destination to avoid the commoditized look of most online booking channels and reduce consumer fatigue.

Troubleshooting


My hotel is live, but I can’t find it.

The search is currently by nearest airport. As we introduce more features, obviously there will be a bit more nuance added to the locations and neighborhoods, but this is how it sorts for now to be sure the system pulls the air properly.

My hotel is already displaying but we didn't submit rates. Where did these rates come from?

Hotels are currently priced on Skylark using rates available through affiliation with Ovation including consortia and elite hotel program rates and promotions.

I received a temporary login, but I can’t access the site.

An issue with the login may be related to the web browser you are using - specifically older versions of Internet Explorer. We suggest trying to login in from another browser like Google Chrome or Firefox on your computer, or trying it on a mobile device, as the website is mobile friendly.