As all-inclusive resorts continue to appeal to a wider audience, there are a variety of new options available in the marketplace from luxury and family-focused properties to unique dining and spa experiences. These new options have opened up the market and often provide great value for clients. The goal of the Trends in All-Inclusives panel was to share some of the newest ways all-inclusive resorts are catering to guests and how to sell these properties to your clients.
Panelists included Rafael Sanchez Navarro P., director of sales for Melia Cabo Real; Susie Casillas, director of sales, Western region for Club Med USA; Jason Kycek, senior director of sales for Occidental Hotels and Resorts; Jimena Motta, sales manager at Palladium Hotels and Resorts and Maria Rojas-Fox, U.S. West Coast sales representative for Real Resorts.
Do you think that the popularity and value of the all-inclusive resort concept is reflected in the marketplace?
“These days, all-inclusive properties are really offering the best of both worlds,” said Kycek. “They provide all the conveniences of a modern resort and also offer guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in culture.”
What are some of the most common misperceptions about all-inclusive resorts and how can agents overcome these with clients?
“One of the greatest misperceptions is that the food is bad,” said Navarro. “But we have made many improvements and the options are much better.”
Overall, food was one of the greatest misperceptions that panelists discussed, and they noted that many of the resorts now offer specialty, a la carte dining in multiple venues and that even the buffet had transformed.
“The buffets at Club Med have really evolved,” said Casillas. “The food is fresh and many of the items are cooked to order at the buffet.”
How have all-inclusive resorts transformed over the last decade? What are some new trends and product offerings that agents should be aware of?
Panelists reflected on some of the newest trends and product offerings in the all-inclusive market, and the general consensus was that family offerings that provide great value as well as ultra-luxury offerings were the most popular trends.
“Family services, such as baby sitters and kids’ clubs, are becoming really popular with our guests,” said Motta. “Palladium also offers three different brand categories with an exchange of privileges from one resort to the next.”
Ultra-luxury offerings in the all-inclusive sector are also growing in popularity according to Navarro.
“Ultra-luxury offerings with great spas and food and wine options are important for the upscale all-inclusive,” said Navarro. “It’s an experience to come to these resorts and be pampered.”
When it came to the most popular features of each brand, the list varied greatly.
Motta noted that one of the most popular features of the Palladium brand was the unlimited a la carte dining with no reservations and the “stay at one, play at all” concept. In addition, she noted that guests really enjoyed the eco-friendly nature of each property.
Navarro noted that one of the most sought after features of Melia Cabo Real was its wedding offerings that provide great value for clients in the all-inclusive market. He also said that the weddings department on the property is currently expanding to offer even more options for clients.
At Royal Resorts, Rojas-Fox said that one of their most popular features was its online check-in at the adults-only, luxury gourmet resorts.
“It’s just like getting your seat assignment on an airline,” she said.
What is your number-one tip that you would tell agents booking all-inclusive resorts?
Kyceck and Rojas-Fox recommended that agents look at the star rating of a property as well as online reviews to determine whether it is a good match for a client.
Casillas advised agents not to underestimate the power of social media.
“When people see that other people, friends, family members, have gone to a property and liked it, they will want to go, too,” she said.
Casillas also noted that agents should be sure to qualify their clients.
“While Club Med is a great product, it’s not for everyone and every resort appeals to a different client,” she said.
Navarro advised that agents sell the destination as well as the resort.
Kycek recommended that agents note the value of the all-inclusive product.
“Sell the value of the all-inclusive vacation and pull in what the destination offers,” he said.
Motta noted that, when booking Palladium Resorts, agents should use a tour operator to find the best values.
Rojas-Fox said that time is of the essence.
“Make sure you give your clients enough time at the resort to enjoy all that it has to offer,” she said.