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Tianguis Turistico, Mexico’s annual tourism conference, offers more than just an opportunity to network and sell travel. It’s also a chance for suppliers and government officials to discuss the state of the industry.
As a follow-up to this year’s Tianguis in Mazatlan, several tourism insiders shared their opinions about the biggest trends affecting how Mexico is sold as a tourism destination. These are the issues that came up the most.
More Mobility“The biggest trend is that people are traveling more,” said Alex Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group, which owns Apple Vacations, AMResorts, Travel Impressions and other brands. “At the current rate, there will be 80 million new passports within 10 years. Mexico has a great opportunity to capture that market.”
David Torres, corporate director of sales at Excellence Group Luxury Hotels & Resorts, agrees about the growth potential. Among the most important disruptors, he said, is “the constant process of ‘worldwide touristification,’ expressed as an ever growing-population, traveling more, visiting more places and doing more things.”
Traveler Evolution“Today’s consumer is no longer looking for a one-size-fits-all type of vacation,” said Frank Corzo, vice president of U.S. field sales at Palace Resorts. “When searching for a destination, individuals want a luxurious vacation that not only caters to them but can also provide cultural diversity, experiential experiences and the ultimate culinary journey. Travelers are also looking for adventure.”
Juan Vela Ruiz, vice president of Velas Resorts, said consumer interest in authentic experiences influences how his company develops new services.
“People want to experience the local culture and have the option to explore more deeply, whether it’s through more contact with locals and their traditions and customs or engaging in activities that make memories,” he said.
Evolving tastes are fueling growth, according to Shyla Gardner, area director of sales and marketing Mexico at Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
“With the increased expectations to deliver authentic and customized experiences, I believe the hotel industry in Mexico is in a growth phase,” she said. “There are more boutique hotels opening throughout the country with less than 20 rooms total, offering very intimate and personalized accommodations. The challenge in this space becomes consistency and trust, as the level of service and amenities can vary greatly.”
Generational ShiftingToday’s travelers to Mexico represent four different generations, according to Enrique Calderon, chief operations officer for Grupo Posadas. And suppliers and travel agents need to know how to serve each group.
“Younger travelers, for example, are looking for different experiences, and they’re doing more research about where they want to go,” he said. “They’re small families; they’ve gotten married and have young children. We need evolution and variety in what we offer. Everything related to customer experience needs to be very evolved.”
Corzo reports that the way families vacation has changed.
“We are seeing a shift in families where they’re transitioning from smaller to larger groups, by adding a variety of different age groups in the travel plans,” he said.
Digital Marketing “Without a doubt, social media has greatly impacted the marketing of Mexico, with friends and family sharing stories of their adventures and inspiring confidence in travel,” said Marco Antonio Garcia Castro, secretary of tourism for the state of Sinaloa. “In fact, social media was a motivating factor for Mazatlan’s new campaign theme, ‘Stories Make the Best Souvenirs.’”
Ricardo Orozco, vice president of operations for Solmar Hotels & Resorts, said that social media is crucial for building good reputations with travelers.
“At the moment of researching, investigating, deciding and finally buying a trip, credibility lies in digital media, based on the opinions and experiences of other travelers,” he explained. “‘Face to face’ has been gradually replaced by digital platforms and new forms of communication.”
The challenge is to maintain a consistent message, according to Carlos Berdegue Sacristan, president and CEO of El Cid Resorts.
“We have a current challenge where we still need to communicate directly with the consumer and align strategies with what the CPTM [Mexico Tourism Board] is doing to promote Mexico,” he said. “We need to do a much better job in talking directly to consumers through all the channels of social media and others.”
Without a doubt, social media has greatly impacted the marketing of Mexico, with friends and family sharing stories of their adventures and inspiring confidence in travel.
Traveler Safety Concerns about security in Mexico are “sadly the most urgent and prevalent issue to face at the present time,” according to Torres of Excellence Group. “It is both an issue of perception and reality. The perception side of it represents a PR challenge, as there is a lack of clarity and understanding of the true implications of the [current] situation, so the actual impact is worsened by an overrated assessment of the actual facts and risks to travel. This applies even to major destinations such as Cancun and the Riviera Maya, where literally thousands of guests arrive on a daily basis and return home safely.”
Gardner of Hyatt Hotels said that safety is a common topic for the industry.
“Corporate duty of care is one of the top points of conversation when speaking with our corporate travel partners, who send hundreds of thousands of Americans yearly to Mexico City and Guadalajara, primarily to conduct business,” she said. “Safety is a factor globally today, and it is no different in Mexico City than it would be in London that we must take the safety and security of our guests as a top priority in every hotel we operate.”
The DetailsMexico Tourism Board www.visitmexico.com