FM: We have a couple of events coming up—besides concerts with big-name artists— such as Summer with the Stars June 18-23 at Aventura Cove Palace—to be rebranded as Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya—where we bring 18 celebrities down from Disney, “X-Factor,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “American Idol,” and they put on shows or performances for our guests, ranging from karaoke contests to a big final performance where all of the artists come up and sing.
At Cancun Palace—to be rebranded as Hard Rock Hotel Cancun—from April 2-7 we’ll have the Ultimate Rock n Roll Experience, where we basically bring band members from a variety of bands—ranging from the drummer for Billy Joel to the song writer for Survivor—musical celebrities who come down and actually teach a camp to our guests, who at the end of their stay, get to perform on stage with some of these celebrities.
TH: And these programs, they’re not inclusive as well, are they?
FM: Oh, yes, they are.
Sandor Winkler: As Frank was mentioning, we really are trying to change the standard of what guests should expect as part of an all-inclusive experience in the destination. It’s traditionally been just the same old cultural shows, but for example, we just had John Secada for Valentine’s Day, and we’re bringing Shakira down, as well as Enrique Iglesias. To us, that is the expectation that clients should start having about the level of entertainment they should expect in a Cancun/Riviera Maya destination. And again, the all-inclusive package at our properties includes all of these concerts. If you stay in any room category for seven nights, then you get two free tickets. We like to be the trendsetters in the marketplace.
TH: Alright, so far you’ve got one all-inclusive Hard Rock property in the Dominican Republic, and you’re working on three more in Mexico. Do you have anything planned past that?
RC: For now, we’ve really been focused on getting these three properties transformed within the next year and a half, but if you see our history, we establish another property every year or two. So, after we’re done with this, about another year or two and we’ll probably start looking again.
TH: And what should agents focus on when selling these properties to their clients?
SW: To us, the focus should be on what all-inclusive should mean now. At this stage, when you look at the types of things that we include—for instance wine by the bottle—these are not things that are standard yet in the industry, despite the fact that we’ve offered them for over 10 years. These are things that are still new. And when you put on top of that, things like concerts, $1,500 in resort credit which you can use toward spa services and golf, you really get this idea that we’re offering something that other properties just aren’t approaching yet.
We realize in the end that although it’s a slightly upscale price, agents are able to get the best value possible for their clients. Their clients are going go down to the destination, and they’ll have that massage and they’ll go on that tour, and they’ll do all these things that we include. At any other property, these are things clients are buying at the destination, it’s not something agents are commissioning on. So to get a product that really is completely inclusive, for a little bit extra, agents get their clients a whole lot extra of inclusions; it’s a great way to get their clients the best value and for agents themselves to get the best value out of their commissions.
FM: And not to mention, when you’re down on property, you tend to make long-distance phone calls. If you have kids in their teens, they want to use the Internet. When you start adding up the charges for long-distance phone calls and $14.95 per day for Internet—things that we include as part of the all-inclusive experience—you can see the value of staying with Palace Resorts or the all-inclusive Hard Rock.