Margaritaville Resorts is expanding, even taking the Caribbean, feet-in-the-sand vibe to Times Square, New York by 2020. The laid-back brand is expanding to Gatlinburg in July 2018, Orlando in late 2018, the Bahamas and Nashville in 2019, plus Costa Rica—whose date has not been announced. There are properties in the Grand Cayman; Florida— Hollywood Beach, Key West, and Pensacola; Biloxi, Mississippi; Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; and Bossier City, L.A.
If you’re wondering what attracts visitors to this laid-back resort, we’d have to say, it might be the “anything goes” vibe and nods to Jimmy Buffett throughout the resorts, or maybe it’s the live entertainment, various dining venues (serving up delicious American fare), or the simplistic, yet ultra relaxing St. Somewhere spas onsite.
“Margaritaville is all about fun and escapism, and that’s something I think agents can use to bring the brand to life for their clients.” —Tamara Baldanza-Dekker, Chief Marketing Officer for Margaritaville
Now, to help you better sell these resorts, we reached out to Tamara Baldanza-Dekker, chief marketing officer for Margaritaville to find out what they’re doing to attract you to closing those sales, and what education programs, incentives, and perks they might be offering agents.
Michelle Marie Arean (MMA): What are you doing to attract travel agents to sell the Margaritaville brand?
Tamara Baldanza-Dekker (TBD): Margaritaville offers agents a variety of discounted rates and FAM opportunities.
Our hospitality portfolio has grown so much, especially over the last 12 months. Education is key to ensure agents understand the brand, and firsthand experience so they can see, feel, touch and interact with it. We also believe it is valuable to continue to educate agents on our new property announcements.
The brand’s hospitality pipeline features more than 10 lodging locations and 20 additional projects in the pipeline. This includes the new Margaritaville Resort Orlando, Margaritaville Resort Gatlinburg, Margaritaville Vicksburg Hotel, Margaritaville Nashville Hotel, Margaritaville Resort at Lake of the Ozarks, Margaritaville Resort Flamingo Beach Costa Rica, Margaritaville Resort New York City and more.
MMA: Do you have any new agent programs or commission incentives in the pipeline?
TBD: Each of our properties is individually owned and managed, so we encourage travel professionals to contact the properties directly for more information. Hotels and resorts within our portfolio have their own specific travel agent offers and we are working toward a brand-wide program, with standardized offers, in the future.
MMA: What would you say to an agent that differentiates you to them from other brands they work with?
TBD: We consider ourselves to be the original lifestyle brand, and our lifestyle has translated into a thriving hospitality division. Our global lifestyle brand includes not only hotels and resorts but restaurants, casinos, vacation ownership properties, consumer products, retail shops, a national radio station on SiriusXM® and more.
Margaritaville is all about fun and escapism, and that’s something I think agents can use to bring the brand to life for their clients.
This lends naturally to hotels and resorts where travelers are looking to leave their worries at the door and just relax. We offer a tropical escape for guests looking to drift away to paradise.
MMA: What role do travel agents play for the Margaritaville brand?
TBD: We do work closely with agents, but again, not at the brand level yet—it’s really up to the individual hotels and resorts to create compelling offers, host FAMs, and build that relationship. That said, we do believe that our relationship with agents will continue to grow as this is such a key segment and distribution channel for us.
MMA: What advice would you give to agents booking your properties? Any insider tips to share with them?
TBD: Our properties offer something for everyone whether it’s a family vacation, romantic escape, a getaway with friends, or a corporate meeting—with unique team-building during the day and great food and drinks at night.
The appeal of our resorts isn’t just for travelers who are already fans of the brand, but also extends to others, due to the exciting variety of amenities we offer and our authentic, laid-back, vibe.
MMA: How can agents better educate themselves about the brand and all the new properties opening up?
TBD: The best education is to stay at one of our properties, but if any actual visit isn’t possible, agents can visit our website at Margaritaville.com/Stay for additional information on each of our properties. We encourage agents to listen to Radio Margaritaville, visit our blog and sign up for our e-newsletter. Not only are they educational, but they’re fun too!
MMA: Can you tell us more about your all-inclusive segment partnership with Karisma Hotels & Resorts?
TBD: The debut of Margaritaville, an All-Inclusive Experience, by Karisma, will mark a handful of exciting milestones for Margaritaville, including our first all-inclusive resorts.
The new resort concept we’ve created with Karisma combines their exceptional service, incredible food and beverage, and knack for personalized experiences and innovation with Margaritaville’s fun and escapism, signature food and beverage concepts, personality and iconic design elements.
MMA: How will these properties differ from the existing Margaritaville resorts?
TBD: These properties will be some of the largest properties in our portfolio. They will offer the brand’s signature identity, along with exciting new amenities. Once we have more details to share as it relates to the specific resort locations and amenities, we’ll be sure to let you know!
MMA: How will this affect travel agents’ bookings?
TBD: We don’t have any information to share at this time as it relates to travel agents’ bookings for our Karisma properties, but when we do, we’ll be sure to let you know.
MMA: Do you expect to attract a different demographic at the all-inclusive properties? If so, who are you targeting?
TBD: Our all-inclusive properties will be perfect for travelers seeking a worry-free way to vacation. We expect to attract a wide range of travelers as we do at all of our hotels and resorts.
Particularly though, we expect meeting planners and groups will be especially attracted as they enjoy the ease of having everything bundled together. We also expect to attract millennials as they gravitate towards vacations that are highly experiential and authentic.
MMA: Will some of the resorts remain with the current EP style, or will all offer the all-inclusive plan?
TBD: Yes, some of the resorts will remain with the current EP style.
MMA: What type of traveler are you hoping to attract with the opening of the new New York property, since NYC is anything but beach-casual?
TBD: Margaritaville is a state of mind and can be anywhere you need it to be. We’re more than a beach brand, we’re all about fun and escapism. As we continue to build our hospitality portfolio, we are looking for settings where we can offer a much-needed escape for travelers looking to kick back and relax. If the Margaritaville experience can translate in the Smoky Mountains—and it has, with two thriving properties in Pigeon Forge and a resort opening in Gatlinburg—why not the Big Apple? And let’s be honest… Manhattan is an island!
We are finding that there is definitely a way (and a need) to bring paradise to the city and that’s what has attracted us to areas like New York and Nashville, among others.
Anyone who wants to have fun and leave their worries behind is a perfect guest to visit a Margaritaville property. Margaritaville is a state of mind where everyone can enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of their favorite destination, regardless of their current latitude.
For more information, visit margaritaville.com.