Johnny, what did you learn in school today? Actually, Johnny should have skipped school Friday the 27th, and attended The New York Times Travel Show. If he had, he could have picked up some these nuggets at the Focus on All-Inclusive Resorts panel and the State of the Industry keynote panel:
Discussions from the Panel on All-Inclusive Resorts:
Jennifer Doncsecz, president, VIP Vacations Inc.: All-inclusive resorts are something travelers can feel safe with. They don’t actually have to leave. Also, when they feel comfortable with a brand, that gets them to places they’d never thought about before. We’re already seeing growth in Belize, Costa Rica and Panama. They’ll go out of their comfort zone with a brand they trust.
Frank Maduro, v.p., marketing, AIC Hotel Group: Years ago, all-inclusives were such a sea of sameness that they became a commodity, but now people want an experience that’s equal to or better than the one at home. UNICO 20°87°, for example, will have a different kitchen for every restaurant and handmade components in drinks.
Scott Wiseman, president, Travel Impressions: Thanks to the great diversity and specialization in today’s all-inclusives, you could take a large chunk of the population and find a place where everyone fits.
Frank Corzo, v.p. of U.S. field sales for Palace Resorts: So who’s our customer? Pretty much everyone, because we have something for almost anyone who has a passport.
SW: You build it, we’ll sell it.
JD: The fact that there are so many brands is good for travel advisors. People don’t like to read.
FC: We’re not looking to make consumers book direct; that’s not even in our language. We even pass along leads from weddings to travel agents.
Steve Dumaine, president and CEO, cheapcaribbean.com: As for the sharing economy, vacation homes have been around for a long time; this is just a different channel. But it is a fundamentally different experience than an all-inclusive. You are not going to get a rental home on a lazy river.
Intel from the Panel on the State of the Industry:
Brian King, global officer, digital, distribution, revenue management & global sales, Marriott International: We now have 30 brands. Branding helps the trade and customers make order out of things.
Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corporation: Each of our brands caters to a different psychographic. Not demographic, psychographic… The travel professional is more likely [than we are] to match people with the right cruise line. That’s what makes lifelong cruisers.
Ninan Chacko: We see travel agents as a growth industry. We don’t have enough!
Alejandro Zozaya, CEO, Apple Leisure Group (ALG): More than 60 percent of our business is through travel agents. That number is going up, not down…Meanwhile, 50 percent of our hotels are in Mexico, so if the new president makes it look like Mexico is the enemy, that would hurt. But more important, it would be opposed to humanity, and it would also hurt the morals and principles of the United States.
AD: Cuba wants the embargo lifted, not umpteen new cruise ships and hotels. And that will happen.
AZ: People say, ‘Go to Cuba now before they get spoiled,’ but that’s not fair. This isn’t fun for them; it shouldn’t be like we’re looking at them in a cage at a zoo.