All-Inclusive Resorts Have Evolved, Tailoring Offerings to Meet the Needs of Today's Travelers

The All-Inclusive model has gone from low-cost cookie-cutter to the cutting edge of personalized service

By Julio Perez Executive Vice-President, Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts | October 28, 2018

The travel industry is evolving at a faster rate than ever before, and Bahía Principe Hotels & Resorts is keen on catering to the discerning traveler who seeks and demands personalized services along with unique, value-driven experiences.
For many decades, the all-inclusive model has been a travel industry mainstay. Born in the Caribbean and known for their predictability in terms of service, quality, average at best gastronomy and above all else -- low-cost price point, the all-inclusive model has extended to the whole world and has become appreciated by cost-conscious travelers seeking a reliable and affordable vacation experience. 

The (often considered) "cookie-cutter" nature of the all-inclusive model means it can be hard for travelers to know exactly where in the world they are when they are on vacation. Such experiences have long emphasized price-points, with little to no differentiation for their location. From Latin America and the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, South Asia and points beyond, once at the resort, the assembly line nature and probability of the all-inclusive resort makes it difficult to distinguish the actual destination the traveler has chosen to visit and showcase anything beyond the confines of a property's four walls. Moreover, certain travelers may also find themselves grouped in and sharing common spaces and amenities with other guests with whom they share little to no common interests. For instance, families with small children may be sharing pool time with honeymooners seeking a serene and romantic getaway.

Today's travelers also want more than beach and sun included in their all-inclusive vacation experience. In terms of quality, well connected and savvy travelers understand that there are multiple options available to them and want to ensure they're receiving the best possible offerings for their hard-earned dollar. They appreciate well-appointed guest rooms; they want specialty restaurants featuring innovative cuisine in addition to the robust breakfast buffet; they want to make sure their hotel stays feature not just one pool, but multiple swimming pools, catering to different personalities and segmented by age group.

The travel industry is evolving at a rapid rate, catering to the discerning traveler who seeks personalized services along with unique, value-driven experiences. Market differentiation in the industry has led to new products and new methods of promoting travel destinations and attracting niche audiences. Successful travel industry players have adapted their offerings based on the specific needs and desires of their clients, rather than relying on one a size fits all product of the past.

Market sectors within the travel and tourism industry are generally segmented into key groups and smaller niches. Such niches include age differentiation, from millennials to baby boomers, all of whom approach travel from a different angle and desire. Other segments are based on family type, from couples traveling by themselves, or with their children and grandchildren in multi-generational groups; furthermore, the rise in experiential travel trends have given way to travelers seeking adventure-rich options; local experiences providing an authentic look at a particular destination; and gastronomy-rich vacations where local cuisine takes center stage.

Travel niches and further segmentation demand that hotel companies and destinations tailor programming and packages to remain relevant. A recent spike in "wellness travel" in recent years for example among all travel segments including millennials, gen Z and even baby boomers have resulted in a rise in 24-hour gym centers, specialty spas and treatments, one-on-one personal training, yoga, spinning, Pilates and other fitness classes, diverse culinary programming and more to ensure guests can maintain their specific lifestyle while vacationing. With social consciousness and local sustainability at the forefront of many traveler's desired itineraries, hoteliers are also incorporating ways to capitalize on the rising voluntourism trend. For example, guests can now participate in turtle release programs or volunteer at a local school on days when they wish to take a break from sun worshipping by the pool.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.