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Generally speaking, travel advisors and resort executives responded positively to industry giants Marriott International and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts entering the all-inclusive space.
“I think brand awareness is very important and big-name brands such as Marriott and Wyndham can really capitalize on their brand’s consumer loyalty and introduce all-inclusive resorts to customers that might not have experienced an all-inclusive hotel in the past,” said Jennifer Doncsecz of VIP Vacations.
“This can really help advisors when they are suggesting resort options to their clients because name recognition and familiarity can go a long way in closing a sale.”
Kevin Froemming, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Playa Hotels & Resorts, noted that in 2014, when the company was launching its affiliate-brand partnership with Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva all-inclusive brands, “the major global hotel companies were not that interested in the all-inclusive space.”
“What we are seeing now is more and more major brands wanting to open their own all-inclusive sector due to it becoming the preferred way to do business in Mexico and the Caribbean,” he said. “It makes sense since it will give the best price value opportunity to guests.”
James Berglie of Be All Inclusive said he believes that “more players in the game will be interesting to watch and see how they impact the market.”
“Obviously Marriott looks to continue their success from EP products, but I’m curious to see how well they are able to adapt to the all-inclusive model, which is entirely different from an operational standpoint,” he said.
“More competition will certainly help keep pricing down, but will Marriott be able to adapt to the operational changes between EP and all inclusive? Only time will tell.”
Berglie also pointed to Hyatt’s August announcement of a definitive agreement to acquire Apple Leisure Group (ALG) – which includes the giant all-inclusive AMR Collection –as a catalyst for other major companies entering the market.
“Of course, with Hyatt entering into the space in a major way with the takeover of ALG, it was only expected to see moves from other big names like Marriott and Wyndham,” he said.
“However, will these brands be able to shed their ‘city and airport hotel’ images in order to be competitive in the all-inclusive space against brands that already have a strong brand identity as all-inclusive vacation properties? It’ll be interesting to watch.”
Sarah Kline of Time For Travel took a more contrarian view of Marriott and Wyndham joining the all-inclusive marketplace.
“I don’t see this as a game-changer for us or the consumer. We already have had Hyatt, Hilton, etc., in this market and it’s just another marketing strategy to get a common brand name in the face of consumers,” she said.
“Most consumers don’t know Royalton but they do know Marriott,” she said, referring to the Blue Diamond Resorts’ brand, which will now join Marriott’s Autograph Collection as all-inclusive resorts.
“I don’t think this is a win for travel professionals, but it will help direct bookings,” Kline said. “On the flip side I do think those hesitant to leave the country will prefer a name brand that they trust.”
For his part, Frank Maduro, vice president of marketing at AIC Hotel Group, welcomed the news of the two brands entering the marketplace.
“Not only will this bring additional exposure to the all-inclusive market and attract a new clientele who may not have been keen to the market previously, but these brands will also raise overall standards of quality in the market and undoubtedly encourage airlines to increase lift to these destinations,” he said.
“These new additions to the all-inclusive market are definitely a catalyst for positive change and growth in the industry.”