Travel Professional NEWS® speaks with Jennifer El Khessassi, Marketing Director and Ana Diaz, Senior Director of Sales, Barcelo Hotel Group.
With 2017 upon us, what new things can we expect to see this year from you?
Barceló Hotel Group recently announced a new multi-brand strategy for its growing portfolio. The acquisition of the Occidental Hotel collection in 2015 changed the course of the company, transforming our focus from Barceló Hotels & Resorts, into a global hotel company, Barceló Hotel Group, with four distinct brands, Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts, Barceló Hotels & Resorts, Occidental Hotels & Resorts and Allegro Hotels. Barceló Hotel Group’s new multi-brand strategy is designed to increase understanding among its guests and stakeholders of each hotel brand, as well as the particular experiences and amenities available at each property. The company is also undergoing a $120 million investment, to be completed by December 2017, which will include major renovation projects at key resorts in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Central America, and Aruba.
Do you have any new resort openings planned for this year? El Embajador, a Royal
Hideaway Hotel is under renovation in order to offer the services and amenities acquainted with the Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts brand.
What do you expect to be your most popular destinations in 2017?
We are continuing to evaluate other Caribbean areas for future growth opportunities that align well with the company’s business goals. The Cancun/Riviera Maya area and Punta Cana destinations will continue to be popular with guest due to airlift.
With Travel Professionals on the rise, will you be offering any new training or incentives for Travel Professionals to focus on your offerings?
In addition to providing vacation experiences on the most sought after beaches along with an extensive all-inclusive program, we are providing our guests up to $1,000 in resort discounts to be used towards enhancing their stay with room upgrades, spa treatments and shopping to name a few.
We will also continue to incentivize our loyal travel professionals through our Barceló Partner Club, or BPartner. Not only do we provide points for every room night booked which can be redeemed for complimentary stays, we also offer cash incentives which allow them to earn more than just commission. We have an impressive leisure group cash incentive program, which rewards our dedicated partners, with up to $2,500 for 200 room nights. Working well with agents is our top priority. In fact, three of Barceló Hotel Group’s signature all-inclusive resorts – Barceló Bavaro Palace, Barceló Maya Palace and Barceló Ixtapa – received the Delta Vacations 2016 Quality Assurance Award. The Quality Assurance Award was created to recognize top partners of Delta Vacations that provide outstanding quality and service excellence to its mutual customers.
Luxury All Inclusive Resorts have been a big topic as of late, how are you staying competitive in this growing marketplace?
Travelers today are more sophisticated; they expect a higher level of service, a range of exclusive options and distinctive cultural experiences. Our transition to the multi-brand strategy is our response to this growing interest. The new, expanded portfolio means that the depth of choices for travelers has grown exponentially as we now have 109 hotels and 33,000 rooms in 20 countries. The new structure will make it easier for guests to select the type of resort experience they want with an appropriate price point to match, all while visiting some of the world’s most desirable destinations.
Are you seeing any new emerging markets for your resorts?
Given that visitation to Cuba is in high demand amongst U.S. and Canadian travelers, the destination will continue to be a priority market when considering Barceló Hotel Group’s future hospitality development. We are looking at other possibilities that we are not yet at liberty to disclose.
How are you positioning yourselves to address the Millennial marketplace?
Millennials are a segment very focused on experiences, and the new multi-brand portfolio offers this segment a more diverse range of exclusive and distinctive guest experiences. Additionally, the different resort brands cater programming to select segments; for instance, Barceló Bávaro Beach an adults only hotel, located at one of Barceló Hotels & Resorts flagship properties, offers an annual Singles Week which has been very popular among Millennials. Spanning over seven days, Singles Week focuses on activities that are engaging, exhilarating and spur conversation and connections. These include morning yoga, kayak competitions, sports tournaments on the beach, dance competitions, water aerobics, theme parties (80’s party, Karaoke Night, White Party), trivia games and more. The adults-only resort, Royal Hideaway Playacar, caters to Millennials by offering a variety of unique experiences such as a tequilaria program; elegant High Tea Service, with daily live music and hand crafted treats; A signature “Chef’s Vision” experience; Yoga on the beach; Private sessions with a personal trainer; A Cooking With Mexican Flavors Class; Guided Beach Walking Tours; A Sushi Class in the Asian restaurant.
Are you seeing an increase in family vacation bookings or in the romance / adult vacation side?
Another segment we have seen growing is multigenerational travel. Many of our resorts cater to this trend perfectly, offering families of varying ages and sizes experiences for all, from waterparks and laser tag for young travelers, to Vegas-style entertainment, fine dining, and casinos for mature travelers.
Do you offer Destination Weddings and Honeymoon packages? If so where can agent go to learn more about your offerings?
Yes, Barceló Hotel Group offers a variety of Destination Wedding and Honeymoon packages to ensure planning is stress-free and within budget. On-site wedding planners ensure that weddings are fully customizable, whether planning an intimate beachside ceremony, traditional cultural celebration or a big extravaganza for hundreds of friends and family members. From wow-worthy entrances to live music and wedding cakes to pre- and post-ceremony activities, Barceló Hotel Group’s four hospitality brands guarantee unforgettable bridal events. For more information on Weddings and Honeymoon packages you can visit: http://barceloweddings.com/
What three things would you like to share with our Travel Professionals to assist in selling your resorts?
The most essential item is for agents to understand the distinction between Barceló Hotel Group four resort brands:
- Royal Hideaway Luxury Hotels & Resorts: Our most elite and exclusive luxury resort experience. Guests can expect authenticity, attention to detail, discretion and the ultimate in personalized service.
- Barceló Hotels & Resorts: This brand features affordable, upscale resorts offering exclusive experiences such as the signature U-Spa Health & Wellness Centers. This portfolio is comprised of the latest generation of hotels and urban resorts across the globe.
- Occidental Hotels & Resorts: Featuring a range of hotels and resorts around the world – including Mexico, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Spain and Prague – this brand is the perfect option for families, groups or friends and couples. The brand focuses on active adventures that are significant to each resort location such as diving and cultural immersion.
- Allegro Hotels: This brand is designed for the budget-conscious traveler, and is a mix of resort hotels and urban properties that integrate vibrant energy, freedom and fun.
All Inclusive Resorts have come a long way over the years. What do you see as the next advancement in this growing marketplace?
All Inclusive resorts are no longer just about open bars and unlimited food – as travelers are increasingly seeking experiences that connect them to the destination, we expect that the All Inclusive market will focus on incorporating more immersive, local experiences and touch points. Enhancements to culinary programs, wellness offerings and Entertainment are sure to be a priority in the industry.