Written By: Matthew J. Mullen, Director of Sales, Group Sales, AMResorts
Finding the Right Fit: How to select the right hotel for the right client, what to look for, and how to close the sale
Over the last 15 years, all-inclusive resorts have become the go-to choice for more North American travelers than ever before. For that reason, agents should leverage several tactics and best practices to establish a strong foundation of knowledge for supporting clients and equip themselves to effectively match their vacation needs:
- Develop a Specialty: Foundation is key. Develop a strategy that will help you focus on a certain product, i.e., All-Inclusive, Luxury, Destination Wedding, etc.
- By Familiar with the Product: The better you understand a product the easier it’ll be to sell it. Develop a plan to visit destinations once a quarter at the very least. For starters, take advantage of FAM trips offered throughout the year by various operators and hoteliers.
- Continual Education: Invest time in learning the product, this will benefit both clients and yourself. In fact, many brands offer free (and incentivized) education programs. At AMResorts, the provider of sales, marketing and brand management services for Zoëtry® Wellness & Spa Resorts, and Secrets®, Breathless®, Dreams®, Now® and Sunscape® Resorts & Spas, the Master Agent Program offers agents a wealth of information about each its nearly 45 award-winning properties located throughout Mexico, Jamaica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Panama. The information is geared to help agents with the resorts’ unique selling points, critical in closing a sale. The Master Agent Program also provides the agent with additional perks and rewards only available to program members.
- Become a Resource: A travel blog can be a great way to showcase your expertise, drive traffic to your site and open the door to new business by connecting with your target consumer. Also, use social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to expose your knowledge of a brand or segment and to cross-promote your business. Once you’ve connected with the right people, develop a database of clientele to deploy your strategic marketing campaign. Be concise, have a clear message and never SPAM.
When assessing a client’s vacation needs, have a conversation on what they are looking for and pay close attention their needs, budgets and special requests. Different resorts offer something for everyone, from families with young kids or teens and tweens, to adults only looking for romance, relaxation, wellness or even adventure and socializing. In addition to lifestyle and destination, agents should gauge clients’ interests against current trends to find the just the right fit. For example, AMResorts follows a multi-brand and multigenerational approach to brand management (with six unique concept brands to-date) to meet the constantly changing needs of guests, including families, who appreciate the brand standards the company maintains, but are looking for a slightly new experience based on where they are in life.
Also important to keep in mind, today’s travelers are looking for the best dollar value – they are looking for value but not willing to sacrifice quality, they want both premium and value and they want it all included. Guests want to know exactly what they are getting and what they are paying for ahead of time, without having to worry about it while on vacation.
Top spas, fitness, high-quality and healthy food options are trending too. Destination weddings continue to be extremely popular and on the rise. Incentive groups / groups are also on the rise. Additionally, Tag approved is very popular with the GLBTA market.
When selling, agents need to focus on value and quality for their clients as well as focus on the best return on investment for them. When a guest does the math, it’s apparent that AMResorts and its inclusions are the best value for them. AMResorts overdelivers at a reasonable rate. For travel agents, every aspect of the sales is commissionable because of AMResorts’ inclusions – since pricing includes tips, meals, activities, premium liquors, etc., everything is commissionable. Therefore, AMResorts’ model offers the best ROI and the best way for agents to grow their bottom line and business.
Agents should also look to reap the rewards of their work through incentives and loyalty programs. Beyond providing tools agents need to be sell effectively, AMResorts launched AMRewards in 2014, a robust travel agent loyalty program that enables agents to earn points with each booking that can be used to enhance their selling capabilities. Agents can redeem their points for co-branded marketing materials, such as banner displays, and gift vouchers clients can use towards perks like spa treatments or romantic dinners at our resorts. Agents can also redeem the points for complimentary nights at our properties, allowing them to become more familiar with the resorts and in turn be able to sell them more effectively. Through this program we also offer customized e-communications that alert participants of new booking incentives and point redemption opportunities, and on-demand webinars from the AMResorts sales team for additional education opportunities.
AMResorts Celebrates 15th Anniversary as North America’s Fastest Growing Leisure Resort Company: Milestone Year Includes New Resort Openings and Entry into New Destinations
This year, AMResorts® celebrates its 15th anniversary after closing 2015 with an unprecedented 17 new resort management contracts and adding seven new destinations to its portfolio. It is positioned to have another year of aggressive growth, already opening Secrets Playa Bonita Panama Resort & Spa and Sunscape Puerto Plata Dominican Republic in the first quarter of 2016 with another eight openings planned for the remainder of the year.
“In the last 15 years, we have grown our portfolio in the markets where travelers want to be and that offer owners the best return on their investment,” said Gonzalo del Peón, President of AMResorts. “Our strong business model and established presence is what motivated respected investment firm Bain Capital to partner with us to aggressively expand AMResorts and meet the ever increasing demand for our product.”
Since the opening of its first resort in 2001, AMResorts has consistently reinvented the vacation experience by setting a new standard for the high-end, all-inclusive product.
The company introduced the lively Sunscape Resorts & Spas during its first year, and followed it with the debut of the adults-only Secrets Resorts & Spas in 2002—a first of its kind in Mexico. Within three years of its inception, AMResorts introduced its third brand, Dreams Resorts & Spas, expanding the company’s family-friendly portfolio.
This rapid growth prompted the launch of the company’s signature Unlimited-Luxury® and Unlimited-Fun® models in 2006. These concepts redefined the traditional all-inclusive offering by creating a unique vacation experience with limitless à la carte dining with no reservations required, 24-hour room and concierge service, complimentary mini-bars refreshed daily, an unlimited premium beverage program, comprehensive day and nighttime activities, and more, all without wristbands.
AMResorts continued to quickly grow its footprint, establishing a solid presence with 14 resorts throughout Mexico and the Caribbean by 2008. It was that year that the company launched its fourth brand, Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts and the Endless Privileges® program. The innovative concept offered an ultra-luxurious experience combining elements of wellness, serenity, and social and environmental responsibility in a boutique setting. Designed for the most discerning traveler, signature program features include 24-hour concierge and laundry service, maid service three times daily, no check-in or check-out time, private in-suite dining, gourmet à la carte dining with organic selections, and more.
Two years later, AMResorts introduced its fifth brand, Now Resorts & Spas, to cater to guests looking for a more active and energetic setting ideal for living in the moment. The brand is perfect for families traveling with teens and tweens and the multigenerational travel experience. In 2012, the company further demonstrated its commitment to being innovators of the industry with the debut of the Unlimited Connectivity® app, allowing guests to send and receive local and international (U.S. and Canada) calls and send messages over the resorts’ Wi-Fi network at no charge.
AMResorts further enhanced its resort portfolio in 2013 with the addition of its second adults-only brand, Breathless Resorts & Spas, catering to singles, couples and friends seeking a high-energy and social atmosphere focused on entertainment and events.
That same year, the company secured an equity investment from global private investment firm Bain Capital, leading to the creation of Apple Leisure Group, a vertically integrated travel and hospitality company comprised of six subsidiaries: Apple Vacations®, Travel Impressions®, CheapCaribbean.com®, AMResorts®, Amstar DMC® and Unlimited Vacation Club®.
That equity partnership further fueled AMResorts’ expansion, entering Central America with Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica in 2014 and Secrets Playa Bonita Panama in 2016.
By the end of 2018, AMResorts will have nearly 60 resorts, representing more than 20,000 rooms across the company’s six award-winning brands throughout Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
“AMResorts’ success can be attributed to how we have differentiated the product to appeal to consumers at every stage of their lives through our six distinct brands,” added del Peón. “Continuing to evolve to meet the ever-changing desires of our customers will allow us to stay at the forefront of the industry and top of mind for travelers seeking the ultimate all-inclusive experience.”
To learn more about AMResorts, visit amresorts.com, and to learn about Apple Leisure Group’s vertically integrated family of companies and the tremendous advantages offered to hotel owners and developers, visit appleleisuregroup.com