by Andrea Doyle | May 31, 2016

All-Inclusive Properties
The days of unimpressive buffets and bottom-shelf liquor being served at all-inclusive properties are over. More than a few all-inclusives now rival the luxury four- and five-star properties.

All-inclusives simplify meetings and incentives from a strategic and budgetary standpoint as they include accommodations, meals, drinks, transfers, taxes, gratuities, entertainment, and the use, setup, and breakdown of meeting rooms. The company knows exactly what the program will cost going in. It's also reassuring to know your attendees can get a snack or a drink when they want one without digging into their pockets.

Those are important points that help explain why incentive business out of the U.S. and Canada is up 80 percent in the last three years, says Kevin Edmunds, vice president, meeting & incentive sales, at the Hard Rock All-Inclusive Collection. "With a true incentive program, you do not want to have participants reaching into their wallets for anything," he says, adding that as the general public is aware that high-quality all-inclusive resorts are available, incentive participants are asking for them as well.


Many all-inclusive properties
are now of incentive caliber

Hard Rock's All-Inclusive Collection includes properties in Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Nuevo Vallarta in Mexico, and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, with more on the way in both countries

Hannah Greenberg, CMP, director of conference services for Cherry Hill, NJ-based Meeting Mavericks, really wasn't a fan of all-inclusive resorts until she attended a retreat at Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun. "I cannot imagine a higher quality of service, better restaurants, quality of amenities, and a lovelier resort. Each floor has its own concierge. What I thought was over-the-top service was that every morning the concierge would press the elevator button at the first sound of my footsteps so that I wouldn't have to wait."

Even properties that are not typically all- inclusive are adding this option for groups. Given the popularity of all-inclusive packages, the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa and CasaMagna Marriott Cancun, popular, side-by-side sister properties that together form the Marriott Cancun Collection, have added an all-inclusive package for incentive and meeting groups. Together, the two properties have 898 guest rooms, a 35,000-square-foot Mayan-inspired JW Spa, numerous pools, a sprawling beach, first-rate restaurants, and 88,000 square feet of flexible event space.

Hyatt was the first major hotel chain to fully embrace high-end all-inclusives, creating the Ziva and Zilara brands, which now have properties in Los Cabos, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Event Technology
Technology continues to be at the forefront of incentive event trends because social technology has changed the way we communicate. "We create shareable moments through social walls, unique hashtags, and photo-sharing opportunities. Social applications are a great way to entice and engage participants -- especially those who are not at the event, but aspire to earn the trip the following year," says Aimia's Boisner.

Mobile apps are now expected at events. They keep participants engaged during the trip by identifying and recognizing top performers while also educating participants with event details and scheduling updates.

Hotels are aware of that. "We are always looking to provide more choice to our customers, while also staying ahead of the current trends in group travel, says FRHI's Sergot. "One area that continues to grow in importance is technology. For us, this means looking for ways to personalize the guest experience, even in a group atmosphere, through state-of the-art facilities and technology that is both seamless and very useful."

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This article appears in the May/June 2016 issue of Incentive.