The sunny shores of the Riviera Maya, Cancun, and Cozumel are top-of-mind when it comes to which destinations in the Caribbean travel agents say they sell most frequently, according to results recently released in Travel Market Report’s Outlook on The Caribbean.
When asked what is driving the travel agency community’s affinity for Mexico, advisors said value and convenience were the two main factors.
“Mexico offers an outstanding value compared to other areas in the Caribbean,” said Michele Cartwright, owner of Destinations by Design. “The sheer number of reputable options available via ships and resorts, pricing, and the ease of traveling to Mexico make it attractive to agents and their clients.”
An increased variety of hotel product is another reason Mexico’s Caribbean destinations bode well for agents and their clients. In fact, the survey also revealed that, next to cruises, adults-only resorts and luxury all-inclusive resorts were the “go-to” products for them – the latter two of which are plentiful in the Riviera Maya, Cancun and Cozumel.
“Those looking for an all-inclusive vacation have limited destination options throughout the Caribbean, and Mexico, by far, offers the highest number of quality all-inclusive brands,” said Kristen Buckshire, owner of Travel Ease. “Resort options range from luxury resorts for honeymoon couples to some of the most family-friendly, all-inclusive options in the industry.”
Accommodations play a role
In fact, family vacations took the number one spot in the survey under the category of top segments that agents match to various Caribbean travel products – also not a surprise to agents who sell Mexico’s Caribbean destinations.
“Mexico continues to be a popular travel destination for families due to two factors: direct economical air options offered from most U.S. cities and the abundance of resort offerings,” said Buckshire. “When comparing a resort in Mexico to other Caribbean offerings, families often find the best value and amenities in the Riviera Maya. From well-run kids’ clubs to family-friendly dining venues, these resorts really draw families in. The Riviera Maya also has the largest collection of resorts that offer additional space. It's often hard to find accommodations for larger families of 5-plus, and this area offers several choices, making it stand out as a destination for larger families or multigenerational groups traveling together.”
The survey revealed that after family vacations with immediate family members, which ranked first (67 percent), the remaining top-selling segments were romantic vacations (56 percent), honeymoons (49 percent), and multigenerational family and friends/groups (44 percent).
Tour operators weigh in
Vacation wholesalers that package Mexico were happy to hear the study was in line with the sales performance they see in these destinations, in addition to the news that 73 percent of travel agents surveyed said they mainly book land vacations to the Caribbean through a tour operator.
“Travel advisors remain confident in Mexico’s tourism products because they continue to deliver some of the highest visitor satisfaction rates in our industry,” said Jacqueline Marks, executive vice president, Apple Leisure Group (ALG), trade sales & engagement, vacations. “Mexico’s resort destinations also lead in terms of value, service and amenities — all of which factor into Americans’ high demand, which encourages new resorts and resort areas, like Playa Mujeres. The convenience of nonstop flights from multiple departure points adds further appeal for the Mexican Caribbean and solidifies its position as the strongest performing destination for most U.S. travel advisors.”
Pleasant Holidays, another major player in the market, also reports sales of Mexico package vacations are up and continue to gain strength. “Currently we are seeing a boom in holiday festive season bookings for 2018,” said Jack E. Richards, president and CEO.
“Our most popular destinations are the beach resort areas of Riviera Maya, Cancun and Los Cabos. In addition to offering some of the world's best beaches, these destinations are known for luxurious all-inclusive resorts featuring pampering spas, deluxe accommodations, championship golf courses, amazing water sports, tempting culinary experiences and more. These resorts offer the dream vacation experience American travels want at an all-inclusive price that provides tremendous value for the travel dollar. Air seat capacity to these top destinations is adequate with reasonable fares driving strong demand for both 2018 and 2019 travel. New hotel developments over the past few years in Cancun/Riviera Maya and Los Cabos have been very important to the continued success of these destinations.”
Only 7% of travel agents surveyed said they book their clients’ Caribbean travel direct with the hotel by calling, emailing or faxing and even less (5%) said they book direct by GDS. Booking with tour operators saves travel advisors time and money, providing a one-stop shop convenience, not to mention cost savings, said Richards. “Our buying power and extensive supplier relationships enable us to secure reduced rates, added values and more that can be bundled into vacation packages that save travelers hundreds of dollars.”
For more details on this comprehensive research on the Caribbean market – a study sponsored by Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises – read and download the full the report by clicking here.