This article is from Travel Market Report’s 2019 Outlook on Mexico, released last month. The full report can be read here.
Jeni Chaffer is a travel consultant with Bourbonnais, Illinois-based Journeys Travel, who says her Mexico sales grew by more than 25% in the past six months. Like nearly 80% of survey respondents, she says clients have come to her saying they don’t want to travel to Mexico. In addition to friends and family discouraging visits, higher airfares have made clients consider other destinations.
She’s also concerned about the tourist board’s closure; and says that she would like to have more content that she can share with clients highlighting new resorts, renovations, activities, attractions, and experiences, in addition to information on how Mexico compares in safety to other destinations.
Chaffer took the time to talk Mexico with Travel Market Report, sharing how she has continued to grow sales in this challenging environment.
Travel Market Report: How long have you been selling Mexico?
Jeni Chaffer: I have been an agent since 2006, and I started selling Mexico at the same time. I had limited personal experience — spring breaks and honeymoon — but there was something so comfortable about it that I knew I wanted to focus on the destination.
TMR: Can you describe what type of travel and clients you are selling to Mexico?
JC: My niche is romance travel. That means primarily honeymoons, destination weddings, anniversary trips, vow renewals, and adult getaways. It also includes family getaways, as more and more parents are passing in the night as they run from work to kids’ activities. I am able to take care of everything, so the parents can spend quality time with their children, as well as with each other.
The majority of my business is in the all-inclusive market. This is especially helpful for first-time travelers, group travelers, and families on a budget. For those looking for something more exclusive or different, I have a variety of villas that I recommend.
TMR: What are you doing that is helping you grow Mexico sales despite the challenges?
JC: I travel to Mexico frequently and share those adventures on social media. I also do extensive training on several brands to make sure I am on the forefront of what is being offered that I may be able to pass onto clients and future clients. By sharing photos on all social media platforms, I try to intrigue clients and encourage them to try new locations in Mexico.
I will only send my clients to countries and resorts that I would travel to myself, as a single female. In the recent media attacks on Mexico, I have maintained a stance that there are areas of my local city that I won’t visit alone. It’s the same when traveling. Everyone needs to be aware of their surroundings. But understand that while I want them to relax and enjoy themselves, they need to know their limits with alcohol, lack of sleep, and sun exposure.
TMR: What advice would you give to agents who want to sell the market?
JC: I believe education and relationships are the two most important traits for travel agents. I would recommend picking two or three resort brands in Mexico and learning everything you can about those properties. Talk to your BDM, do online training, attend webinars. Many of these brands have multiple resorts in multiple locations throughout Mexico.
I would then recommend spending time creating your own fams and experiencing different types of resorts.
TMR: Anything else you would like to add regarding selling Mexico?
JC: Mexico offers something for everyone. For the novice traveler, Cancun offers a variety of resorts that are a short distance from the airport. It is also close to “American” restaurants and shopping for those who do want to leave the resort.
For others, Riviera Maya/Tulum offers a completely different feel, with lower-rise resorts set in lush tropical settings.
At both locations, you have a variety of options for excursions to experience even more of the local attractions. For those who have “done that” or those on the West Coast, Cabo and Puerto Vallarta are unique destinations on their own. The sunsets of both are second to none.
You will then want to start experiencing the joy that is authentic Mexico: Merida, Izamal, Mazatlan, San Miguel de Allende, Huatulco, or Ixtapa. Each of these cities is an amazing immersion in culture.