All-inclusive resorts, which typically include accommodation, meals and entertainment, have long been a popular vacation mode among European travellers, but now the concept is catching on in the Asian market.
“In Europe, the all-inclusive resort concept is very common, and Europeans love to stay in the resort for 10 days or two weeks to just enjoy (the resort’s facilities),” noted Petra Gauthey, director of business development Asia, Riu Hotels & Resorts. “In Asia, we don’t see this trend of people staying so long (overseas), so we had to do quite a lot of branding and promoting of our all-inclusive resorts because that concept is not very common in Asia.”
Already, Gauthey has observed an uptick in interest in the hotel group’s all-inclusive properties from markets in Asia-Pacific. “We (are seeing) a huge amount of clients from different Asian countries. China is the biggest Asian market for all our destinations, and also India because of the country’s proximity to our properties in the Maldives and Sri Lanka. We also have clients from South Korea and Japan.”
The 66-year-old Spanish hotel conglomerate, which owns 93 all-inclusive properties across 19 countries, has recently expanded its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, with resorts launched in Sri Lanka and Maldives.
To correctly communicate what their all-inclusive resorts provide, especially among “skeptical” travel agents, Gauthey said that Riu is stepping up on efforts in Asia to build awareness around their offerings, with the group’s latest effort being a recent workshop held at Parkroyal on Pickering, Singapore last week.
Singapore-based Fortune Travel’s senior sales manager Adrian Ang, who was one of the participants at the workshop, said that it was his first time hearing about the all-inclusive concept. “I think the response would be overwhelming if people knew that they could go to a resort where everything is included. I think the all-inclusive concept would be very well received in the Asian market. Nowadays, resorts have come up with a lot of creative ideas and activities for patrons to enjoy exclusively.”
But Ang, who sells package tours to corporate groups, admits that “budget-concerned clients” will be the main challenge in marketing the all-inclusive concept to Asian travellers. “Costs are still the top priority for most of our clients,” he said.
To overcome that obstacle, Gauthey said that Riu will look at pushing promotions during off-peak seasons. “Asian travellers are very focused on the pricing, so we will look at doing more promotions during the low season because that is the time when we can really drop our prices,” she added.
Gauthey debunks the common misconception that staying at an all-inclusive resort means having to fork out a fortune. Rather, she pegs Riu properties as “four- and five-star properties”, targeting in particular families and corporate groups looking for “comfortable, hassle-free holidays”.
In the region alone, Riu has already appointed two representatives in China and another two in India to promote the resorts, said Gauthey. “There are more travel agents in Asia who are approaching us now to find out more information about our resorts. Currently, we have direct contracts with about 20 agents in China and another 10 in India,” she said. In Singapore, Riu works with Hana Tours, a B2B agency, to distribute hotel rates for its properties.
Gauthey said that other Asia-Pacific countries on Riu’s radar are South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and Australia.
The company also has a B2B website, www.riuagents.com, where agents can make direct bookings at any Riu hotels worldwide, earn points and stay free in Riu resorts worldwide once they have earned sufficient points.
As part of Riu’s Asia push, the hotel group is also dangling attractive agent incentives. Travel agents in Asia who make at least five new bookings for their clients in Riu Atoll or Riu Palace Maldives from November 1, 2019 till February 29, 2020 will score a four-night, all-inclusive stay for two pax in a double room in Riu Atoll. The prize is inclusive of a return domestic flight from Male to Kudahuvadhoo airport.
In future, Gauthey said that the company is also looking at running online workshops to connect with travel agents “in countries like Australia or India where there are many agents but they can’t be reached easily”.