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Hotel brands with properties that dot the Caribbean and Mexico are using the current crisis as an opportunity to come out even stronger on the other side, with enhanced experiences for guests when they do start traveling again and even more opportunities for travel advisors. 

“After a long period of social distancing and being cooped up in their homes, people will want to go back to experiences that fill them with joy, and travel will be a big part of that desire,” says Gary C. Sadler, sr. v.p., sales at Unique Vacations, Inc. “People already have an inherent aspiration to travel and they will travel again.” 

Enrique Calderon, Posadas’ COO, agrees, noting that “…though the travel & tourism industry has taken a hard hit from this pandemic, we are very resilient and will recover better than ever. Because of the social distancing, families and friends have missed out on a lot of moments together so I expect the leisure travel market to reactivate soon, followed by business travel.”

Rodolfo Cresta, director of leisure account management, The Sol Group Corporation, points out that once people do start traveling again, they’ll be “more conscientious about the destination they choose…everyone will have profound appreciation for travel and how hotel companies give back to their community, and to their environment.” 

Brett Warbrick

This crisis has impacted everyone, but we believe that we will be traveling the world together once again soon. By caring collectively for what is most important now, we will be able to navigate the new realities that will come in the near future. 
–Brett Warbrick, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Americas, Iberostar Group

On that note, Iberostar, in light of the current crisis, is reconfirming its commitment to a responsible tourism framework “that focuses on people and the oceans. People, because they are the soul of our business, and the oceans and circular economy, through our
Wave of Change movement, as an expression of our promise to future generations,” says Brett Warbrick, sr. v.p., sales and marketing for the Americas, Iberostar Group. 

New Initiatives

“I foresee the hospitality industry gearing up to implement upgraded health and safety measures to accommodate travelers to the new reality without sacrificing their hunger to explore the world,” points out Calderon. He notes that food buffets and room service protocols will be readjusted to fit upcoming health precautions, adding that “the use of masks and gloves will be a mandatory measure worldwide to accommodate travelers in a worry-free modality.”

Sandals, meanwhile, has introduced even stronger and more proactive systems to both prevent risk and immediately react as needed. “Our already industry-leading practices have been strengthened further to include increasing the frequency of sanitizing measures for all high-traffic areas of the resorts,” says Sadler, “including restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and guestrooms with a triple-check system for ensuring those rigorous standards are implemented.”

To tackle the crisis and be ready for when guests start coming back, Iberostar incorporated a Medical Advisory Board that, in cooperation with the Iberostar Sustainability Office, will provide the company with the “necessary intelligence to successfully overcome the new challenges following Iberostar’s commitment to the responsible
tourism model.” 

There’s a new Cleanliness Committee at Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort that’s focused on meticulously adhering to all Marriott existing and newly established cleanliness procedures, as well as implementing further cleanliness processes at the resort, including high-traffic touchpoints sanitization; employee temperature evaluation; additional hand sanitizer stations; and guest arrival Cleanliness Kit, among others. And Barcelo has upped the ante on sanitation by continuing to adhere and strengthen the strict hygiene and sanitation protocols, including the high standards already set by Cristal International Standards. 

Band Together

“There is no way to underestimate the gravity of what our industry has been through,” says Apple Leisure Group Vacations’ (ALGV) executive v.p. Jacki Marks. “More than ever before, tour operators, destinations, hotels and resorts, and the travel advisor community need to band together to rebuild.

“We believe that May and June are an opportunity to get clients dreaming about vacations through social media, videos, and e-mails,” Marks continues. “When we start to see changes in border permissions and stay-at-home rules, I think there will be consumer demand for travel, and we want everyone to be prepared.”

Jacqueline Marks

There is no way to underestimate the gravity of what our industry has been through. More than ever before, tour operators, destinations, hotels and resorts, and the travel advisor community need to band together to rebuild. We believe that May and June are an opportunity to get clients dreaming about vacations through social media, videos, and e-mails.
–Jacki Marks, ExecutiveVice President, Apple Leisure Group Vacations

With that in mind, for the month of May, ALGV will have initiatives to help advisors get their clients back on track, including bonus commission, weekly webinars, appointing an ALGV Business Recovery Advisory Board for summer session, and highlighting travel partners and agencies with unique and effective leadership tactics that grow the industry with a Travel Advisor Spotlight series, among others. 

For Melia (part of The Sol Group), it was clear that “we needed to step up our game and support one of our key business segments, so we took the opportunity to offer the travel advisor community time to expand their knowledge via webinar workshops, listen in on Expert Roundtables, become more ‘in the know’ of our brands,” says Cresta. “With all these factors in mind, we officially launched via Facebook our private group of Melia PRO Labs for each of our key markets, including U.S. and Canada. Travel agents will be invited to join the group,” and will have access to a host of tools. 

Barcelo, too, has been showing travel advisors support during this crisis by launching new promotions through Barcelo Pro Rewards, as well as a new mobile sales companion, and Iberostar has been offering virtual conferences with tour operators that have included the presentation of new brand concepts. To commemorate the month of May, in which travel advisors are applauded for all of their hard work, Iberostar is giving 5x the points on new bookings to Star Agents, which are used by advisors for personal stays. 

And the La Coleccion Rewards program is still going strong, says Calderon, “so all members are still eligible to enjoy the program’s many perks.” The hotel group has also made adjustments to extend cancellation policies in order to accommodate upcoming reservations.