This month Caribbean-Weekly talks to Annabelle Marshall, Sales and Marketing Manager of SuperClubs Europe, one of the Caribbeans leading All-Inclusive Resort Chains about the current pressures faced by the travel sector, what SuperClubs has in store for 2003 and the going`s on at party palace, Hedonism!
Q. 2002 was a difficult year for the entire tourism sector, what effect did this have on SuperClubs business
A. No figures are given, but we can say that the Weddings & Children’s holiday areas showed increased growth, particularly at Starfish Trelawny.
Q. What strategies will SuperClubs employ to help increase numbers in 2003?
A. At SuperClubs many of our guests are repeat guests so we`ll carry on doing what our business is built on, that`s providing the best Caribbean super-inclusive vacations.
Q. Jean Holder the General Secretary of CTO
has recently issued a statement regarding the Caribbean in 2003; do you agree that you must remain cautiously optimistic about the tourism industry in 2003?
A. We opened two new Breezes resorts in the Dominican Republic at the tail end of 2002 and they are proving exceptionally popular in 2003, so we are optimistic.
Q. Is Grand Lido the top-of-the-range properties in your chain?
A. Yes, they are our luxurious, all-suite resorts. Grand Lido is our flagship brand, but each has its own style, personality and unique selling points that give them a boutique feel.
Q. How many of your resorts have Dive
facilities, and how many include tuition and dives in the `all-inclusive` sales pitch?
A. To give you an example across some of the destinations and brands, the break down is:
Scuba Diving is included at Grand Lido Negril and Braco, Hedonism II and III and Breezes Runaway Bay. Breezes Curacao shore dives are included but boat dives are an extra charge.
Scuba diving at Breezes Bahamas - Introductory Scuba diving lessons in the swimming pool are included, but offshore Scuba diving is at an additional charge.
Q. Am I correct in thinking that you opened two resorts in the DR at the same time? What was the business logic behind this notion? Do you feel the DR will be a good market in 2003, (It is already one of the biggest draw cards for the European market along with Jamaica)
A. The Dominican Republic opening of Breezes Punta Cana and Breezes Puerto Plata has proved extremely successful already with very high bookings, especially from the UK and European market.
Q. What kind of Budget does SuperClubs reserve for the European market, as a European buyer, personally I see very little SuperClubs advertising in our Agents?
A. Since Sept 11th and due to the recent war situation, budgets have been cut for many hotels and resort groups, therefore we very much utilise PR, marketing and more importantly joint marketing and tactical advertising with our Tour Operator partners to gain free media coverage or at least shared costs. It is important to inform the agents not only of our Unique Selling Points but also who they can actually book SuperClubs Resorts with. With that in mind our trade advertising has not been affected, we continue to advertise in the trade press in all Caribbean Reports and relevant features, as the Travel Agent is our priority.
With the development of our SuperAgent program, we have targeted the agents that sell SuperClubs and the Caribbean and are in constant contact with these important agents, through fax blast, mailings, e-mail and training days. We offer special rates to travel agents through TATC and Touchdown thereby obtaining substantial free advertising in the trade press, plus ensuring travel agents visit our resorts. The current offer of £28 per person per night, on a super-all inclusive basis, including choice of a la carte or buffet dining, unlimited premium brand drinks, all land and watersports, plus so much more, is running in both TTG and Travel Weekly for stays at our five star Grand Lido Resorts in Jamaica, our seven four star Breezes Resorts in Jamaica, Cuba and most recently opened in the Dominican Republic.
We continue to promote SuperClubs Resorts with the help of our merchandisers, who visit over 200 agents per month supplying promotional literature and eye catching window displays. So we have no doubt that the Travel Agent is very aware of who SuperClubs are.
Q. With the strength of the Internet growing, with regards to bookings etc, what effect will this have on the Travel Agent in the future?
Will you ultimately increase customer bookings on your site therefore lowering costs for the buyer and making the Caribbean a more attractive market?
A. There is no doubt that the growing Internet market is an important media to promote ones business, however there is still a large number of consumers that will always want the human touch, face to face communication. The Travel Agent will still be an important factor in the Travel Industry.
Q. The European share is down, mainly because people are holidaying closer to home, what marketing strategies will help bring these numbers up?
A. In the current climate the Caribbean and Brazil are considered safe destinations and we feel confident that numbers will continue to increase once again to these destinations. Something like one in ten couples choose to marry abroad now, and our great wedding facilities and free wedding program continues to attract couples to travel to the Caribbean with their families, we currently have a 20% bride discount to encourage bookings. The 20% discount in money off terms is approximately £400 depending on the time of year.
Q. Do you believe that marketing the Caribbean as a single destination is clever idea? Most people outside of the region have no clue of the actual geography of the region; `Life Needs The Caribbean’ could really assist the Caribbean`s attraction, what are your views?
A. Our guests choose a brand, be it Breezes, Grand Lido, Hedonism or Starfish and often try out different destinations while holidaying at their chosen brand resort.
Q. Finally, everyone has heard of the hype of Hedonism! What age groups do the Hedonism resorts attract? How well did they do in 2002, as a cheaper option to your Lido Resorts, will there be more activity on these resorts in 2003? And does everyone really get naked?
A. All ages who want to party and enjoy being uninhibited will continue to enjoy Hedonism II and III, and they continue to draw a dedicated crowd of party goers!