It just takes once for meeting and incentive planners to understand the value and ease of planning an event in an all-inclusive resort. It begins with an aspirational destination, with resorts typically found where the weather is warm, air access is good, and ground transportation and amenities are incentive quality. Once your group is ‘in-house’, you can easily settle in for the duration, or take advantage of nearby attractions.
When we are wrestling with budgets, resorts where one room price includes a selection of activities, food and beverage in a variety of restaurants or event spaces, and access to on-site entertainment, and high-touch service make the equation simple. Budget is controlled – your key variable cost is the final number of people.
Recently SITE Midwest hosted a fantastic inaugural SMART Forum at the Paradisus Playa del Carmen where I had the opportunity to dig into the opportunities and challenges of all-inclusive destinations with Chapter Board Member Brandi McNair Ronk with Melia Hotels. One challenge we discussed is the reality when offering free-flowing beverages from mimosas at breakfast to late night clubbing means it is easy to overindulge, especially when nobody has to drive anywhere. The response to this is a combination of responsible service from trained staff and deeply embedded security throughout the property keeping their eyes on the guests.
Upsides include an ease in planning. Imagine, when that executive wants to add a lunch – no problem to find a space, and no added cost! There is a perception that food may be all buffet all the time, when the reality is often a variety of options from endless French fries to restaurants from Michelin starred and celebrity chefs. A question you may want to ask in the site selection process is the investment per guest per day made in food – you may find yourself surprised by the answer.
The Experience is ALL inclusive. If you have an idea, you may find when the resort is wholly owned there are opportunities to create unique environments and events. Flexibility to use areas you wouldn’t normally have access to might be possible. An event at the spa pools – let’s see when we can do that. A trade show outside using the cabanas – let’s see how we can make it happen.
Many resorts are located in destinations that cater to tourists, so taking your group off-site to explore local culture, nature preserves, adventures from jungles and waterfalls to ocean experiences are often within reach and add memorable moments and bragging rights for your participants. Pools, spas, and golf are often nearby or built into the resort experience, ensuring every guest will find something to enjoy, and tapping into our need to personalize experiences is made easy.
A final bonus. The staff, from front desk to butlers, are service minded and deeply hospitable. They just want to make your guests happy. Are all-inclusive resorts the only answer for an incentive program? Of course not, but they are an option you may want to add to your mix.