The Riviera Maya has seen a slow start to 2018, but with a renewed marketing push and hotel updates it is looking to drive growth in the last half of the year and beyond.
“2018 has been an interesting year,” Conrad Bergwerf, general manager of the Paradisus Playa del Carmen and the president of the Hotel Association of Tourism for Riviera Maya, tells Travel Agent. “We’ve seen a bit of a slowdown in the first semester based on the macroeconomic situation.”
Bergwerf says that traditional source markets, such as the United States and Canada, have seen a slowdown, while the destination has seen growth from South American and nontraditional source markets, such as South Korea and Russia.
The destination plans to work with federal and state tourism authorities to drive tourism, however, and a number of hotels are adding new amenities to draw a variety of types of travelers. As a result, next year it is forecasting 3 to 5 percent growth.
“We’re looking to put the Riviera Maya back on the map again,” says Bergwerf. “We’re focusing on pushing the Riviera Maya as an integral solution.”
The Paradisus Playa del Carmen, for example, is adding a new water park that is scheduled to open December 15. Next year, it will also begin a complete renovation of its guestrooms that will include a lighter, brighter color palette, smart TVs and improved connectivity – an important consideration when, Bergwerf says, families can now typically travel with between five and 10 devices.
For travel agents, Bergwerf says that the destination is looking to do some sweepstakes to put the destination back at the top of agents’ minds. A number of hotels are also offering agent-specific promotions, such as double commissions or bonus rewards.
“Travel agents are something we need to work closely with, and we look forward to continuing that relationship,” Bergwerf says.
Other trends to watch? Bergwerf says the destination has seen growth in its all-inclusive space, particularly its adults-only properties. Additionally, the Riviera Maya’s MICE market is on the rise as the destination grows increasingly popular for “bleisure” travel.
Finally, Millennials are forming an increasing share of the destination’s tourism market, which is driving down length of stay and booking windows. Booking windows have gone down, Bergwerf says, from between 45 and 60 days one year ago to around 30 days.
“For Millennials, their vacation time is shorter, but they want to live it very intensely,” Bergwerf says.