Cancun may be the top tourist destination in Mexico, but it isn’t taking anything for granted. Continual change is the strategy that’s worked so far, and that applies to key tourism personnel. In November, the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau welcomed Lizzie Cole Guerrero as the agency’s new director and chief executive.
Travel Agent recently spoke with Cole, a 14-year veteran of tourism marketing and promotion.
“Cancun has had a great 2016. We will be up between five and seven percent from last year. And we expect the trend to continue to 2017. You can say we’ve been riding on the waves of good work,” said Cole.
That good work requires a close monitoring of traveler psychographics.
“Visitors are definitely coming with higher expectations than ever. Someone who has been all over the world wants to receive top class accommodations and services. Fortunately, our destination is famous worldwide for hospitality and quality of service,” Cole added.
Of course, it’s also important to change things up and Cancun is famous for that.
“There’s always something new here, from restaurants and shopping centers to exciting properties that will be announced shortly. We have one large hotel that will open at the end of next year and another one finished by the end of 2018. In October we had the Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa open in Puerto Morelos. It’s a wonderful AMResorts property that offers different environments for guests,” said Cole.
She does admit that it’s getting harder to expand in the famous Hotel Zone.
“It’s pretty much taken up already. But there are some little spots left and they present a huge opportunity. There will be a new Royalton in about two years. They already have a property in Puerto Morelos and they’re about to begin construction in the Hotel Zone,” said Cole.
Another project in the news for a few years: a theme park from the DreamWorks animation studio.
Recent published reports indicate that DreamWorks will operate two parks in Punta Maroma, just south of Cancun. They’ll be called Dream Park and Thrill Park, and will include two hotels as well as a major shopping center.
“DreamWorks is going to happen, but we just don’t know when,” Cole tells Travel Agent.
One high-profile project opening this week is the new Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya. The 214-room resort includes three outdoor pools, a 10,000 square foot spa, four restaurants and bars plus views of both the Caribbean and surrounding lagoons.
“Andaz will be a great addition to our hotel offerings. It’s another example of how we’re reaching out to the luxury traveler,” said Cole.
Though located on the Riviera Maya, Cole can still claim some bragging rights for Andaz. She most recently served as marketing director of the Riviera Maya Destination Marketing Office. What’s more, Cancun and the Riviera Maya are operating in tandem now on several fronts.
“Up to now, the two destinations have been separated in terms of promotion. But, that’s changing. Our new governor wants to have one big promotion for the whole state of Quintana Roo. It’s a more efficient way of doing things. We won’t promote one brand over the other. But the brands will be managed from a central structure,” said Cole.
Not that the messaging will be the same for both.
“It’s funny because being so close and sharing the same airport, Cancun and the Riviera Maya have their own markets. What happened is that Cancun began to be very successful. Because of that amazing growth, the Riviera Maya was born. But from the outset, the Riviera Maya appealed more to the European traveler. Today the Riviera Maya is a very strong brand. It’s huge in Europe and Canada as well as the U.S. But it offers a product that’s quite different from Cancun. Cancun will always be an important and valuable brand and we have no intention of diminishing it,” said Cole.