Bienvenido a Mexico! Welcome to Mexico! It is very customary to greet all visitors to Mexico with these three warm words. In 2016 the WTO-World Tourism Organization reported that Mexico was #9 in the world for international tourist arrivals with approximately 35 million international visitors. 2016 was a record-breaking year with a 9 percent increase and so far in 2017, it appears as though it will be another record year. Also, air travel to Mexico saw a 10 percent increase and the Mexican government reports that approximately 9 million Mexican Nationals are currently employed within the tourism industry. Lastly, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) stated that the travel and tourism industry in Mexico ranks #1 for GDP with a reportedly $166 Billion USD spent on travel and tourism in Mexico which represents 16 percent of Mexico’s GDP.
With these staggering statistics, Resort Trades decided to further examine sales and marketing practices in Mexico. We began to research how developers in the vacation ownership industry in Mexico market to these millions of international arrivals and successfully sell them a piece of the dream and memories of Mexico. In Mexico what we refer to as vacation ownership in the USA is better referred to as vacation club membership; and in Mexico, vacation ownership is sold as “right to use,” not wholly owned deeded property as in the USA. In addition, in Mexico, most vacation clubs refer to the owners as members, not owners. “Right to use” means you are only purchasing the right to stay at the property during a designated amount of time per your contractual agreement. In Mexico, generally ‘right to use’ contracts are 20-99 years.
There are approximately 600 vacation ownership resorts in Mexico. They are spread out throughout the country from Cancun to Puerto Vallarta to Cabos San Lucas, and many other beautiful destinations. Most of the sales and marketing practices in Mexico are very similar to those in the USA. Most of the developers market via social media, telemarketing, incentive travel packages and through hotel channels. The sales process is also very similar to that used in the USA, in which prospective members are invited on tour and receive a presentation of the property while being sold the benefits and value of being part of the vacation club.
To get an inside look at the sales and marketing process in Mexico we reached out to two locally owned and operated resort developers in Mexico — El Cid Resorts and Sunset World, two of Mexico’s vacation club pioneers who began their operations many years ago in the very early stages of vacation clubs in Mexico.
Curtis Knipe, Sales and Marketing Director at El Cid Resorts explained that service and quality is an integral part of their core values. He made a convincing argument that club members get a lot more for their money in Mexico.
TRADES: How are you currently marketing prospective members to buy vacation club memberships?
KNIPE: We do everything in-house, including marketing prospective members via telemarketing, social media, OPCs at airports and cruise docks. And because we are also a hotel company, many of our prospects come through the hotel channels.
TRADES: How have you used technology in the sales process?
KNIPE: We have really embraced technology by having the sales teams utilize digital presentations with tablets and laptop computers. We also have a mobile application – “ECVC” – that is available to members to make reservations, book stays, and more. In addition, market analysis is utilized through vendors’ services to track members and their activities while vacationing with us.
TRADES: Marketing costs have become very expensive per tour across the industry. What is generally the approximate marketing costs in Mexico per presentation?
KNIPE: Costs are generally lower in Mexico and can range from $350-$500.
TRADES: What is El Cid doing now to continue to provide the best possible vacation experience in Mexico?
KNIPE: We continue to reinvest in El Cid Resorts and began construction on a new resort called Ventus located in Puerto Morelos, Riviera Maya. We will have a member’s opening November 2017 and grand opening December 24th, 2017.
Curtis explained, “Timeshare in Mexico continues to thrive and is supported by low-cost, high-quality accommodations combined with world-class service. When you add easy access by air and an International destination it creates an opportunity that is very enticing to Americans.”
Next, we spoke with Annie Arroyo, Brand & Communication’s Director at Sunset World. Annie explained that Sunset World is one of the original Mexican family owned and operated resort developers in Cancun. She went on to explain their goal is to offer a unique experience at their resorts with each one being different from the other. She also stated they have a true commitment to sustainable tourism.
TRADES: What are some ways Sunset World sell and markets to Mexican nationals to buy vacation club membership at Sunset World resorts?
ARROYO: We are very proud of our Mexican heritage and our Mexican nationals’ member base is an integral part of our business. We market to Mexican nationals a customized product that better fits their needs and also offer a local currency contract in pesos. We also market through media, and Spanish is always the first language.
TRADES: Most developers utilize exchange companies in the sales process. How do they fit in the sales process at Sunset World?
ARROYO: Exchange companies have become very important partners and this alliance is utilized to generate leads and adds value to the vacation club membership.
TRADES: How do you currently create tour and lead generation?
ARROYO: We utilize a combination of marketing for lead generation through social media, a referral program, online lead generation, OPCs, and many other ways. We also have created a very successful travel certificate program with charitable organizations.
Annie explained, “We approach sales and marketing in the same way we work to create vacation memories. We serve diverse audiences from many different age groups, backgrounds and countries around the world and we have worked hard to customize our outreach, materials and on-site tours to create customized experiences that resonate with each traveler.”
In summary, Mexico has had tremendous progress and success. As in all other tourist destinations around the world, sales and marketing is an integral part of the lifeline and success of the Mexican developer vacation club programs. As we heard from two of the most successful developers in Mexico, they have progressed and adapted through embracing technology, understanding the evolution of their prospective members, utilizing social media, and understanding the importance to customize a product that meets the unique criteria of each individual member.
Bienvenido a Mexico!