There was a definite fall crispness in the air this week as a group of execs from Barceló welcomed some 50 travel agents to a training and lovely dinner at the Weston Golf and Country Club in Toronto's west end.
Barceló's BDM Tammy Thompson
"90% of our bookings come through travel agents and they need to know the product," Rick McCauley, Senior Director of Sales & Marketing and M.I.C.E – Canada for Barceló told me. "There are so many new hotels for them to learn about. That's why we host these events."
Tammy Thompson, Barceló's BDM for Ontario and Manitoba says the hotelier's focus on high-quality food and beverage service is a big reason for its success.
Rick McCauley, right, with a group of Toronto-area agents
"We have the highest standards and always strive to wow our guests." For example, lobster is included at some Barceló resorts, while other all-inclusives add a surcharge. And clients can make dinner reservations for the entire stay at one time.
Other standout inclusions include golf, bowling and escape room games. The group is also getting into the family vacation business big time with, for example, the Occidental Caribe in PUJ offering a circus school, water park and rock climbing. Kids' Clubs are open as late as midnight, allowing mom and dad a romantic evening for two.
To better understand the differences between the four Barceló brands, agents learned that:
Luxury tier Royal Hideaway Resorts are "destinations in themselves."
Upper upscale Barceló Hotels & Resorts are "hotels with surprising concepts."
Upscale Occidental Resorts are "easy living hotels."
Upper midscale Allegro Hotels are "happy soul hotels & resorts."
During the evening, three PUJ-area Barceló resorts were showcased in detail: Barceló Bavaro Grand Resort (Beach and Palace), Occidental Caribe and Occidental Punta Cana. PUJ airport handles 19 million passengers a year going to resorts that are almost exclusively all-inclusive. So it's important agents learn the points of differentiation.
The stunning Occidental Punta Cana ("Our happy property")
And, though he's not supposed to pick a favourite, McCauley confesses he has a soft spot for the Barceló Bavaro Palace, "Because of the water parks, the bowling alley and the 24-hour Sports Bar which is perfect for a Leafs fan like me!"
Martha Chapman Columnist
An OJ columnist since 2006, Martha is responsible for the Biting Questions features as well as special seasonal series. A travel industry lifer known to all in the biz, she frequently covers industry events for Open Jaw.