Hotel all-inclusive packages deemed a "virus"
Speakers at yesterday's Great GM Debate hit out at the perceived menace of 'all-inclusive' travel packages, condemning them for reducing local trade and driving the market downwards.
Yigit Sezgin, global director of sales and marketing at the Rezidor Hotel Group was the most critical of the concept, explaining that the type of customer who chooses package deals are unlikely to stimulate the local economy further, even if the hotel benefits from the higher price.
"I see it as a virus," he stated. "Once you get it into your blood, it’s a cancer that starts to grow. I do not see a positive – it dilutes. It not only dilutes your hotel business, but soon people stop using commercial flights but they start using the charter flights. They don’t go out and spend. They don’t even have a necessity – you have a local economy, from the Indian restaurant in Bur Dubai to the little shops in Dubai Mall."
Amit Aurora, CMO at Emaar Hospitality agreed, saying that the buffet-style approach sees guests often end up paying too much for something which they may not use, while locking them into a hotel for the duration of their stay.
"Our ethos is that one size fits only one. All-inclusive is one size fits none. You’re charging the customer for something that they might not necessarily consume. It works wonderfully on a cruise, it would work on the World where you’ve got nothing else to do. If you’ve got such an exciting destination with museums and the tallest tower in the world, you want to spend time in the hotel, but not just in the hotel. There is a negative perception of it in this part of the world," he said.
The lone defender on the afternoon's Sales & Marketing Panel was Mike Scully, managing director of Seven Tides Hospitality who explained that any gap on the market is worth exploiting, and the enthusiastic response from the industry confirms it.
"You only have to look at the success of the cruise industry to see how successful topend all-inclusive can be. In Dubai, obviously by its nature its very difficult to be fully-inclusive. Or we could do an offering whereby they know what they’re paying for, they’ve paid in advance, there’s value for money in all inclusive on the basis of what you’re getting for what you’re actually would pay. The average spend of your tourist could be a Dh120 a day on F&B. The reason they don’t spend Dh200 is because it’s so expensive. The F&B offering in the UAE is certainly perceived to be very expensive. Somehow you’ve got to go and tackle it and bring people here saying that they can come here and have as many cocktails as you want and it’s only going to cost you that much.
"Where your advantages are – you’re keeping everyone inside for every day of the holiday. You’ve may allow them one or two days out which allows them the flexibility to go on a desert safari or whatever. The all-inclusive package is very attractive so the response we’ve had from the market and tour operators overseas has been very favourable," he continued.