Skift Take

With consumer demand for immersive resort experiences escalating, All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy is gaining momentum, rooted in the company’s expansive loyalty program and award-winning brands. Brian King, president of Marriott International Caribbean & Latin America, spoke with SkiftX about Marriott’s leadership in the future of the sector.

All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy has been reshaping the immersive resort space since Marriott International entered the segment in 2019. As an increasingly appealing option for travelers seeking high-quality and stress-free vacations with friends and family, Marriott saw the opportunity to evolve the sector with upper-scale experiences and luxury spaces, sharing new and exciting options with its global loyalty members. By providing ease of experience and detailed personalization, all-inclusive resorts are well-positioned to take advantage of travel’s recovery and the long-term rapid growth in leisure travel.

With all-inclusive resorts highly concentrated in this region, SkiftX spoke with Brian King, president of Marriott International Caribbean & Latin America (CALA), about Marriott’s successful entry into all-inclusive resorts, how consumer demands are transforming the space, and why loyalty is a critical piece of the segment’s future.

SkiftX: Marriott entered the all-inclusive space in 2019, several years after other big brands opened resorts. Why did Marriott decide the time and place were right for all-inclusive resorts at that point?

Brian King: We were studying the all-inclusive category and gaining insights into the customer’s habits, preferences, unmet needs, and core motivations, and recognized that a ‘white space’ that was missing — in particular, the upper upscale and ultra-luxury space. There is tremendous consumer demand for a global, widely recognized luxury brand to enter and elevate the segment.

These insights challenged our team to design a highly immersive offering that would stand above our competitors. The all-inclusive category needs a luxury experience that’s hand-selected, crafted, customized, and personalized for the guest from booking until departure.

The consumer demand for a trusted name like Marriott, along with our global distribution channels and loyalty program that reaches over 160 million loyalty members, were the perfect mix to bring something game-changing to the segment. That, as well as our ability to scale and bring our past resort expertise to the all-inclusive collection, are what propelled us forward.

SkiftX: Marriott is currently leveraging eight of its brands for All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy. Why were these brands selected, and what unique characteristics do they bring to the segment?

King: We began with our collection of “soft brand” hotels, which are independent and unique in nature. Autograph Collection Hotels, for example, champions each hotel’s individuality — a great fit for Blue Diamond Resorts, which, under our agreement with Sunwing, make up a large part of our portfolio today.

At the same time, we believe some of our “hard brands” can provide unique experiences around their new all-inclusive brand standards and entertainment abilities. W Hotels, for example, is a game-changer as an adults-only all-inclusive playground, and The Ritz-Carlton’s all-inclusive offering is a world-renowned premium luxury experience. Additionally, our Marriott Hotels brand and Delta Hotels by Marriott are known family-friendly brands that cater to a growing multi-generational family travel consumer.

These brands each serve a purpose in our portfolio, and it’s wonderful to see this selection of brand extensions in the all-inclusive space — including an exciting trajectory for the luxury consumer. Additionally, we recently added our JW Marriott brand to the all-inclusive brand extensions to give even broader choice to our guests.

SkiftX: All-inclusive resorts traditionally cater to budget-minded travelers. How is consumer demand changing around all-inclusive, and how is Marriott responding?

King: The space has changed. We’re seeing a wide variety of consumer interest, especially from transient high-net-worth luxury consumers, group meeting planners, and corporate buyers, with a wide range of price points and needs. In response, we will innovate our offerings in how we design and build all-inclusive hotels.

The right programming, whether for adults, teens, or children, is also critical to distinguish these hotels and will vary by brand and be aligned to the ethos of each pillar. For example, we are testing a new partnership with CAMP, an innovative family experience company that designs fun-filled educational activities for children. All-inclusive should be the epitome of experiences, and our timing, considering the pandemic, has been perfect since the demand has been exceptional.

SkiftX: Loyalty programs are a critical revenue driver, and providing consumer value has never been more important as traveler preferences shift out of the global pandemic. How will loyalty programs play a role in growing the all-inclusive segment?

King: We have over 160 million Marriott Bonvoy members globally who are ready to earn and redeem points at all our hotels, including all-inclusive. It’s incredibly beneficial for a large company like ours to have the ability to speak to our customers directly and expose them to new experiences and offerings. This personal relationship with the customer helps us understand their preferences and needs, travel history, and stay patterns, which allows us to personalize their experiences more proactively.

Many Marriott Bonvoy members were already staying at all-inclusive hotels before we entered the market. We were delighted to see our members excited by the expanded offering, which is reflected in increased booking numbers. Frankly, many of our members said they’ve been waiting for us to enter the all-inclusive space.

SkiftX: All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy is unique in letting members redeem points for all-inclusive experiences. Why was it important that Marriott’s all-inclusive push be rooted in its loyalty program?

King: While some competitors offer smaller loyalty programs in the all-inclusive space, Marriott Bonvoy is unique in that it is not just a loyalty program — it’s both a travel marketplace and elevated lifestyle brand that offers a broad variety of options and experiences across the world. It’s not as limited as other programs in all-inclusive, which tend to be just about the hotel. We aspire to have the broadest selection of exclusive member offerings and benefits from Marriott Bonvoy that transcend beyond the hotel stay and become part of our members’ everyday lives — and our scale gives us a compelling competitive advantage.

In addition, All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy hotel owners receive excellent exposure with a large, very engaged loyalty member base that is passionate about sharing their experiences at the properties. We constantly learn what works and what we can do differently from them. This real-time feedback flow has helped us to evolve year after year.

SkiftX: All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy has grown from one property to 30 in just three years. What has Marriott learned about the all-inclusive category during this period of rapid growth?

King: The tremendous growth of our portfolio in the space is a testament to our collaborative, team-based approach, and we couldn’t be more excited. We have learned that customers arrive ready to embrace the experience, where they see no barriers to fun — especially now, after being constrained for so long — and with that comes a tangible sense of relief and release.

Pre-arrival communication is a key element to a smooth process and expectation management. Guests come to truly disconnect and rave that everything is taken care of without them needing to grab their wallet or purse. Multi-generational family travel is a popular trend right now, as the pandemic has fundamentally shifted the consumer psyche about what it means to spend dedicated time together — and all-inclusive magically fits that niche. Weddings and social celebrations are another prevalent reason for group travel, and the all-inclusive concept significantly reduces the planning and logistics stress from start to finish in terms of organizing and coordinating the specific group details.

SkiftX: What is the long-term vision for all-inclusive in terms of continued growth and enhancing the guest experience?

King: We will continue our all-inclusive property expansion in the Caribbean and Latin America with a mix of new-build properties and conversions of existing resorts that meet our brand standards, including properties currently in the Marriott International portfolio. Currently, we have nine properties in the pipeline, and many of them are luxury brand extensions.

We also see tremendous opportunities in Europe and are exploring what the segment may mean for Asia. We believe that luxury will lead the way in all-inclusive like never before, with Marriott charting new waters with our luxury brands in this space. The upcoming additions of The Ritz-Carlton, The Luxury Collection, JW Marriott, and W Hotels will each be a category disrupter in their own right.

Other all-inclusive trends include wellness retreats and ecotourism. Additionally, entertainment and programming must always remain fresh and relevant and are key to the constant evolution of the all-inclusive space. We look forward to seeing what we can dream, create, and activate for our adventure-seeking customers.

Click here for more information about All-Inclusive by Marriott Bonvoy.

This content was created collaboratively by Marriott International: Caribbean and Latin America and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

Tags: all-inclusive, all-inclusive resorts, bonvoy, loyalty, loyalty programs, marriott, marriott bonvoy, marriott vacations, SkiftX Showcase: Hospitality