by Eric Bowman
Last updated: 12:50 AM ET, Mon August 3, 2020
CANCUN - The coronavirus pandemic has had quite an impact on the travel industry, but one company knows the way to bouncing back is through the travel advisor.
Playa Hotels & Resorts showed up in a big way for their top travel agents and advisors last week, hosting them for three nights at the Hyatt Ziva Cancun.
The goal was to showcase the new Playa Stay Safe health and safety protocols to agents. But with COVID-19 cases rising around the United States, pulling off an event is no easy feat.
"I have to give shout out to my wonderful sales team," Kevin Froemming, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer at Playa Hotels & Resorts said. "Andrea Wright organized this, she's our Vice President of Retail Sales and you know the challenge for my sales team and for Andrea was to find the very best agents who've been working basically for free over the last four months, then bring them down so that they can be the first ones to see this and the first ones that can start recovering from this crisis and start bringing guests back."
But would the travel agents want to come?
"Honestly, I was shocked, I started calling them personally and sending invites and everyone said yes," Wright said. "So, what was going to be 10-12 agents coming down evolved into the 45-50 range."
For Jennifer Doncsecz, President of VIP Vacations, experiencing the resort first-hand was an absolute must.
"If we really want our clients to travel, we have to know what they're going to have to encounter," Doncsecz said. "We have to go through that, and I was hesitant just because I think there's a lot of scare out there, but I have been so relieved on this trip. I almost don't want to leave because it feels like we're in a different place and everything seems so much cleaner, like an entirely different world than back home. I've felt very comfortable here."
The event began on Tuesday evening with a welcome cocktail party, followed by a dinner where agents and advisors were split into two different groups to better allow for social distancing.
On Wednesday, agents and advisors toured several of Playa's properties nearby to see how the new health and safety protocols were being put into place.
They were separated into two different groups for site inspections and required to wear face masks the entire time.
Jovi Welch, Founder and CEO of Royal Destinations, was pleased to see Playa is staying true to its word.
"I absolutely love the new protocols that are put in place," Welch said. "I'm glad to see that coming here they actually have implemented everything that they said they would. They have a contactless service that they have implemented where you do receive the same amount of service and you still feel like it's five star, but you just don't feel everyone is on top of you or paranoid that you might get sick."
Service from the heart is the key focus for Playa Hotels & Resorts, and making sure agents and advisors feel that is crucial, especially with everything going on in the world right now.
"They support their travel agents probably more than any other company," Michelle Klemm, Owner of MK Luxury Travel said of how Playa has helped her throughout the pandemic. "They have treated us like royalty since we've been here."
"I feel like their communication has been excellent." Megan Velez, Vice President, Product at DestinationWeddings.com said. "They kept us advised, they asked for our advice, they communicated very well with not only our agents in our larger company but all of us directly. And I feel like what they came up with is excellent and one of the best, I think, of what's been put into place within the hotel [industry]."
Wednesday night dinner was again split into two groups, and Thursday was an "on your own" day for the agents and advisors to experience the Hyatt Ziva Cancun property.
However, Thursday night was capped off by a farewell dinner, and a show, on the beach that all attended.
It was a glimpse into how the resort can hold a large event but still follow proper protocols and be socially distant. They're currently scheduled to host five destination weddings in the month of August.
Pulling off the event with agents and advisors during a pandemic was a tall task, but those who attended felt safe and eager to send their clients back.
"I am still amazed at how Playa managed to coordinate such a great event and maintain social distance," Welch said. "I am encouraged to sell Mexico, and specifically Playa properties, as I am confident that my clients will be comfortable and safe."
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