Compiled by Susie Reese
Just because a destination is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. And even when booking the hottest and most well-known destinations, there are still some tips and tricks agents should keep in mind.
So what are the current sizzling destinations and how can you book the right ones easily, and in some cases even cheaply, for your clients? We spoke with Travel Consultant Stephanie Gulley, who offered potholders to go with these hot dishes.
Hot List of Destinations
According to Gulley, the most popular travel destinations are Punta Cana, Costa Rica, and Cancun.
The Dominican Republic’s popularity has been on the rise for the last few years because of the all-inclusive resorts on the island. “All-inclusive/land portion of a Punta Cana trip is cheap,” Gully explains.
However, the contrast to the cheap-er lodging and food is the airfare. Notes Gulley, “The air component is very expensive to Punta Cana, so agents must time it right with the off-season to get decent air.”
Another hot destination right now is Costa Rica, but unlike Punta Cana, which lures honeymooners and young adults, Costa Rica is popular with couples and couples with teens.
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“The new Dreams resort is quite popular,” says Gulley.
While Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica, the newest Dreams resort and the chain’s first in Costa Rica, welcomes children of all ages, Gulley refrains from selling some Costa Rica locations to families with small children.
Notes Gulley, “It’s generally hard to sell to couples with small children due to the transfers. Gettting to Dreams Las Mareas can take about two hours. Most transfers in Costa Rica are long—one and half to four hours, and trips to the rainforests could be up to five hours from either of the two major airports.”
Instead, Gulley recommends the Cancun-Riviera Maya area for families looking for a Dreams-like experience. “Cancun is very popular with families,” Gulley explains. “The all-inclusive properties are relatively cheap, and really, any destination with a nonstop flight is very popular.”
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Connections do not sell well with families flying from the East Coast, they prefer non-stop flights which are readily available from Newark/JFK/La Guardia/Philadelphia.
However, convincing people to book Mexico can be somewhat difficult, despite its “hot” status.
Gulley notes that some families fear Mexico, but she reassures clients that it’s safe, especially in the Cancun/Riviera Maya area. She recommends using Olympus Tours for transfers as they are reliable and ubiquitous in Mexico with hubs in all the major tourist regions.
How do hot destinations become hot?
Word of mouth has helped to fuel the popularity of Punta Cana and Costa Rica.
“It is definitely client-driven,” Gulley explains. Most clients ask for the Dominican Republic or Central America after hearing a friend’s or coworker’s account of the area, and though Mexico is still a client-requested destination, its origins come not from personal experience.
Shows like House Hunters International have helped to drive travelers to Cancun-Riviera Maya, especially Playa del Carmen/Fifth Avenue in Riviera Maya, where episodes of the show have been based. Shows like these give an overview of the luxury districts and present the authentic culture of the area, which many viewers want to experience for themselves.
What are your hot destinations? Let us know in the comments!
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