Hope for the ‘Best’ – but have a ‘Plan B’.
Are you heading for sun, sand, sex, and unlimited Dirty Monkeys?
99% of the time, everything goes smoothly and you come home with a tan, great memories, and a grin you can’t wipe off your face.
But 1% of the time the Devils are plotting against you.
Let’s dig in:
Devil 1. You
- Are you an expert on the resort you have chosen to spend your hard-earned money?
- Did you do your research – carefully?
- Things at vacation destinations can change quickly.
- It can be as simple as the current General Manager leaves and the new GM sucks.
- Read lots of recent reviews.
Devil 2. Who you chose to book with.
- If you book directly with the Resort, see the section Devil 10 on Resorts below.
- If you use an OTA (Online Travel Agency) then you have to be an expert on your chosen resort.
- If you use a travel agent, ensure they are an expert on your resort.
- Notice I did not say Travel Agency. An Agency cannot be an expert. It’s a company of people.
- A person cannot be an expert on (everything) Travel.
- A person cannot be an expert on every All-Inclusive Resort.
- But – a person can be an expert on a specific Resort or Resort Chain.
- Look for someone that specializes in your Resort – and pick their brain – it’s free.
Devil 3. The Supplier of the product that you or your Travel Agent buys through
- OTA’s and Travel Wholesalers typically buy directly from the Resorts.
- But OTA’s and Wholesalers work on slim margins.
- Reputable ones are backed by publicly traded companies.
- When Covid hit and cancels blew up – it was 3-6 months before your money was refunded.
- That pissed A LOT of people off.
- But, most resorts did not refund any faster, and getting through to the resort customer service in a foreign country was brutal.
- Choose where your product is coming from carefully.
So now you have your trip set up and have made un-emotional, logical decisions on which Suppliers to use.
Let’s get into the individual components:
Devil 4. The Airport
- Gone are the good old days of showing up for a flight with 10 minutes to spare.
- TSA lines can be very long – although they are getting better.
- TSA is using new technology at some airports that do not force you to take out all your electronics, fluids, and shoes off.
- But if you show up after the time specified by your airline then they can – and will – give away your seat.
- Covid has created stone-cold customer service staff. They are impenetrable.
Devil 5. The Airline Flight to your destination
- Oh, what could possibly go wrong?
- Maybe you’re on one of the 7000 flights canceled this morning.
- Don’t stand in line – read these tips on What to do if your flight is Canceled.
- It seems like overkill – but it’s critical you follow these steps – fast.
Devil 6. Hotel Transfers – From the Airport to the Hotel
- Reconfirm your transfers.
- Hopefully, you asked if the transfer company your Resort uses is owned by the resort.
- Some transfer companies outsource their drivers….since the drivers are not employees they can have a bad attitude.
- If your transfer company blows you off, grabbing a cab is not always easy – the airports don’t like cabs.
Devil 7. Resort Property Owner
- They develop properties.
- So they are really good at schmoozing investors, buying land, negotiating with the local officials, and building resorts.
- It is also their job to choose the Resort Marketing and Resort Management Companies (sometimes they are the same company).
- If the company they chose does not perform – they can force cost cuts which reduce your service level.
- Watch reviews closely.
Devil 8. Resort Marketing Company
- Their job is to keep the resort full of guests.
- They utilize multiple marketing channels like OTA’s, Wholesalers, Direct Online Marketing, and those emails you get offering 120% off.
- They build relationships with the retail agencies that sell the most…..
- If you get to your room and it does not look like the picture…..you have the Resort Marketing Company to blame.
Devil 9. Resort Management Company
- Their job is to keep you happy and ensure everything from Food Services to Entertainment to Customer issues are handled flawlessly.
- 90% of All-Inclusive Resorts sell ‘Vacation Clubs’ aka Timeshares.
- If you’re not having a good time – you don’t pull out your checkbook.
- Their attitude sets the pace for everything at the resort.
Devil 10. Arriving at the Resort
- Reconfirm your resort the day before you arrive – and print the email confirmation or send it to your phone.
- Check-in as early as you can. Don’t arrive late…..you’ll get the scraps.
- If you have a problem when you check-in, stay cool and let them try to work it out.
- If what they work out is not acceptable, ask for the Front Desk Manager. There is one on duty at all times.
- Ask them to put your issue in the Front Desk Log. So if you don’t get things resolved you can wrangle for a refund or credit.
- We highly suggest you use your phone to tape or video the conversation so nothing can be misconstrued.
- Be polite….until you can’t….
- Resorts don’t like people screaming in the lobby. Just sayin’.
Devil 11. Local Tours
- This can be a Clusterfargen, – or no fargen at all.
- There are a lot of moving parts here.
- Choose a good company – the concierge can give you some assistance.
- Go to the tour desk upon arrival – and never go right after breakfast, it’s a mob scene.
- A lot of the Tour Desk people take a siesta once things slow down each morning so they can be hard to find until the afternoon.
- If you make a bad decision on the tours you take, you’re F’d…so proceed with caution.
Devil 12. Check-out – Leaving the Resort
- Watch for charges that are not yours.
- Since it’s All-Inclusive, in most cases it will be spa treatments or a bottle of wine.
- Just be sure there are no hidden fees. Or new fees that they try to slide by you.
Devil 13. Return Transfers
- Be SURE you reconfirm your return airport transfers the day before you depart.
- If it’s a good company you can use their app to reconfirm.
- If you are using Uncle Fester’s Transfers then find a way to confirm.
- Transfer companies sometimes outsource their rides….since those drivers are not employees, caring about you is optional.
- Grabbing a cab to the airport if Uncle Fester is a no-show is not only expensive but you have very little recourse when you get home.
- You will be going to the airport early..so that 5:00p flight can mean an 11:00a transfer.
- Don’t expect to get another day at the resort by booking late flights – you are taking a risk. Especially these days.
Devil 14. Airline Flight back home
- Arrgghh! Not sure what to say here.
- Wear sneakers and travel with a carry-on unless your PJ is fueled up and waiting for you.
- We always overpack anyway, don’t we?
- Every flight our team and I have taken lately has been a connection footrace – or an overnight in the airport.
- The airlines don’t want to buy you a night in a hotel.
- So be prepared with this link – (Flyer’s rights)
- If you booked through a Travel Agency and your flight is delayed/canceled etc…the Airline will tell you to call the travel agency.
- That is bullshit. The Airlines are providing the service. Agencies are just resellers. Read the fine print.
- Just be careful…..Airline rage can get you in all sorts of trouble these days. Being nice generally will get you want you want.
Devil 15. Bonus problem – Mother Nature.
- Mother Nature can be a bitch.
- Travel when she is on vacation – which in the Caribbean and Mexico is Nov – April.
- And chose resorts in places like Cabo or Aruba where it seldom rains.
- You don’t get your money back if she rains on your parade.
I hope all this helps.
And you now know all the nooks and crannies that issues can hide in.
Travel Safe and Stay Thirsty!
P.S. FYI…..My team and I have been traveling all during this pandemic.
I felt safer in Mexico, the DR or Jamaica – than I do here in Scottsdale AZ.
The people in tourism-driven countries are trying real hard not to get the spotlight shined on them.