Pioneered by the delightfully named Gérard Blitz (with an even more delightful job – professional water polo player) back in 1950, the idea of the all-inclusive holiday sought to “reinvent the alchemy of happiness.” The road to achieving such alchemy was far from paved with gold, and for many years the words “all-inclusive” became a buzz-word for bland, repetitive food, substandard entertainment and poor value for money.
In recent years, however, all that has changed. What with the increased pressures of abundant competition, improved global travel and communication and the financial pressures of the economic crisis, hotels have been forced to sink or swim and to offer ever more attractive packages to their clientele. What this means for the customer is vastly-improved services across the board, fine dining opportunities and cheaper prices, which have all worked to reinstate the integrity of all-inclusive resorts in the eyes of the consumer.
These individual benefits are many and varied, especially when planning a family break. All of these various factors combine to contribute to one goal on behalf of both the customer and the hotel proprietor – value for money.
Value for Money
What it really comes down to, when we discuss the pros and cons of all-inclusive versus standard board hotels, is the value for money. What defines value? A study of all-inclusive tourism in Jamaican hotels conducted by the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science identified six contributing factors to our perception of value for money; namely:
· Quality of food
· Variation of restaurant
· Entertainment package
· Exposure to culture
· Easy access to shopping facilities
· Service at the bar
Furthermore, the same study identified the first two factors (those concerning food) as the biggest influence on our satisfaction, which is understandable since the next biggest expense on any holiday after flights and accommodation is typically food. The report went on to discuss the shift in such resorts from “‘McDonaldization’ to ‘customization’” of cuisine, leading to a higher standard of culinary options, which in turns breeds a better sense of value for money.
Indeed, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh George Loewenstein, USA suggests that any satisfaction, regardless of previous preconceptions, will do much to raise appreciation levels for value for money. According to Dr Loewenstein, those questioned in a study about whether they preferred concepts such all-inclusive holidays, where a one-off payment was required to cover all costs, many said they did “because then they could relax and enjoy the vacation more knowing it was paid up”.
This interesting insight into the psychology behind our relationship with the idea of the all-inclusive holiday shows that all people really want is a stress-free time on their vacation. If standards meet or exceed expectations, people are generally extremely satisfied with the experience and will likely to repeat it in the future.
The Future’s Bright for All-Inclusive
With more care being taken by resorts to deliver customer satisfaction and top-end products, the all-inclusive industry can only go from strength to strength. The Journal of Tourism Research published an independent study on the all-inclusive resorts of Turkey and concluded that satisfaction levels were up and that education standards amongst those surveyed were also well above the expected rate.
All of this data goes to show that the real benefits of all-inclusive tourism lie in customer satisfaction and value for money, accompanied by a stress-free holiday experience and ever-improving facilities and services. If all-inclusive continue down the same road, Gérard Blitz’s dream of the golden era of all-inclusive resorts could well be upon us.