In a recent interview, Rosario Rodriguez, general director of Royal Holiday, spoke about the brand’s innovative approaches to vacation experiences, staff retention, and sustainability.
How has Royal Holiday Group weathered historic crises, such as Hurricane Wilma and the Covid-19 pandemic?
Royal Holiday has been able to adapt to the changes and new challenges presented by the crises, thanks to the leadership of Pablo González Carbonell, the flexibility of its vacation concept, and the quality of its hotel properties.
For Royal Holiday, the promotion and sale of tourism experiences and its vacation club are determining factors for the growth of tourism locally and worldwide. Just after the tourism crises and the effects of the pandemic, the new modalities of the traditional concept of “vacation ownership” or “vacation clubs” are growing rapidly both in Mexico and around the world.
How has COVID-19 changed the way people travel, and how has Royal Holiday adapted to meet the needs of travelers?
We’ve consolidated occupancy and booking expectations through different initiatives, such as the remodeling and opening of new consumer centers and digital marketing initiatives focused on attracting new guests with activities that the whole family can enjoy.
I’m very proud of the staff and everything we went through at the beginning of the pandemic. We had almost four months of closed hotels and this was very costly. Hotels are like living beings. You must maintain them. We had employees who left their families to live in the properties and maintain the hotels.
How does Royal Holiday continue to honor its founder, Pablo González Carbonell?
Since its founding in 1983 by Pablo Gonzalez Carbonell, Royal Holiday has focused on the satisfaction of its club members and guests, providing them with the experiences they are looking for.
Our 4,000 employees, through their work, reflect González Carbonell’s vision of becoming creators of smiles.
A smile is the most special gesture there is. We are convinced of its importance in customer service and the role it plays in creating experiences.
Since the pandemic, what is the biggest lesson learned?
Vacationing has changed. Before 2020, strategies focused on planning the best rest for people. It is also necessary to create options for those who move the office to the beach, removing the barrier of the four walls and enjoying the outdoors. This concept of “workcation” is gaining strength, especially among young people.
We are no longer talking about fun but about combining work commitment with rest, a symbiosis that before the health crisis may have seemed impossible.
Which area do you foresee Royal Holiday growing the most in the coming years?
Royal Holiday is a pioneer in vacation clubs with more than 80,000 members from all over the world. Vacation clubs are relevant in the development of local and global tourism.
Royal Holiday, a leader in the promotion and sale of tourism experiences, has been one of the main drivers of recovery over the last two years. These efforts are now reflected in occupancy percentages 10 points higher than those recorded by the company in 2021.
How is the brand adapting to discussions about a global recession?
We have promoted digital platforms to attract customers and contribute to the vacation experience of tourists through exclusive offers and promotions. Thanks to these actions, the https://www.park-royalhotels.com/es/ channel now accounts for one-fifth of the company’s total sales volume, a growth of more than 30% over 2021.
For Royal Holiday, our guests are our priority. This summer we have seen an extraordinary increase in bookings, with occupancies of 92% for our Caribbean destinations and 82% for our Pacific hotels.
We have worked to make our Pacific destinations – Ixtapa, Puerto Vallarta, and Acapulco – more attractive to families with the Funtastic team, which is part of Park Royal Hotels & Resorts. It’s made up of a staff specialized in games and interactive activities for guests to experience fun moments during their vacations.
With many brands struggling to retain employees, how does Royal Holiday reward its employees?
Tourism and hospitality have established themselves as the most important source of jobs for young people thanks to the commitment of leading groups in the segment such as Royal Holiday.
Royal Holiday has focused on the professional development of its youngest employees through training platforms that allow them to increase their knowledge, as well as increase their leadership, communication, sales, and marketing skills.
That work is complemented by initiatives, such as a hybrid work modality, flexible schedules, and vacation benefits that allow them to travel without lodging costs once a year to visit some of the destinations where the Royal Holiday Group has a presence.
Describe how Royal Holiday implemented its “Safe Guest Program.”
In keeping with our promise to provide memorable experiences and a world-class stay for our guests, we are committed to the care and health of our guests and their loved ones.
To make sure we fulfill this commitment, we developed the SAFE GUEST PROGRAM®. Its purpose is to provide confidence and peace of mind in the planning process of the future trip and thus, to be chosen to live that desired moment.
We partnered with Cristal International Standards, an English company and world leader in hygiene, safety, quality, and risk control in international hospitality. Cristal certifies the operation of Park Royal Hotels & Resorts and guarantees facilities that protect the health of its guests. With this program, the Royal Holiday Sales Rooms inside Park Royal hotels seek to create safe spaces for their employees, guests, and club members.
The alliance includes the implementation of POSI-Check, designed to formulate and monitor an effective response to infections transmitted in hotels and restaurants around the world, covering key areas and ensuring the safety of guests and employees, through periodic audits that aim to provide confidence and peace of mind in the process of planning future vacations. The Safe Guest Program includes an intense training and education process for employees so that they are fully aware of the high level of safety and hygiene protocols and procedures.
Explain your human resources and training program and how it is used by other brands around the world.
The tourism industry, which contributes almost 9% of the national GDP, is the industry that employs the youngest people and is the second largest employer of women in the country. At Royal Holiday, this is a matter of great satisfaction, as we employ almost 50% of women, thus promoting gender equity. For the hotel chain Park Royal Hotels & Resorts, waitstaff, for example, is an important part of tourism development, since the chain has a staff of 284 waitstaff, approximately 70% women and 30% men.
In terms of talent retention, a healthy work environment is essential for employees in tourism to stay and build a career in an organization.
Since 2013 we have had Royal Connect, an online and on-demand training platform, to offer an opportunity for professionalization and certification.
A parallel objective we pursued was to recognize those sales professionals with solid records who did not have a university degree. Royal Holiday University is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, allowing employees to review information, learn and evaluate themselves anywhere, anytime.
We have also earned certifications for our international service center, in 2016, 2018, and 2022, awarded by Snapshotz, which evaluates call centers around the world.
Sustainability is one of Royal Holiday’s main objectives. What differentiates your company from other tourism companies?
The tourism industry needs to be a leader in the development of strategies and objectives that contribute to the protection of the environment, the fight against climate change, and the development of the communities where we are present.
Sustainable tourism has become one of the most relevant trends in recent years. Royal Holiday and the Park Royal Hotels and Resorts have worked to incorporate sustainability into their operations. We have improved our processes for the care of the environment and resources, promoted the local economy, and created partnerships with more than 15 small local producers that we integrate into the value chain of our group.
We work with organizations, like Rainforest Alliance and Preferred by Nature in four of our hotels, to improve our operating practices around water, energy, waste, biodiversity conservation, and cultural preservation. We’ve been recognized for our composting initiatives, vegetable garden areas, beach cleanups, and collection and release of marine species.
What specifically does Royal Holiday do to foster employee camaraderie and loyalty and ensure a positive work environment?
We strive to create a pleasant environment in which they can perform their work better and make the operation more efficient. We have offices and facilities equipped and designed for the welfare of our employees, such as ergonomic furniture, double headphones, individual lockers, a recreational room, personal call booths, and unbeatable locations with excellent access roads.
With an innovative approach to vacationing and a commitment to its employees, environment, and communities, Royal Holiday is poised for a successful 2023 and beyond.