Can all-inclusive become on trend?

All-inclusive appears poised to become the next big brand opportunity. After Playa Hotels & Resorts and Hilton announced an alliance earlier this week to open 10 all-inclusive resorts by 2025 (owned and managed by Playa) and Marriott International publically expressed interest in the space, expect to see more news emerging.

What was once considered a less-than-desirable segment with an ugly mass tourism stigma attached, all-inclusive is moving upstream in the minds of brand managers and consumers as a result of more professional management attention and the emergence of more upscale amenity alternatives. Perhaps it is gaining traction because stressed-out consumers are looking to make holidays as decision-free as possible, and when the economy stalls the idea of an all-inclusive holiday may resonate quite nicely.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Because managing all-inclusive requires a distinct skill set, big brands like Hilton and Hyatt, which in 2015 struck a similar strategic alliance with Playa, are playing it smart by aligning and bringing their distribution muscle to partnerships.

The move will also give big brands more opportunities in the resort segment, and if they work the alliance angle, they can avoid the heavy lifting of development.

Whether or not all-inclusive has legs outside traditional Caribbean settings remains one of the big questions moving forward. NH Hotels’ newly minted alliance with Apple Leisure Partners and the rejuvenation of the Club Med brand will help answer that question.

One remaining question I have is whether more upscale and luxury brands, as well as independents, see this as a trend to follow when they are usually the leaders.

Is all-inclusive the next big thing?