TORONTO — So many Canadians are checking in to Riu Hotels & Resorts properties, “sometimes we don’t trust our eyes when we see the numbers,” says Oliver Kluth, Riu’s SVP Sales & Business Development.
Business from the Canadian market has been “fantastic”, and the numbers that Sunwing and Signature Vacations produce for Riu are “amazing”, he said. “It has been a very good fit.”
Riu properties are known for their sun and sand but there’s another draw for clients, said Kluth: consistency in product delivery. “Guests can trust our brand and our product standards. That’s what people really like about us,” he said. Riu’s food and beverage offerings are particularly popular, he added.
The company continues to expand with new properties this year and two resorts opening in 2016.
This year saw the addition of Riu Playa Blanca in Panama, with Sunwing offering direct flights right into Playa Blanca airport, for a quick 10-minute transfer to the resort.
Also this year, Riu opened Riu Palace Antillas in Aruba, an adults-only property for the 18+ crowd. And the renovated Riu Palace St. Martin has two new restaurants.
Looking ahead to 2016, Riu plans to open a 700-room resort at Punta Nizuc in Mexico, and a 950-room property in Punta Cana.
And in the interim, Riu is getting ready to open its first hotel in Mauritius in February 2015, and debut the renovated Riu Plaza Miami Beach and the new Riu Plaza New York Times Square, both in 2015.
Kluth also wants agents to know that Los Cabos “is back” after Hurricane Odile. Riu has two resorts in the area: the Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas and the Riu Sante Fe. “The airport is open and the roads are clean and the hotels are up and running again. People in Los Cabos depend 100% on tourism. Our message to agents is, Cabo is back. Think again of Los Cabos.”
Riu plans to launch its e-learning program for Canadian travel agents at the end of this month. The program launched in the U.S. in March “and if we can go by the experience in the U.S., the Canadian launch will go very well,” said Kluth.
The Riu Specialist Program includes some 20 modules with information about Riu and its properties. Agents who complete the program can qualify for incentives including free stays.
“What we’re hearing from agents who have taken the course is that they learned a lot and it helped them make the sale.”
The Riu Specialist Program will be integrated into the existing Riu Partner Club, he added.