Over the last several years, the travel industry has been challenged, frustrated and financially impacted by sensationalized media coverage related to Mexico travel safety.
Along the way, advisors have faced the uncertainly of not knowing what can or should be said, how to best separate fact from fiction and use that effectively in addressing the concerns of clients.
Traditionally, professional travel advisors have drawn upon training, first-hand experience and industry resources to field a variety of questions and assist consumers in planning and purchasing a safe and memorable vacation. By utilizing close contacts on the ground in Mexico, personal visits, constant traveler feedback, and online forums where up-to-date information is shared on a daily basis, advisors play an important role in informing the public. It is part of the job and one of the key components in clients’ trust and dependence.
However, this can all go quickly out the window when yet another front-page headline or a 5 p.m. newscast sends advisors scrambling and further reinforces the fear and trepidation of consumers.
Articles about our neighbors to the south drive clicks, and they do not appear to be slowing. A good example are the misleading stories about resorts serving “tainted alcohol.” Never has there been one proven case where “tainted alcohol” was served, yet this narrative has continued for two years (not to mention if it was true, the number of reported cases would be far higher). In addition, the assertion of resorts and/or the employees who work at these properties intentionally acting against their own self-interests with very serious associated risks makes little sense.
When dealing with my own customers’ concerns (which are very few), I always make mention of our partner resorts, who are focused on providing the best possible service and experience for their guests fully realizing that tourism is the lifeblood of their economy. The workers frequently express their gratitude for American tourists who they feel are responsible for the highly valued job that allows them to provide for and help ensure their families can have a better life.
I’d like to share a personal story to highlight this. Last year I visited the Cancun/Riviera Maya area four times. Each and every time, and at every turn, I was pleased as the airport staff, van drivers, bellmen, waiters, bartenders, and housekeepers that I encountered along the way were without a doubt among the friendliest, most gracious, hard-working, and amazing people that I have had the pleasure to meet.
And yet the issue of media sensationalism of negative experiences in Mexico remains. Given that, what does the travel industry do? Lay low and shift business to other destinations until this all blows over? Or, deal with the issues and work to overcome the misinformation and stereotypes knowing the negative ways Mexico is being portrayed don’t match the reality of what consumers will actually experience?
As an agency owner now for ten years and the president of a new independent organization called YesToMexico.org, which is helping to lead the charge and deal with these issues in a pro-active, fact-based way, it is extremely important to address the issues head-on vs. passively accepting the cards being dealt.
For instance, whether an out-of-context news report or a sensationalized headline meant to drive clicks, YesToMexico is fighting back by directly challenging reporters and refuting these claims with fact-based information. While working to correct false stereotypes is important, the organization also will be rolling out more tools that advisors can use to help educate their clients including fact sheets, videos, FAQs, talking points, and testimonials. Suppliers are also creatively and aggressively working to change consumer perceptions. As one of your peers, I think it is time for all advisors to do their part and help clients say “yes to Mexico” in 2019. Besides sharing your personal truth and experiences, let the facts do the talking.
The facts are the facts, and I know with certainty that Mexico’s most popular tourism destinations are some of the safest, and beyond our government, direct feedback from travelers also reinforces this. Consider these stats:
So, I do indeed say YES to Mexico and strongly feel that advisors can do the same with a high level of confidence that Mexico is a safe destination for a client’s next vacation!
Looking for more details and information? Get the real facts about Mexico and share your positive stories, visit: www.YEStoMexico.org.
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