TW poll: Agents influential in booking Mexico

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MEXICO CITY -- More than 60% of agents who sell Mexico say they are "very" to "extremely" influential in their clients' booking decisions, according to a survey conducted by Travel Weekly.

Ninety-two percent of agents questioned said they fit this category when it comes to deciding what packages to book, while 86% said they were very to extremely influential in hotel selection.

About half of the agents queried said vacation packages represented between 76% and 99% of their total Mexico bookings.

Packages represented 100% of business for 28% of the agents.

The survey was conducted on line among 372 subscribers to Travel Weekly's monthly Mexico E-Letter.

The results were revealed at the inaugural Mexico Leadership Forum in Mexico City.

The survey also asked agents to compare their Mexico business now to what it was before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

Twenty percent of agents said business was "significantly lower" than before; 40% said sales were the same or better; and the remaining 40% said sales were climbing but had not yet reached pre-Sept. 11 levels.

Approximately 70% of agents said their experience with the recovery of Mexico business since Sept. 11 is "about the same" as for other destinations.

Looking ahead, 67% of agents said they expect their Mexico business to increase over the next 12 months, 31% said it would remain the same and 2% expect it to decrease.

Fifty-eight percent of agents said they expect business will increase between 10% and 20%, while 22% of agents said business should be up between 20% and 30%. Only 12% of agents said business should rise by more than 50%.

Asked to rank Mexican destinations in terms of popularity among their clients, agents put Cancun and Cozumel at the top of the list with a 4.7 out of a possible 5 points.

Puerto Vallarta was second with 3.5, Los Cabos ranked third with 3, Mazatlan and Acapulco were practically even with scores of 2.3 and 2.2, respectively, and Mexico City was last with a score of 1.6.

On the subject of niche markets, 64% of agents said "economical/value travel" represented the best selling opportunities; 54% cited family travel; 51% said weddings and honeymoons; 26% cited upscale travel, including spa vacations; 21% said adventure travel; and 13% said golf.

As for Mexico's competitors, agents reported that Las Vegas and the Caribbean were more popular than Mexico with clients, with 54% of agents citing Las Vegas and 51% citing the Caribbean.

Asked why these destinations were more popular than Mexico, 54% of agents said Mexico was perceived as just a beach destination, and Las Vegas and the Caribbean featured "more things to do," while 34% said their clients believed Mexico offered less value for money; 12% said clients believe Mexico is "too far away" or "too hard to get to."

Mexico was more popular than Hawaii, Florida, Europe, the Bahamas, California and Asia.

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