FAM Report: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

We at The Travel Institute love to encourage agents to share best practices with each other because peer-to-peer learning is extremely effective. You are the experts, after all!

We recently asked our awesome graduates to share their FAM trip reports, so you can see what they look like. What follows is the inaugural HTT report, written by one of our CTA grads!

By Amy Shapiro, CTA, CATP
Wave Goodbye Vacations LLC

This article reports a FAM I was fortunate enough to participate in: Punta Cana. I enjoyed this trip because our host resort, Riu Palace Punta Cana, was ideally situated, making a walk on the beach to explore other properties very easy.

But first things first. Arrival: If you are sending clients to Punta Cana, you should give them a heads-up about the airport. Right after you land, you step out of the plane and immediately board a bus to take you the very short distance to the terminal. By “very short distance,” I mean less than a city block. They do this for safety reasons, and I thought it was an experience all its own!

Our host led us on tours throughout the vast Riu Complex, which included our resort, Riu Palace Punta Cana. On my own, I visited Splash, which is the waterpark exclusive to the Riu Complex. It was nicely outfitted with different slides and wet-play areas. I noticed lifeguards all over the park.

I would send adults and families to all of the Riu properties except for Riu Republica, which would be perfect for singles or couples who really don’t want to hear the sounds of little footsteps – or screams!

Regarding the food, Riu Palace PC had great offerings and wonderful presentations. But, for vegetarians like me, the specialty restaurants didn’t have a great selection. Royalton Punta Cana hosted a lunch for us – I LOVE their buffet – and their selection of vegetarian options and everything else was outstanding.ore magna aliquam erat volutpat.

I experienced the spa at the Riu Complex and found the prices were so reasonable I couldn’t resist. But my visit explained why so many qualifying questionnaires include this question: “Do you prefer an English-speaking country?” The Dominican Republic is not fully English-speaking. When I asked for something specifically not to be done during my spa treatment, my comment was not understood, and I was slightly uncomfortable. But I learned! When I returned home, I immediately updated my own qualifying questions to include “English-speaking: Yes, No, or Doesn’t Matter”!

I could not pass up the chance to be on the water, so I participated in a snorkeling/party boat tour. It was very inexpensive and quite an enjoyable couple of hours. I noticed they offered several outings for all ages. Others on the FAM said they thoroughly enjoyed their all-day boat excursion to Saona Island. I really wanted to parasail but couldn’t get up the nerve!

Two tips I would give to my clients:

  • Where there are tourists, there will be people trying to make money. This includes beach peddlers. To avoid being bothered by them, I recommend not looking them in the eye or otherwise engaging. Don’t get me wrong, I “looked” because I was there to learn, but I didn’t engage.
  • Tipping!!! As a fairly new agent, I don’t fully understand tipping at all-inclusive resorts. I’m sending my clients there so they don’t have to carry money around. However, I noticed many of my FAM trip colleagues tipping a few dollars at meals or at the bar. This is something I would mention in a “tips” sheet for my travelers.

After attending this FAM, I definitely feel more prepared to sell Punta Cana. I am a strong believer that you don’t need to see it to believe it, but it sure helps. You get a much better feeling for a destination.

My general tips about participating in a FAM:

  • Be on time to all group assemblies.
  • Bring patience because there always will be one who isn’t on time. (“What restaurant were we supposed to be at?”)
  • Be prepared for the climate you’re going to. We’re Travel Advisors; we should know the temperatures we’re most likely to experience and pack accordingly.
  • Yep, comfortable shoes are a must.
  • So are a pen and notebook.
  • Be professional, respect your hosts: the ones who are sponsoring the FAM as well as the resort who’s hosting you and the properties you’re touring.
  • Keep in mind we are competitors, not enemies; be generous to one another. While I learned much from the FAM, I also learned valuable information from my fellow advisors. In that vein, should anyone have any questions about my experience with this FAM, please feel free to contact me at CruisingwithAmy@yahoo.com.

Thank you, Amy!

To our certified graduates: What business-related trips have YOU taken in the past 12 months? If you would like to write a FAM report that may be published in an upcoming Hot Tip Tuesday, please fill out this form.

We look forward to working with you to share your knowledge and experience with your peers!