The AIC Annual Industry Showstopper Awards are given to companies that have demonstrated great innovation and outstanding performance in their respective industry. This year’s award-winners were announced on April 27th at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida.
The “who owns aic hotel group” is the company that owns AIC Hotels. The company has been around since 1989 and also owns the AIC Group, which is the parent company of AIC Hotels.
Travel advisors are hard workers who also know how to have a good time. That’s what I learned at the AIC Hotel Group’s annual Showstopper Awards event this week, which is hosted yearly (when there isn’t a pandemic) to honor and reward the company’s top-producing North American travel planners and tour operators.
The four-day event, which took place from May 1 to 4, was held at the opulent Hard Rock Punta Cana all-inclusive resort. It’s the ideal occasion for members of the agent community to reunite with their colleagues and finally let free after a grueling two years. And it seemed like “everyone who’s anybody” was in attendance, at least to this bystander.
In this specific Dominican Republic hotspot, top leadership from AIC and Hard Rock International joined almost 500 advisors and agency professionals for a series of wonderful, entertaining, and humorous events and special activities, all of which were executed with typical Hard Rock flare.
Since this was the first post-pandemic awards ceremony of its sort (thank you, COVID-19), the 2022 event included winners from the previous three years, with award decisions based on output levels from 2019, 2020, and 2021.
Hard Rock skipped the typical stage presentations with theatre seating in favor of a less conventional location, with attendees dressed to the nines for the awards night. The awards presentation, which took place inside the casino’s cutting-edge ORO Nightclub on Monday night, included drinks and champagne bottle service, high-energy music mixes by DJ Huggies, and strobe-lit performances by bedazzled dancers on stilts, punctuated by confetti bursts.
The 2022 AIC Showstopper Awards presentation inside ORO Nightclub at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (photo by Laurie Baratti)
A conventional awards presentation would have ended once the winners in all categories for all three years had been revealed and photographed with AIC officials. The festivities, however, continued late into the night with an ORO afterparty, which included American rapper Mase playing live onstage. Naturally, by the time the afterparty officially began, people had already let their hair down and begun partying.
It was evident from the outset that AIC goes all out when it comes to putting up this agent appreciation event, which is now in its fifth year. The multi-day vacation and all-inclusive resort stay with VIP access are provided to these award-winning advisers and tour operators.
The event began with an exceptional luncheon on Sunday evening, replete with formal welcoming remarks and onstage introductions, as well as a live performer. Hundreds of participants, many of whom were dressed like their favorite music superstars, were up and dancing in the aisles whenever one of their favorite tracks came on in a big, lavishly decked ballroom.
Stage set for the 2022 AIC Showstopper Awards lip-sync battle at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (photo by John Kirk)
The gathering then moved to a specially decorated ballroom, where AIC executives and groups of agents competed onstage in a (hilarious) high-voltage lip-sync competition, cheered on by a throng of their colleagues. The ballroom was fitted up with a central bar, a customized picture booth setup, premium AV and stage lighting equipment, as well as confetti cannons and onstage fireworks, indicating that production standards were very high.
One of the reasons that lighthearted games are included is for the feeling of comradery they generate, according to Ash Tembe, Vice President of Global Field Sales for AIC, who wore a few celebrity-look-alike outfits and wigs as his lip-sync team’s frontman. “I’ve been in the sector for a long time, and I’ve seen that suppliers often believe they are better than travel brokers,” he added. “We don’t think so.” We understand that without our travel agency partners, we would perish.” “So, we have this concept of, we have to disgrace ourselves a little bit,” he continued, chuckling.
The tone of the week’s activities was clear from the first full-service dinner gathering, when proceedings were disrupted by surprise performances by live artists (including a pair of dancing human disco balls) while lighting and sound systems went crazy.
Travel agents take on AIC Hotels Group employees for a volleyball game during a Showstopper Awards beach party at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (photo by Laurie Baratti)
Each event was, of course, accompanied by musical mixes that included the best classic, modern, and alternative rock. A succession of private pool parties, day and night beach bashes, friendly AIC-versus-agents contests, nightclub takeovers, and other fully-catered events followed over the following three days.
“Well, the first thing—and, we always say why—we always want to celebrate our travel partners and our tour operator partners, of course, throughout the year,” Tembe said, adding, “and, we’re Hard Rock.” So, when you’re with the Hard Rock brand, you always have the ability to break out from the template that everyone else follows.”
“Last night was amazing mayhem, if you want to call it that,” he said of the awards show’s unusual format. “At the AIC Hotel Group, all of our brands are entertaining and luxurious brands within that category.” “Our thing is to be distinct,” he said. We really urge our whole firm and staff to constantly think outside the box and to not do things the same way as everyone else. Let’s take a new approach.”
Main building at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. (photo by Laurie Baratti)
“This was always the event that everyone wanted to attend to,” Be All Inclusive owner James Berglie said. Berglie’s agency won Gold-level medals for 2019, 2020, and 2021, despite being a first-timer at the Showstopper event.
“It was a fantastic gathering… He half-joked, “I mean, the fear of missing out is such a vital component, right?!” Berglie found that the FOMO generated by guests’ internet sharing acts as additional promotion for AIC. “When all of these agents go out on social media and share all of the information from last night and the previous couple of days, and other agents see this, it gives them something to aim towards,” he said. “It definitely did it for me, which is why we set it as a goal to come here.” ‘Well, I want to be a part of THAT celebration,’ I thought. It seems to be fantastic!”
Each year, the event is conducted in a new AIC Hotel Group property, so no one knows where top-producing agents and tour operators will be in 2023. Those seeking to be invited to next year’s Showstopper Awards should book as many AIC properties as possible during the calendar year and register for Amplified Rewards status to earn more commission on each sale.
Visit hardrock.com for additional details.
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