Some forty of the top producing travel agents including Bahamas travel specialists from throughout Florida were recently hosted to a mega familiarization trip to Nassau, Bahamas by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (BMOTA) Florida sales office. The trip in partnership with the Bahamas’ major stakeholders and key industry partners, afforded the agents the opportunity to experience firsthand, the newest tourism developments and destination assets in The Bahamas. The travel agents who came from as far North as Tampa and Jacksonville, Florida spent three days and two nights at the exclusive BahaMar Resort on Cable Beach, the newest and largest luxury resort in the Caribbean, which recently opened its doors on April 21, 2017.
Before conducting site inspections of its Grand Hyatt and SLS properties, the Management of BahaMar hosted the agents to a first class welcome dinner and reception, which featured live food stations and cultural rake and scrape entertainment. A theme lit fountain show capped the festive evening. Welcoming the agents to The Bahamas was Mr. Travis Robinson, Parliamentary Secretary in the BMOTA, who recognized the pivotal role that the travel agents play in the overall success of tourism in The Bahamas. “Success in any enterprise is aligning you with the right partners, travel partners. While everyone is super excited about the current digital age we live in and in technology, and while we love that it is faster, more efficient and more productive than any human being, we must concede that its shortcomings and trust cannot replace the human being.
Those human beings – is the travel agents ranging from 22% among general consumers to 35% among millennials, who guide them into making the right choices for their travel experiences”. Mr. Robinson also congratulated and recognized the more than 5,000 agents who have enrolled in the Bahamas Specialist program, 1200 of whom had successfully completed and graduated from the program, several of whom were in attendance, for spending countless personal hours, training and educating themselves on The Bahamas’ tourism product, to become certified Bahamas experts.
“BahaMar is especially happy to host this group at its resort which features, three world-class luxury brands; Grand Hyatt for luxurious leisure travel; SLS a modern, progressive and energetic brand, and Rosewood, its ultra luxury resort, the latter of which is scheduled to open in 2018,” said John D’Angelo, Resort Manager, Grand Hyatt at BahaMar. “We are happy that we have been able to host this esteem and important group of agents to our beautiful resort, and that they, after two or three attempts, have uncovered for themselves, the large elephant in the room where they have been able to see, touch and experience for themselves, that yes, we are really open for business”. “Their reviews of our resort have all been positive and refreshing, and we are appreciative of their visit and their renewed confidence now to better tell and sell our resort to their clients,” he said. Agents also conducted site visits to Melia Nassau Beach Hotel, Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort, and Graycliff, in Nassau and Sunrise Beach Club, Warwick Hotel, Comfort Suites and Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island.
The group also enjoyed a city tour and visited Nassau’s historical and tourism landmarks
including Fort Fincastle, Fort Charlotte, Parliament Square and explored the slave trade history and movement during an educational tour at Heritage Museum. In appreciation of their business, Atlantis Resort laid out the red carpet for the travel agents and hosted them to an authentic, cultural and most memorable farewell dinner at their famous Ocean’s Edge facility, which features the world’s largest indoor aquarium. A live jazz band entertained the agents as they feasted on cuisine from three of Atlantis’ newest Bahamian restaurant vendors: McKinney’s Conch Stand, Frankie’s Gone Bananas, and Sip Sip. A full Junkanoo rush out, a colorful display of costumes and The Bahamas’ number one cultural tradition, which represents the heart, pulse, and sound of its people, ended the incredible evening.
Jennifer Gardiner-Bannister, Area Manager of the BMOTA, and organizer of the Bahamas mega familiarization trip said “The BMOTA is grateful for the unwavering support it receives from its travel partners, in particular, the travel agents. The industry has had an incredible year brought on by recent hurricanes, and while The Bahamas has been spared from such damages, it is the continuous efforts of those travel agents, who work tirelessly on our behalf getting the word out to their clients that the Bahamas is open for business, and we could not be more grateful.” “Our ‘Triple O’ approach sales strategy including: ‘online’, where we engage with our travel partners via social media and e-newsletters; ‘offline’, where we visit their agencies, hold lunch and learn seminars and other face-to-face in-agency presentations, along with our ‘on-island’, escorted site and fam trips to The Bahamas to experience the destination product, are proving to be most critical and rewarding for us,” she said. “We look forward to reengaging and working with these valuable partners in 2018 and beyond, whom we love and appreciate,” she said.