I spent some time last month speaking with Caribbean tourism officials about this upcoming winter season. Besides the fact that they’re all praying for bitter cold weather up north to drive demand to their islands, they’re also entrenched in supporting the luxury travel advisor. When times are soft, destinations focus on low-cost volume, but when demand is up, they drive yield and seek the high-rate business, and that, as we know, comes from the luxury travel advisor community.
Pictured: JOHN MCMAHON Executive Vice President/Group Publisher
My first conversation was with Rosa Harris, director of tourism, Cayman Islands; followed by Petra Roach, director of the U.S. for the Barbados Tourism Marketing; Dr. Wykeham McNeill, Minister of Tourism of Jamaica; and Raquel Brown (pictured), CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. Each island is bringing on new room inventory, elevated experiences and is jockeying for your business. With increased room inventory comes choice, and with choice arises the need for the use of travel advisors.
Take St Kitts’ example. For years, the Marriott was the only choice and luxury product virtually didn’t exist. Now you have Kittitian Hill open for ultra-affluent clients and the Park Hyatt is coming on line this year. So the client, who would typically use St. Kitts as a way to get to the Four Seasons Nevis, now has a decision to make. Which resort should you recommend? I don’t know, but you better understand these options and be able to match the clients’ needs with the right resort. The good news is they are very different experiences and appeal to different types of affluent consumers.
This is just an example of the vital need for you to know your product. The luxury world is ever evolving and with new hotels coming on line, the client will be coming to you to help cut through the clutter of noise they’ve found on the Internet. For a great “cheat sheet” on new luxury hotels opening in 2016, visit our Awards of Excellence ballot on page 40 and 41, and don’t forget to cast your vote while you’re at it!