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In one word, everything! Most of all, I miss that feeling of excitement of the journey ahead that I get when I land in a destination, whether it’s my first time there or not.
Where’s the first place you want to go and why?
That’s an easy one… JAMAICA! I miss home so much. Even though it’s been 19 years since I moved to Canada, Jamaica still feels very much like home to me. I’m really looking forward to hugging my grandmother and devouring her delicious cooking.
After spending time at grandma’s house, a visit to every Sandals and Beaches in Jamaica is definitely on my list. I’m excited to see our new Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness in action and to see the familiar faces of my colleagues on-resort. I can’t wait.
How have you been coping during the last few months and how have you been keeping busy?
To say the least, this pandemic is like nothing anyone has ever experienced before. It forced me to immediately change gears and get into survival mode. For me in my role as a BDM, that means taking care of as many booking situations as I could, reaching out and being a listening ear and sounding board to my travel advisors, finding ways to help my advisors come out stronger on the other side of the pandemic, and bring as much positivity as possible.
Developing innovative COVID strategies to tackle all the things we were all too busy for pre-COVID has surely kept me busy. Thinking outside of the box and coming up with virtual training sessions for advisors, online consumer event ideas for my advisors and even hosting Sandals’ very first virtual mega FAM is definitely paying off – the new bookings are coming in. For example, one of my advisors in Ottawa secured two bookings to Sandals Grande Antigua just from her free Sandals car wrap, while another, also in Ottawa coincidentally, has secured a new group to Sandals Barbados. A Toronto advisor has started a Beaches Turks & Caicos group simply from co-hosting a virtual Beaches consumer event with me. These three advisors, and believe me there are more across Canada, all achieved their success during the pandemic.
Is there anything agents should know about Sandals/Beaches?
Sandals Resorts International is, and always has been, a strong brand that travel advisors (and their clients) can trust in. It’s no different today during these challenging times. For nearly 40 years, we’ve been industry leaders in every sense and we continue to be… yes, even during COVID-19. Our new Platinum Protocols of Cleanliness at Sandals and Beaches Resorts enhance our already industry-leading health and safety practices by adding heightened cleanliness and social distancing measures. With an average of 3.9 acres per room, we are already built for social distancing. Don’t forget, our resorts have a relatively small number of rooms, compared to others, so we don’t have huge resorts with 1,000, 1,500 or 2,000 rooms. Our resorts are well prepared and excited to welcome your clients back to the Caribbean.
There’s been a lot of talk about the industry coming out better on the other side of COVID-19. What are your hopes?
I know the travel industry is a very resilient one, so I’m super optimistic about the role that travel advisors will continue to play now and moving forward. Never before has the importance of using a travel advisor been made so crystal clear for the whole world to see. Never again will anyone, myself included, take travel for granted. I believe that these two points will serve advisors very well, as we come out on the other side of COVID-19.
Consumers now know that DIY is maybe best left to arts & crafts projects and not travel. What does this mean for travel advisors? Stay focused because this is your moment to shine, to show current and potentially future clients your expertise, your value, your worth. Trust and confidence are so important, now more than ever. Know the products that you can trust in, that your clients can be confident about their safety in. Strengthen and solidify your brand as a travel advisor, the travel authority. Are you a family travel expert? Do you want to focus on weddings and honeymoons?
In some ways, the pandemic feels like a fork in the road so travel advisors need to know which route they’re going to take. Status quo or forward-thinking?
Do you have anything to add?
When in doubt, just ask. The business is out there, agents just have to ask for it. Ask your client for their Sandals or Beaches business, ask your BDMs for help before, during and after the booking has been made and most importantly, don’t forget to be adaptable to change. Remember that the cream always rises to the top. That’s true for Sandals and Beaches Resorts and that’s true for travel advisors too.
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