As resorts worldwide continue to innovate, never has the role of the travel agent been more important.
Recognizing this, Sandals Resorts hosted an appreciation dinner on Jan.13 for some of its top-selling travel agent partners at Toronto's Bisha Hotel. During the evening, Lou-Anne Fradsham from UNIGLOBE Bon Voyage Travel was recognized with an Outstanding Sales Achievement award.
Representatives from Air Canada Vacations, the Barbados Tourism Authority, and the Grenada Tourism Authority were also in attendance.
Although he could not be there in person, Deputy Chairman at Sandals Resorts International, Adam Stewart, had a special message for those in attendance, saying in a video message, "Our resorts have become more sophisticated through innovation and constant reinvestment, which means that resorts have become more comprehensive and have more features and amenities, and hence the role of the travel agent has never been more significant."
Stewart went on to thank the entire sales team and all of the BDMs in the field who continue to supply travel agents with the tools and training they need to effortlessly sell Sandals' products.
Heading into 2020, Maureen Barnes-Smith, director of sales & marketing, Unique Vacations Inc. has a vision for the brand.
"I want to make sure that everything we do is not only transparent, but focuses on the things that are important," Barnes-Smith said in an interview with PAX. "It's important that agents do understand why Sandals is different from other all-inclusives or product that support being luxury. We are the world's only five-star luxury included vacation, and that comes down to the quality of the product."
Investing in the future
Ensuring that travel agents have support is a key objective for Sandals Resorts, and heading into 2020, things are no different.
According to Stewart, Sandals continues to invest in each and every resort on all of the islands.
"We're constantly innovating, improving and creating new accommodations, restaurants, features, and amenities on the best beaches in the world," Stewart said. Providing an update on Hurricane Dorian, Stewart added that fortunately, both of Sandals' properties in the Bahamas, the Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort and Sandals Emerald Bay, were spared from any damage caused by the storm.
The investments from Sandals Resorts also extend across Canada, where the brand is actively working to strengthen the market out West.
In 2019, Sandals hired two new BDMs in Alberta (Donné Nixon, Alberta & NWT) and Manitoba (Evan Chicheluk, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northern Ontario & Nunavut), and according to Barnes-Smith, Sandals "can now truly say that we've got full representation all across Canada. We've always had a big focus on the West, but we've just had one person in Vancouver for a while, but now we've added a person in Manitoba to support the direct flights we have from those areas."
Sandals currently has direct flights from Calgary to Nassau, as well as Calgary to Jamaica.
New look and feel
The appreciation dinner was also an opportunity for Sandals to show off some of the more recent investments its made across its portfolio.
Sandals recently expanded its overwater offerings (most notably the overwater bungalows at Sandals Montego Bay) to include overwater chapels, as well as overwater restaurants and bars.
Some of the company's most recent developments include Sandals Royal Barbados and Sandals Montego Bay. Several new hotels will be open by Valentine's Day (Feb. 14), including a brand new block that has been redone at Sandals Royal Caribbean, which will open in just a few short weeks.
A fourth Sandals hotel is also scheduled to open soon in St. Lucia.
"Everything that agents have seen for the past three to five years looks totally different," Barnes-Smith explained. "These are not renovations, these are transformations. These products are not staying in one place; they're consistently moving and upgrading, as we continue to look at new destinations, new hotels, and new resorts; who knows what's to come next?"
For more information on Sandals, travel agents can contact their local Sandals Business Development Manager or call inside sales at 1-800-545-8283.
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