The Dominican Republic Welcomes
U.S. Travel Advisors
U.S. Travel Advisors Wowed in the Dominican Republic
In November, The Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, in conjunction with Travel Weekly, hosted nearly 40 top-producing travel advisors from across the United States. The hand-selected group of advisors got a first-hand look at the state of tourism throughout the Dominican Republic, enjoying an in-depth destination experience along with focused education sessions.
"Travel advisors are trusted experts on the front lines of the travel decision-making process and a critical element to ensure that tourism to our country will bounce back stronger than ever," says Magaly Toribio, marketing advisor for the Domican Republic Ministry of Tourism. "This initiative was developed to offer a transparent first-hand look at the Dominican Republic, correct market perception, create advocacy and increase bookings."
To that end, the travel advisors embarked on jam-packed adventures from November 17 to November 20. From touring new and legacy brand hotel properties to indulging in world-class cuisine, taking part in favorite off-site activities and settling in for serious business during a series of informational panels, the advisors had a chance to experience the best of the Dominican Republic. Here's a look at some of the travel advisors' highlights, including places and activities that wowed the travel advisor pros and are sure to delight your own clients.
One of the most important elements during the fam was a series of panel discussions with top executives from leading hotel chains in the Dominican Republic.
Speakers included Lucien Echevarria, New York executive director of the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism; Kevin Froemming, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Playa Hotel Group; John Long, vice president of sales and marketing at Iberostar Hotels & Resorts; and Frank Maduro, vice president of marketing for all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels.
During the panel, the executives offered an in-depth state of the union for the major hotel chains as well as the country as a whole. "You are our first line of defense," said Echevarria of the Ministry of Tourism. "You all know what has happened. The cancellations and drop in arrivals here have cost people their jobs. It is very important to tell visitors why they should visit and why they should keep coming back."
"I recently returned from a quick trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic to meet with the ministry of tourism as well as executives from the major resort companies (Playa, Hard Rock, Iberostar). I left with a full heart! The people of the DR are so lovely and the areas of Cap Cana, Bávaro and Punta Cana are clean and beautiful!"
- Suzy Schreiner, owner and travel specialist, Azure Blue Vacations
To that end, attendees received detailed information about the increased health and security measures that have been put in place to ensure the well-being of all visitors, as well as frank conversations with the executives. Froemming of Playa Hotels and Resorts noted, "There is no better way to overcome false images than to bring educated agents here so they can see the product themselves. You are our voice. We are all here for you, and we are here to support and thank you."
Travel advisors also had the chance to ask their own questions, addressing any specific concerns they and their clients may have had about vacationing in the Domican Republic. "It's all about perception," noted Maduro of Hard Rock Hotels, while Long of Iberostar Hotels & Resorts pointed out that the travel advisors "all tell the truth better than anyone else can."
Out and About in the Dominican Republic
After arrivals via United Airlines on November 17, travel advisors had a chance to get settled into their luxury accommodations at Sanctuary Cap Cana Hotel before a VIP welcome at the hotel followed by cocktails and dinner.
Site inspections on days 2 and 3 included some of the finest offerings in the Dominican Republic, with lunch and a tour at Iberostar Bávaro Grand; site inspection, dinner and reception at Secrets Cap Cana; lunch and tour at Punta Cana Resort & Club, including local entertainment and a visit to the Corales Golf Course, host of the PGA Tour Event.
The travel advisors were also able to fit in visits to several other top-notch resorts for site inspections, including Eden Roc Cap Cana, Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana, the Westin Puntacana Resort & Club, Tortuga Bay Hotel at Puntacana Resort & Club and TRS Cap Cana, gleaning valuable information and first-hand views for future sales. And while the travel advisors took their tasks seriously, they were also able to indulge in some fun activities that their clients might also like, such as a catamaran ride and snorkeling at Juanillo Beach Cap Cana.
Within days of returning, the travel advisors were sharing their success stories in booking business in the Dominican Republic. Armed with first-hand experiences and the knowledge to combat misperceptions, the travel agents were able to confidently advise their clients about traditional favorites, new possibilities, entertainment and the overall ambiance in the Dominican Republic. Several also noted the power of social media as booking requests came as a result of the posts their clients had seen. Here's just a small sampling of comments we received in the first week after their return.
- "Just booked Secrets Cap Cana for January due to my posts!" - Jennifer LeBrun, Dreamers Travel
- "Quoting a honeymoon to Punta Cana now. Saw my posts and wanted more info." - Heidi Miller Marlowe, White Glove Destinations
- "Yesterday I booked Breathless, 2 rooms. My first Punta Cana booking since July." - Roseanne Stallone Azzinaro, Millennium Travel.
- And the very next day, Roseanne told us that she had a second Punta Cana booking!
- "Just booked my first clients to Breathless Punta Cana!" - Victoria Redwine, Starstuff Travel
- Less than 2 hours later, Victoria added this: "Booked my second couple!"
- "I booked eight rooms for a 50th birthday party and also adjoining rooms for a family on spring break." - Amy Hobbins, Journeys Unlimited Travel
- And the stories go on! For more success stories and insights into the travel advisors' experiences, check out these tags on Facebook: #TheRealDR and #TWintheDR and these on Instagram: #TheRealDR and #TWintheDR