What’s the best way for a hotel group to reach its target audience: Social media, one-on-one sales calls, focus groups, workshops, incentive programs and perks?
All of those methods are probably used, but one method that Beaches Resorts has come up with not only targets its audience, but also is the audience.
Designed as a forum for influential teenagers to provide insight into making the Beaches Resorts’ experience totally on target, its Teen Advisory Panel, or TAP, held its first official meeting in late June at Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa.
TAP members also were the first to participate in Island Impact, a program that launched July 1 that enables teen guests to earn up to 10 community service hours while on vacation at Beaches’ properties in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos.
According to Chief Teen Officer Sabrina Stewart, the 15-year-old daughter of Sandals Resorts International’s chairman and founder Butch Stewart, teens are not passive guests but often have exacting opinions and requirements about the family vacation.
“Ask us," Sabrina said. "We know what we like, what excites us, and we want to be part of the planning process."
She played host to the TAP teens, and their visit included a comprehensive site inspection covering different room categories, restaurants, watersports, the Xbox Play Lounge and Club Liquid.
There was a brainstorming session on the ways that Beaches might address different programs for tweens and older teens; food trends; and places to gather without set hours.
Several hours were devoted to Island Impact, created by Beaches in partnership with the Sandals Foundation and facilitated through Island Routes Caribbean Adventures.
Island Impact began before TAP members left home: Each participant filled a backpack of school supplies for Ianthe Pratt Primary, a Providenciales school for kids ranging from 5 to 12.
TAP members delivered their supplies in person and visited the students as part of Reading Road Trip, a literacy outreach campaign under the Island Impact umbrella.
Other voluntourism experiences included community cleanup projects, tutoring in computer skills and assisting at local youth camps.
TAP members gave Island Impact a thumbs-up. Marcus Scribner, TAP member and star of ABC’s comedy "Black-ish," said it was the high point for him.
To participate in Island Impact and be eligible to earn community service hours, teens must be full-time students, registered guests of Beaches Resorts and at least 13 years old. There’s a nonrefundable fee of $25 per person per excursion, which covers transportation and material costs.