The appeal of selling Jamaica continues to grow, according to
travel agents. Those who do volume business within the country cite
the Jamaican people, all-inclusive pricing, romantic settings for
weddings and honeymoons and proactive assistance from the Jamaica
Tourist Board as the top reasons for becoming a Jamaica specialist.
Meg Smith of Kennett Travel American Express in Kennett Square,
Pa., sells a lot of Renaissance Jamaica Grande for families,
because it's "kid convenient, with a location on the point [at Ocho
Rios] and plenty of activities."
"I really love Grand Lido Sans Souci," Smith says, "because it's
a beautiful property -- and I can sell the spa." Smith also sells
Enchanted Gardens spa packages, with appointments for massages,
facials and other treatments included, for maximum commissions.
"I'm putting a lot of effort into spa programs," Smith says,
"because they give added value."
After taking a hike in the hills above the Sandals Country Club
in Ocho Rios, Smith is considering putting together hiking tours in
Jamaica for clients she's now sending to other destinations. Some
qualified Jamaican residents are providing official guide services
for hiking in the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and
other areas, making it easy to have a knowledgeable and dependable
local link for hiking expeditions.
Kathy Orr at La Palma Travel in La Palma, Calif., sells a lot of
"all-inclusives because I know clients are getting their money's
worth and can budget." Orr recently returned from time with her
family at Beaches in Negril. "The sea at Negril is amazing," Orr
says. "The range of activities and accommodations also makes
Jamaica ideal for family vacations."
She adds that she specializes in Jamaica because "not many
people in the West know about Jamaica and the Caribbean."
"Honeymoons are big business for us," Orr says.
"The best way to sell Jamaica is through its people," says Pat
Anger of Anger's Uniglobe Travel in Port Huron, Mich., who works
mostly with professionals who enjoy meeting people when they
travel. "Jamaica has a fabulous 'Meet The People' program where
visitors can spend time with Jamaicans who have similar interests
and I always tell clients to sign up when they get to the hotel,"
Even though she sells mostly all-inclusives, she advises clients
"to get out of the property and go to other restaurants and places
when they want to, but with an all-inclusive, you know your
Since there are several good tour operators with packages
convenient to her area, Anger uses them instead of booking direct.
"They have people on site if my clients have questions," Anger
"When we first started, we sold all of Jamaica -- and we still
do specific independent properties when we have clients who ask --
and can afford -- them, but my first fam trip with the Jamaica
Tourist Board covered three areas and 35 hotels in one week. That
education, she says, has proved invaluable.
Anger praises the JTB staff for its willingness to get things
done. "The JTB trips cover a variety of properties, where the tour
operator fam trips usually include only the ones they sell,'' Anger
says. "But I take every fam trip I can."
"Nothing compares with seeing the product firsthand, no matter
how you do it."
Charles Russell of Lynn's Travel in Lynbrook, N.Y., recently
visited several upscale properties that are part of the Elegant
Resorts group, which includes Half Moon, Round Hill and Coyaba, in
the Montego Bay area.
Although "clients think they know what they want," Russell says
he can steer them, once he's listened to their interests, budget,
activities wanted and where they went on their last good vacation.
"Jamaica has everything that anyone could want, if you put the
right person in the right place," he says.
"Use the luxury hotel as a base, but assemble your client's own
package, with pre-sold day trips and other activities," Russell
says. He has successfully linked with a car service and is looking
at helping with passports and other services. He also will deliver
tickets, usually at no extra cost.
"There are ways to ingratiate yourself in an educational way
with clients who are busy with their own careers -- and need a
professional who's knowledgeable about travel," Russell says.
To build up activity, Russell suggests doing mailings, a
newsletter and calling regular clients to tell them "there's a
special on this -- and I think this suits you."
"Try to hop a fam and use it -- not as a vacation but to get to
know properties first-hand. Use Jamaica Express [a local airline]
to get from area to area to save time and see the variety.
"Jamaica has at least six totally different areas and hundreds
of nuances with the hotels," Russell says. "You're not going to
know unless you go."
* * *
For More Information
Jamaica Tourist Board: (800) 233-4582; Web site:
www.jamaicatravel.com; e-mail [email protected]
Tourist offices in the U.S.:
Atlanta: (770) 452-7799; fax (770) 452-0220
Boston: (617) 335-6931; fax (617) 335-6291
Chicago: (312) 527-1296; fax (312) 527-1472
Dallas: (214) 553-5118; fax (214) 553-5183
Detroit: (810) 948-9557; fax (810) 948-1860
Los Angeles: (213) 384-1123; fax (213) 384-1780
Miami: (305) 665-0557; fax (305) 666-7239
New York: (212) 856-9727; fax (212) 856-9730
Philadelphia: (800) 233-4582
Tourist offices in Jamaica:
Black River (south coast): (876) 965-2074; fax (876) 965-2076
Kingston (south coast): (876) 929-9200; fax (876) 929-9375
Montego Bay (north coast, west): (876) 952-4425; fax (876)
Negril (farthest west, north coast): (876) 957-4243; fax (876)
Ocho Rios (north coast, mid-island): (876) 974-2582/70; fax (876)
Port Antonio (farthest east, north coast): (876) 993-3051; fax