MIAMI -- Maintaining strong relationships with agents is a priority for Kevin Froemming, president of Unique Vacations, the marketing, tour and sales arm of Sandals and Beaches Resorts.

"Travel agents have had a big impact on our business," said Froemming, who formerly was president of Air Jamaica Vacations. "We strongly support the travel agent community and are looking at ways to become even better partners with agents.

"[Sandals and Beaches] have done a great job of building their brands and reinvesting back into their products, which makes it much easier to capture repeat clients," he said.

To ensure an uninterrupted distribution chain linking agents with Unique Vacations, Froemming said his strategies will target new technology methods.

He also said he plans to "stay active in the agent community by getting out there and talking with agents at road shows, trade presentations and on sales calls."

Froemming said he joined the company at a time "when great plans are in the works." For example, he said, new products are nearing arrival, such as the 360-room Sandals Whitehouse on Jamaica's south coast next fall and the 90-room Dragon Bay -- the first boutique property in Unique's product lineup -- which will open on Jamaica's northeast coast in December 2004.

As for the current lineup, Froemming described both year-to-date business and advance bookings for 2004 as "strong."

"People are staying closer to home but they still want a vacation experience," he said. "The Caribbean is the destination that benefits from that desire."

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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