The Office of Tourism participated in the Travel Industry Exchange that was held from the 13th to the 15th of December in San Diego. Organized by the Questex company, that also publishes the review Luxury Travel Advisor, each year the event brings together professionals in specialty travel.
“The #1 event for travel specialization” announced the slogan of the Travel Industry Exchange.
This American salon caught the attention of the Office of Tourism because it permits our destination to affirm its position in the products and specific services sector, a strategy that permits it to differentiate itself given the competition from other “sunny” destinations. In the Caribbean, niche markets have naturally developed around different sectors of which four were specifically highlighted in the last edition of the Travel Industry Exchange: cruise, weddings, luxury and family.
According to statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the American market, which still leads in terms of number of visitors, progressed by 6.3% in 2015, that is 14.3 million arrivals for the entire Caribbean.
“The Travel Industry Exchange permits us to position ourselves in these niches but it is also important to the general promotion of our destination on the American market,” Suzanne Scantlebery indicated.
Along with Elsie Marishaw, also on the California trip, the representatives of the Office of Tourism, in charge of promotion on the US market, also carried out, over a period of two days, no less than 25 meetings with travel agents and tour operators who had been carefully selected in advance.
“Some of these professionals don’t sell Saint-Martin yet but are already positioned on the Caribbean,” said Ms. Scantlebery who particularly insisted on certain sectors specific to our destination such as gastronomy, scuba diving, weddings, birthdays, conferences, and, especially, the incentive niche that the Office of Tourism follows closely given its actual impact on the frequentation of the French side.
Other important work that was carried out in San Diego: the participation of the Office of Tourism in the workshops carried out by Ricardo Bethel, project coordinator and niche markets representative. In addition to a general presentation of our destination, Mr. Bethel was able to highlight the sectors that were liable to seduce these travelers: this hotel concept, that corresponds today to a real niche market - accommodations in the boutique hotels - is well developed on the French side. For the romantics, the fine sand beaches and tropical landscapes have always been popular with the Americans who continue to dream of weddings in our latitudes.
Insuring the promotion of Saint-Martin also means continuing to keep abreast of the travel tendencies: “in terms of accommodations, the seasonal rentals have interested the Americans more and more” Ricardo Bethel remarked. The representatives of the Office of Tourism also pointed out how easy it is to island hop from Saint-Martin, which permits visitors to vary activities given the proximity of other destinations.
The presence of Saint-Martin on the Travel Industry Exchange is even more important given the reach of the event: “professionals come from San Diego of course, but also from Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, from Indiana and other regions of the Midwest and the East” Suzanne Scantlebery reported. This show, in which the Office of Tourism has participated for the second time, changes location each year. In 2015, as a result of this, the representatives of Saint-Martin went to Orlando. If their participation is confirmed in 2017, they will go to New Orleans.