I once sat behind the glass observing a couple of consumer focus groups talking about travel to the Caribbean. I nearly broke the one-way glass down when one of the attendees stated “there is no culture in the Caribbean”! For those of us that know the Caribbean, this kind of ignorance of course beggars belief, but you can see how, with all the marketing of endless beaches and gin-clear waters, the consumer may get the impression that the Caribbean has little else to offer.
So it’s important that we all work to shift this emphasis and promote authentic experiences, food and culture as much as we possibly can.
When we run press trips and educationals to our destinations, there is no doubt what leaves the greatest impression – it’s the experiences and interactions with people that are remembered the most. OK – yes – the beaches are amazing and after a couple of days of site inspections and sightseeing, we all LOVE to kick our shoes off and chill out on the stunning beaches for a while.
But that is, of course, the wondrous joy of a holiday in the Caribbean. It’s all that you need for intellectual, creative and sensory stimulation whilst also being a total chill-out zone.
We took a group of travel agents to Nassau, in The Bahamas recently, and through the itinerary that was put together by the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board, were able to achieve this ultimate in experiences. We were only gone 5 days but all agreed it felt like two weeks, it was such a rich and enriching experience. We saw a plentiful selection of great hotels, which is ultimately what it is all about in terms of looking after our client’s objectives. But we also did so much more – from our full-on-information-loaded cultural and culinary walk through Town with Murray at Tru Bahamian Food Tours, to our nursery-school-like art class at the Educulture Junkanoo Museum, punctuated with the most heavenly day EVER at Sandy Toes where we did nothing but sit in the shallows, chatting, sipping rum cocktails and being swayed about by the gently lapping waves. A perfect combination of work, rest and play, leaving our agents with a clear picture in their own minds of which customers they could sell these experiences to, and a strong desire to return themselves.