Go! Destination Marketing Caribbean Connection
The MLT team at JAPEX 2011 (Left to Right): Karen Kammer, manager, product development – Caribbean; Alicia Maloney - partnership marketing manager, and Susan Crea-Tighe - associate product manager.

Wholesalers are Bullish on Jamaica

The 21st annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX), which was held last month in Montego Bay, brings together wholesalers, travel agents and Jamaican hotels and attractions. Over the last several years Jamaica’s tourism industry has taken huge strides to enhance its attractions and hotels. The destination has also invested in major infrastructural improvements, including new highways linking Jamaica’s major towns, expansion at both international airports, and substantial development of cruise ship ports. None of this is lost on wholesalers, who continue to give Jamaica a prominent place in their expansion plans.

MLT Vacations

"Jamaica is a great blend of the old and the new," said Elizabeth Moriarty, vice president of product development at MLT Vacations. "We’ll absolutely be expanding our business in Jamaica."

Continental Airlines Vacations and United Vacations recently merged into a single brand, with United Vacations being the single package vacation brand of United Airlines and Continental Airlines. MLT Vacations’ expanded air capacity to Jamaica now includes non-stop flights from JFK, Newark, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis and Washington DC (Dulles).

MLT Vacations work closely with the Jamaica Tourist Board in joint marketing efforts. Last year MLT saw double digit growth to Jamaica, and is currently an astonishing 50 percent over where they stood at this time last year. The company has recently added Secrets Wild Orchid and Secret St. James to their roster of resorts. "We’ve added these resorts because Secrets is an extremely well-known brand that customers have a real familiarity with," said Moriarty.

"I’d like to give a shout out to agents that MLT Vacations also offers luxury destination weddings as well as luxury honeymoons," noted Moriarty.

Apple Vacations

"Jamaica is a great destination for travel agents to sell," said Mark Noennig, vice president and general manager, Apple Vacations. "It has more than doubled hotel room inventory in recent years, and the influx of new hotels and renovations have breathed a fresh life into the island. Apple Vacations has received great feedback on customer experience in Jamaica, as evidenced by the fact 10 Jamaican hotels were awarded the prestigious Golden Apple Award. Additionally, two hotels - Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall and Couples Negril - were recently awarded Apple Vacations’ Crystal Awards, naming them the "Best of the Best" of all the hotels in our product line."

In 2012, Apple Vacations has added increased risk seats out of St. Louis, in addition to the company’s existing charter programs out of Chicago, Lansing (MI), Milwaukee and Minneapolis." Our new partnership with Frontier Airlines in St. Louis and Chicago will give our clients a quality in-flight experience, as well as better flight times," said Noennig.

"While Jamaica has a well-deserved reputation for romance and honeymoon travel, we are seeing an increase in family vacations to the destination, especially to our popular family hotel partners like Iberostar and Bahia," added Noennig.

Classic Vacations

"Jamaica is one of our top destinations," said Federico Moreno-Nickerson, director, Caribbean & Mexico product development, Classic Vacations, LLC. "I’ve visited the island several times and I see Jamaica as being three destinations. Number one is the classic, iconic Jamaica, exemplified by hotels like Half Moon, Jamaica Inn and Round Hill. These hotels put Jamaica on the map. Number two, you have the all-inclusive properties. Number three is the new Jamaica. These are not necessarily all-inclusive properties; the category also includes contemporary EP properties like The Palmyra, a Solis Resort & Spa."

"Classic Vacations will be offering the same lineup of Jamaica product in 2012," said Moreno-Nickerson. "Although we’ll be looking at adding Goldeneye, an Island Outpost property. I happen to like the Island Outpost properties very much. They’re very laidback, very comfortable, not cookie cutter."

Moreno-Nickerson had some advice for agents qualifying their clients prior to a Jamaica vacation: "Know exactly what your client wants. It’s important to match the right hotel and location. For example, we have a great relationship with Sandals. But even within the same brand there is lots of variety. For instance, The Royal Plantation is a very different property from Sandals Negril."

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