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TOURISM PARTNERING PRODUCES NEW PROMOTION

Nov. 13, 2001 – For those would-be travelers whose mindset at the moment is "you'd have to pay me to go to there," here's the Virgin Islands' response: "Have we got a deal for you!"
In a program announced last week by the Tourism Department, at least 18 hotels, resorts and inns on St. Thomas, 13 on St. Croix and one on St. John will be presenting guests upon arrival with a $200 American Express traveler's check — a maximum of two to a room.
But that's just part of the deal. The other part is that anyone who books a stay of three or more nights — which you have to do in order to qualify for the $200 — also will get another night's stay for free.
The promotion is called "Stay and Play — We'll Pay!" and it applies to those traveling between Dec. 1 and March 31, 2002. The deal isn't valid for pre-existing reservations and cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions. Reservations must be made by Dec. 15, and the properties have the right to impose blackout dates.
Even with "such a deal," though, selling travel to the Virgin Islands in the post-Sept. 11 era may not be easy — especially after Monday's crash of an American Airlines airbus shortly after takeoff from New York's JFK International Airport.
But as luck would have it, a group of V.I. tourism promoters found themselves on the front lines Tuesday. The eight-member "V.I. Calling" team was in Garden City, Long Island, not 20 miles from the crash site, to conduct an informational seminar on vacationing in the Virgin Islands that had been scheduled months earlier.
V.I. Calling is a marketing tool developed in the 1980s, when Leona Bryant headed the government Tourism Division, to take information about the territory's tourism product to travel agents and travel writers. Teams of hotel and government representatives travel periodically to targeted areas to make a series of one-day stops, often for breakfast presentations.
Katarina Doumeng, wife of St. Thomas-St. John Hotel Association president Richard Doumeng, who is a member of the current team, said he told her in a call from New York Tuesday afternoon that the group had gone ahead with its planned presentation and was continuing its itinerary, which calls for taking part in a press reception hosted by Conde Nast Traveler in Manhattan on Wednesday, and then travel to Philadelphia on Thursday.
'Stay and Play' made possible by partnering
The cash-up-front promotion is being funded through the Tourism Department's $6.5 million "Sea to Shining Sea" marketing effort launched to counter the drop in visitor arrivals and the cancellations of bookings that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Madeline McCray, executive director of the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association, said the hotels' contribution is that "they are providing the fourth night free." The participating properties are:
On St. Croix — Antilles Resorts-St. Croix (Colony Cove and Club St. Croix), The Buccaneer, Carrington's Inn, Chenay Bay Beach Resort, Divi Carina Bay Resort, Hibiscus Beach Hotel, Hotel Caravelle, Hotel on the Cay, Innparadise, Pink Fancy Hotel, Sugar Beach Condo Resort and Vacation St. Croix.
On St. John — The Westin St. John Resort and Villas,
On St. Thomas — Antilles Resorts-St. Thomas (Crystal Cove, Sapphire Village and Anchorage), Bellavista Scott Hotel, Blazing Villas, Best Western Carib Beach Resort, Best Western Emerald Beach Resort, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort and Villas, Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel, Mafolie Hotel, Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, Palms Court Harborview, Point Pleasant Resort, Ramsey's Guest House, Renaissance Grand Beach Resort, The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina, Secret Harbour Beach Resort and Villas, and Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa.
The whole deal is being packaged and promoted by eight of the territory's "travel partners" — tour operators that sell packages to travel agents and, in some cases, directly to the public.
To take advantage of these savings, would-be visitors must book their vacations — in most cases through travel agents — with one of these tour operators: AA Vacations, Certified Vacations, Classic Custom Vacations, GoGo Worldwide Vacations, Inter-Island Tours, Island Resort Tours, The Mark Travel and Travel Impressions.
"The tour operators are required to do their own advertising," Chantal Richards, Tourism Department assistant marketing director, said Tuesday. "Plus, we're running television ads rotating their 800 numbers." She could not provide details on the TV commercials, saying the territory's advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather/Atlanta, was placing the spots, but said the emphasis would be "a lot on the Northeast, a lot in the New York-New Jersey area."
She said she expects that print ads placed by tour operators will begin appearing Sunday in the travel sections of newspapers serving the targeted areas of the nation.
The tour operators "are required to submit what they're doing" to Tourism for review, Richards said, and the hotel associations "are collecting that kind of information." She said she had not seen any of the promotional material as yet.
Different partners, different approaches
Jonna Nelson, director of product development for Classic Custom Vacations, which is based in San Jose, Calif., but operates nationwide, said travelers wanting to book "Play and stay" vacations with her company will need to do so through a travel agent. "The USVI is our No. 1 best-selling destination," she noted.
"Classics works only with travel agents," Nelson said, and for that reason won't be placing advertising in the mass media. "We will be doing a fax broadcast and e-mail distribution to the agents we work with," she said, "and we also will have an ad up on our web site."
The ad hasn't gone up on the site already, she said, "because we're still getting offers and getting information from the hotels into the system. It seems as if almost all of the hotels down there have new offers coming out every hour!"
AA Vacations, an American Airlines subsidiary, provides direct booking services to customers. However, an agent said Tuesday night that the "Play and Stay" promotion "was to have taken effect, but has been stopped right now." He could not provide an explanation of what this means, nor could an employee in the American Airlines Promotions Department, who noted, however, that "promotions come up and are taken down in the computer system all the time, and we never know about it."
Positive profile raising
Phyllis Blackman-Smith, deputy director of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, said the V.I. Calling team began its current trip with a stop Monday in Peabody, Mass. Thursday's Philadelphia presentation will be the last on the schedule.
The team members are Beverly Nicholson, executive director of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association; Henry DeLagarde of the Tourism Department's New York office; Richard Doumeng (association president), of Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Villas; Wylie Strickland, of Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Club and Resort; Judy Watson, of Divi Carina Bay Resort; Cheryl Bennett, of the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas; Richard Leon, of the Marriott organization, which operates the Frenchman's Reef and Renaissance Grand Beach Resorts; and Gerard Sclafani, of Caneel Bay Resort.
The week after Thanksgiving, Blackman-Smith said, another V.I. Calling team will head up to the mainland to make presentations at McLean, Va.; Raleigh, N.C.; Atlanta; and West Palm Beach, Fla.
The territory has benefitted from other positive, profile-raising occurrences in recent days.
Last week, the Territorial Court Risin
g Stars Youth Steel Orchestra traveled to New York to perform at the 71st annual World Travel Congress of the America Society of Travel Agents, as well as at the Tourism Department's ASTA booth and before more than 150 travel writers at the Caribbean Tourism Organization's Media Marketplace. Then came the icing on the cake — an appearance last Wednesday morning on NBC-TV's "Today Show."
Also at the ASTA congress, Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards on Nov. 6 accepted an award for the Virgin Islands, which was cited by Modern Bride Magazine as one of the top 10 honeymoon destinations in the world. The destinations were determined in the magazine's fifth annual "World's Best Honeymoon" survey of more than 3,000 travel agents. Respondents were asked to recommend destinations according to 12 categories, including most romantic, best beaches, best nightlife and best diving and snorkeling.
The results appear in the magazine's December/January issue.

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Nov. 13, 2001 - For those would-be travelers whose mindset at the moment is "you'd have to pay me to go to there," here's the Virgin Islands' response: "Have we got a deal for you!"
In a program announced last week by the Tourism Department, at least 18 hotels, resorts and inns on St. Thomas, 13 on St. Croix and one on St. John will be presenting guests upon arrival with a $200 American Express traveler's check -- a maximum of two to a room.
But that's just part of the deal. The other part is that anyone who books a stay of three or more nights -- which you have to do in order to qualify for the $200 -- also will get another night's stay for free.
The promotion is called "Stay and Play -- We'll Pay!" and it applies to those traveling between Dec. 1 and March 31, 2002. The deal isn't valid for pre-existing reservations and cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions. Reservations must be made by Dec. 15, and the properties have the right to impose blackout dates.
Even with "such a deal," though, selling travel to the Virgin Islands in the post-Sept. 11 era may not be easy -- especially after Monday's crash of an American Airlines airbus shortly after takeoff from New York's JFK International Airport.
But as luck would have it, a group of V.I. tourism promoters found themselves on the front lines Tuesday. The eight-member "V.I. Calling" team was in Garden City, Long Island, not 20 miles from the crash site, to conduct an informational seminar on vacationing in the Virgin Islands that had been scheduled months earlier.
V.I. Calling is a marketing tool developed in the 1980s, when Leona Bryant headed the government Tourism Division, to take information about the territory's tourism product to travel agents and travel writers. Teams of hotel and government representatives travel periodically to targeted areas to make a series of one-day stops, often for breakfast presentations.
Katarina Doumeng, wife of St. Thomas-St. John Hotel Association president Richard Doumeng, who is a member of the current team, said he told her in a call from New York Tuesday afternoon that the group had gone ahead with its planned presentation and was continuing its itinerary, which calls for taking part in a press reception hosted by Conde Nast Traveler in Manhattan on Wednesday, and then travel to Philadelphia on Thursday.
'Stay and Play' made possible by partnering
The cash-up-front promotion is being funded through the Tourism Department's $6.5 million "Sea to Shining Sea" marketing effort launched to counter the drop in visitor arrivals and the cancellations of bookings that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Madeline McCray, executive director of the St. Croix Hotel and Tourism Association, said the hotels' contribution is that "they are providing the fourth night free." The participating properties are:
On St. Croix -- Antilles Resorts-St. Croix (Colony Cove and Club St. Croix), The Buccaneer, Carrington's Inn, Chenay Bay Beach Resort, Divi Carina Bay Resort, Hibiscus Beach Hotel, Hotel Caravelle, Hotel on the Cay, Innparadise, Pink Fancy Hotel, Sugar Beach Condo Resort and Vacation St. Croix.
On St. John -- The Westin St. John Resort and Villas,
On St. Thomas -- Antilles Resorts-St. Thomas (Crystal Cove, Sapphire Village and Anchorage), Bellavista Scott Hotel, Blazing Villas, Best Western Carib Beach Resort, Best Western Emerald Beach Resort, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort and Villas, Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel, Mafolie Hotel, Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, Palms Court Harborview, Point Pleasant Resort, Ramsey's Guest House, Renaissance Grand Beach Resort, The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina, Secret Harbour Beach Resort and Villas, and Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort and Spa.
The whole deal is being packaged and promoted by eight of the territory's "travel partners" -- tour operators that sell packages to travel agents and, in some cases, directly to the public.
To take advantage of these savings, would-be visitors must book their vacations -- in most cases through travel agents -- with one of these tour operators: AA Vacations, Certified Vacations, Classic Custom Vacations, GoGo Worldwide Vacations, Inter-Island Tours, Island Resort Tours, The Mark Travel and Travel Impressions.
"The tour operators are required to do their own advertising," Chantal Richards, Tourism Department assistant marketing director, said Tuesday. "Plus, we're running television ads rotating their 800 numbers." She could not provide details on the TV commercials, saying the territory's advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather/Atlanta, was placing the spots, but said the emphasis would be "a lot on the Northeast, a lot in the New York-New Jersey area."
She said she expects that print ads placed by tour operators will begin appearing Sunday in the travel sections of newspapers serving the targeted areas of the nation.
The tour operators "are required to submit what they're doing" to Tourism for review, Richards said, and the hotel associations "are collecting that kind of information." She said she had not seen any of the promotional material as yet.
Different partners, different approaches
Jonna Nelson, director of product development for Classic Custom Vacations, which is based in San Jose, Calif., but operates nationwide, said travelers wanting to book "Play and stay" vacations with her company will need to do so through a travel agent. "The USVI is our No. 1 best-selling destination," she noted.
"Classics works only with travel agents," Nelson said, and for that reason won't be placing advertising in the mass media. "We will be doing a fax broadcast and e-mail distribution to the agents we work with," she said, "and we also will have an ad up on our web site."
The ad hasn't gone up on the site already, she said, "because we're still getting offers and getting information from the hotels into the system. It seems as if almost all of the hotels down there have new offers coming out every hour!"
AA Vacations, an American Airlines subsidiary, provides direct booking services to customers. However, an agent said Tuesday night that the "Play and Stay" promotion "was to have taken effect, but has been stopped right now." He could not provide an explanation of what this means, nor could an employee in the American Airlines Promotions Department, who noted, however, that "promotions come up and are taken down in the computer system all the time, and we never know about it."
Positive profile raising
Phyllis Blackman-Smith, deputy director of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, said the V.I. Calling team began its current trip with a stop Monday in Peabody, Mass. Thursday's Philadelphia presentation will be the last on the schedule.
The team members are Beverly Nicholson, executive director of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association; Henry DeLagarde of the Tourism Department's New York office; Richard Doumeng (association president), of Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Villas; Wylie Strickland, of Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Club and Resort; Judy Watson, of Divi Carina Bay Resort; Cheryl Bennett, of the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas; Richard Leon, of the Marriott organization, which operates the Frenchman's Reef and Renaissance Grand Beach Resorts; and Gerard Sclafani, of Caneel Bay Resort.
The week after Thanksgiving, Blackman-Smith said, another V.I. Calling team will head up to the mainland to make presentations at McLean, Va.; Raleigh, N.C.; Atlanta; and West Palm Beach, Fla.
The territory has benefitted from other positive, profile-raising occurrences in recent days.
Last week, the Territorial Court Risin g Stars Youth Steel Orchestra traveled to New York to perform at the 71st annual World Travel Congress of the America Society of Travel Agents, as well as at the Tourism Department's ASTA booth and before more than 150 travel writers at the Caribbean Tourism Organization's Media Marketplace. Then came the icing on the cake -- an appearance last Wednesday morning on NBC-TV's "Today Show."
Also at the ASTA congress, Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards on Nov. 6 accepted an award for the Virgin Islands, which was cited by Modern Bride Magazine as one of the top 10 honeymoon destinations in the world. The destinations were determined in the magazine's fifth annual "World's Best Honeymoon" survey of more than 3,000 travel agents. Respondents were asked to recommend destinations according to 12 categories, including most romantic, best beaches, best nightlife and best diving and snorkeling.
The results appear in the magazine's December/January issue.