Running a travel-centric sales office in the middle of a global pandemic is not an easy feat. Over the past year and counting, Maureen Barnes-Smith says Unique Vacations Inc. shifted strategies to keep Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts at the forefront.
“For us it was just a matter of pivoting to where our customers were — they were at home — so we were meeting them at their home. We were doing events that captured them where they were,” says Barnes-Smith, who earned a promotion to Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Canada for Unique Vacations Inc., during this time. “We were very quick on our feet. We wanted to stay relevant. We wanted to do things that weren’t just the same old, same old. I think we kept our visibility very, very high.”
Rather than doing hard sells, the team opted to hold virtual functions like mixology classes, Facebook and Instagram Lives, online game shows and virtual fams to keep travel advisors and the trade engaged.
“We started with one fam in Jamaica and we ended up doing the entire Sandals chain. We had hundreds of Sandals agents driving a bus virtually,” she recalls. “It became such a fun thing. Then we did our game show and in between that we reached out to agents to see if they needed help. I think we’re emerging from this as a stronger team than we did going in.”
Today, she says the efforts paid off as bookings are improving day-by-day among Canadians, ranging from loyal agents to advisors who have never sold Sandals before.