Canadian agents in the spotlight with Karisma
Forty-one Canadian travel agents were among the top producing travel agents celebrated recently at Karisma Hotels & Resorts’ 11th annual Gourmet Inclusive Vacation Consultant Sales & Marketing Forum held at the El Dorado Royale in the Riviera Maya.
“GIVC is about thanking and recognizing our agents,” said Marilyn Cairo, director of retail sales – North America for Karisma Hotels & Resorts.
Along with elaborate special events like Grease, and Alice In Wonderland, themed soirees, the four-day event featured educational seminars and breakout sessions. Now in its 11th year, the forum culminates with an awards gala, which this year included a diamond giveaway and US$250,000 in cash prizes.
“It was a memorable celebration to honour the exceptional work and dedication of the industry’s top travel professionals,” said Kelly Poling, senior vice president of marketing for Karisma Hotels & Resorts. “Our travel agent partners are an instrumental part of Karisma’s ongoing success. As we continue rapid global growth, we look forward to building upon our relationship with them to deliver valuable tools, enhanced programs and offers, authentic experiences, and exceptional new properties around the world.”
Celebrating the Canadians
Although the Canadian contingency was only a small portion of the 600 attendees, they still took home some big honours. Some of the notable agents who were recognized include:
• Kim Crosby of SunLovers Travel was named the top selling homebased agent in Canada. The multiple award-winner also earned a nod as a Top Producer for El Dorado Spa Resorts, a Top Wedding Producer for El Dorado Spa Resorts, Diamond Level 5 status and a cash giveaway.
• Mandy Delve of Beyond Travel Designers was recognized in the Top Growth By Region category for Central Canada. She also earned Diamond Level 4 status, and is a Top Producer for Azul Beach Resorts and a Top Wedding Producer for Azul Beach Resorts.
• Martine Phaneuf, Propriétaire CWT – Vacances Le Faubourg, received the Top Growth By Region award for Eastern Canada, as well as Diamond Level 4 status and a cash prize. In Western Canada, the Top Growth By Region award went to Elicia Jump of Uniglobe Vision.
• Cindy Almond of Romance & Foodie Travel earned Diamond Level 4 status, plus was a Top Producer for Azul Beach Resorts.
• Flight Centre Canada’s Carolyn Menard was recognized as the top selling storefront agent in Canada, and Brittney Struck of Flight Centre Weddings and Honeymoons was awarded as a top selling wedding producer for Azul Resorts.
• Renee Carlin of Marlin Travel and Jackie Niven of Transat Travel were both top producers for Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts.
• Two Canadian agents also made it into the Elite category, which honours those who sell over 2,000 room nights in one year: Pamela Walker (not in attendance) of Escapes.ca, who was also a Top Wedding Producer for Azul Beach Resorts, and Sandra Lombardi of Red Label Vacations.
From Mexico with love
During the evening, Sr. Martinez and Sra. Dolores, the owners of of El Dorado Spa Resorts, Generations Resorts, and Hidden Beach Resort by Karisma, were also recognized by agents for their contribution over the years.
“Please always remember Mexico,” said Sr. Martinez as he addressed the crowd, encouraging agents to continue selling the destination. “Mexico loves you.”
Earlier in the programming, Adam Malcolm, senior vice president of sales at Karisma Hotels & Resorts, announced that the support from agents will be especially vital in 2019 since there will be significantly fewer air seats (approximately 520,000) into Mexico, mainly to Mexico City and Cancun.
“It’s easy to sell things that are doing well. When it gets tough, that’s when we ask for your support,” he told the agents.
Karisma executives also said that the 12th annual GIVC Sales & Marketing Forum taking place next December will again feature a diamond giveaway and cash prizes.
“In addition to the recognition, Sr. Martinez gives away $250,000 of his own money,” said Poling. “This cash prize and diamond giveaway is one of the many ways we are committed to showing our appreciation for the travel agent community.”
A touch of Jamaica
Donnie Dawson, deputy director of tourism, sales – USA and Latin America for the Jamaica Tourist Board took the stage during the marketing forum to drive home the point that travel agents are still relevant, especially for the destination where Karisma is continuing to increase its presence with the multi-hotel Sugar Cane development.
“Travel agents are not going anywhere anytime soon,” he said. “They’re just getting bigger and stronger.”
Showcasing its commitment to the trade, Dawson said 80% of the JTB’s annual budget is on engaging travel agents and it employs 20 BDMs across Canada and the US.
“You are our most important client,” he said. “You drive Jamaica’s tourism.”
As part of its global expansion plans, Karisma Hotels & Resorts is preparing to launch several Margaritaville Island Reserve All-Inclusive Experience resorts, the first of which will open in Riviera Maya.
Following the success of Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana, a second Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts will open in 2020 next to Generations Riviera Maya. The property will offer 276 oceanfront swim-up suites, plus four signature penthouses on the top floor of two modern six-story buildings, which come complete with an infinity pool.