With its 40th anniversary just around the corner, Caribtours has exciting developments for 2019. Head of marketing Atlyn Forde tells Andrew Doherty what the trade can expect
How will Caribtours celebrate its 40th year?
As Jamaica was the first destination that we started featuring, we will have some new money-can’t-buy experiences on the island for 2019. We are also looking to host intimate dinners for our top 40 best-selling agents around the country where we will be giving out amazing prizes.
How vital is the trade?
Our primary focus is the trade, so it’s really important that we show our appreciation. We are also promoting a booking incentive where we pick our top seller over the course of 40 days who will have a chance of winning a holiday.
Which destinations are selling well?
In terms of our main product, we always find that Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua are top-performing destinations. In terms of growth, we’ve seen an increase with Tobago. We’ve also found the likes of Nevis have been performing well.
Have you seen a change in booking trends?
I think customers are starting to be more adventurous and they want to try different places. We’ve seen a trend in clients travelling to destinations such as Tobago and Nevis. We are also seeing the increasing popularity of twin-centre holidays – clients may go to a destination such as Antigua then on to somewhere like Anguilla or to Canouan [in St Vincent and the Grenadines]. We’ve started to sell more sailing trips too. Last year we introduced The Moorings [yacht charters] and that’s a great way for a client to experience more than one island.
What’s new for 2019?
We’re very pleased to have Anguilla back in our brochure. With Hurricane Irma, we were unable to sell it much in 2018, but now we have the Quintessence and the Belmond Cap Juluca back on stream. In the BVIs, Necker Island is now on sale, while in Antigua we have Hodges Bay and in Grenada, Silversands. We’ve also introduced new product in Mexico where we would love to have more unique offerings. I see Mexico as a volume-driving destination. However, we want to feature hotels that are slightly different such as Unico 20°N 87°W Riviera Maya.
Will you be pushing more adventure trips in 2019?
Most definitely. We have a very experienced team that visit the islands to learn about what people can do once they arrive. From trekking through the rainforest or recommending dining spots, we’ve found that people want to experience something local. We sell Castara Retreats in Tobago, which are village-style accommodations where clients will travel down the road to a cafeteria to have a traditional breakfast.
Are the French and Dutch islands becoming more popular?
We are definitely keeping them on our radar because we occasionally get requests for them. Our team makes sure to visit them to keep their knowledge up to date.
Will Caribtours be running any fams?
We have one happening in the first week of December to St Lucia, and we hope to feature Antigua and the Grenadines next year.
What’s your message to agents keen to start selling Caribtours?
We prioritise the trade, and we’re here to give them the support and advice they need. Clients now have higher expectations when booking travel, and even more so for the luxury trips that Caribtours specialises in. We provide a lot of help with marketing and branding, such as giving our Diamond Club members the ability to white-label the magazine we produce three times a year. Finally, agents can rest assured that anything featured in our programme will be the best quality.