MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- As part of Travel Agent's ongoing coverage of JAPEX (Jamaica Product Exchange), we sat down with Donnie Dawson, deputy director of tourism, sales/USA and Latin America for the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), and got the scoop on the JTB's plan for an aggressive marketing effort that aims to reach roughy 2,500 travel agents across the U.S.
The campaign, dubbed "Welcome to the Home of Alright," is tentatively set to kick off October 6. Dawson says the JTB will be kicking off a series of road shows mainly targeting the North East, South West and Mid West. Dawson says roughly $200,000 will be invested in the marketing campaign, which will include educational sessions, incentives, prize giveaways and more to entice agents to book more Jamaica.
"In the last four years our market share has declined," says Dawson. "We cannot exist if we lose that market share. We have to go and get to those retail agents, get to all of the American markets and really look to target those agents more."
Dawson says agents are incredibly vital for the success of the destination primarily because about 70-80 percent of all bookings made by such legacy tour operators as Apple Vacations, Travel Impressions, Funjet Vacations, etc. are made directly through the retail travel agent.
The first phase of the campaign will run until the end of November, just before Thanksgiving. Then a second phase will launch within the first two weeks of January. During the second phase of the campaign, Dawson says the JTB will be offering a contest. The agency that decorates its store front window with the best Jamaica-themed art will win a prize. Although the prize has yet to be determined, Dawson says it will be valued at roughly $500.
"I'm looking at these numbers and just thought enough is enough, something needs to be done," says Dawson. "We need to be more aggressive than we have been lately."