CTO to Travel Agents: Caribbean Week Will Make You Money

Sylma Brown Bramble, deputy director, projects and administration for the Caribbean Tourism Organization, has been involved with CTO's Caribbean Week for 30 of its 37 years.  A Bahamas' junkanoo band entertains visitors and media at CTO Caribbean Fair 2006 in New York

She said it was very rewarding to see the once-small event devoted solely to private business meetings grow into a week-long celebration of the region in New York City, where both the private and public sectors can get a taste of the Caribbean.

But while the week has grown drastically in the past five years or so, something else hasn't: the attendance of travel agents.

Fernando Abreu, deputy director of marketing for the CTO, says fewer than 100 member agents usually show up for the week. Brown attributes the low stat to the fact that travel agents still don't understand how instrumental the week is in selling the Caribbean.

After all, as Brown put it, this is the one week of the year where you have consumers who all want to travel to the Caribbean, or are at least seriously considering it, gathered in one place.

Golden Opportunity

Agents, especially those with offices or homes in the New York area, would be passing up a golden opportunity to meet Caribbean consumers in "their own backyard," Bramble says.

"We put this week on for the agents; this is for them," Bramble told Travel Agent. "We don't sell the Caribbean, they do; we just try to make selling it easier for them. This is a week where agents will come face to face with consumer after consumer, who are being exposed to the joys of visiting the Caribbean. Agents should take advantage of this."

As if that isn't reason enough for agents to attend the event, which runs through June 17th, Bramble shared with Travel Agent a prime example of the beauty of Caribbean Week for agents.

"I was at a trade show last week where a woman was interested in booking a trip to the Caribbean," she says. "We had agents nearby at the booths and one happened to be there to help this woman with her vacation. I later found out that she booked a family group trip worth more than $7,000."

For that reason alone, both Abreu and Bramble agree that the single most important event for agents to attend during Caribbean Week is the Caribbean Fair. The Caribbean Fair is at the South Street Seaport from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 12. Booths will be manned by CTO countries and private sector partners and will display promotional materials, indigenous products and other items representative of the Caribbean.

Who'll Be There

All CTO member agencies are invited to promote their business and even make sales at the booths. Abreu says CTO member agencies from Long Island, New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia have all been invited to attend.

And, based on Bramble's story, it sounds like agents should take the CTO up on their offer.

For more information on Caribbean Week, visit www.caribbeanweekny.com.