LAS VEGAS, Nevada - The 12th annual Luxury Travel Expo continued its success Wednesday morning at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. During the open session, there was a flattering shout out to Travel Agent magazine for our 80th anniversary, complete with the presentation of a cake, but the better shout out was to John McMahon, vice president and group publisher of The Travel + Hospitality Group, who was celebrating his birthday Wednesday.
It was funny to see McMahon’s face turn beet red when he was serenaded by a Marilyn Monroe impersonator on stage in front of everyone.
“I think you’re about the same age as Travel Agent magazine,” McMahon told the fake Monroe on stage.
The keynote address was conducted by the very vibrant and very funny Nancy Friedman, founder and president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Travel. In between checking herself out on the big screen and flirting with attendees, Friedman told the audience a few phrases to never say to clients. For example, Friedman urged to crowd to never say, “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know? Never say that,” Friedman says. “It says ‘I don’t care.’ It is a direct rejection. Why not start out with a positive alternative if you don’t know the answer. Instead, say ‘Gee, that is a very good question, Mr. Customer. Let me check and find out.’ By the way, Tommy, when did you need that information? By the way, Mr. Jones, when do you need that information?”
The trade floor opened at 1 p.m. Here’s some notable news and notes Travel Agent was able to get during our time on the floor:
Travel Agent spoke with Dr. Aloyce K. Nzuki, the new managing director of Tanzania Tourism Board, who discussed the African destination’s plans to add direct flights from New York and Atlanta and possibly add U.S. hotel brands such as Marriott Hotels and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.
Travel Agent met with Scott Ward, director of marketing and sales for Scrub Island, the British Virgin Island's first new resort in nearly 15 years, and learned that the hotel portion of the resort is now complete. All 52 rooms of the resort are now fully complete, which wasn’t the case when Travel Agent visited the resort back in January. In fact, since its opening the resort has already hosted six groups and six weddings. The villa portion of this resort within a resort is also coming together smoothly. The first property, a five-bedroom villa, opened in May. Four two-bedroom villas are expected to be ready by February or March, Ward said.
We spoke to John L. Lynch, Jamaica’s director of tourism, and found out that the destination saw a six percent spike in arrivals in November from the same period last year. Lynch also noted that the new Montego Bay Convention Centre will be functional by the upcoming Caribbean Marketplace 2011, which will be held Jan. 16-18.
Harlequin Hotels & Resorts, a company that just launched its first resort, the Buccament Bay Resort in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a soft opening in August and a grand opening slated for April 3, is planning to expand further throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the world. Groundbreaking has already begun on projects in St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic and Barbados, and plans are underway for other resorts in Jamaica and Brazil. Harlequin Hotels & Resort’s Harlequin Golf brand will continue to expand throughout the world, with other Harlequin Golf resorts possibly opening in China, Africa and India, although Ames says those destinations are merely being scouted for new projects and no definite plans are in effect.