Hundreds of travel agents drop in on St. Thomas for the day
Published: May 9, 2012
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More than 800 travel agents alit on St. Thomas on Tuesday to pursue the business of pleasure travel.
As part of Vacation.com's 14th International Conference and Trade Show, travel experts arrived aboard Oasis of the Seas to tour St. Thomas and experience an oceanside beach-bash at Morningstar Beach on St. Thomas's south side. While about 300 travel agents took part in shore excursions, 500 other agents spent the day at the Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort.
The conference bills itself as the "industry's premier travel agent event" and draws more than "1,200 travel professionals and suppliers," according to the conference's web site. The V.I. Tourism Department along with Marriott's Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Resort, Tropical Tours, Captain Morgan, Heineken and Coors Light sponsored the travel agents' activates on St. Thomas.
The agents came from across the mainland U.S. and Canada. During the cruise, they have the opportunity to participate in business seminars, network and learn about the latest industry trends and products from travel industry vendors.
The agents also talk about dealing with the competition from the Internet and countless online bargains, but they have found ways to stay viable by promoting customer service.
"Dot-com can be dot-gone when something goes wrong. We give the Internet a voice," said Cathy Dougherty of GalaxSea Cruises and Tours. "We are always online and though our volume sales, we get the same or better deals for our clients," Dougherty added.
During the beach-bash, the agents were treated to lunch, while DJ Cypha played dance music and led limbo contests, won by Amanda Davoli, a teacher at the Academy of Hospitality at Antioch High School in Tennessee. Karen Scantlebury, owner of AAIC Luxury Travel also won a limbo contest. Their prizes were three-night return trips to St. Thomas and the Marriott.
Based on comments from the travel professionals, they were impressed by St. Thomas and many already were talking about clients they have in mind who would travel to the island.
"Even the elevators have a great view here," said agent David Baragona of VU Travel Agency in northern Virginia, as a group of agents passed a beach access high above the ocean.