The 2017 Sandals Specialist Workshop came through Vancouver yesterday morning on its 45-city tour across Canada. Thirty-six agents attended the half-day workshop to become Certified Sandals Specialists.
The session was conducted by CJ Smith, Sandals' national business development manager, with special guests Maura Cecere, senior training director; Lorna Richards, national training manager; Surinder (Lucky) Kahlon, general manager of Beaches Negril; and hosted by Winston Chang, business development manager for BC & Yukon.
The theme of this year's training is "Get REAL!" - an acronym standing for Reliability, Enhancements And Luxury. In its 35th year of operation, Sandals remains a Caribbean-owned family business. Reliability also comes from the quality and authenticity of the brand across the islands, with features such as luxurious accommodations, global culinary experiences and consistent service levels.
Enhancements are evident from continuous improvements of the resorts. Most properties have received comprehensive renovations to accommodations, restaurants and public areas, in keeping with current trends. Bathrooms are more spa-like, furnishings are contemporary and the palette is muted with cool hues, reflecting the colours of the ocean and sunsets.
And lastly, with the tag line "Luxury Included", Sandals is synonymous with luxury. Plush accommodations such as the Love Nest Suites, Beachfront Villas, Butler Suites and Villas pamper discerning guets. Launched at the end of 2016 are the exclusive over-the-water villas - the first in the Caribbean, and coming very soon, over-the-water bungalows will also be introduced.
Luxury also extends to multiple dining venues offering local and international cuisine, world-class Red Lane spas, included green fees at on-site golf courses, unlimited watersports, diving for certified divers and more.
Winston Chang, Sandals' business development manager - BC & Yukon
The family-friendly Beaches properties also share the same reliability and quality across the Caribbean. Luxury can be found there also, in the Concierge and Butler Elite suites. Features at Beaches include a full kids' camp with five age levels and a partnership with Sesame Street including character appearances at camp programs, character dining and tuck-in service. Coming this September, a special Sesame Street character named Julia will be joining the cast to engage with children with autism.
Weddings are also big at Sandals and Beaches, with many properties offering expansive facilities to accommodate weddings and receptions (some with chapels), while onsite wedding teams handle all the details. Guests staying a minimum of three nights receive a complimentary wedding, and honeymooners can also island-hop and stay at multiple properties.
Sandals is very dedicated in their partnership with agents to grow their business. A myriad of marketing materials, agent incentives, fam trips and reward programs can be found at TAPortal.Sandals.com. Commission is also paid on all pre-booked activities and tours.
In closing, Smith shared the following tips with the participants: "Shift from selling deals to selling expertise - do not sell from your own pocketbook. Become a trusted advisor, understand your clients' needs and personalize their experience."
But Chang wrapped up the day with the best piece of advice: "Ask for the business. When you do, you have a 50/50 chance of a yes. If you don't, you have 100 per cent chance of a no."