PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) on Monday hosted an interactive and informative session for its stakeholders and partners featuring presentations by St. Maarten’s marketing firms Spring O’Brien/MMGY Global, in the North American market and Aviareps in the Benelux market.
It was the first time in many years that the STB initiated such an exchange for invited stakeholders to hear directly about how the destination is being marketed. The gathering featured a broad cross-section of players in the hospitality field including hoteliers, the Chamber of Commerce, St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association SHTA, Port of St. Maarten and Princess Juliana International Airport SXM.
STB Head Rolando Brison opened the event at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino and Spa and gave a general update of STB’s marketing efforts for the year thus far. Roy de Ridder of Aviareps then presented his firm’s results after the first year of promotional activities for St. Maarten in the Benelux market.
De Ridder used the opportunity to explain about the type of Dutch/European traveller that should be targeted; the fact that Aviareps spent most of the past year better acquainting the Dutch market with St. Maarten; and will be now looking to capitalize on those efforts and translate them into conversions and bookings.
For the American market, Julie Questa of Spring O’Brien/MMGY Global presented broad examples of how they want to market St. Maarten in the US, focused around a campaign called “Visit the St. Maarten You Don’t Know.” She explained that while St. Maarten is known, it is not extremely well known, so the firm will play on that aspect and push St. Maarten as a truly unique, new product/destination.
She also stressed to the gathering that just 43 per cent of US citizens are passport holders and how to cater to the travelling American which amounts to about 75 million people. How to specifically target these travellers is important since the figure of 43 per cent renders moot any mass marketing efforts in the US.
Following the presentations all stakeholders received the opportunity to ask questions and offer suggestions and recommendations. Pledging to work together with the STB, these included, but were not limited to, focussing on creating cruise conversion strategies, using the marketing firms to disseminate stakeholder press releases, place more focus on the low season, and a closer working relationship between STB, the firms, Harbour and Airport.
SHTA Executive Board Member Ricardo Perez said he was “very thankful as a stakeholder to have been invited to the presentation. We commend the initiative since our expertise can assist in directing future policy and direction … Also the work done regarding branding can now be put into work by the professionals rather than having to start from scratch.”