Recommend’s latest specialist program, the Guadeloupe Islands Specialist Program, is created in association with the Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board, and allows agents to discover the sun-kissed Guadeloupe archipelago, its diverse cultural tapestry and the unique attributes that set these islands apart from other destinations. Once you have successfully completed the training, you can register for the Guadeloupe Islands incentive program that uses Recommend’s Agent Transaction Monitor (ATM) to record your bookings. Graduates with at least one ATM booking will qualify for quarterly and year-end rewards, as well as FAM trips. Each quarter, the top-selling Guadeloupe Islands Specialist will receive $500 while all booking agents will be eligible for random awards of $200 and $300. At year’s end, the premier selling Guadeloupe Islands Specialist will receive $1,000.
We caught up with Sandra Venite, regional manager, USA and South America, Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board, to find out more about this unique destination and what travel agents can bring to the table.
Recommend: Why is it important for travel agents to become acquainted with the Guadeloupe Islands?
Sandra Venite: Guadeloupe Islands is a breathtaking, vibrant and welcoming archipelago, a true hidden gem brimming with activities across its five islands. Each island adds its unique culture, traditions and landscapes, fused together into a distinct French-Caribbean flavor. Adding American Airlines’ new weekly nonstop flight from Miami, and Seaborne Airlines’ four nonstop flights from San Juan, travel agents can tell their clients that Guadeloupe Islands is a distinct Caribbean destination that excites the market as a new travel source for unparalleled, memorable experiences.
R: You have said that travel professionals are valuable ambassadors—can you expand on that and relate it to Guadeloupe Islands?
SV: Travel advisors, by nature of the services they offer to their clients, are independent ambassadors for Guadeloupe Islands and all travel suppliers. They stand at the forefront of the travel industry, continuously pitching, promoting and sometimes evolving perceptions of our travel offerings to their clientele. As somewhat of a new destination to the American market, a travel agent’s position and the trusted relationships that they have earnestly built with their clients not only privy them to insight that is valuable to us, but by choosing to recommend our destination to their clients, they accelerate the transformation from mere interest in our islands to visits. This is why we created this training program, designed to serve as a source to inform each travel agent’s recommendation of Guadeloupe Islands. Each travel advisor’s recommendation is a privilege we value, and we continuously ensure their clients’ experience in our archipelago exceeds the recommended expectations.
R: What makes Guadeloupe Islands a unique destination in the Caribbean region?
SV: The Guadeloupe Islands offer five islands to explore, making it a premiere island-hopping destination as all five islands are connected by an efficient inter-island ferry system bringing each island within a 20- to 45-minute boat ride, so travel agents are offering their clients five destinations on a single ticket. The archipelago offers a wealth of unrivaled experiences to discover, including ecotourism with our 56,000 acres of natural reserve; culinary with our traditional French, Creole and Nouvelle Creole cuisine; diving with our many preserved and unexplored dive sites; beach paradise with our collection of white-, pink-, gold- and black-sand beaches; and our extensive array of accommodations from five-star villas, intimate chic boutique hotels, eco-lodges, luxury and deluxe resorts to all-inclusives and bed & breakfasts.
R: What can travelers expect from a visit to the Guadeloupe Archipelago?
SV: Travelers can expect their Guadeloupe Islands visit to commence with a very warm welcome from our people, then they will delight in the distinctive experiences as they discover a genuine Caribbean flavor spiced with a French accent. They can expect to find natural splendor, breathtaking sites, an aquatic paradise with beautiful waters, activities galore, charming villages, a fully developed modern infrastructure in the Caribbean, French shopping, and a rich, diverse and celebrated cultural heritage.
R: Who is the ideal client for a visit to Guadeloupe Islands?
SV: Because of the varied experiences offered, there isn’t one ideal client as the Guadeloupe Islands is a destination for all clients with the commonality of seeking a warm-weather island destination and a genuine Caribbean experience with the best the region has to offer. With those requests at the foundation, we are the ideal destination for families, yachters, ecotourists, land- and water-sporting enthusiasts, Francophiles, epicureans, the culturally curious, diving enthusiasts, golfers, spa getaways, honeymooners, and cruise passengers, to name a few.
R: When is the best time to visit Guadeloupe Islands?
SV: The Guadeloupe Islands is an all-seasons destination; each season offers its unique experience combined with our robust annual calendar of festivals and events including Carnival in March; the Terre de Blues Festival in May; Festival of Women Cooks in August; and the exhilarating Route du Rhum sailboat race from France to Guadeloupe, which takes place every four years. The next race is scheduled Oct. 24 through Nov. 2, 2014. Our busiest season falls between December through Mid-April.
R: How many days should a visitor stay on the islands?
SV: Because of the wealth of activities and experiences to be enjoyed, I recommend visitors stay at least seven days to taste all the flavors of Guadeloupe Islands. Most of the air-inclusive packages that we created for the U.S. market offer 7-night themed experiences. However, with our new airline routes, visitors from the U.S. can hop over for a weekend break or beach party Guadeloupe Islands-style with our 3-night package.
R: What are some of the must-sees while exploring the islands?
SV: With so much to see and do it is hard to choose, but if I must, I recommend:
• Visiting La Soufriere, our mildly active volcano on Basse-Terre standing at 4,800 ft. Basse-Terre is our “emerald isle” with the extensive green experiences close to La Soufriere, such as Guadeloupe National Park, a vast UNESCO Biosphere reserve.
• Indulging in our French-Creole cuisine as culinary is celebrated as an art form in our islands, and with over 200 restaurants, the options are almost endless for clients to tantalize their palates.
• Swim with the fish—this is a life-enhancing experience in Guadeloupe Islands as we have many preserved sites including “one of the top diving spots in the world” said none other than Jacques Cousteau, whose Reserve Cousteau, another premier dive site, is located off of Basse-Terre.
• Swim, jump, frolic or relax in our beautiful waters. Our Arawak name is Karukera, which means the “land of beautiful waters,” and whether surrounding our islands, cascading from a cliff into natural pools, or bubbling with warm natural therapeutic jet streams, our five islands overflow with exquisite and exciting aquatic experiences.
To become a Guadeloupe Islands Specialist, visit edu.recommend.com/guadeloupe.