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To increase awareness of Bonaire in a key target market and highlight its non-stop service from Newark on United Airlines, Bonaire hosted 77 top travel agents in New Jersey last week. On Tuesday, August 16, a Product Presentation Dinner was held to reach those agents in northern New Jersey and on Wednesday, August 17, a Product Presentation Dinner was held to reach agents in the south-central part of the state.


"Our objective in hosting these two events was to create a relationship with travel agents serving the more affluent and discerning market of experiential travelers," commented Maurice Adriaens, Director of Tourism Corporation Bonaire. (TCB) "Based on recent airlift meetings with executives from United Airlines, which place a premium on local boarding traffic and the "quality revenue" local traffic produces, an agent-based strategy was developed to grow awareness of Bonaire and increase traffic on our Newark flight. As New Jersey does not have a large concentration of divers, our focus was on travel agencies with clientele looking for the soft adventure and/or renowned eco-environmental travel experience offered by the island."


Attending the functions were representatives from well-established New Jersey travel agencies selling luxury and adventure travel including Pro Travel, Liberty Travel, Avenue Travel Group, AAA, Mission Adventure, Elite Destinations, Stepping Out Travel, Vagabond Travel, to name a few. The attendees had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Malinda Hassell, Marketing Manager of TCB-Headquarters, who led the Bonaire delegation; Crystel Pourier, Online Marketing Coordinator for TCB-Headquarters, Diane Curtis, New Jersey Multi Line Sales Representative for Bonaire; and Candice Kimmel, Marie Rosa and Stephanie Horbal of TCB-North America. Completing the Bonaire delegation were hotel representatives Michele Spinale from Eden Beach Resort; Rosanne Cengiz of Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino; Carol Bradovchak of Sand Dollar Condominiums and Den Laman; Richard Mitsoda of Captain Don's Habitat; Muys Cieremans and Josie Cieremans of Terramar and Bonaire Oceanfront Apartments and Barbara Zandstra-van der Valk of Buddy Dive Resort, Caribbean Club Bonaire and Belmar Oceanfront Apartments.


The events kicked off with a mini-marketplace where attendees moved from table to table, speaking personally with each hotel representative. The formal program featured Malinda Hassell providing general facts about the island, and information on why Bonaire will be the next destination the travel agents' clients will be asking about.The hotel representatives each had 3 minutes to speak about their property during the presentation. The agents all had the opportunity to ask questions following the presentation of a six minute destination video highlighting the island's tourism product. On Thursday, August 18, TCB-Headquarters also visited top travel agencies in New York to inform agents about Bonaire and their non-stop service to the island.


"Both of the events were a great success, and helped Bonaire build relationships with these key travel agencies," commented Malinda Hassell, Marketing Manager of Tourism Corporation Bonaire. "Lively conversations took place between all of the agents and the hotel representatives, and all of the attendees were eager to learn more about the tourism product. We are confident that these two functions will result in a higher profile for Bonaire and more local Newark bookings."


Attending agents were given Bonaire branded tote bags, mini Cadushy bottles, Bonaire sea salt from Mr. Saltman, Bonaire pen, brochures and a Bonaire hotel partner's booklet. A raffle was conducted where one lucky winner won a 4 nights stay at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino.


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