US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association
The successful Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF), which was recently held in Puerto Rico, has emerged as a milestone, setting the tone for a new era for the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, according the CHTA President Emil Lee.
“The success of CHIEF is a reflection of our new vision and a validation that we have moved in the right direction,” said Emil Lee as more than 250 attendees participated in three days of networking and learning best practices at El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Puerto Rico. Many of the attendees were next generation employees. “Besides seeing increased participation from middle management, we are seeing a new generation of hoteliers becoming involved and enthusiastically engaged,” Lee added.
“We intend to continue applying this new vision of CHTA as the central facilitator and curator in a hub and spoke model at Caribbean Marketplace in January in the Bahamas when tour operators from across the globe join with hoteliers and tourist office officials to establish new business ties, strengthen existing relationships and equip themselves with new tools and information to better market their businesses,” Lee said.
“We are in the process of building a Caribbean Tourism Community that unites us all to work together, learn together and play together,” Lee said, adding: “One of the main focuses of CHTA is to strengthen the national hotel and tourism association executives which are the glue that holds us all together.”
William “Bill” Clegg, regional vice president, Franchise Services and Programs for Choice Hotels International, and CHIEF Chairman, said: “It’s been a long road, but we had a great three days with fact-filled general sessions to standing-room-only breakouts to peering deeply into the crystal ball to see what tomorrow, next week and next year holds. We leave here with our bellies full, minds full and the best intentions for implementing what we learned and discussed here.”
Gonzalo del Peon, president of AMResorts said: “It is very good to have the opportunity to discuss the region’s challenges with our colleagues. In many of our Caribbean nations the environment is dynamic and we must move quickly to minimize the challenges. We need to focus on concepts that are unique to the Caribbean to compete with the rest of the world.”
Clegg added: “This is a new CHTA, with new leadership, new focus and a determination to be and remain relevant for the tourism industry throughout the Caribbean. This event is just one component of our broad focus to represent and service the industry in advocacy, business development, hotel operations, marketing, information dissemination, networking, allied member engagement and professional development.”
Lee closed with: “Feedback from the attendees was overwhelmingly positive, with many pointing to takeaways which they project will help them to drive business, make more money, reduce costs and create efficiency. I call that a success.”
CHIEF was organized with the support of patron sponsors Interval International and MasterCard; platinum sponsors Cable and Wireless, JetBlue Getaways, Travelzoo and TripAdvisor, gold sponsors Adara, Aireko, AskMe, Best Doctors, Bonnier Corp, Cape Air, CaribbeanJobs.com, Choice Hotels International, Expedia, JackRabbit Systems Inc., Lutron Electronics, MobiManage, OBMI, Oracle, Sojern, STR, The New York Times, travAlliancemedia and World Media, wine sponsor Wines by Esser Wines and Education Partner Florida International University.
Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum Hears about Importance of Providing Experience, Service, Connecting via Social Media
The excitement continued to build during the first full day of the inaugural Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum with Gonzalo del Peon, president of AMResorts claiming: “It is very good to have the opportunity to discuss the region’s challenges with our colleagues. In many of our Caribbean nations the environment is dynamic and we must move quickly to minimize the challenges. We need to focus on concepts that are unique to the Caribbean to compete with the rest of the world.”
At the same time allied members populating the new trade show floor were very pleased with the attention they were getting despite the fact that most hoteliers were attending the packed seminar rooms to hear about best practices in operations, sales and marketing and going green. Click here to read the complete press release.
Emil Lee, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, welcomed attendees to the first Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum claiming, “the energy in this room is palpable. In this changing world those who adapt will thrive and CHTA is in the process of evolving.”
Keynote speaker Nathan Lump, editor of Travel + Leisure provided research and statistics about his publication readers’ travel inclinations and trends noting that hotels have to engage their guests and have “multiple touch points to be there if you want to tell your story about your brand.” Click here to read the full press release.
Cuba Getting U.S. Visitors Continues To Be Focus at Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum
“Cuba: Opportunity or Threat?” was the final general session at CHIEF, and the general consensus appeared to be cautious optimism based on expectations of diversion of visitors from other countries, but overall a chance to highlight the diversity of the culture of the region. There was also concurrence that the entire Caribbean can shine as the spotlight falls on Cuba, exposing more potential travelers to the rich diversity and culture of the region.
Cuba continued to be the focus of many conversations as the U.S. moves forward with the opening of relations which will eventually enable U.S. citizens to vacation there. There has been much speculation of what the impact will be, including some dire predictions that similar destinations such as the Dominican Republic and those with a higher percentage of U.S. visitors will suffer the most.