40 agents including 13 1st-timers attended the Langley CSS Workshop.
BDM Winston Chang & National Trainer Lorna Richards help agents get their Game On.
Patricia Pollard of The Travel Agent Next Door
l-r: At my table were Debbie Sian of Hagen's Travel, Carole Freeman & Kal Sarowa of Ocean Breeze Cruise & Travel.
Sandals is currently on the road across Western Canada to conduct its Certified Sandals Specialist (CSS) workshops, and I attended the Langley session last week. The training was conducted by Lorna Richards, Sandals' National Training Manager from Toronto. Clearly, she has enjoyed her 28 years of being in the Sandals family as she spread her infectious enthusiasm to the group of 40 agents, including 13 1st-time attendees.
With the workshop theme of "Game On", my attention was immediately captivated by the 1st question of the session: Are we as agents playing a "short game" of quick transactions driven by cheap prices, or are we playing a "long game" driven by customer service, relationships & revenue?
The workshop goes on to review the 19 Sandals & Beaches properties highlighting the most prominent selling features, updates and renos, but the overall message is to inspire agents to offer the most luxurious all-inclusive resort vacation and make more money doing so. The comprehensive workbook also included an extensive section on groups and marketing strategies, further proving that these workshops go way beyond just product knowledge.
I sat with Carol Freeman from Oceanbreeze Travel who has been attending the CSS workshops for 3 years. She finds them very helpful in keeping up with the changes and learns something new each year. Patricia Pollard of The Travel Agent Next Door is also a CSS and attends training every year. From these workshops, she has learned how to up sell to luxury and gained valuable tools to educate clients on the value of Sandals' "luxury included" concept.
Both agents expressed their love of working with Sandals' Vancouver-based BDM Winston Chang. Winston's easy-going demeanour as well as his availability to answer questions and provide support were mentioned by several attendees as what makes it so easy to work with Sandals. In addition, agents also praised the Sandals agent support, groups and wedding teams to be accessible and quick to help.
Despite its well known brand, Winston tells me he still comes across consumers who confuse Sandals with footwear. Thus it is the job of the travel agents to get their Game On and spread the word - and becoming a CSS is a step in the right direction.