TORONTO — When Kim Paquette first acquired her Sandals-wrapped RV, she did not expect all the “neck-wrenching.”
Of course, anyone who drives a “moving billboard” can expect a few gawks on the highway. But Paquette, an Ottawa-based Incentive & Group Travel Specialist and a member of Travel Professionals International (TPI), wasn’t prepared for how amusing all the attention would be.
“I watched my husband pull onto the road when a female driver completely turned her head as she drove by him,” she tells Travelweek. “It was quite comical and obvious. The compliments have been constant, too.”
The 37-foot, Sandals-branded RV, the first of its kind in Canada, was a carefully thought-out investment, adds Paquette. Believing that opportunity is hidden in every crisis, she took this time of pause in the industry to zero in on her strengths and goals, and set up a strategic business plan moving forward. Sandals’ free Car Wrap program fit in perfectly with that plan.
“I made the decision to make Sandals my exclusive AI product and I felt comfortable entering into an agreement with them,” she says. “I chose the photos that connect me to my target market, and the RV was completed late August. Trips have been localized to eastern Ontario but we have plans to also head to Northern Ontario and maybe the East coast. I have already received bookings into my February cruise group because of the RV.”
Paquette’s plan certainly isn’t for everyone but it does speak to the value of marketing, especially during this time of crisis in the travel industry. Though bookings may have dwindled and marketing budgets have been slashed, staying visible, relevant and within reach of clients will help agents fast-track their recovery.
“Even if agents don’t have the monetary means to invest in their business, they should be investing their time. Nurturing clients is free,” says Paquette.
Travelweek asked Paquette and two other experienced travel advisors – Laurie Keith, President of Boutique Travel Services in Hamilton, ON, and Amira Harris, Destination Wedding Specialist and Luxury Travel Advisor at Aisle Travel in Calgary, AB – for their tips on how to market themselves and their agencies during this time. To read their tips, click here for this week’s issue of Travelweek.