PHILIPSBURG/UTRECHT--Two marketing professionals are in the process of garnering private business support and participation to represent St. Maarten’s tourism product at Vakantiebeurs, the largest tourism tradeshow in the Netherlands. Unlike all other Dutch Caribbean islands, St. Maarten has not been represented at the tradeshow for the past two years.
The initiative-takers, Margaretha van Hemmen and Cheryl Lambooy-Williams, have already laid the groundwork, reserved a spot and say they plan to make a big impact in making the destination visible again with a “Caribbean Luxury” theme aimed at attracting high-end Dutch tourists.
Island-hopping to neighbouring islands will be showcased as a unique product feature, as will activities such as shopping, sailing, yachting, dining and golfing. They are encouraging businesses to get behind the project and benefit from the significant marketing exposure.
Travel aficionados and tourism professionals flock to the yearly exhibition to gather inspiration, leaving with visual impressions and promotional materials.
The last edition, the 45th tradeshow, recorded 117,063 visitors. This year’s theme is “You’d swear you’re there already” and the event will run January 12-17, 2016.
Businesses can sign up to participate with the local marketers until October 31 and a minimum amount of participation is needed to keep the spot secured. According to the packages available, about eight to 10 participating businesses would be needed. Applicants from neighbouring islands are also welcome.
The two marketers then will reach out to hospitality students in the Netherlands, preferably from St. Maarten, who will join them in hosting at the 100-square-metre exhibition booth, dubbed the “Caribbean Luxury Lounge.”
The exhibition lounge will have a video wall featuring promotional material, offer a raffle and feature entertainment, including musical performances by Orange Grove and Glennis Grace, a fashion show, a live chef demonstration and a cocktail master class. A luxury raffle also will be held for the consumers.
Participating companies will have their promotional material made available, have full-page features on the tailor-made Caribbean Luxury Club website and media coverage in Dutch print and online media.
Dedicated brand ambassadors, floor space including options to place furniture, video showcasing and access to a collected client e-mail database are available, depending to an extent on which package is chosen.
The most basic package is US $500, and bronze, silver, gold and platinum packages are available, running from $1,500 to $10,000.
A presentation with booth and exhibition blueprint, Dutch source-market figures, impressions of the last Vakantiebeurs, detailed pricing and packages has been prepared for interested businesses, available at www.quickandeasyweb.com/exhibition .
Van Hemmen is currently a freelancer specialising in online marketing. She studied Interior and Commercial Design, and has worked previously in advertising and for the Dutch Tourism Board NBTC.
Lambooy-Williams’ background is in marketing, strategy and public relations. She has worked for the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) and Budget Marine, amongst other organisations.
The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau has not responded to The Daily Herald as to whether it will participate, but tourism representation company Interreps, which represented destination St. Maarten in the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg), including at Vakantiebeurs between 2008 and 2013, no longer does business with St. Maarten since dealings came to a disappointing end and its contract was not renewed last year.
All other Dutch islands, as well as the Dominican Republic and Cuba, for example, have been represented at Vakantiebeurs in recent years.