As Floridian destinations pique the interest of Canadians seeking to escape the looming winter, you may wonder how to determine which area of the Sunshine State suits your clients best. St. Pete/ Clearwater is vying for your clients’ business and to ensure your product knowledge of the region is up-to-speed, CT Magazine sat down with Rosemarie Payne, the destination’s director of leisure travel, USA & Canada, to bring you the following sales tips.
According to Payne, travel advisors should leverage the following points when selling St. Pete/Clearwater:
1. It’s proximity to Orlando: St. Pete/Clearwater is 90 minutes west of Orlando making it the perfect leisure book-end for visits to the theme parks.
2. Affordability: Travellers will find competitive rates for different types of accommodations (from resorts to mom-and-pop options), as well as at restaurants and attractions.
3. Condo resorts: Not only do many pay commissions, these are great options for Canadians seeking longer stays.
4. Air service: Frequent connectivity to both Tampa Airport and St. Pete/ Clearwater International makes travelling to the region simple and hassle-free.
5. Wholesale packages: St. Pete/Clearwater is featured in all major tour operator programs in Canada.
6. Diversity of product: St. Pete/Clearwater is more than just a beach destination; beyond the white sands, travellers will find St. Pete’s urban core which boasts world-class culture, nightlife and authentic cuisine.
Who is the client?
Families: There are great activities of all kinds, for kids and those who are young at heart.
Couples: There’s a wealth of romantic, quiet beaches, spas, restaurants and hotels to explore.
Multi-generational groups: The selection of condo resorts available makes St. Pete/ Clearwater an ideal choice for larger parties.
Seniors: Safe beaches and communities mean visitors don’t have to go far to find everything they need or want. St. Pete/Clearwater is a very walkable destination.
With Rosemarie Payne, Director leisure travel, USA & Canada Visit St. Pete/Clearwater
For a basic understanding of St. Pete/Clearwater, what should Canadian travel agents know?
Situated on a sun-drenched peninsula, St. Pete/Clearwater offers both world-class cultural offerings and 56 kilometers of spectacular white-sand beaches, including Trip Advisor’s number one beach in the U.S. for 2016, Clearwater. Plus, St. Pete is home to Florida’s best new restaurant, The Mill, which is part of a culinary renaissance featuring top-notch local chef-inspired eateries for every budget. Affordable accommodation packages through all major tour operators in Canada complement direct air service into both Tampa International and St. Pete/ Clearwater International Airports.
What makes St. Pete/Clearwater an ideal destination for Canadian travel advisors to recommend to clients looking to get away this winter?
Weather: temperatures in winter average 21 degrees centigrade; the ease of travel; and the cost/value proposition.
What are the typical travel patterns of Canadian travellers to St. Pete/Clearwater (i.e. length of stay, spend, etc.)?
Ninety minutes west of Orlando, Canadian clients can enjoy the best of Florida in one vacation. If your clients choose, they can experience the high energy and fast- paced world of Orlando attractions and then slow down to relax and unwind in St. Pete/Clearwater, to really enjoy what vacation means. Canadians average seven to 14 days in the region, and many choose condo resorts for longer lengths of stay.
What sets St. Pete/Clearwater apart from other destinations in the U.S. and apart from other destinations in Florida?
I would have to say that St. Pete/Clearwater has two treasures. One, arts & culture, and the other, natural beauty. They meet in one sublime setting, impossible to forget: a lush peninsula bordered by a string of barrier islands and beyond them, the Gulf of Mexico. Come enjoy the sugar-white sand, welcoming waters, the friendly locals, flavourful food and lively culture.
What misconceptions might exist about St. Pete/Clearwater within the minds of Canadian travellers, and what is the reality?
I think Canadians know our part of Florida and love it! That’s why they keep coming back. It is great to see all of the new happenings taking place in our destination – new travelling exhibits at the Dali Museum, the new Chihuly Collection, new resorts, restaurants and attractions, and the ever- changing events that take place year-round.
RECOMMEND THESE ACTIVITIES FOR CLIENTS VISITING ST. PETE/CLEARWATER:
1. Relax on the beach
2. Sunset sailing tour 3. Clearwater Marine Aquarium
4. Salvador Dali Museum
5. Chihuly Collection
6. Dinner cruise
7. Dolphin-watch excursion
8. Eat a grouper sandwich
9. Mural tours around St. Pete
10. Enjoy a cocktail from a rooftop bar
QUESTIONS FOR YOUR ST. PETE/ CLEARWATER-BOUND PROSPECTS:
1. Do you want to experience the most award winning beaches in America?
2. Do you want to go somewhere warm this winter?
3. Are you looking for cultural experiences during your vacation, in addition to the beach?(St. Pete/Clearwater is home to The Dali Museum, the largest collection of Salvador Dali’s works outside of Spain.)