A travel agent who has never been to a Sandals resort has made more than 20 bookings with the operator in the last seven months despite the pandemic.
The first time Emma McKerr, a travel consultant for Clubworld Travel in northern Ireland, visits a Sandals resort in person could be for her own wedding at the Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Jamaica in June 2022.
But McKerr has already booked 24 Sandals holidays since January, a rate of almost five sales a month for the Caribbean resort operator.
She said researching and booking her own wedding had spurred her to put Sandals deals on social media and offer its resorts to clients.
She said: “In January, I had only booked a few holidays with Sandals but then I decided to book my own wedding at Sandals.
“My partner and I did all the research ourselves. We spent our evenings reading up and watching the videos. So I decided to advertise Sandals on our social media pages and it attracted so many people.”
The fact so many clients have put travel on hold also meant there was plenty of pent-up demand, she added.
She said: “During the pandemic it’s been a difficult time for the industry and for holidaymakers, with holidays refunded and cancelled. People are getting fed up and need something to look forward to.
“By now most people have had one or more holidays cancelled so they want to go all out for the next holiday.”
McKerr has sold a mix of weddings, honeymoons and holidays for special occasions at Sandals, some of which have already taken place or are departing later this year.
Pictured: Emma and her fiancé.
Booking her own wedding at Sandals has made it easier to sell to clients, she said.
She added: “I find it one of the easiest holidays to sell but I think it reassures clients that I’ve booked it my own wedding and am so passionate about it.
“I feel like I’ve been there because I’ve done so much research! I can bring it to life for customers by highlighting all that is on offer and when they hear it’s a five-star holiday with everything is included in the price, from the alcohol to the diving, they jump at it!”
McKerr said she had had training support from business development manager Gary Atwell, who has just clocked up 20 years at Sandals.
She added: “The online training from Sandals has been fantastic and Gary has been very supportive. He picked up I had been doing a lot of bookings and sent me a personalised bottle of Champagne, which we’re going to pop this weekend when we plan some more of our wedding.”
As well as Sandals Ochi Beach Resort in Jamaica, McKerr is keen to visit the Sandals Royal Barbados Resort on a fam trip or on holiday. “We might have a honeymoon there at a later date, separate to our wedding!” she added.
Atwell commended McKerr for her sales achievements. He said: “It’s been fantastic to see Emma go from strength to strength over the last year, especially during such a challenging time. She has achieved great success with her Sandals wedding and honeymoon bookings and has really turned the challenges of the pandemic into a positive.
“Emma didn’t know the Sandals brand very well until the pandemic hit, so she has been selling our product purely from her training knowledge and through the support of our sales team. We are all really proud of her hard work.”