With ‘experiential travel’ being amongst the biggest industry buzzwords of 2017, it’s clear that travellers are looking to delve deeper into a destination beyond the resort.
A number-one rated tour operator on TripAdvisor for the last seven years – with 200 five star reviews based on service in the last six months alone – Real Tours Jamaica is filling that niche in the popular Caribbean destination with a series of tours to the country’s hidden gems.
“We want to show people the real Jamaica and give clients an experience through the eyes of a local,” Real Tours Jamaica CEO Norris Douglas told PAX, adding that the company has been working with Canadian agents for six years. “Canada has been a growing market for us and we’ve done a lot of work with agents; we allow agents to get a commission and sometimes upsell; you get a lot of cruise passengers in Jamaica and Canadians.”
Specializing in private tours (“we’re not about putting 30 people on a bus,” Douglas said) he explained that cruise passengers calling in Jamaica are a key market, which agents can get booked on a Real Jamaica tour before they even depart.
“A lot of the cruise passengers don’t have anything planned when they walk off the ship and we let the agents know to get their clients to look into one of our tours,” he said. Clients can also customize tours; for example, with five different tours offered in Ocho Rios, Douglas said that travellers can arrange to see as much of the region as possible in a day. The company also offers private airport transfers with some added perks.
“We pick up the clients and if they’re going beyond Montego Bay or Ocho Rios, they get a sample of jerk chicken and a Red Stripe beer or a water and it’s a direct express service unless they want to” Douglas said.
As for top-selling tours, Douglas said that Ocho Rios’ Chuck Norris Secret Falls continues to be the company’s top destination, offering an off-the-beaten path tour with cliff diving, underwater caves and rope swing, among other features.
“It’s a top seller because it’s not as tourist-y,” Douglas said. “They get to mingle with the locals and see Jamaica.”
Other popular itineraries include a Bob Marley-themed tour as well as a trip to Luminous Lagoon on the shores of Trelawney Parish, where microorganisms in the water glow in the dark.
To showcase the company’s product to even more Canadian travel agents, Real Tours Jamaica is currently offering a $5 per adult passenger bonus; in addition, agencies continue to get 10 per cent commission on transportation and agents get a tour for themselves and a friend after they book 10 tours.
“In the Canadian market, we’re trying to give the travel agents an incentive because they do a lot to sell Jamaica,” he said.
And this month, Real Tours Jamaica also gave back in one of its semi-annual charity events for a school which the company has “adopted” in Jamaica.
“Two or three times a year, we visit and cook for them and play games,” Douglas said, “and we have more and more guests asking what they can bring for the kids. Find out more at realtoursjamaica.com.