SMILE launches “Smart Tourism Room” as platform for small hotels & tourism SMEs.

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The 2023 St. Maarten Innovations, Initiatives and Industries Link-Up Event (SMILE) on October 27th – 28th will dedicate one of its rooms as a “Smart Tourism Room”. The room has been made possible by The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) and the US travel marketing firm TravelCultureCollab.

The addition of this new “tourism innovation space” was announced today by SMILE‘s main organizer the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA).The SMART Tourism Room has been created especially with small hotels, villa and condo rentals, in mind. The innovations presented are also of relevance for larger properties, tourism players and all-round marketing companies.

Over the past decades, consolidation has taken place within the tour operator industry, both in the traditional as well as the new online travel agency (OTA) industries.  Smaller properties often see themselves overlooked in this economy of scale, and the cost per acquisition using 3rd party intermediaries cuts deeply into profitability. As a countertrend, the digital age provides a wide variety of new technology enabling direct consumer marketing and a path to direct bookings, allowing tourism players not to be dependent on intermediates alone to secure market presence.

With these opportunities in mind, SMILE has assembled a set of  industry leaders and innovators in tourism sales and marketing for attendees of SMILE to explore direct “b2c”, or business  to consumers opportunities, aligning with SMILE goals of presenting new ways to sustainably grow your business. By presenting these new initiatives and best practices, the new “SMART Tourism Roomformula befits the SMILE goals of innovation, networking and (small and large) business enhancement, as well as this year’s SMILE theme “Secure the Future of your Business”.

The SMILE event was established in 2018 with the aim to highlight innovative and sustainable ideas, companies and projects and to facilitate business to business networking in the Caribbean region and beyond. 2022’s edition ‘SMILE III’ was visited by 129 companies, NGOs and governmental organizations, an increase of 45% compared to the second Edition in 2019.

The “SMART  Tourism  Room” is a wink to and teaser for the association’s tourism focused St. Maarten / St. Martin Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART), for which a date will be announced shortly as the post-pandemic large event calendar is settling. Whereas SMART is a tourism centered tradeshow, SMILE offers a platform for new ideas and network for all companies small and large. Amongst its 2023 edition speakers will be Meghan Smith, former CTO of president Obama, Susan Alzner of the United Nations (US), Tyrell Pantophlet of PLAEX (St. Maarten / Netherlands) and James Ellsmoor of Island Innovations (Portugal). Next to last year’s additions of the SXM Art Fair and the Made on St. Maarten local product highlights, job matchmaking process will be added for companies offering vacancies.

SHTA would like to thank the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau and Matt Cooper of TravelCultureCollab for their collaboration in delivering the Smart Sales and Marketing Room.

SMILE 2023 would like to extend further heartfelt appreciation to its 2023 supporters:  Grant Thornton St. Maarten; Dynaf SXM, The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport (MECYS); Recruit a Student, the Bureau of Intellectual Property, the Central Bank of Curacao & St. Maarten (CBCS) and the University of St. Martin for supporting SMILE’s fourth edition on October 27-28th. Information for exhibitors, vacancy placements and job seekers and travel discounts to the event can be found on on SMILEsintmaarten.com or via events@shta.com.