Monday, 2 February 2015

Imani Finley: EXPLORE!!!

When traveling to a new location you’ve never visited before, there are certain aspects of the culture every traveler must explore. Particularly in the Bahamas, I highly recommend a first time visitor to try different types of food and visit the family islands if possible. Like most Caribbean islands, the Bahamas have numerous seafood dishes. They are known for Conch, which can be prepared in many different ways. While there I tried “Crack Conch” (fried), “Conch Fritters (inside dough batter similar to hush puppies), and “Conch Salad” (raw, mixed with onions and peppers).  As well I had many delicious meals of the fish grouper.  Exploring the cultural dishes is a great way for you to experience meals you may never encounter in your home country, while learning more about the Bahamian lifestyle. In addition, if you have the opportunity to travel to the family islands, definitely take full advantage.  I highly recommend visiting Eleuthera if you are seeking a relaxing island that is peaceful but still offer tourist options such as sight seeing of popular landmarks.

Imani Finley: My recommendations for Junkanoo

Traveling to a place you’ve never been can be very exciting, but there are numerous things you must take in consideration.  Specifically for Junkanoo, timing, safety, food and interacting with the locals are key elements I have recommendations for. The timing of the Junkanoo may be very difficult for any visitor although a common tradition for Bahamians. Therefore, I recommend any person attending Junkanoo, to get a lot of rest the day before as well as the day of the festival.  Attending a festival that starts at 2:00am was very unfamiliar for my classmates and I, and often times we struggled staying awake regardless of the excitement going on around us. Although, certain groups had such lively performances we forgot what time it was and was on our feet dancing to the band’s music. Next, safety is an important factor due to the time frame that the festival is held. It may be very obvious that you are a tourist, which could make you a possible target. Therefore, be careful not to bring large purses or valuable electronics with you besides maybe a phone or small camera to take pictures. This is imperative because more than likely you may have to walk to the festival grounds which involve walking down dark streets. Another recommendation is to eat a well balanced meal before attending because you may eventually get hungry and the concession stands may only offer smaller bites such as conch fritters and hot dogs.  Lastly, I highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity of being surrounded by local Bahamians and communicate with those in your seating section. This will allow you to learn great knowledge about the festival from a local’s perspective as well as details of each group in the parade as they pass by.

Imani Finley: What I learned from the course

This Event Management & Marketing course served as a great learning experience of the different components required in visitor satisfaction. It’s never easy to fully understand what a visitor or customer experiences until you physically place yourself in their position. Having the opportunity to evaluate through mystery shopping, customer service at a restaurant and visitor experience at the Junkanoo festival, taught me all of the important elements needed in order to meet a person’s expectations. Now when conducting a form of service or planning an event, I am better equipped with the skills necessary to accurately prioritize my tasks and responsibilities in order to provide someone with an extraordinary experience. Some of the important factors that I’ve learned from this course are timing, delivery, accommodations, presentation and communication. In each activity we encountered completely different experiences, which produced different emotions, but either way I’ve learned there’s a standard of service that should be held regardless of the environment.

Imani Finley: My Junkanoo Experience

I can remember the rush of excitement I felt as the hours dwindled to the start of the Junkanoo festival. Although sleepy due to the late start time of 2:00am, I couldn’t wait to experience the cultural festival and all of its components including music and costumes.  As I sat amongst local Bahamian, I learned so much about the culture and history of the festival as they shared stories and feelings about their favorite groups in the parade. Once the parade began, my energy level quickly spiked as the environment began to fill with lively Bahamians dancing in vibrant costumes to the miraculous sounds of the bands. In such an atmosphere you couldn’t help but begin to dance and stare in awe at the art work of the costumes created all from scratch. Overall, this experience served as the opportunity for me to truly witness the Bahamian culture and see how important traditions are to them and the hard work put in to continuing these traditions. I left the parade extremely fulfilled of all the performances given by the groups and even developed a few favorites, “The Valley Boys” and “Colors”.

Junkanoo - What I learned...

I was recently lucky enough to take a course in The Bahamas where we learned how to evaluate and analyze an event from a management and marketing perspective.

I learned how important it is for an event to have a strong and current presence online through websites and through social media.  These marketing venues are so valuable for today’s customers.  A weak online presence can immediately take a business or an event out of consideration, especially for an international tourist.  It is increasingly important to make the right information easily accessible on the web.

I also learned that creative, and mutually beneficial partnerships between hotels and other tourism business at a destination are fantastic opportunities to market.

I also learned that customer service is extremely important because personal interactions are what really trigger a customer’s emotions (both positive and negative).  A customer’s emotions are the key to customer satisfaction, and customer service is what drives those emotions.