Mark McDermoth entices tourists for love of country
Mark McDermoth, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) business development manager for the Midwest, is ecstatic about winning the Top Supplier Sales Representatives award from Travel Agent Magazine.
McDermoth is especially proud as the award comes on the heels of a targeted sales programme this winter, which aggressively went on the road all across the Midwest to 'Take Back The Streets'.
He said that the Midwest has surpassed its winter sales targets - the best the US has ever done - and this award would strongly suggest a direct correlation to the work invested in the field promoting brand Jamaica.
"This win means a tremendous deal. It speaks volumes about the value these travel agents and others place on you, your abilities, and the respect they have for you. It means that you've got to be doing something right and, again, underscores, validates and rewards the very hard work invested," McDermoth said of the win.
Having worked in the industry for the past 30 years, it was the excitement of meeting interesting visitors from different countries that first drew him into it "along with the glamour of doing the things I liked and being paid to do them", he added.
He began as an entertainment coordinator and, as his first real full-time engagement in the world of work, it was quite the dream job.
He happily recalls his daily job of playing volleyball, beach olympics, dining, sitting with visitors, while discussing Jamaica and its culture, emceeing nightly shows, conducting singalong sessions at piano bars, teaching dance classes, among other fun activities - and being paid for it all.
Fast-forward to the present, where McDermoth has to brave harsh winter weather conditions, he affirms, "I think my JTB colleagues and I are special people in that we do this primarily for our love of country, above everything else. Any perception that this is all glamour should be dismissed. We all see ourselves as ambassadors eager for an opportunity to spread the word about the brand," he stressed.
There are many challenges, but he focuses on the positives for inspiration.
"I think about what we have that sets us apart from other destinations - the Blue Mountains, more than 120 rivers, the Maroons, Port Royal, Port Antonio, Negril, ackee and salt fish, tie-a-leaf, (and) mangoes. These are among the sources of inspiration from which I draw," he said.
love for country, people
McDermoth, who is from Portland but studied both locally and overseas, loves Jamaica's creative people, their inimitable spirit and attitude that says they can be and do anything.
"I love the diversity of the Jamaican landscape and that we use this to our advantage to attract millions to our shores. On the other hand, I think we can work a little harder on how we manage conflict as a people and be less inclined to become angry over simple situations," he said. "We need greater generosity of spirit and more respect for each other."
He sees Jamaica's tourism product on a continued growth path in the medium to long term.
"We are currently in one of the most amazing times in the history of our industry with many new brands being introduced on the island, giving potential visitors tremendous options for vacation experiences," McDermoth said.
"My concern is that we fully understand the economic potential and, in turn, align ourselves in ways that we can benefit from what is going to be explosive growth in the next five or so years."
He advised future aspirants to the industry that they won't get rich quickly and that the hours are longer and harder, but stressed that it is a rewarding industry and provides great opportunities for people with the right aptitude and attitude.
"Get fully trained, get a degree, learn a second language and come with a vow to offer the best customer service imaginable. There will be bad days, but keep them to yourself. The guest is not visiting Jamaica to wallow in your sorrows."
- Dave Rodney