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The Travel Marketer and Be Distinctly Different's Jamie-Lee Abtar on marketing

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 07 July 2016

Jamie-Lee Abtar, The Travel Marketer and CEO of Be Distinctly Different on marketing for the travel industry

Be Distinctly Different logo 150x150Social Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there at Be Distinctly Different?

Jamie-Lee Abtar (JLA)
: Iím Jamie-Lee Abtar, The Travel Marketer and CEO of Be Distinctly Different.

SMP: Youíve a few businesses under your belt. Briefly, tell us about them, what are they and what does each do?

JLA: Yes Iím fortunate to be running two brands in the travel industry. At Be Distinctly Different we utilise marketing, branding and PR to help travel and tourism brands to grow, develop and make more money. Your Caribbean Travel, my newest baby, is a digital travel planning and management company that helps travellers to develop, plan and organise every aspect of their epic adventure to the Caribbean with a whole host of authentic experiences.

Photograph of Jamie-Lee Abtar, The Travel Marketer and CEO of Be Distinctly DifferentSMP: When and why did you found them?

JLA: Iíve always been passionate about travel, marketing and events, but it wasnít until I had my son prematurely that I thrust myself properly into entrepreneurship. I spent three months in hospital with my son so was unable to continue in my job as a marketing manager for a travel firm. When my son came home on oxygen, I spent a further three months at home with him. I knew it was time to make a change and implement all of the ideas that had been swimming around in my mind for some time. Some were surprised by my decision and the timing but the birth was a reminder of how precious life is and how you canít waste a second. I launched Be Distinctly Different in 2013 and Your Caribbean Travel in 2016, which blended my love of the Caribbean (Iím Bajan by birth) and my desire to offer travellers a true taste of the Caribbean, from luxury hotels to living it like a local.

SMP: How many people work at them and how do you generate revenue?

JLA: I currently have three team members. Revenue comes through the marketing, branding and PR services we offer clients through Be Distinctly Different. In addition we have In The Travel Know, which is an interactive e newsletter for the trade and we offer half day audits for brands to evaluate their current marketing strategy. I also operate The Travel Marketing Toolkit, a series of training workshops/events held around the world, the next one is in Barbados on the 5th January 2017.

SMP: Who are your target audience each and why?

JLA: For Be Distinctly Different our target audience is travel and tourism businesses such as destinations, hotels, villas, tour operators and travel agents. The travel and tourism industry is one of the worldís largest industries with a global economic contribution (direct, indirect and induced) of almost 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars in 2014. Thatís a lot of opportunity.

For Your Caribbean our target is young, hip millennials who are now the largest generational demographic, subsuming the place of priority long-held by the baby boomers. Many millennials today are entering their peak earning years and gaining more affluence at unprecedented rates. Additionally they have embraced the experience economy and seek opportunities to immerse themselves in local and foreign cultures. This works well for Your Caribbean Travel as we offer exactly what they are looking for- a richly multisensory holiday with an effective balance of adventure and relaxation.

Be Distinctly Different homepage image

SMP: Briefly, what does your job entail and what does a typical day look like?

JLA: Itís a very early start as I am also a mum of two. Iím usually up at 5.30am for a workout, meditation and preparation of breakfast for all, then itís onto work. Each day I usually check in with my team to see what everyone is doing and ensure we are all on the same page, attend any meetings with clients, update social media, undertake half an hour of learning (podcast, periscope). And Iím always on the lookout for potential new business.

SMP: What makes it a great job?

JLA: For starters, being able to travel and experience amazing countries and hotels all over the world. Being impactful and instrumental in the travel and tourism industry and watching brands grow and develop brings me great job satisfaction. Nothing beats rebranding or helping a new brand from beginning to end, and seeing the result of our hard work. I love the discovery phase where we do research and get to see what customers really think and feel about a brand, this makes the creative stage even juicer for me.

SMP: What are the challenges that youíve encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far for your businesses?

JLA: My major challenge is not having enough time in the day! I have had to implement systems that allow me to automate particular aspects, which then allows me more time to focus on the important elements of the business.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

JLA: Working with the Sri Lanka Training program to relaunch the destination into the UK Market and pulling together The Travel Marketing Toolkit in Barbados.

SMP: What do you see as your biggest challenges and opportunities for your sector and the competition that you have?

JLA: Brexit is on everyoneís lips at the moment so I am closely monitoring the progress of that. It is possible that it will have an impact on the travel industry, especially in terms of consumer confidence. People may procrastinate over booking holidays if they arenít sure about how their lives will change. However, this brings with it great opportunity as travel businesses will be forced to relook at their current marketing strategies and how they target customers. I love competition it keeps me on my toes, but I offer my clients something unique- the opportunity to be distinctly different.

SMP: What is the most challenging part of building upon your brand presence in digital environments (including social media)?

JLA: Initially it was developing a strategy that would target and attract my ideal client, being able to get across my core values and deciding which parts of my story to share. I think I have found the right balance now!

SMP: What sort of social media are you using across these websites/businesses and why?

JLA: I use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Podcasts. The variety of platforms helps me to engage with different audiences with content that is specific to their requirements and wants.

SMP: What is your social media strategy for the future to work with the realm of travel and tourism?

JLA: Our social media strategy will continue to change and develop with the social sphere. We are moving into live streaming, determining how we can utilise Facebook Live and Periscope to give our clients a bigger advantage. I believe live streaming and travel are a perfect fit, but it will come down to an individual brandís strategy as to whether it works or not.

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SMP: Why is digital and social media important to the travel and tourism sectors Ė how do you see this area developing?

JLA: Social media and travel go hand in hand, you might even call it the new travel agent. Brands can influence potential customers as they research their potential vacations. Humorous posts nudging readers toward taking vacations, posting breath-taking images, interacting with consumers who reach out, and creating brand advocates are all great ways to engage users and potentially encourage them toward your brand. Looking to the future, social media will continue to amplify the word of mouth effect as tips from friends will continue to be among the most trusted forms of travel purchasing influence.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that youíd like to share?

JLA: The travel industry is one of the most competitive out there, if you want to succeed youíve got to invest the time into finding your distinctly different advantage.

SMP: Best way to contact you?

JLA: Email:, @jamieleeabtar Telephone; +44 (0)7557675091 or by social media everywhere as Jamieleeabtar

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

JLA: Ackee and saltfish with some dumplings, a traditional Jamaican meal! You can take the girl out of the Caribbean.

SMP: Whatís the last good thing that you did for someone?

JLA: I was recently in a shop in Brixton and an older lady was ordering some meat. When it came time to pay she just didnít have enough money and was about to tell the shop owner not to worry, I just told her to take it and I would cover the bill.

SMP: If you werenít working on your brands what would you be doing?

JLA: Most likely working for a destination or tour operator. Iíve worked in the travel industry since I was young when I greeted new arrivals at Barbados airport, once you get the travel bug it never leaves you!

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

JLA: I went back to Barbados last year for my wedding. I may be biased but Barbados is one of the most beautiful of the Caribbean islands, and as they have nine hours of sunshine every day I knew I was guaranteed blue skies on my wedding day!

SMP: Whatís the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

JLA: I make a cup of mint tea whilst looking through my task list.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

JLA: It would be great to be able to create clones of myself, finding the balance between work, family life and growing my businesses is always a challenge, if only I could be in more than one place at a time!

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