Enjoy what you do
Published: Oct 04, 2013
Name: LaToya Hanna-Moxey
Position: Sales and marketing manager, British Colonial Hilton
1. Can you briefly describe your experience in the tourism sector and what your role is today?
I've been a hotelier for about 10 years now. I started with my first project in Destination Weddings and Events assisting couples who were already here and wanted to get married in a short space of time. Since destination weddings was booming back then, an opportunity to work at a property of Paradise Island as weddings coordinator in 2004 came along, and I took it immediately. In 2006, I was hired in the Sales and Marketing Department at the British Colonial Hilton as the wedding sales manager and since then have been promoted and excelled in the areas of groups, leisure sales and currently marketing and leisure sales management.
2. Why did you choose to work in tourism as a career?
Tourism wasn't my first choice as a career, as I have a bachelor of science in international business with a focus in marketing. My original intention was to pursue a career in private banking but due to the swift downturn in the financial market that was brought upon by “9/11”, I was left with the decision of re-evaluating my career path.
Tourism was one of the first industries that I considered, especially since it is our number one industry. I felt that the combination of there being a plethora of job options within the industry, the room for growth, my desire to help others and love of event planning that perhaps tourism may be the place to start a career, and before I knew it, I was exposed to a wealth of knowledge about our island, its visitors and how every segment of tourism and aviation thrive off of one another to become such a successful catalyst to keep us “on the map” and I’ve embraced it.
3. What has been your most memorable moment?
I have had a lot of moments working in hospitality including hosting my first FAM trip (familiarization trip for travel agents), representing my hotel and my island with fellow hoteliers for the first time at an international trade show and of course hosting my first big wedding (300 people).
But to date I would have to say my most memorable moment has been spearheading the latest community service initiative called “Give a Child a Ride”, a fundraising effort created by myself and a team of like-minded individuals in hospitality.
Seeing all of our hard work come to fruition, partnering with so many corporate citizens, getting our message out there of spreading the importance of the enhancement of education for the less fortunate children in The Bahamas, and seeing the community come together for one day to cycle in Downtown Nassau was an amazing feeling to digest. It was overwhelmingly exciting and satisfying to accomplish this.
4. Has the industry changed since you started your career? How?
Yes, I do believe that the industry has changed a lot. It has evolved in many ways I feel due in part to a technological wave that has swept it in the past decade. We have redefined how we reach visitors through newer channels such as sports tourism and religious tourism. We’ve expanded our presence through social media and Internet interaction, which is important to today’s customer.
The types of creative and skillful jobs that are offered now have grown tremendously and were not around 25 to 30 years ago. Now you can be anything from a dolphin trainer, to an ice sculptor, an engineer on a new hotel project, to of course a marketing manager/director, or even a vice president. It’s been seen that Bahamians are now being considered for more senior management positions and roles as more properties, attractions and projects are created.
5. What should The Bahamas focus on to stay competitive?
We’ve always relied on our sun, sand and sea, but unfortunately we are not the only country with crystal clear waters, soft pink or powdery sand and a sunny climate. The way the industry is moving we need to first continue to consider the concept of value for money. As the cost to vacation or travel continues to rise, we must always remember that the average traveler has saved for an estimated three to five years to enjoy the time spent here, therefore our product must always be at its best. Second, customer service is key. We can have the best food in town or the nicest ambiance, or the cleanest product, but if we don’t treat all of our visitors as though they are most important then we will lose one of the last strengths that set us apart from other Caribbean destinations and hurt this industry beyond repair.
Training and evaluating ourselves must be a factor in creating and maintaining the best service offered. Lastly, I feel that we should pay closer attention to the way in which we market the key selling features of our destination and actually spend more time researching what they are as they are always changing along with the rest of the industry.
I feel that knowing the demographic/type of traveler, the purpose of their trip, where they are coming from and what is most important to them during their stay is very important in determining how successful we can make their stay become. We must ensure that the way we promote and advertise these bestselling features of the destination to OTAs, land-based travel agents and tour operators is delivered thoroughly and correctly so that what is offered is a true representation of what is promised to travelers.
6. What advice would you give to a young person who is considering a career in tourism?
My best advice to a person considering tourism is to be open minded and to not confine yourself to one area for too long, as it limits your ability to grow. Challenge yourself and expand your knowledge. Most importantly, enjoy what you do while you do it. It’s the best character builder in any field.