Ms. Flax Mars

Sharon Flax Mars

Director of Tourism

British Virgin Islands Tourist Board

Veteran tourism professional Sharon Flax-Mars is the Director of Tourism for the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, a statutory body serving as the guiding unit for the development, marketing and promotion of the destination’s image and tourism product.

Sharon Flax-Mars’ confirmation to one of the Government’s top economic pillars is characteristic of her 30 plus years of experience garnered from working in diversified posts within the tourism industry in the British Virgin Islands, the Caribbean region and the United States.

Over the course of the past three decades she has utilized her knowledge and verve to successfully navigate her career path to the most pivotal of positions within the hospitality and tourism sector.

Ms. Mars has achieved notable accomplishments as the Director of Tourism that have been instrumental in strengthening and developing partnerships within the tourism sector regionally and internationally. Her portfolio includes sustainable and economic development initiatives along with the teaching and implementation of green practices for the accommodations sector; industry training and varied interactive tourism education programes for youth interested in hospitality, culinary and tourism careers; BVI membership in the International Institute for Peace; the negotiation of an Air Services Agreement with VI Airlink for direct air service between BVI and Antigua; the successful launch of Anegada Lobster Festival, a major food event on Anegada, which brought an influx of 1000 plus visitors to Anegada over a three-day period; the establishment of guest service greeter kiosks in St. Thomas Cyril E. King Airport and Wymoth L. Blyden Marine Terminal to assist travelers heading to the BVI; the formation of the Territory’s first public relations representation in Latin America was to lure the growing market of travelers from Brazil, Argentina and Chile; as well as other inroads through the Tourist Board.

Ms. Mars’ foundation in tourism began at an early age under the tutelage of her parents who owned Fischer’s Cove, one of the first indigenously owned hotel properties in the British Virgin Islands. Coupled with her posts at the infamous Windows of the World, American Eagle, and Rosewood Little Dix Bay, these experiences provided great insight into the functions and operations of the vivid hospitality and tourism for which she would eventually be at the helm. Her affable demeanor, and her ability to identify with the numerous roles that are pivotal to motivating a team of varied professionals is evident in collective manner by which she leads.

Ms. Mars holds a bachelor of science (B.S.) in hotel administration with a concentration in tourism development from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She obtained management training from luxury hoteliers in Mexico, the United States and London, U.K.

Ms. Flax Mars can be contacted at 284-494-4482 Ext 227 or sflax-mars@bvitourism.com

Coming Up In The June Online Hotel Business Review




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Feature Focus
Sales & Marketing: Who Owns the Guest?
Hotels and OTAs are, by necessity, joined at the hip and locked in a symbiotic relationship that is uneasy at best. Hotels require the marketing presence that OTAs offer and of course, OTAs guest’s email when it sends guest information to a hotel, effectively allowing OTAs to maintain “ownership” of the guest. Without ready access to guest need hotel product to offer their online customers. But recently, several OTAs have decided to no longer share a data, hotels are severely constrained from marketing directly to a guest which allows them to capture repeat business – the lowest cost and highest value travelers. Hotels also require this data to effectively market to previous guests, so ownership of this data will be a significant factor as hotels and OTAs move forward. Another issue is the increasing shift to mobile travel bookings. Mobile will account for more than half of all online travel bookings next year, and 78.6% of them will use their smartphone to make those reservations. As a result, hotels must have a robust mobile marketing plan in place, which means responsive design, one-click booking, and location technology. Another important mobile marketing element is a “Click-to-Call” feature. According to a recent Google survey, 68% of hotel guests report that it is extremely/very important to be able to call a hotel during the purchase phase, and 58% are very likely to call a hotel if the capability is available in a smartphone search. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.