Gay Nagle MyersWhat does the position of destination experience manager encompass? The title is an unusual one. So I asked that question of Jameel Roc
What does the position of destination experience manager encompass? The title is an unusual one. So I asked that question of Jameel Rochester, newly appointed to that post with the Anguilla Tourist Board.
I learned a lot in my conversation with this 28-year-old born-and-bred Anguillian with the brilliant smile and upbeat personality who appears to be a rising star in the hospitality sector.
He wears many hats in this job, But the short answer: He oversees all aspects of a visitor’s Anguilla vacation from arrival to departure, with special attention paid to the on-island experiences, which Rochester described as “experience mapping.”
When travel advisors come to Anguilla, Rochester plans and
reviews their itineraries “and then I get to go hiking, biking and
exploring with them. This is a job where I have a lot of fun.” He
builds relationships and contacts with hoteliers, stakeholders, taxi
operators, local tour operators, restaurants, business owners and beach
“It’s all about building and maintaining a strong tourism
product, but I always remember that the biggest asset on Anguilla is the
people. Our efforts must be to keep our people top of mind,” he said.
One of his favorite
responsibilities is the experience mapping: “I love
this part,” he said. “I look at how guests get here, mainly through Puerto Rico,
St. Maarten and Antigua. This isn’t the easiest island to get to, so all
of us try to make it as seamless and as easy an experience as possible,
guiding visitors through the entry regulations, the PCR test upon
arrival, the ferry or regional air transfer, the requirement to stay in
an approved accommodation, and the bubble concept.”
That bubble concept permits visitors to visit other properties, dine at restaurants, stroll beaches and visit shops that are all within a specified bubble or geographical area on the island.
For example, visitors staying in the Meads Bay area — bounded by Carimar Beach Club on one end and Frangipani Beach Resort on the other end — are free to move within that bubble at will.
“The restrictions aren’t as stringent as they seem, and the concierge at each hotel will walk guests through it, ” Rochester said, adding that already Anguilla is seeing a number of returning visitors, digital nomads and those booking extended stays.
In his position as destination experience manager, Rochester has exactly one other associate on his team “and we’re always working and we get so much done and we give 100% to every project, event and task, and I love everything about this job,” he said.
How he became the destination experience manager
His back story holds clues as to how he views his role with Anguilla.
Rochester’s career path included stints as a teller in an Anguilla bank, a server at a barbecue joint known only to locals (where his tips went toward his college payments on the island) and a student at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica where he earned his masters degree in hospitality management.
“I loved my time in Jamaica. I love hospitality. I love Anguilla,” he said.
He returned there in 2015, even returned briefly to the bank job, but when Zemi Beach House was hiring, prior to its opening that year, Rochester was hired as the right-hand man to the general manager.
“I was sort of the manager of everything and there I learned everything I know now,” he said.
A short stint followed at the Four Seasons Resort as it transitioned from the Viceroy resort in 2016 but ended with Hurricane Irma’s unwelcome visit in 2017.
“There was no power,” he recalled. “So I went to St. Kitts to visit family and got a phone call from the Anguilla Tourist Board offering me a job. I started in 2018 and it has been a great three years, since.”
Goals for Anguilla’s tourism marketing
Beyond the beaches and the stunning turquoise waters of
Anguilla, Rochester’s aim is to tap into niche markets, such as
romance, spas and wellness, culinary, MICE events, sports tourism and
cruise tourism to be able to expand visitor experiences in both the
leisure and business sectors.
“We want to be able to
offer our visitors a more rounded experience than sun, sand and sea. We
need to tell the stories of Anguilla, to show and offer our guests
what’s real and authentic on this island,” he said.