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Expert Tips: Chapter 1

MARIEKE MENDEZ - DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL SALES FOR MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL

 

 

I started my career in the hospitality industry in France before moving to the Pacific. To be honest I ended up in Tahiti by chance…and what a stroke of luck! Back then I applied to a Marketing Manager’s position and I thought “Tahiti, yes why not?!”…I eventually stayed for 10 years!

I used to work for various hotels chains in French Polynesia and I enjoyed every minute of it – such a great destination to promote and you’re selling a dream experience and for many what is seen as “the trip of a lifetime” so I felt very privileged being able to do so.

I left Tahiti in 2013 as I joined my husband (whom I married in Tahiti) in New Zealand and I am now the Director of Global Sales for Marriott International based in Auckland, where my role is to look after the NZ customers for their travels overseas (FIT, MICE, TMCs...)

Luckily Tahiti is only 5 hours away as it will always has a special place in my heart…it took me a while to stop saying nana.

 

Why choose the Islands of Tahiti for conferences or incentives?

The islands of Tahiti have so much to offer whatever it is for a conference in Tahiti itself or a top achiever incentive in Bora Bora. Infrastructures are of very good standard and the destination offers some unique options in terms of entertainment and onsite/offsite activities and functions,

You do not need much in Tahiti to create a memorable event, just look at the natural environment and you’re sorted with the theming! I had the chance to escort some PCOs on a fam trip and they were blown away by the beauty of the islands – getting them to experience a cocktail function under the stars with some ukuleles and Polynesian dancers is all you need for a simple yet beautiful event. The F&B is also of very high standard and you can deliver either a really traditional Tahitian buffet, international dishes and beautifully fresh seafood!

 

What is the biggest misconception in the C&I world about the Islands of Tahiti?

The price and the lack of activities and options for incentives. The price point is for sure different if you are comparing with Fiji, Rarotonga etc…but I always highlight you don’t get the same product or experience as you can’t beat an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora with its exceptional marine life and lagoon’s colours!

In terms of the lack of activities I have shared some of the great activities available for groups with my customers as there are some very solid experienced DMCs to support and create various itineraries and experiences for incentives.

This is surely a strength of the destination compared to some other islands but people seem to think of the destination as a “couple only” destination which is a challenge to attract your corporate business.

 

What is your number 1 must-do in our islands?

 My must-do is without a doubt visiting the islands during the “whale season” as I had the privilege a few times to observe the Whales underwater in Moorea and this is the kind of experience you remember for ever.

Now for groups the lagoon tour in Bora Bora is for sure a must as it gives you the opportunity to swim with sting rays (and mantas if you’re lucky), sharks, discover the beautiful Bora Bora island, relax with a traditional lunch in the water while enjoying some fresh pineapple and coconut on the way.

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