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In this June 2011 issue:

1. INTRO: Things Are Not Quiet...
2. SPECIALS: Share A Charter To St. Barths For $250 Per Seat
3. ARTICLE: How Visitors Find Out About St. Barths
4. SPONSOR MESSAGE: CheapoAir
5. NEWS ITEM: AirStMaarten Researching Getting It's Own Aircrafts (2)
6. TRAVEL TIP: Top Ten Fear Of Flying Tips
7. AGENDA: Happy Bastille Day - July 14th, 2011
8. ADVERTISEMENT: AirStMaarten/AirSXM.com Merchandising
9. CUSTOMER SERVICE: How To Book With AirStMaarten

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INTRO: Things Are Not Quiet...
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Dear friends and clients,

When asked recently if things were quiet on our end also, this was my answer: Things are not quiet, things are dead!!! I think you get the gist from that statement about the present status of the travel business on the islands these days.

If you are looking for some peace and quiet when traveling to St. Barths, this is the right time to do so. Peace-loving travelers can now capitalize on the late trickled-down effects of the financial and economic crises that have plaqued many nations - the United States in the lead - but miraculously seemed to have bypassed the islands - St. Maarten in the lead. Now apparently not.

Here is a picture of the Grand Case l'Esperance Airport on French Saint Martin circa 1975 to 1978 just to give you an idea of how quiet things are these days:

Saint Martin Grand Case l'Esperance Airport anno 1975-1978 - Photo by Agnes Etchegoyen
Photo by Agnes Etchegoyen

Can you imagine the peace and tranquility now?
I'm loving it!!! :-)

It being so quiet now gives me lots of time to get work done on a very important task at hand. Hopefully by next month you will be able to see the results.

In the meantime, happy readings!

Terrance Rey

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2. SPECIALS: Share A Charter To St. Barths For $250 Per Seat
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Air St. Maarten Shared Charters Share-A-Charter Cartoon (c) 2011

For more information about our Shared Charters and to see the constantly updated Shared Charters Schedule online, visit http://www.SharedCharters.com

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3. ARTICLE: How Visitors Find Out About St. Barths
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How Visitors Find Out About St. Barths

Or How To Attract Visitors To A Destination

by Terrance Rey

Recently the President of the Collectivité of French Saint Martin said in an article in the Today newspaper that he is looking at a more upscale tourism market for his side of the island. Immediately two things came to mind. One was that this would be a huge challenge for a destination already known for mass tourism. At least, where the southern half of the island is concerned (Dutch St. Maarten).

The secomd thing that came to mind was the question how do you turn a destination into an upscale destination? Obviously, creating an upscale destination is not just a matter of having great beaches, attracting and/or building high-end resorts, having top restaurants, good infrastructure and services. St. Martin already has all these facilities and amenities. So what more is needed?

I believe that besides the fact that a destination needs to have great facilities and amenities, it also needs good marketing and promotion and great word of mouth. My opinion leads me to wonder what makes people visit a destination in the first place? To find out, I took a small informal poll of regular visitors to St. Barths on the SBHonline.com forum.

The question I posted was: "How Did You First Hear About St. Barths?"
Here are the results:

  • A daytrip to St. Barths - 24%
  • Read about it in a magazine - 24%
  • Advertisement for a hotel property - 3%
  • Recommendation from friends - 32%
  • While visiting the Caribbean - 7%
  • From research - 10%

Based on this quick one day poll it is obvious that marketing a destination, no matter the scale, class or status, is still a matter of good public relations (articles), attracting first time visitors (daytrips) and good word of mouth (recommendations from friends and family).

This means that President Frantz Gumbs will have to make sure that first time visitors have such a good experience that they will return. He has to ensure that daytrippers (in this case cruise tourists) have such an enjoyable time on the French side that they will book a stay-over vacation. Lastly, the COM President has to create enough buzz in newspaper and magazine articles that readers will be inspired to visit French St. Martin. 

Obviously, the challenge is how to ensure that visitors to Saint Martin experience such a great time that they will visit the island again. Maybe after reading this article, Mr. Gumbs will accept my recommendation and make a daytrip to St. Barths to get some ideas on how that island consistently generates such high percentages of return visitors. I strongly believe he will get a lot of inspiration.

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4. SPONSOR MESSAGE: CheapoAir
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Cheap Air Flightbanner

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5. NEWS ITEM: AirStMaarten Researching Getting It's Own Aircrafts (2)
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Airport -- Last month we reported that AirStMaarten is presently researching the possibilities of obtaining its own aircrafts in order to continue providing guaranteed service at the level AirSXM.com's clients have grown accustomed to receiving.

During our research we came accross this beautiful picture, which I am calling "St. Barths Airport By Night":

Moon over St. Barths Airport - Photo taken from COMStBarth.fr
Moon over St. Barths Airport - Photo taken from COMStBarth.fr

As St. Barths airport closes at sunset this is a scene we hardly ever get to see from the cockpit of an aircraft. Nonetheless, St. Barths airport at night has been a source of many problems, contentions and anecdotes. I can tell you a few stories myself. Like the time a client demanded we fly him to St. Barths at 9:30pm at night.

We had a client who arrived late one night in St. Maarten by private plane and needed to get to St. Barths the same night right away. I told him that the airport in St. Barths was closed and there was no way we would be able to fly him to St. Barths at that time of night. The options were either overnight and fly out in the morning or take a speed boat charter to St. Barths.

The client told me he personally knew Bruno Magras, the President of St. Barths, and that he would call him and get him to open the airport. As I had Bruno's cellphone number programmed in my cellphone, I dialled up the number and gave the phone to the client and told him to be my guest and call Mr. Magras. Needless to say, the client turned down the offer and decided to take a boat charter instead.

Anyway, the above photo is taken from the official website of the Collectivité of Saint Barthélemy on the webpage concerning the airport fees at http://www.comstbarth.fr/pageLibre00013721.asp. So if you ever have any complaints why the airline fares to St. Barths are so expensive, here is the reason why they are. Fares at St. Maarten's airport aren't any better, I can tell you that. See http://www.pjiae.com/rates-charges.html.

This information is pertinent as AirStMaarten is now looking into three possible aircrafts to add to its virtual fleet of aircrafts operated on its behalf by third party operators, namely a 9-seater twin-engine aircraft BN Islander aircraft - of which an artist's rendition is posted below, a 9-seater Cessna Grand Caravan and a 16-seater twin-engine Twin Otter aircraft. 

Artist rendition of proposed BN Islander aircraft for AirStMaarten - AirSXM

In order to determine the feasibility of operating its own aircrafts, management of AirStMaarten is presently researching the viability of this option against the option of continued utilization of the virtual airline business model. The company will have two choices to consider, namely fulfilling the necessary requirements to obtain its own AOC or simply putting the aircrafts into operation under the AOC of a third party operator.

The latter choice would entail making a wetlease or ACMI agreement with an existing airline or charter operator with its own AOC and landingrights in the different aviation territories AirStMaarten services. A wetlease or ACMI agreement means that AirStMaarten would have an arrangement with an existing operator whereby the operator would be responsible for providing aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance services to AirStMaarten for a monthly lease amount.

Once a feasibility study is completed, AirStMaarten's management will put together a business plan with a prospectus with the aim of raising capital from investors through private placement or via an initial public offering (IPO) on the Dutch Caribbean Stock Exchange (DCSX). 

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6. TRAVEL TIP: Top Ten Fear Of Flying Tips
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If you're traveling any distance at all, flying is your fastest, safest, most convenient, and economical choice for transportation. Worldwide nearly 3 million passengers fly every day. With very low air fares from widely available airline ticket discounts, more and more people are deciding to take to the skies.

Since 9/11 air travel has been a little more stressful, but there have been many improvements to the air transport system. If you are smart about your travel planning, chances are you will have a hassle-free, affordable, and enjoyable experience.

If you find yourself a little nervous about flying, there are many helpful resources available. Treatments methods available include virtual reality sessions, private therapy, classroom study, books, and tapes. There is also an online program created by an active airline pilot. If you have the jitters when planning your flights it might be worth a try to visit this free online course. It can answer your questions about weather, turbulence, flying over water, claustrophobia, losing control (panic attacks), terrorism, etc.

Here are the top ten fear of flying tips: http://www.airlinetraveladvice.com/fear.shtml

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7. AGENDA: Happy Bastille Day - July 14th, 2011
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St. Barths will be celebrating Bastille Day on July 14th, 2011, with fireworks and dancing on the dock on the Quai Général de Gaulle in Gustavia.

Happy Bastille Day

Graphic taken from StBartsTalk.com.

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8. ADVERTISEMENT: AirStMaarten/AirSXM.com Merchandising
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If you would like to receive your own AirSXM.com t-shirt, simply send us an email via sales@airsxm.com. Based on the amount of people interested, we will determine whether to have the t-shirts made locally or produced and drop-shipped from a location in the USA.

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We have already received several inquiries. So keep those inquiries coming. The more, the better. For more information about AirSXM.com's merchandising, email us via sales@airsxm.com

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9. CUSTOMER SERVICE: How To Book With AirStMaarten
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Booking Procedure & Reservation Information

Submit a reservation request online at www.airsxm.com. Once we receive your request, we will send you a Reservation Offer for your consideration. Once you accept our proposal, we will require payment. You can use our credit card form to send us your credit card information. We accept all major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. You can also pay by bank transfer, check, cash or Paypal. Once payment is received, we will book the commercial flight or private charter and send you a Reservation Confirmation.

If you have requested additional services such as VIP Transfer Services, we will send you a Final Confirmation containing all details of your travel itinerary and services booked. And that's how you book with AirStMaarten.

Other Customer Service Resources:
Our Shared Charters concept explained in full detail
VIP Transfer Services through Princess Juliana Int'l Airport
Island Concierge Services on St. Maarten and St. Barths
Read what our satisfied clients are saying about our service
Ticket Insurance
We also accept payments via Paypal
St. Maarten Villa Rentals
St. Maarten Yachting and Sailing Charters
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