The tourism industry is the largest employer in the Caribbean reaching into all corners of communities. As the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International (SRI) – the region’s leading luxury inclusive hotel, we believe in the power of the industry to also positively transform lives.
In commemorating the 40th anniversary of Sandals Resorts, the Sandals Foundation set out to continue and expand upon the philanthropic work that begun in 1981 by implementing 40 targeted sustainable community projects to celebrate the longstanding relationship of love and trust earned over the years.
The Sandals 40 for 40 Initiative spanned nine Caribbean islands and raised awareness on the incredible link between tourism and its power to improve lives in six key areas:
Our goal was to have an integrated communication and marketing strategy that incorporate stories of hope and action across print, radio, television, as well as utilizing blogs, website and social media platforms of our platforms as well as those of the commercial brands’ – Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts. Stories of transformation would raise awareness on how the power of travel through the support of guests, team members and partners is making a tangible difference in the lives of Caribbean nationals.
Working closely with local community groups/organizations, team members, and associated government ministries, the Sandals Foundation identified and commenced implementing 40 transformational projects on the Caribbean islands of Exuma and Nassau in The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands, Jamaica, Antigua, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, and Curacao. The Sandals Foundation then leaned on the art of storytelling to bring these programs to life. Through careful coordination with the operations teams, an integrated marketing and communication campaign for internal and external audiences was implemented capitalizing on scheduled events, key milestones, United Nations calendar significant dates, and opportunities for outreach. Content produced incorporated visually impactful photos, videos, articles, blogs, interviews and news stories that told compelling stories of hope and empowerment.
So How Did We Do It?
Challenges and Mitigation Strategies
There were a number of logistical challenges which affected project execution and timelines. As global manufacture and supply chain delays became evident, many projects were delayed and others cancelled causing the Sandals Foundation team to pivot in search of fresh ideas that were less dependent on transshipment schedules but having just as much impact in the lives of Caribbean nationals. Prolonged shipping and customs clearance processes necessitated strategic public relations efforts guided by agility and a carefully monitored public relations calendar, allowing for the release of the best-suited stories at the best times for maximum coverage and effect.
At the end of 2022, the Sandals Foundation had implemented 40 sustainable projects across the Caribbean. We successfully communicated stories of transformation and hope by leveraging our corporate brand's support and employing the art of storytelling by tapping into regional and global markets in the US, UK, Canada, and Latin America via digital marketing, public relations, social media, and community forums.
In October 2022, the Sandals Foundation also welcomed social media agency Eight & Four to manage the organisation’s key platforms – Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. As a result, an additional strategic effort was made to raise awareness of the 40 projects on social media resulting in promoted support outperforming monthly metrics estimates in terms of impressions, views, and engagement rate. With a 566% increase in Instagram and a 664% increase in Facebook reaching a high of 1.1 million viewers in November, this up from an average of 200 viewers prior to October reached a lot more people.
Additional PR initiatives to detail the mammoth task of implementing these 40 projects also bore fruit with some 37 press releases written and over 400 local, regional and international media hits noting coverage and publication. The success of our campaign also saw the introduction of new donors and new programs (PADI Sea the Legacy of Love Scholarship) to be part of the life changing effort.
We are confident that our efforts have raised awareness of tourism's ability to drive transformational change in the Caribbean.
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