Exactly one week after Palace Resorts’ longtime BDM for Ontario Diana Winters announced her departure from the company, another member of Palace’s Canadian sales team is making an exit – and she’s going to the same company as Winters.
Sharon Wilson, who has represented Palace and Le Blanc Resorts as a business development manager in Western Canada for almost ten years, is leaving the company to join tour operator Exoticca as a BDM for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, PAX has learned.
Wilson’s last day with Palace is today (Friday, May 5).
“I am ready for something new,” Wilson said, speaking to PAX over the phone from her home in Calgary. “Great opportunities don’t come along every day, and this job is perfect for me.”
Exoticca grows Canadian sales force
Exoticca, which is based in Barcelona, Spain, first launched in Europe in 2013 and made its Canadian debut in 2019. It offers private and customizable experiences for small groups, led by local guides, in nearly 60 countries.
In her new role, Wilson will report to Mike Quinto, Exoticca’s vice-president of sales for Canada.
Exoticca now has four points of contact in Canada – this being, Cindy Chau in British Columbia, Wilson in Alberta and Central Canada, and Winters and Quinto in Ontario.
And the team will continue to expand, Quinto told PAX yesterday, confirming that one more BDM is on the way.
“As we continue to grow in Canada, travel advisors can look forward to local store marketing funds, more FAM trips, higher commissions, more support and opportunities, and better industry discounts,” Quinto told PAX.
Every component of an Exoticca trip is commissionable and its tours generally include lots of free time. This format, Quinto said, is something travel advisors and clients “are loving."
“Agents can expect for their clients to have an amazing experience anywhere in the world, with incredible pricing, and international flights included,” he said.
Wilson, too, thinks Exoticca’s leisure-paced travel style “is the future of touring,” as opposed to “marathon touring from morning until night.”
After spending nearly a decade promoting luxury all-inclusive vacations in sun destinations for Palace, she’s ready to take on the world.
“The last few years were a time of reflection,” said Wilson, whose Palace territory covered Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and, in recent years, British Columbia. “If we’ve learned anything, it’s that life can change in an instant. As much as I love the beach, there’s a whole big world out there. I can’t wait to get back to much-loved destinations in Asia, Africa and Europe, and check out places that are completely new.”
Wilson is “really pumped” to show travel advisors the Exoticca way.
“I’m in a position to start from the ground up and grow something fantastic with them,” she said.
One big coincidence
For the record, it’s not like Wilson and Winters got together and devised a plan to fly the Palace coop, at the same time, and join the same company.
The whole situation, to be crystal clear, is one big coincidence.
When Exoticca began posting callouts for new BDMs, both Wilson and Winters, on their own time, applied for roles in their respective regions.
It wasn’t until much later on in the process that the ladies discovered they had both secured interviews with Exoticca, and were heading in a similar direction.
Their closely-timed departures leave a hole in Palace’s trade support team in Canada, which is managed by Miami-based Maria Guadalupe (Lupita) Cordero, who was named Palace’s corporate director of sales for Canada, the U.K., Europe and Asia in January.
“Exciting news" is coming
In a statement to PAX on Friday (May 5), Cordero confirmed that a search is underway to replace both Wilson and Winters.
“My message to the travel agent community is to stay tuned,” Cordero wrote in an email. “Exciting news will come for these two territories. We are looking for the right fit to work side by side with [agents].”
She invited travel advisors to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions.
Wilson’s Palace-branded email will be activated with an out-of-office message containing a list of helpful contacts.
Travel advisors requiring sales support are also encouraged to email email@example.com.
“An incredible honour”
Wilson emphasized that Palace’s Canadian business is going to “flourish” under Cordero’s leadership.
“I can’t wait to see where the brand goes,” Wilson said. “There are so many elements that make Palace Resorts the best all-inclusive company in the world.”
She said it’s been “an incredible honour” to represent Palace, calling her time with the company a “highlight” in her travel industry career, which spans more than 25 years.
“It has been a joy to introduce The Palace Life to hundreds of travel advisors,” she said. “Those experiences have made believers of our agency partners.”
Some highlights for Wilson include Palace’s popular FAM trips and the theme parties that were held during Canada MegaFams.
“So much creativity went into all of it and the agents really went all out. There were so many ‘wow’ moments!” she said.
Wilson is also “very proud” of what she and her agent partners accomplished “for the love of others” through the Palace Foundation over the years.
From giving donations to supporting projects in Jamaica, whether it was purchasing medical equipment for mobile clinics in remote villages to renovating the recreation room at St. Christopher's School for the Deaf in Saint Ann, “agents have really embraced the giving spirit.”
“It has all been a huge privilege,” Wilson said.
As a BDM for Exoticca, Wilson will promote the brand through hosted trainings, sales meetings, and by helping answer any questions the trade may have. She will also host FAM trips.
Wilson is taking the next week off and her official start day at Exoticca is Monday, May 15. Agents are advised to “stay tuned” for her new email address, which will be ready soon.
“I am so excited for this new adventure,” Wilson said. “I hope to make a big splash.”