Jolly Trotters forges partnership with JBDC on new souvenir shop
Tour and hospitality company Jolly Trotters Limited following a recent partnership with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) will expand its business with the opening of a new souvenir shop for tourists, to be traded under the name Trotters Tings by Things Jamaican.
The store expected to come on stream in January 2024 aims to target tourists in the New Kingston hotel district. The store is to be stocked with authentic Jamaican keepsake pieces including gift tokens and souvenirs made by local artisans.
The Jolly Trotters group, already comprising the Trotters Bar and Restaurant and its flagship Kingston City Guided Tour business, said the decision to partner with the JDBC comes as a no-brainer since the entity already has a strong presence in the authentic gift and souvenirs market.
“We have formed an amazing partnership with Things Jamaican to operate a retail shop so that when the tourist books their tours they will not only have access to the café and bar but also the souvenir shop, prior to or after their tour,” said CEO and chairman of Jolly Trotters Limited Roger Thompson during an interview with the Jamaica Observer on Monday.
“It’s a joint partnership from which my company will also benefit commercially as the idea is to have Trotters branded items available for sale at the shop,” he said to the Business Observer.
Things Jamaican, a subsidiary of the JBDC, has for decades established itself as one of the largest purchasers, retailers, and promoters of authentic Jamaican products. From the new location to be housed at Park Close in New Kingston along with the others at Devon House, JBDC South Camp offices and the Norman Manley International Airport as well as its e-commerce website, the JBDC through these stores seeks to increase direct access to new local and international markets for more than 500 of its micro, small & medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) clients, especially now as it moves to extract upwards of 5 per cent sales growth annually.
“Things Jamaican is all about providing market access for local MSMEs. The partnership will allow us to provide a new market entry point for Kingston tourists as well as business travellers,” Harold Davis, deputy CEO of the JBDC, stated.
Jolly Trotters CEO, in similarly pushing to offer a 360 degrees tourist experience through his business, said that the new gift shop along with the other segments, led by the Kingston City Guided Tour serves to drive more revenues for the company which it largely sources from tourists in the New Kingston belt booked at Airbnb and major hotels in the vicinity.
Commenting on the growth of sales for the 2.5-hour guided Kingston city tour launched in July of this year, Thompson described the take-up as being good so far, though not as solid as he would have expected.
“We had anticipated a lot more support from the local tourism partners, mainly the hotels in and around the area as well as the transport operators. We have been having a challenge sharing the story and the mission as to what our tours really represent, which is not a destination tour but guided site seeing city tour that takes clients on a cultural journey across the streets of Kingston,” he further told the Business Observer.
Anticipating further buy-in and greater partnerships, the CEO and chairman said he, however, remains hopeful that as the new product continues to build out its offerings in the local market, more stakeholders will come on-board.
“As a new player in the tourism market I know it will take some time for us to have dialogue and to get that level of support from a lot of these hotels, but we remain hopeful. It’s a work in progress but as a licensed and certified member of the industry we hope that this will also give us some credibility as we continue to seek that buy-in from other players and to play our part in improving the tourist experience. Right now outside of Devon House and the Bob Marley Museum, city tourists have nothing of much significance organised, as such we want to be ranked as that viable and exciting third option,” Thompson said.
Sharing details of an upcoming partnership with the Bob Marley Museum, he said his company is now in the process of securing a “co-promotion deal” to offer discounts for their guest to the tours and vice versa. “We are hoping that other entities such as Devon House, which we are now negotiating with, will also buy into this concept of partnership, so that we can have a win-win for everyone.”
The weekly Kingston City Guided bus tours across landmarks and other historic sites largely caters to Diaspora members and other business tourists. The tours operated two times daily from Monday-Saturday are priced at about US$70 per person and promises a rich and immersive educational and entertainment experience.
Tabling a more positive outlook, the CEO said that things have been looking well with hopes for them to progress even more into the new year.
“We have already started to receive bookings for the January/February period and we have reservations on our books up to March 2024. The hope, therefore, is for us to fill the seats for each of those trips. The objective for the upcoming year is to forge more partnerships as we also look to further grow the business,” Thompson stated.