Bahamas Travel Spotlight: Junkanoo – The Bahamian Way to Celebrate the Holidays


The Bahamas is the quintessential Caribbean escape, brimming with lavish resorts, azure waters and unparalleled traditions that keep any traveler in the “island state of mind”. Sprinkled across the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the Bahamas include a unique cluster of over 700 Cays and isles that blend to become a playground for the rich and famous as well as a haven for family friendly timeshares and world-class resorts.  Visitors can indulge in a variety of activities including fishing, diving, boating and any aquatic pursuit under the sun! Bahamians are fiercely proud of their country, and a great time to visit this beautiful set of islands is during their most celebrated time of the year, Junkanoo.

Junkanoo is a centuries old tradition on the islands celebrated each December as a holiday festivity across the various Cays. Dating as far back as the 18th century, Junkanoo initially began as a three-day holiday break for slaves in the Bahamas over Christmas and has evolved into one of the largest and most celebrated inclusive annual holiday events in the Bahamas.

In the Bahamas today, the contemporary Junkanoo occurs each Boxing Day, December 26th, and each New Years Day, with the largest and most prominent celebration held in the capital city of Nassau. The focal point of the Junkanoo celebration is the prolific parade throughout the city of Nassau, appealing to travelers enticed by an exuberant nightlife.  The parade begins at 2am and runs for a full eight hours of non-stop fun. The parade has been rated one of the top ten best events to experience in December according to Touropia, and it is easy to see why.  Sophisticated and intricate costumes abundantly applaud the culture of the islands as masked men and women march through the streets to the beat of drums and the sound of the iconic cowbells.

Traditional Bahamian food is prepared as viewers support the thousands of performers dancing through the streets in merriment and commemoration of the unique splendor that is the culture of the Bahamas. Every country has an inimitable method of rejoicing in the holidays, and the Bahamas is no exception.  The entire collection of Cays embrace the island charm while simultaneously observing its historic roots.

As a traveler who desires a tropical retreat during the frigid holiday months, the Bahamas is a perfect location to jet set to as December commences.  The unrivaled experience of taking part in Junkanoo is a time honored tradition in the Bahamas and enjoying the holiday culture in a country such as this is not to be missed.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Andy Tallon

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

 

Photo: “Nassau Junkanoo Festival” by Mathieu Fortin is licensed under CC By 2.0

Mexican Travel Spotlight: Mexican Sugar Skull Recipe

JNR stays close to home this month, with a journey through the heritage and culture of Mexico. Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, falls on the first and second of November and honors those who have passed. During these days, it is said that the spirits of the dead visit their families and loved ones. It is common for Mexican households to prepare altars with offerings for the deceased and to visit gravesites with gifts and decorations.

Rituals include making the deceased’s favorite food and serving it as an Ofrenda (Offering). These items may include tamales, Pan de Muertos (Day of the Dead Bread) and sugar skulls.

Sugar was first introduced to Mexico by the Italian missionaries in the 17th century and often used for decorations in churches as it was a cheaper alternative to the expensive European imports. Sugar skulls were incorporated in the Dia de los Meurtos rituals in the 18th century and have since been used to represent the souls of the departed. It is common for the skulls to bear the name of the deceased across the forehead and they are characterized by big happy smiles and colorful icing.

Today we are sharing a recipe for this vibrant tradition below.

Sugar Skull Recipe 

Total Time:     35 min

Prep:     10 min

Cook:    25 min (additional time for icing to dry)

Yield:   2

Level:    Moderate

 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4” plastic skull mold

 

Icing Ingredients (additional required for decorating)

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • Desired food color

 

Directions

Heat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Combine the sugar and egg white in a bowl. Blend mixture together with your fingers.

Pack sugar firmly into the front and the back sections of the plastic skull mold. Using a spoon create a shell that is ½” thick in the mold. Place baking pan behind the mold and invert the mold onto the pan. Tap the mold gently to release the sugar skull as you lift the mold off. If the mixture crumbles add more egg whites. Repeat the process to make the second sugar skull.

Bake the sugar skulls for 25 minutes or until the surface feels hard and solid when lightly touched. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Using an electric beater on high, whip the egg white and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar.

Join the front and the back sections of the sugar skull using the icing sugar as glue. Let stand for 1 hour or until the icing is firm.

Repeat directions above to make additional icing sugar to decorate sugar skulls. Add the desired color and amount of food die. Using a pastry bag with a plain tip, pipe icing onto the sugar skulls in desired decoration. Let stand for 1 hour or until icing is firm.

To store, wrap airtight.

If you would like to learn about how JNR can organize a magical incentive trip to Mexico, where participants can taste the delights of traditional Mexican food first hand, please email jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

 

Other recipes to check out:

Indian Spotlight: Indian Vegetable Biryani Recipe

German Spotlight: German Honey Cookies

South African Spotlight: Bobotie Recipe

United Kingdom Spotlight: Yorkshire Parkin Recipe

 

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By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Sugar Skulls” by Alex Alonso is licensed under CC By 2.0

The Importance of On-Site Staff to Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel – Part Three

Today concludes our informative three part series on The Importance of On-Site Staff to Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel. If you have not already, take a moment to read Part One and Part Two. In today’s final piece we cover the qualities to look for in a capable on-site staff member.

JNR is committed to delivering phenomenal business meetings, corporate events and incentive travel programs every time. A large part of ensuring that we deliver on this is making sure we have the right people for the job. We employ on-site expert Travel Directors that we like to call your “insurance policy.” They make sure the event runs smoothly, keep costs in check and they send participants and clients home happy. A solid team of on-site logistical staff is crucial to any event’s success.

When hiring on-site staff members, JNR looks for certain attributes, skills and qualities in a potential employee. These are often elements that cannot be taught.

Hardworking

On-site staff members must be disciplined enough to work incredibly hard. They are the first to rise and the last to rest. They have an array of intricate tasks that must be completed before participants arrive, seemingly impossible tasks while the event is running, respond to individual needs as well as the entire group’s needs, and, as participants are heading home, they stay to make sure everyone has checked out, have rides to the airport, and arrange for any outgoing shipments. Amidst it all, they make sure all billing notes are in order.

Responsive

The first thing you learn on-site is that things change. Our expert Travel Directors expect that there are factors that are out of their control and that they must remain flexible and on their toes in order to keep the event on track. Whether it is a travel delay, inclement weather or a key item that will not be delivered on time, they work on finding solutions rather than getting stuck on problems. They also keenly anticipate complications arising before they actually happen and prepare accordingly. This is fondly referred to as avoiding Murphy. When factors do not go as planned, most of the time, they are solved so efficiently that participants remain blissfully unaware.

Teamwork

On-site staff members are given key responsibilities and are empowered to jump in where needed to help other staff members. While they work in their own specialty areas, they know that at the end of the day the program as a whole is the big picture and that they need to work together for it to be successful – no task is solely one person’s duty. Members of the on-site team know what each other are working on and come together to help with all things from finishing touches to more complicated elements.

Positive Attitude

On-site experts work grueling hours, have multiple jobs on their plates at once and respond to client and participant requests at any hour of the day – all with a smile on their face. Even if an event throws curve ball after curve ball, having the right attitude with a passion for delivering their best can be the difference between an average event and an incredible event. Our on-site staff members see the big picture and work diligently towards that rather than getting stuck on components that do not go as planned.

Ability to Understand the Client’s Objectives

Travel Directors must be fully aware and understand the client’s objectives to deliver a successful meeting, event or travel program. Once goals and objectives have been explained to on-site staff members, they know what elements will deliver on these goals. They are conscientious of how to use their skill sets to direct a meeting, event or travel program in the direction the client wants.

Communication and Negotiation Skills

At any one time, Travel Directors will be in communication and negotiation with multiple parties. They rely on third parties to deliver exactly what is expected of them and must therefore communicate what is needed in an efficient manner. They use their strong negotiation skills to get the best outcomes and value for the client, all while keeping a positive relationship with the vendor for future programs.

Communication with participants can truly enhance the program. We often hear that our client was impressed with our team, how nice it was that participants knew the on-site staff members by name and how wonderfully they were treated.

 

On-site staff members are unique individuals that are driven to deliver above what is expected of them. With a trained eye and a thorough understanding of “back-of-the-house” operations, our experienced on-site travel management professionals direct the logistics of your event, leaving you free to attend to VIP’s, participants and the actual program content. You can focus on just one thing… your business.

 

To find out how JNR can help orchestrate an amazing meeting, event or incentive travel program, please call us on 949.476.2788 or email us at jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com. We would love to work with you on your next program.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas with insights from LuAnn Jalet, Chief Operating Officer at JNR.

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “The Standard – Cooper Square” by Susan Sermoneta is licensed under CC By 2.0

The Importance of On-Site Staff to Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel – Part Two

Last week we took the opportunity to release The Importance of On-Site Staff to Meetings, Events and Incentive Travel – Part One, the first part of our informative three part series. We covered the basics of why expert on-site staff members are needed to ensure flawless execution of any event. This week we will dive into Part Two where we will cover how to best utilize on-site staff and the roles they play on a program. Make sure to check back here next week when we will conclude the series with Part Three which will take a look into the qualities that capable on-site staff should posses.

In any event there are numerous components that come together seamlessly to make it a success. Most of these are executed behind the scenes and, if done correctly, participants will never know that these intricacies have taken place. The event should look effortless in the eyes of a participant. This is where the difference between internal administrative staff and expert on-site staff truly shows through.

Although Travel Directors wear a multitude of hats when operating a meeting or event, today we will focus on the range of tasks that a Travel Director must undertake when operating an incentive travel program and the roles they should be assigned to best utilize their expertise.

VIPs

Important internal and external stakeholders are sure to be at any organization’s event, and while it is important for all participants to enjoy a program, there is an extra level of attention that needs to be paid to the “VIPs”. Regardless of how well an event goes for everyone else, if it goes poorly for the VIPs, the event is remembered as a failure.

The top Travel Director should always be assigned to the VIPs and their needs. This Travel Director will work with the VIP or their representative from start to finish. There are certain expectations that must be met and attended to by the assigned Travel Director. These include:

  • Meet and Greet upon arrival
  • Private transportation to and from venues
  • Inspection of hotel rooms to ensure all requested amenities are ready prior to arrival
  • Collaborating with security detail
  • Pre-arranging spa services
  • Pre-arrange the Entertainment and Activities

The Travel Director must go to great lengths to ensure that the VIPs enjoy the program and leave knowing that it was a success.

Guest Rooms

The Travel Director assigned to guest room responsibility has a huge role that requires meticulous organization. They spend a significant amount of time working with hotel staff to manage room blocks and ensure each participant has the correct room for the correct dates. Having someone arrive on the program to find there is not a room for them is simply not an option.

Food & Beverage

Whether it is an early morning breakfast, an outdoor lunch, a mid-afternoon break or a lavish dinner party, participants always remember the food and beverages. It has to taste amazing, be delivered on time and there must be enough to go around.  Special requirements and allergies need to be taken into account and the venue must have ample notice to make such preparations. The Travel Director that is in charge of F&B makes sure this happens as planned and is a highly visible part of the team. They keep detailed documentation and invoices to ensure you get what you pay for and are not overcharged. Having the correct information on food and beverage details will help resolve final billing after the event has operated.

Transportation

Travel is one element that stresses participants out on programs. Travel Directors know this and work diligently to alleviate some of this worry by ensuring transportation runs smoothly, efficiently and on time, leaving a positive lasting impression on attendees. Travel Directors assigned to transportation will work closely with car services, bus companies and airlines to coordinate stress-free transportation logistics from the beginning of the program to the end. This allows participants to arrive feeling relaxed and ready for the program ahead.

Business Meetings

Most corporate events and travel programs will integrate at least one business meeting into their agenda.  So that participants can gain the most from it, Travel Directors work to ensure that:

  • Meeting rooms’ environmental conditions meet expectations
  • Meeting rooms are correctly organized
  • Audio-visual requirements are met
  • Technology is set up and working correctly
  • Hosts and speakers know when they are required and what is needed of them

With these things in place, the Travel Director allows for easy facilitation of meetings and, regardless of the primary objective for the business meeting, companies and their participants can run an effective gathering on-site.

Entertainment and Activities

Entertainment and activities can often be the highlight of a travel program, or any event for that matter. It is the fun part that builds a sense of camaraderie and creates memories that participants will take home and share with others. When activities do not go as planned, it can ruin the participants’ entire program experience. Professional Travel Directors are experienced enough to stop incidents from taking the program off course. Many activities are planned away from the hotel, so Travel Directors must stay on top of all the small details, always be prepared for the unexpected and ensure the participants’ happiness. They are trained to negotiate and can put a program back on track if something unexpected does occur, all without the participant ever knowing there has been a change.

Hospitality Desk

Travel Directors represent the client as program ambassadors. They work the hospitality desk and are the face of the program for participants. They help participants with checking into the hotel, confirming activities and pass on important guest information. Participants see value when there are knowledgeable staff members on hand to deliver accurate, timely information or to help with any need that may arise. The hospitality desk is a hot spot for activity, with Travel Directors keeping things organized and efficient.

Merchandise and Gifts

Most travel programs will incorporate specially sourced gifts that participants receive before the program, when they arrive on-site, during activities and delivered to their rooms on certain nights. Travel Directors take charge of all these amenities, keeping them organized and on track. They start by procuring the correct items, getting them through customs and ensuring that they arrive on time. They make sure quantities are correct and that colors, sizes and styles will bring the most enjoyment to the participants. These Travel Directors work behind the scenes to organize everything by working with the hotel bell staff. Travel Directors make sure the Bell Captain knows as much as possible ahead of time, so they can guarantee adequate bell staff and resources are available to properly execute the room drops at the scheduled times.

 

Whether responding to one individual, or the entire group, JNR’s on-site Travel Directors are prepared should an emergency strike. When a situation impacts on your travel program, rest assured, they have the comprehensive training, skills and resources to manage the well being of all your participants. By assigning Travel Directors to specific aspects of programs their skills can best be utilized, focusing on their assigned element, while using any down time to assist other Travel Directors where needed.

Their job is to make your company look good.

 

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas with insights from LuAnn Jalet, Chief Operating Officer at JNR.

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Cydcor Conference Audience” by Cydcor Offices is licensed under CC By 2.0 

South African Spotlight: Bobotie Recipe

After a fun and informative journey through the United Kingdom, JNR now takes a look at some of the fabulous elements that make South Africa top even a seasoned traveler’s bucket list.

Situated on the southern tip of Africa lies the multiethnic society of South Africa. It is home to eleven official languages, though English is predominantly spoken. South Africa has 1,739 miles of coastline which draws surfers, fishermen and shark divers alike. The countryside is diverse and beautiful with safari adventures and serene venues for wine tasting.

The South African cuisine is varied due to the diversity in this region. Both indigenous and immigrant food are found throughout the country and include influences from Dutch, German, French, Italian, Greek, British and Indonesian cuisine.

The recipe we have chosen to share with you today is of Cape Malay decent and is similar to a spiced meatloaf with some fun additions such as raisins and baked eggs. This dish is often accompanied by yellow rice, coconut and banana slices.  The recipe can be adopted with pork or lamb instead of the beef.

South African Bobotie

Total Time:    1 hr 45 min

Prep:     15 min

Cook:    1 hr 30 min

Yield:    6 servings

Level:    Easy

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 1 ½ pounds of ground beef
  • 2 slices of thick-cut bread
  • 1 cup of milk
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • 2 tbsp of apricot chutney (can be substituted for a mixture of apricot jelly and hot chutney)
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper (ground)
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1 bay leaf

Directions

Grease and line a 9” x 13” baking dish with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onions until translucent then add the ground beef and cook until brown.

Pour the milk in a shallow dish and soak the bread. Remove the bread and let the excess milk drain back into the dish. Add the bread to the beef and stir in raisins, apricot chutney, curry powder, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

Bake for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining milk and eggs.

Remove the dish from the oven and pour milk mixture over the top. Place the bay leaf on top.

Return the dish to the oven and bake for a further 30 minutes or until the top browns.

Remove bay leaf and serve immediately.

If you would like to learn about how JNR can organize a magnificent incentive trip where participants can experience the wonders of South Africa, please email jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.