With more than fifteen years of experience within the luxury hospitality industry, Cristina Jones, a 2016 Travvy Award winner for most innovative executive, is the CEO and founder of CJONES&CO, a Business Development, PR and Marketing firm based in Costa Rica. Jones is also the CEO of WE-R-CR, a Real Estate and Vacation Rentals company which focuses on Central America’s prime properties.
EDGE Travel. however, is her baby and is vastly becoming the regions premier destination management company. Specializing in an alternative way to travel and how you plan for it, Cristina recently merged her brand with Overseas Travel International, a tailored FIT receptive network, headquartered in Miami, Florida that services 17,000 agents worldwide and has offered individual travelers and families the true pulse of all the destinations they operate for the last 20 years. Amongst her many tasks she also supports the Brand’s Global Market Development and Expansion while co-owns the Costa Rica based office.
Costa Rica is best known as a wildlife and outdoor destination and there are plenty of local tour companies catering to those strengths. What is EDGE Travel focusing on instead?
EDGE is embracing a more experiential travel segment, one that falls outside the beaten path and that furthermore looks for a more luxurious side to a country that has before since been mostly recognized for adventure and eco-tourism. We try to showcase the chic, sexy and more luxurious side not only of the destination itself but through our approach to its management. At EDGE the boutique side of our interactions themselves are our key differentiator as we aren’t for the masses or by the masses either. As part of the Overseas Leisure Group we are “Doers” and are vastly being recognized as the James Bonds of the industry, as we are constantly breaking common grounds and taking even our suppliers to new limits. Our key is innovation and pushing limits.
Because EDGE Travel is part of a vertically integrated company which also has a PR firm at its core, we are excellent supplier partners that offer more than sales, so therefore also reak the benefits of privileged access because of this resulting in overall high value for buyers and suppliers alike.
What is your ideal client like?
We are focused on high-end travelers, those who seek a mark-off to their bucket list. Those who want a twist to their travel that will leave a strong impression. Our ideal clients will take into account our own personal know-how and experience with the destination. They can also recognize and appreciate our more global and worldly vision on the experiences and how they should be led. We are a mostly a business to business company, so the experience that the end-user has is just as important to us as the agent and or planner’s experience with the process. We do have a VIP direct client base too however that stands alone in the market now.
We are perfect for high end concierge companies, high profile VIP travelers, and booking agents of this sort of market. However, we cater to the aspirational segments just as well and really show them value that they would have not believed before.
I know your tourism industry beginning was in South Beach, Miami. Tell us about your start there.
Started bottoms up and that means more than growing through the latter. I ended up in Miami by vacational coincidence, only after leaving Costa Rica for an extended vacation did I realize I was going to make it my home. Within a couple weeks of being in the States, insurance-less, I got appendicitis and ended up with a few tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. So I decided to find a job to pay them off and pass some time, this at age 18, and it soon became a passion and driver of all the other things I did.
I’m an industry rat and brat no doubt! My way of thinking was forged by these beginnings as my first job was for the infamous Ian Schrager, who is credited with being a pioneer in the boutique hospitality industry and revolutionizing all normal schemes. He believed in hospitality based on the fundamentals of entertainment, and I still carry this with me in my actions and ways. This is a large part of why my company is called EDGE – its carries the double meaning of living on the EDGE and “Engaging Dynamic Genuine Experiences.”
[Continued – Read the full interview with Cristina Jones]