Buy the Sea Honored by the Direct Selling Association

Buy the Sea, meetings
Shari Wallack (third from left) with the Buy the Sea team.

In a first for the incentive industry, Buy The Sea was honored by the U.S. Direct Selling Association with its prestigious Partnership Award.

Buy the Sea became the first-ever travel company to win the Partnership Award from the Direct Selling Association for its exceptional performance in incentive travel sourcing and operations. The award was presented to Shari Wallack, president, at the association’s awards gala during the DSA’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas. Buy The Sea, which was founded in 2002, sources and operates international cruise and resort programs for groups as large as 6,000.

“This award is not a popularity contest,” Wallack told Prevue. “What was so validating about it is that our clients were willing to submit testimonials to nominate us. Three of them shared their stories of what we did to help them grow their businesses. Some of the judges were university professors and people from outside our industry who didn’t previously know who we were and what we do and many were DSA executives.”

The DSA has honored just one partner each year since 1995, and Buy the Sea was the first travel company ever to receive the award. Wallack commends the association for understanding how important incentive travel is to direct selling. “They see that these trips not only drive retention, but also recruitment. They completely understand the value of travel incentives.”

Wallack’s journey with the direct selling industry started 30 years ago when she worked for Club Med. “I had a few key accounts there, but it wasn’t until Caryn Rosenthal (VP of corporate sales) joined Buy The Sea in 2013 that together we made big inroads in that vertical market.”

The difference between direct selling companies and other incentive users, says Wallack, is that they have fully embraced the concept of using cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts for their events. “There are many reasons for this. First, it’s very easy to stay within budget.  DSA companies demand a lot of value for their money and they get it on ships and at AIP resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico. Also, ships and AIP resorts can handle large numbers of guests. Some of their programs entail sending several thousand people on back-to-back movements.”

Direct-selling companies also do resort buyouts and full-ship charters. “They love the flexibility, vast amount of function space, food and beverage inclusions, complimentary activities and entertainment, and the ease of planning. Since we specialize in putting reward and recognition programs onboard ships and to all-inclusive resorts, we are a natural fit for them.”

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.

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