Tag Archives: Barbados Tourism

Connect 2014 – the most important event for Barbados tourism industry

“While all the figures are not yet a matter of public record, nearly every other Caribbean country is recording tourism growth of up to 18.6 per cent for the first six months of 2014.

Barbados currently lies eighteenth in terms of numbers with no significant improvement at all.”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

For three days later this week one of the most important travel trade events takes place, called Connect 2014. It is estimated that around 97 tour operators representing 74 companies from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Continental Europe and the Caribbean will attend. Courting their crucial business and hoping to positively influence choices around 125 local hoteliers and ancillary service providers will also be taking part.

 Along with a number of other industry interests including the Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival and Bushy Park, the Barbados Tourism Authority (or perhaps I should now refer to the new name, BTM Inc) have been kind enough to invite me to make a presentation on our re-DISCOVER initiative.

 With so many destinations to choose from, often at substantially lower cost, it is in my humble opinion that we must collectively make every possible effort to get across that Barbados can offer value-for-money by providing a greater selection of more affordable options.

For us, the perfect scenario is to persuade the tour operators to place our website address on their client’s final documentation, whether in print or electronically. That way the consumer can plan ahead, budget for their out-of-pocket expenses which helps maximise the potential for participating restaurants.  Continue reading

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Barbados government punished 5,000 hotel rooms to reward Sandals’ 280 rooms. Wise tourism strategy or not?

“When you look across the state of our entire tourism industry perhaps the closest comparison can be made with Rome burning while Nero played the fiddle in A.D. 64.”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Even if the repeatedly broken promises confirming that all registered hotels will qualify for the same concessions given to Sandals last year came into practical effect this week, it is now far too late for the vast majority of properties to make any meaningful use of them this year, at least in terms of major upgrading.

Whether it was Government’s honest intention or not, Sandals look like they will re-open with an enhanced quality product advantage in late January 2015 that virtually every other hotel cannot hope to compete with.

Again, it’s important to repeat that like most other tourism businesses we welcome the group’s arrival and in the long term hope that it will drive additional investment and upgrading on a level playing field.

Despite the continued speculation about added airlift, it simply will not happen until the Beaches property is hopefully completed in a yet indeterminate number of years from now. The short term reality is that we have lost a potential 25,000 airline seats in the interim reconstruction period.

That would not have happened if the former Casuarina/Couples hotel had remained open.

Only time will tell if punishing around 5,000 rooms, while rewarding just 280 will prove to be a sustainable long term solution to the overall industry challenges.  Continue reading

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Loveridge: Deadly reality strikes the Barbados Tourism Authority, but opportunity awaits!

“Any entity, whether private or public, operating for such a long time without a specific mandate that ensured spending was cost-effective and directly related to a reasonable return on investment is simply unacceptable.” 

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

I have always tried to stay away from the various personalities that have been entrusted to guide our number one foreign currency generator, but it would have been almost impossible not to comment on the remarks accredited to the outgoing Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Industry recently.

If accurately reported, there certainly was some very robust and frankly blunt language used including describing the agency as ‘a slothful, wasteful and inefficient organization in an increasingly dynamic technologically-driven and commercial industry’.

Perhaps, in less colourful words, this has been stated by many in the sector repeatedly over several years, so why is it after more than three years at the helm, only being recognised now?

And if you analyse the figures, why were corrective measures not put into place much earlier?

After assuming the position of Chairman in May 2011 that year only recorded two months of long stay visitor decline.

However, by April 2012 Barbados witnessed a reduction in arrivals for 21 consecutive months. Sadly the release of tourism numbers seem to get later and later each month, with the May 2014 figures taking a staggering 60 days to be posted on the Barbados Statistical Service website. Continue reading

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Beware November… Let’s do something about it now!

rum shop barbados

“We need to drive an additional average of 170 visitors per day over the month to get back to the highs of the previous decade.”

November’s core should be the Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

2014 will mark the hosting of the fifth annual Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival and I firmly believe that this event has enormous further potential, especially as it takes place during November which is traditionally one of our quietest months.

While I understand the challenging logistics of spreading the invited celebrity events over a longer period, there are many additional initiatives that the private sector tourism partners can put into place, which could prolong the benefits.

First I think the entire 30 days could be promoted as a ‘gastronomic’ month with our restaurants, at all levels, offering more affordable eating options.

Perhaps the more innovative car rental companies could smart partner with a selection of the eateries to provide an island-wide lunch ‘passport’, even including our attractions at a reduced entrance fee.

November provides every component to ensure the concept has the highest possibility of success. From the UK, excess seat capacity on the legacy carriers with Virgin and British Airways, plus scheduled charter seats from Manchester with Thomas Cook offering lead-in return fares from GBPounds 322.

Climate is also on our side from certain areas of the US and Canada.  Continue reading

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Why a restaurant worker’s selfie photo with Robert Van Persie was bad for Barbados

Robert-Van-Persie selfie with hotel worker

Photo controversy has a big message for Bajans: Remember what made Barbados the choice of the rich and famous – and how we all benefited from our image.

Frank Sinatra would have understood why The Cliff Restaurant suspended employee Kyson Forde for asking Manchester United striker Robert Van Persie to take a photo with him.

Back in 1967 BFP’s Auntie Moses had an encounter with the famous Rat Pack member (as told by Marcus. God, how I miss him)…

“The super rich and famous have always had their gates and guards, and I guess I don’t begrudge them a little privacy. Shona’s Auntie Moses tells a fabulous story about meeting Frank Sinatra when he ran into the kitchen where she was working. Auntie Moses and her friends hid Frankie in a walk-in cooler for a few minutes until his need passed. Then he talked with the staff for half an hour, had a beer and gave all the girls a big kiss before he left. He also sent autographed photos the next day. (Certainly a different profile of Sinatra’s character than one might think by reading some other accounts. Auntie Moses hasn’t washed that cheek since 1967!)”

… from BFP’s Rich and Not-So-Rich Brits Flock To Barbados Gated Communities

This island used to be the first choice for the rich and famous of the world. There were reasons for that – our pristine beaches, some upscale accommodations, and most important the Bajan ‘doan care who you are, everybody is welcome’ attitude. You are rich? Famous? Who cares? Never heard of you and even if I did, have a rum and a cutter.

Now everybody has a camera in their phone. It’s not much of a proper camera but everybody has one and feels obliged to record everything. Are we better for it as people and society? I don’t think so.

The rich and famous came here partially because Barbados offered as much privacy and anonymity as possible in a vacation destination. Within walls and upscale hotels, the rich and famous could relax and not worry that their every movement and word would be reported. (That went for the Royal Family too, although it didn’t work out all that well for Princess Margaret and her toyboy.)

Kyson Forde was suspended because he forgot that Mr. Van Persie was our guest – not only at The Cliff Restaurant, but on this island. Mr. Van Persie was good enough to stand for the photo, but he was probably thinking very unkind thoughts about The Cliff and his vacation in Barbados. It’s part of the Bajan deal with the rich and famous: we don’t make a big deal of our guests.

There are many qualities of our culture and business sense that we’ve lost over the years, and the ability to not see anything when appropriate is one of those lost Bajan qualities.

Barbados still has the qualities that attracted the rich and famous for the last 50 years – but we’re losing them. You know we are. I won’t list them all here but think about the changes to our environment and culture. Any Bajan knows what has changed so I won’t go into it further right now.

Congratulations to the management of The Cliff Restaurant for maintaining our standards, and in doing so protecting the reputation of our country. The mainstream media covered Kyson Forde’s suspension extensively, and that probably did far more to promote our tourism product to the rich and famous than anything else this year.

And a big welcome back to Kyson Forde after his suspension. Hopefully he has done some thinking about his job. If not, there are a hundred others who will apply for his position.

Further Reading

Waiter suspended for snapping pictures with Van Persie

Mirror UK: Robin Van Persie almost selfie costs Barbados waiter his job.

 

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Merger of US Airways and American Airlines provides one-hundred million potential Barbados visitors. Let’s get to it!

“Since the merger of US Airways and American Airlines the combined number of loyalty members now exceeds 100 million.

Just think if we were able to entice only a tiny percentage of those to our shores!”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

While still a month away, September presents one of the most challenging times of the year from a tourism perspective, especially from our second largest market, the United States. With three flights daily – two from Miami and one from New York – unless the scheduled aircraft type is changed that amounts to a total seat capacity of 16,680 in and out for the entire 30 days.

September 2013 recorded the second lowest US long stay visitor arrivals (6,198) for the last eight years, with only 2012 performing worse. Even if you factor in those travelling who are not counted in the landed passenger statistics, you start to get an idea of the problem.

Clearly this massive over-capacity or under-utilisation is not good, either for the airlines or destination, as there is no profit in an empty seat or vacant room.

Is there anything ‘we’ can do?

For many years I have tried to advocate the opportunities that frequent flyer programmes offer. From 7th September until 14th November American Airlines lower their mileage requirement to 25,000 for a return economy ticket from almost any city they service in Continental North America to Barbados.

Of particular interest due to excellent connection times, are cities like Houston and Chicago where published round trip normal fares to Barbados would be at least US$789 and $673 respectively.

Using miles only the add-on taxes are payable which amount to less than US$60 return.

This presents tremendous marketing potential for us to drive additional visitors as we then only have to compete on a ground level basis and with our incredible range of accommodation offerings, this should not be difficult. Continue reading

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Let’s hope Barbados Tourism Marketing does a good job with the Internet

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Trawling through the Internet when it has been available this last week, I have been almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of beautifully presented and creative local world class websites, clearly built by what appear to be mostly small Barbadian entrepreneurs. Often with stunning images both in still and video format, the websites are frequently highlighted by outstanding graphics.

To me it raises the question why any private or public sector entities feel the need to venture overseas for this expertise, which is plainly available on our doorstep.

Follow this to a logical conclusion and it is an absolute wonder why so many websites, especially in tourism, look sad, neglected, out-of date and lack the dynamic attraction that is a prerequisite these days to compete on a global stage.

The quality and resolution of images are especially critical. Thirty plus years ago, as a tour operator, I recall spending hours and sometimes days with renowned photographers attempting to capture the ‘right’ picture that would dominate the front cover of a holiday brochure. These would be placed on the shelves in thousands of travel agents throughout the UK.   Continue reading

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