UPDATED – Linda from My Barbados Blog chimes in…
“The BTA (Barbados Tourism Authority) spent $40 million to attract Americans, and the campaign failed. They could have paid me a cool million to give them some advice. If anyone over at BTA reads this, drop me an e-mail.”
Linda is not kidding… our fellow blogger at My Barbados Blog runs a very successful travel agency in the USA – so she knows what Americans want in a vacation and who of her clientel travel to Barbados. In response to Adrian Loveridge’s letter below, Linda has written a major article at her blog (link here).
After reading Linda’s article, it sounds as if no one at the Barbados Tourism Authority has any clue about marketing Barbados to Americans. Forty million dollars just shot to h*ll.
In the following letter to the editor, Adrian Loveridge makes a good point… Barbados is subsidizing each airline seat with $300 of taxpayers’ money, and we still can’t fill those airplanes. Last year, the Barbados Tourism Authority spent US$40 Million Dollars in a failed bid to attract US tourists.
What’s going wrong?
We don’t know, and neither does Mr. Loveridge appear to have the answer – but at least he’s naming the problem, which is more than the Barbados Tourism Authority is doing with its “everything is fine” message.
Something must fundamentally wrong with the marketing of Barbados in North America.
‘We’ were not able to sustain a single weekly flight of the United States fifth richest state, New Jersey, operated by Continental Airlines.
Flights to both Charlotte and Philadelphia operated by US Airways have been severely reduced.
And now the latest blow is the cessation of the Trinidad-Barbados-Washington service by BWIA or the new company that is set to replace it come 1st January 2007.
In all cases these routes were operated by smaller aircraft, Boeing 737’s, Airbus 319’s and the occasional Airbus 320.
120 seats or less!
Deduct the accepted level of visiting friends and relatives estimated at 25% of our total long stay visitor arrival numbers, plus another 10 plus per cent that are connecting on flights to Barbados’s neighbours, we are then only really looking for around 80 passengers per flight for these aircraft to operate to capacity.
Put another way, if the economic break-even level for revenue passengers is 50 per cent, that number is reduced to just 36.
I cannot believe that of our four largest markets, with the United States receiving the second largest proportion of the BDS$80 million (US$40 million) spent by the Barbados Tourism Authority last year, we cannot ‘find’ these relatively insignificant numbers.
And it isn’t as if ‘we’ have to compete with our neighbours on equal pricing. Currently the Best of Barbados programme is using taxpayer’s monies to subsidise each and everyone booking a package by US$300.
So, even with selling the ‘product’ below cost, we simply seem incapable of sustaining desirable airlift.
It must now be apparent even to those wearing the most rose-tinted glasses that ‘our’ marketing strategy in North America is simply not working and must be dramatically re-visited.
22 September 2006