Tourism Matters: Where is Barbados’ Tourism Master Plan? Where is our YouTube campaign?

Closed hotels, lost opportunities and a failure to embrace You-Tube. (It’s free! It works! Why aren’t we running to use it?)

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner.

When a senior executive of a major American based travel oriented advertising agency recently told me that more people now log onto YouTube daily, than view the entire combined United States television networks, it got me thinking whether ‘we’ as a destination are maximising the use of the social networks. In fact, according to their own website, ‘people are watching 2 billion videos a day on YouTube and uploading hundreds of thousands’ of them.

With such a powerful marketing tool, which is currently free to use, it frankly surprised me that either collectively or as individual tourism entities we do not appear to fully capitalise on this amazing opportunity. Log-on to YouTube, then type in ‘Barbados’ and the first three pages or 66 videos, mostly comprise of amateur films of various qualities. Despite this, some of them have attracted over 200,000 viewings. Only about three or four are professionally produced and perhaps portray Barbados as a destination in a competitive environment that could tempt a first time visitor.

It doesn’t get much better if you add another search word to Barbados, like weddings, romance, fine dining, small hotels etc. Some of the videos on Barbados Weddings for instance, actually depict St. Lucia and Grenada. Without guessing where to find them, exceptions to the rule include Treasure Beach, Cobblers Cove and Sea U Guest House through Definitive Caribbean and the recently posted high definition videos produced for the new Atlantis Hotel and Little Good Harbour.

From a marketing perspective, two other videos caught my attention. ‘Atlantis Rising’ made locally by Jane Shattuck, uses a clever mix of still and moving high quality photography enhanced by the subtle use of Nina Simone for its soundtrack. Another was the new Barbados destination guide recently launched by Virgin Holidays.

Perhaps, what is most puzzling is the seeming absence on YouTube of the beautiful videos made for the national tourism website, unless the search words to find them are so obscure. Personally, I feel there is enormous untapped potential for developing sub brands of our tourism product through quality imaging. A classic example could be our Boutique hotels. If the film production cost was spread across eight or ten properties, then I doubt it would cost each property more than US$2,000.  In reality, that probably relates to filling one unsold room for ten nights as a result of airing the video and I cannot imagine that this is not achievable. The film could also be used at travel trade and consumer events, road shows and even given out as a DVD to replace traditional brochures.

And it doesn’t have to end there. Weddings and honeymoons, meetings and incentives, our still enviable choice of restaurants and villa options are just a few other market segments. Sadly, to end up on a negative note, Silver Sands Resort has announced that will be closing on 30th September. No re-opening date has been indicated. Another 130 rooms lost and taking the tally to 31 hotels that have closed over the last 15 years.

I believe that it is now an imperative that we develop a Tourism Master Plan to have some idea in which direction the industry is going.

Editor’s note: Titles and subtitles and photos are provided by BFP. We may have changed some paragraph breaks, but otherwise not a word has been changed from Adrian’s original writings.

13 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

13 responses to “Tourism Matters: Where is Barbados’ Tourism Master Plan? Where is our YouTube campaign?

  1. TWWIFOS

    Master plan? The only master plan I’ve seen is build as many condos as possible and overdevelop everything until no one wants to come here anymore. You’ve been trying to get people to listen to you for years Adrian. Has it helped?

    BTW: Trip advisor just posted their list of ten best island escapes. Of course, Barbados is nowhere to be found. Who wants to come to another concrete jungle anyway?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/22/10-best-island-escapes-ph_n_733956.html

  2. Adrian Loveridge

    TWWIFOS,

    The simple answer is NO! they do not listen.
    I am not against a reasonable number of Condos, BUT its WHERE and WHICH side of the road you build them.
    And I wonder if anyone has every done a survey on their contribution to national economics. Do they pay VAT, do they contribute to marketing Barbados, what is the average occupancy per year etc, etc?

  3. TWWIFOS

    Well thanks for continuing to try. Some of us appreciate what your trying to do. Best of luck with P&Q!

  4. Green Monkey

    Maybe they can put in the master plan to fix the leaky airport roof at our (almost) brand, spanking new airport. In the meantime, if you are at GAIA to catch a flight and the rain is coming down, you might need an umbrella or raincoat, and not just for the walk out to the aircraft from the gate (see comment #10 at The Nation article linked below).

    Leaky airport

    By: Barry Alleyne

    Water, water, everywhere; but not just on the outside.

    The Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) had its share of water on the inside yesterday.

    Because of almost 24 hours of sustained rainfall, which affected Barbados since late Monday evening, leaking roofs, discoloured walls and cordoned off areas became the order of the day at the GAIA on which Government has spent millions of dollars refurbishing over the last five years.

    Employees of a store in the airport’s departure area cordoned off a part of their perfumery with grocery baskets so customers could avoid the slippery floor. Staff also had to wipe down walls, and place small containers in strategic positions to collect water.

    http://www.nationnews.com/index.php/articles/view/leaky-airport/

  5. Caribbee is an eyesore! no-one is buying it, nor will they ever!

    CARIBBEE must come DOWN
    and be left an open space thru which the sea is visible.

    It’s a horrible unsightly WRECK, particularly if viewed from the boardwalk.
    Its swimming pool is a sludge-filled MESS.
    Go have a look, if you doubt me.

    Caribbee and Ocean view spots must remain OPEN so visitors can see the sea.

  6. Are Bajans PAINT-AVERSE?

    Does paint cost that much?

    Why do we leave grey concrete unpainted,
    to look like hell a few years later?

    Bajans don’t see ‘ugly’ -I’m convinced!!

    Our airport remains unpainted.
    Oh, that was “part of the design” is the defense/excuse!

    Wunnuh Cheap-cheap like baby chickens.

    What wunnuh mean is, we saved a buncha money on PAINT.

    Look, paint de damned thing, do!
    and stop being so CHEAP
    It looks like hell.

    It looks UGLY and un-finished, just like our tourism product.
    One look at it and you can see, these children ain’t serious!

  7. Anthony Brown

    Problem is, everybody is waiting for everybody else to do something. I suggest start small. Post a number of small video sequences, advertising your hotel and the local area.

    Then by using the right keywords and categories get it listed in the midst of the videos for similar holiday destinations to take advantage of the combined search traffic. With Google owning/controlling the search algorithms for youtube, your videos will eventually appear in their search results. More traffic potential. But don’t stop there, you should combine it with social networking for greater brand selling opportunities. To be honest none of this works unless you’re doing your house keeping and your website is up to scratch.
    I suggest you test the waters rather than waiting for others to lead.

  8. Mrs Atkinson

    As a tourist to this country for the past 15 years, I have seen the island become overdeveloped with condominium and apartment blocks which are either empty or extortionately expensive appear. The draw of this country is the scenery and the West Coast has been spoilt by development as there are hardly any windows to the sea left – I remember being able to drive up the West Coast and view the amazing coastline – now all you see is vast swathes of apartment blocks. I am quite shocked that the Silver Sands is closing as I have stayed at this hotel in the past and would have no quarms in staying there again.
    I saw the writing on the wall when a well used rum shop in Oistins was turned into a KFC and also the small bar at the White Sands apartments disappeared to development.
    I will still continue to come to the island as there is something mystical about this country. However, over saturation with developments and apartment blocks is not the way forward.

  9. Adrian Loveridge

    Mrs Atkinson,

    I am sure many of us totally agree with you.
    Even for condominium development you need a plan!

  10. Thank you Mrs. A.

    Mrs. Atkinson gives us the ‘view from without’
    which is usually refreshingly correct.

    We who live here in the midst of ugly
    become inured to it all.

    You can drive for miles along either the South or West coasts and hardly see the sea at all!
    Brief glimpses of turquoise
    But we locals have become accustomed to that(apathy)
    and can justify the ‘non-problem’ away ..a hundred difrnt ways!

    Thank you for the tourist perspective, Mrs. A.
    Do come again and tell us how our customers see us.

  11. bruce lee

    can someone remove or fix the remants of some structure that sits at the exit of the car park at the airport. it is bewildering that those in authority cannot see what an eyesore this is. we are not serious about tourism.

  12. HM

    Barbadians allow too many beaches, beach fronts to be blocked off.

    God help Barbados when Cuba finally opens up, as it will do one day.

  13. 191

    Isn’t it imperative that the Tourism Advisory Council is made up of people with at least some ‘real life’ experience in tourism planning? Has anyone checked their credentials? After all, Barbados is a democracy and we have the right to know the professional background of the people advising the government of Barbados on a 10 year strategic tourism plan.