Adrian Loveridge’s Tourism MATTERS: Barbados Tourism Minister talks about Social Media – the reality is quite different

The use and non-use of Social Media by The Barbados Tourism Authority

 

by Adrian Loveridge

 

As two of the last four Tourism MATTERS columns have been dedicated to the subject, it was refreshing to hear the Minister of Tourism recently state that Barbados would be increasing the use of social media to promote the destination.

This following the earlier appointment of a Director of Social Marketing by the Barbados Tourism Authority’s advertising agency in North America, MMG Worldwide, and their launch of a social media tool called Travel Share.

Not wanting to regurgitate large sections of a MMG media release explaining what the objectives of Travel Share are, it would certainly imply that this agency is at the cutting edge of maximising the benefits from this medium.

It therefore continues to beg the question, why are our tourism policymakers seemingly so slow to fully embrace what is considered by almost every competing territory, an absolute integral part of marketing?

Consider Facebook

As of July 2010, Facebook boasts over 500 million users, or put another way, one in fourteen persons in the world who declare themselves at least 13 years old.

At the time of writing this column, I Google(d) Barbados Tourism Authority Facebook and the site displayed had not had a posting or entry since 13th July.

Of course, it’s inconceivable that nothing has happened of interest over that nearly three month period.

Go onto the US version of the national website (www.visitbarbados.org, click the Facebook icon and it takes you into The Barbados Beat which is frequently updated.

But how would a potential first time visitor know that?

Why does this confusion exist?

Surely, if the first site mentioned is dormant or cannot be regularly updated, it should be removed, rather than confuse people or give the impression we do not consider this form of social media important.

Is there any overwhelming reason for each of the principal markets, speaking more or less the same language having its own version and is it logical or desirable?

I did try and verify exactly what the policy was concerning Facebook with the President and Managing Partner of MMG Worldwide, Clayton Reid, but sadly up until the time of submitting this article had not received a response.

Several times in the past I have questioned whether a locally or regionally based advertising agency could not do a better job. Clearly, we as a destination seem to frequently suffer while any newly appointed far-and-away company brings itself up to speed in terms of product knowledge and geography.

And when blatant errors are identified, it then seems an age before they are corrected. A recent example was the withdrawal of the cigarette duty-free allowance. Our visitors noticed the wrong information on the national website months ago and it became the subject of over a hundred postings on the TripAdvisor Barbados forum page.

It seems that despite the power social media has from a marketing perspective that ‘we’ do not have staff in place to effectively monitor and update these sites.

It really does not place us in the best light, by having a Minister of Government publicly saying one thing and something quite different is happening in the background.

11 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business & Banking

11 responses to “Adrian Loveridge’s Tourism MATTERS: Barbados Tourism Minister talks about Social Media – the reality is quite different

  1. Up Front

    Interesting, interesting, interesting ~

    1) The CEO of British Airways saying the travel tax imposed by the British Government will severely impact on UK travel to the Caribbean and BA was halting any expansion.

    2) Tourism Minister Richard Sealey saying the tourism industry was on the up-and-up with increases of visitors from the UK expected in 2011.

    I stand to be corrected.

  2. rhubarb

    I wonder what Minister Sealy does each day besides monitoring tourist arrival figures?

  3. Politically Tired

    I met an American couple last week that have been coming here for 22 years & they had one huge moan. It started with waiting 2 hours 55 mins to get through Immigration at the Airport, when 3.0.clock struck, 3 of the 4 officers, got up & left!! leaving an arrivals hall full of people! Then the long haul to get everyone through the ‘declare’ line in Customs.
    They were far from impressed, having nothing to declare, but no choice.
    So how about starting with this ‘go slow’ at the airport & having enough staff on duty for when several planes arrive in a short space of time to deal with the arrivals, is it that difficult?Not a good impression. They also commented on the ‘aggressive’ attitude of some of the beach vendors on the West Coast which was something they hadn’t encountered before, they put this down to the summer having been ‘slow’ with little money earned.
    Another tourist complained of a vendor at the road to The Animal Flower Cave, they bought a print from him just to get rid of him, saying he was practically ‘in the car’. He tried to stop them again when they left, they were not happy at all, it was their first visit to the Island, having been put off before by reports on the ‘net of ‘filthy’ beaches!!
    I told the first couple to write to the BTA about their experience at the airport, negative stories like this on Trip Advisor will/do not help!

  4. ComeHere

    Politically Tired sums it up. Bajans have become so myopic to their immediate needs and misguided sense of entitlement that they continually bite the hand that feeds to the point where visitors with choices will stop coming to our “difficult” island. The airport experience is an absolute joke. Both to tourists and residents. The constant harassment of EVERYONE from these idiots on the beach is a national disgrace. We as a nation have lost the plot. This coming high season will be the worst on record and we only have ourselves—not the world economy—to blame.

  5. Adrian Loveridge

    Politically Tired,

    This immigration control problem has been going on for so long. The late Sir Harold St. John suggested a very simple solution years ago. His idea was to bring in the retired immigration officers for just two or three hours a day during the peak periods (1pm to 3pm or 2pm to 4pm).

    They could also be used in quieter periods to train new recruits.

    Surely its not rocket science?

  6. sojourner

    The degradation of Barbados in the eyes of the world tourism customer is not happening overnight.
    It is a slow process and reminds some people the secret of how to boil a live frog. Throw him into hot water instantly and he’ll jump right out to save himself, but if you just put him in warm water and slowly heat him he won’t know he’s being cooked until it is too late.

  7. The correct customs allowances and restrictions for all global destinations can be found at http://www.dutyfreeonarrival.com see the barbados hotspot/Customs.

  8. hi
    We have been coming over for years and its only been lately that passport control has become a joke.
    Do they not understand we have been travelling all day, in some cases a few hours to get to the airport and then a 8 hour flight. Its not a nice welcome to the island , having to stand in line for 2 hours to get in.
    I like to describe arrivals as childbirth , its very painful at the time but you forget about it till you are next in labour, then after a few times think no more.
    At least in labour you get a cool drink and music
    rather than standing in line in the heat.
    come on sort this out please and if you could do it before 5th december i would be happy.

  9. Politically Tired

    smith, all this link tells you is you can buy duty free on arrival. It doesn’t tell you what!! there should be a list posted at the airport with duty payable as well.

  10. Politically, it does tell you what you can buy…go to Barbados, airport open the search box and click the red customs button, it tells you all your duty free allowances by product category liquors, tobaccos, gifts, perfumes and the baggage rules. Click an icon if you need a language translation. In terms of a full detail of the products you can actually buy, rather like the comments above with regard to social networking, many duty free retailers are also yet to embrace this media channel….when they do we can add this to the site by destination, airport and channel. Unfortunately the market is yet to catch up. cheers

  11. Politically Tired

    Thanks, got it right this time!! I will pass this link onto friends travelling here who have had problems with finding the correct information.