Marriott Courtyard Barbados: Adrian Loveridge says this kind of competion is good for everyone

Why doesn’t Barbados tap into a major Customer Loyalty Rewards system?

After reading Adrian Loveridge’s new article (below) we went over to TripAdvisor to see if there were any reviews of the new Courtyard and we found only one so far. What it says underlines Adrian’s observations on the benefits of partnering with a major Customer Loyalty Rewards system. The reviewer says:

“As one of only three chains on the hotel, (Marriott Courtyard) is by far the most reasonably priced (the Hilton was almost double the price!), and lets you earn loyalty points. That was really the only reason I stayed here, otherwise I would stay at a Beach Resort for the same price.”

Adrian has been trying to get the Barbados Tourism Authority to partner with a major rewards programme for years, but to no avail. A damned shame that the BTA continues to spend millions and millions on the same old same old. Too bad they can’t give Adrian Loveridge 5% of that annual budget and let him run with his ideas, while measuring the results.

(“Measure the results?” the BTA gasps. “Just wouldn’t do here in Bim!”)

Here’s Adrian’s new article. You can also read it at BusinessBarbados.com

Courtyard exposes Barbados to 34 million Marriott Rewards members – hardcore travelers all!

by Adrian Loveridge - Small hotel owner

The opening of the new Courtyard by Marriott can only be heralded as a positive development for Barbados.

Marriott was founded by J. Willard Marriott in 1927 when he and his wife opened a root beer stand in Washington D.C. It has become a lodging empire of more than 3,400 properties spread across 68 countries and territories with an annual revenue of US$10.9 billion in 2009.

Their son and current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, J. W. (Bill) Marriott, Junior, has led the company to spectacular worldwide growth and now includes luxury brands like Ritz Carlton and the emerging Bulgari Hotels and Resorts.

But their strength is not limited to the so called ‘high end’.

They have also identified important niche segments of the hospitality industry which include the Fairfield Inn, Spring Hill Suites Residence Inn and Marriott Executive Apartment chains.

In November 2010, they announced plans to add over 600 hotel properties by 2015 and that decision was made during a global recession. By having a broad economic range of accommodation options they can maintain brand loyalty at every level and allow their guests to ‘grow’ upwards as individually they become more successful.

The multiple award winning Marriott Rewards programme allows its more than 34 million members worldwide to earn points or miles at the majority of its hotels. These can then either be redeemed for vacation travel or help reduce the cost of doing business.

Of course, it now goes way beyond earning hotel stays. Rewards points can be redeemed at over 250 reward options including hot air balloon rides over vineyards of the Napa Valley, a journey on the legendary Orient-Express train or even golf lessons at the Nick Faldo Golf Institute.

It’s all about ensuring that you maintain the interest and continued loyalty of the member, so that he or she stays faithful to the family of brands.

As a member, hardly a week goes by without receiving details of the latest special offer, a new property opening or innovative new products like DreamRewards which help accelerate the redemption of points into vacations.

Sadly our own national tourism planners have not appeared to fully embrace this incredible opportunity, seemingly preferring to adopt a trawling marketing approach, where the odds of reaching the target traveller are dramatically reduced.

As a destination we could partner with groupings like Marriott and ensure we target every single one of their customers who comprise mostly of frequent travellers.

So how does the opening of one 118 room hotel under the Marriott name benefit Barbados?

Marriott never stop marketing, not just in our traditional main tourism markets but across the globe. Those guests staying in any other Courtyard know if they book the Barbados property exactly what to expect, with the brand assurance that will ensure there are no surprises.

Little touches like free WiFi and complimentary use of computer terminals and printers can make all the difference to choosing a particular hotel.

I also understand that several members of staff were employed directly from the Pommarine Hospitality Institute and this can only augur well in taking our overall service standards to a higher level.

I often conclude that we expect our staff to perform to a level of service excellence that many have never been exposed to but our guests take for granted in their own countries.

Photo of Courtyard Barbados courtesy of Marriott Hotels

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2 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business & Banking

2 responses to “Marriott Courtyard Barbados: Adrian Loveridge says this kind of competion is good for everyone

  1. Andy Smith

    God, I love Barbados. I do not get any points for going there but I still turn up. I cannot help it.
    I like the introductory bold print to the article, ‘Courtyard exposes Barbados to 34 million Marriott Rewards members—hardcore travelers (sic) all!’ I think that the emphasis here should be on ‘rewards’. But where is the VAT (tax) in that for Barbados?
    Does this mean that these hardcore travellers—who know how to play the system—will have picked up their rewards from visiting lots of Marriot Hotels in other countries and will then qualify for free travel to Barbados, free accommodation in Barbados, complimentary food, drink, services etc? Marriott International, or whatever it is called, will already have made their profits abroad, paid their taxes abroad and the Barbados exchequer will be having none of it. But, of course, these visitors may do some shopping in Bridgetown, so that may be an acceptable trade off. But won’t they be occupying hotel accommodation, to the exclusion of proper paying guests? This needs some thought.
    As a first world concept, customer loyalty cards and reward points set against future travel, hotel accommodation, expenditures of various descriptions and so forth, are not particularly onerous ideas. Reward points collected in large quantities could significantly impact on the gains or enjoyment of a holiday. We have all heard of air miles and the use of reward points in supermarkets.
    However, I can tell you that people like new experiences and may opt for different holidays at different locations each year. What is more, none of this counts for anything if their holiday experience in Barbados is poor. They will not return, even with reward points. But something tells me that this will not perturb any hotel chain offering such reward points because their redemption will not be country or island specific.
    I think that it might be more useful to incentivise hotel staff to work hard and aim for the best outcomes. Impressing visitors and etching an expected standard in their minds might convince them to return to Barbados on a regular basis.
    Of importance also is pricing competitively, which far outweighs reward systems, which are usually balanced by offering services at higher prices. My experience of reward systems confirms that it is always possible to find an equally good product at a lower price. This is the basis of competition. More fundamentally, reward systems benefit the provider only, in the long term. Look at the profits of businesses offering reward points. No one can sustain offering something for nothing, least of all a business. Reward systems at the back end mean higher prices up front.
    However, Loveridge is right. Local staff in Barbados cannot always match the sophistication of service excellence in the first world. I think that it probably comes down to resources and training. If you provide appropriate funding to realise the application of ‘what works’ business practices, then anyone, anywhere will be equipped to respond to and address appropriate service provision. What supports this is likely to be the very reward system that is addressed above. If one is necessary then it should be offered for the benefit of local hotel employees or others. Workers should be rewarding for maintaining high standards and impressing visitors sufficiently to capture their successive returns to the island. We know of the bonus culture that benefits investment bankers and business executives. What about rewards for other employees who make the large profits enjoyed by hotels possible?
    Finally, we must remember that Barbados is an island and not one of your sophisticated, heavy weight, trillion dollar destinations. It should offer, essentially, a beach holiday with the other connected bits like shopping. For the most part, the visitor experiences long hot sunny days, sipping rum punches en route to inebriation and having local people to do all the work. That is the visitor’s paradise. Throw in excellent hotel accommodation and service and the job is done. That’s what tourists turn up for, with or without the loyalty reward points. They will take what they can get, no loyalty intended. Who realises a benefit? Big international players. If Loveridge is not connected with this thinking, he does not know the market for which he is vying. Or maybe he understands it only too well.

  2. Adrian Loveridge

    Andy,

    May I suggest that you put the concept of ‘FREE’ out of your mind and substitute it with ‘EARNED’. What you say could happen but that is down to us, and we have to treat EVERY first time visitor as ‘special’. If we do that there is a good chance that first time visitor will return, whether or not he/she is using points for accommodation or miles for travel.
    Its all about LOYALTY. If we do it right then we could have a repeat visitor for life.