What will be the BTA’s Return on Investment for Russia’s “My Planet Travel Awards”?
The few Russian visitors I personally meet while working or at the beach are nice enough people. They are polite in their own way, keep to themselves and are quiet except when they’re not quiet and then they are boisterous and happy, not the mean drinkers that I sometimes see from elsewhere. They have money. The ones I see generally bring their children along. I think that some of the “keep to themselves” impression comes from the language difference. When their English is better the Russians seem friendlier because you can talk to them. That is my experience and, as they say, your mileage may vary!
The Russians are easy enough to please as tourists and they are a pleasure after dealing with finicky and unfriendly Germans. Some stereotypes exist because they’re true, you know.
The Barbados Tourism Authority launched its first ever dedicated promotional campaign in the Russian market in 2010 and they are following up by joining the “My Planet Travel Awards” that is essentially a tourism promotional package the BTA bought into to market to Russians.
Bajans don’t know how much this is costing us or what the return on our investment will be. It’s not likely that we’ll ever know because the government doesn’t allow citizens to know exactly how our tax dollars are spent. Neither are we provided with any information to enable us to judge whether the dollars achieved worthwhile results.
The BTA – My Planet Travel Awards announcement says that Russian tourism to Barbados was up 45% in 2010, but that could mean that 20 Russians visited in 2009 and 30 visited in 2010. If we paid millions for those extra ten people, it’s not a good return. Or was it 100 more visitors for a hundred thousand dollar expense? Why aren’t we allowed to know and examine the raw data? You know the answer to that one as well as I do.
Easier to keep an old customer than to win a new one
In the past year we’ve seen the BTA target some new markets and I think that has to be done as long as the people who are running the show keep themselves grounded in reality. Remember a few years ago when the then Tourism Minister made a big deal that tourists from Africa were going to be an important part of our tourism economy? Remember the aborted Ghana Airlines disaster? Remember the Indian tourism disaster?
What was the BTA thinking at the time? Maybe a better question would be “What were they smoking?”
Tourism from Nigeria and Ghana? BTA had to have been smoking something to put effort into that promotion!
In the last year we’ve seen a BTA push into South America, the American mid-west, China and now Russia. At the risk of repeating myself too much, I say that I understand the need to explore new markets, but I hope the BTA puts as much effort into improving our tourism product and retaining old customers as it does trying to find new customers.
Remember that there are two distinct business models:
1/ Deliver a mediocre or substandard product at too high a price and constantly have to work to find new customers because people will give the business a try but they won’t return.
2/ Deliver an excellent product at a fair price and be happy as your loyal customers return again and again as they bring their friends into your client base.
Which business model does Barbados and the BTA have? In the past it was definitely the “constantly search for new clients” model and spend like there’s no tomorrow to do it.
I have the impression that the BTA is being more careful now because they have to be. That’s not good enough though. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what’s really happening with the BTA expenditures? I believe we taxpayers have a right to know, and should have a right to access the raw data so we can make our own assessments.
I’d like to know the following from the BTA:
- How many Russians visited Barbados in 2009?
- How many Russians visited Barbados in 2010?
- How much did the BTA spend promoting Barbados in Russia in 2008, 2009 and 2010?
I can’t think of any reason why we citizens shouldn’t have access to those numbers and the supporting data.
eturbo Travel News: Barbados becomes partner for My Planet Travel Awards 2011