Daily Archives: October 8, 2012

Barbados Tourism Authority ‘winging it’ without proper research and knowledge

Domino’s Pizza respected their critics, learned and came out reinvigorated and reinvented. Barbados needs to do the same.

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

In many respects YouTube is a wonderful thing and used responsibly can be a great educational device and a powerful marketing tool. I recently watched a video entitled ‘Domino’s Pizza Turnaround’ –  the true story of how Domino listened to its harshest critics and made their best pizza ever. (YouTube video above)

At the time of writing this column, almost another million people had watched it and while the product isn’t directly related to our tourism offerings, it’s difficult not to draw parallels. Perhaps now is finally the time to sit down and better listen to our customers, our visitors, and ask them what we are doing right and conversely, what we are doing wrong.

“There comes a time when you know you’ve got to make a change.”

“You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process and make it better… We did the latter.”

… Opening statement from The Pizza Turnaround

From a very early working age, I was incredibly lucky to work with some visionary, inspirational and subsequently highly successful people. One thing, that never left the forefront of my mind is that if you expect to sell any commodity, product or service effectively, is that you had better know everything about. And could that be why, perhaps, we are not witnessing an increase in the number of visitors to our shores, when many other destinations are.

Years ago, when I participated in a number of overseas sales and promotional events, both consumer and trade travel to support the BTA’s efforts, I felt that I had an overwhelming obligation, obviously not just to know about our own little property, but as many other hotels, attractions and restaurants as well. I cannot think or more than four or five hotels on Barbados that I have not either personally visited and in several cases actually stayed in. Similarly, I have experienced our many dining options and activities.

“How many from the Barbados Tourism Authority have actually stayed in a package room at some of the hotels at the gap?”

Yet, if you look closely at our tourism policymakers, the agencies they represent, including the hundreds of staff at the Barbados Tourism Authority and Ministry of Tourism, how many can say the same? Start with the board of the BTA for instance. How can you possibily make informed decisions and define strategies, when you do not have an intimate knowledge of the product, warts and all?

It is not a criticism, but a simple basic common sense observation.

Recalling some of the larger travel shows, often on your feet, for hours at a time, of course, a huge spectrum of society is going to approach you, but at least you knew whatever the question, that you were capable of offering an informed answer. Matching the right product with the client’s need is absolutely critical, if you want people to return.

In an evermore competitive world, ‘winging it’ is no longer an acceptable way of doing business. And if you are not throughly au fait with your own product, how can you compare it with the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors?

Has the time finally come, to put all the politics aside and place the very best qualified people in place with proven ability, irrespective of any party allegiance, to the benefit of the entire country and its population. It would appear that so very much depends on ‘us’ having a profitable winter season ahead.

In the national interest can ‘we’ continue to, or afford to take further chances with this industry?

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