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?

25 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

25 responses to “Barbados Tourism Authority ‘winging it’ without proper research and knowledge

  1. Check-It-Out

    Adrian

    With the amount of newspaper and radio advertising we are seeing and hearing in the Toronto media from St. Lucia and Sandals (a ton) and from Barbados (virtually none); it is no wonder that Toronto vacationers are “winging it” to St. Lucia instead of Barbados.

  2. Angela

    People in Barbados need to wake up and realize it’s not all about them. The people charged with undertaking the responsibility for tourism are doing nothing to get people to our shores. Its all about politics and who you know and who you want to keep in place. They have no thinkers! Imagine, that Delta has 5 flight out of Atlanta to St. Lucia and 3 to Grenada weekly and big Barbados do not have any. They seem to be sitting down waiting for something to happen. They need to embrace the people with the ideas, the people who are not a part of ‘them”. Time to stop winging it and wake up!

  3. Anonymous

    as someone who has worked with the BTA,you are correct in saying they do very little to promote the island,especailly here in canada. we never see any adverts on barabados…just mexico/cuba/dominican/florida…they would be better off to abolish the BTA and contract out to a professional company who have staff experienced in marketing…just like bahamas did several years ago..the BTA staff are there to KEEP THEIR JOBS,not promote their beautiful island..it is very sad,because it is a beautiful place with beautiful people.

  4. Tudor

    I spent 8 weeks in Florida earlier this year and while I saw ads for Bermuda, Bahams, & Antigua & Barbuda – whose spoken person was none other than the Minister inviting visitors to visit – I never saw a single ad for Barbados.

  5. Sam Shank

    “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” —————dream on Mr. Loveridge, that will never happen. You are living and trying to do business in a country whose government is being run purely to get jobs for their supporters and to send that ministers and other high ranking officials on lots of trips with their lackeys to fly first class and stay in five star hotels when most of them do not even have basic etiquette skills.

  6. robert ross

    BFP

    Sorry to intrude. Did you know that the Garcia application for habeas corpus is being heard in Chambers today?

  7. Anonymous

    Phuque Garcia, the turd should have flushed down the toilet and out of here long ago.
    BTA problems come from the top down…if the Chairman has chronic sfb there is the trickle down contribution throughout the organization.

  8. Anonymous

    Elcock is a moribund dork bereft of any idea but how better to feed at the trough…he will soon be gone, not soon enough for me. I mean seriously, what has he really done during his term? Someone enlighten me, I foolish, I doe know….

  9. robert ross

    @ Anonymous

    If he had been you would have been in good company.

  10. Canadian Tourist

    I just love feeling like an ATM every time I walk down St. Lawrence Gap…

    Carry on!

  11. Mark

    A fish rots from the head. Dominos finally addressed their crappy pizzas because the inferiority of their product started to hurt them in the marketplace, which resulted in leadership finally getting serious about change and then driving that downwards. Until Bdos gets someone at the top who is equally committed to change, nothing is going to improve.

  12. Watcher

    Maybe the reason you don’t see advertisements selling Barbados is that there is nothing left to sell. Why in the world would any travel agency or airline want to send its clients to Barbados which has become at best a 3 star destination when they can send them to 5 star destinations at often half the price. I dont think you need a Harvard MBA degree to inquire with the top travel agents and airlines as to why they don’t advertise and sell Barbados. My bet would be the answer to the inquiry will include that Barbados prices are too high and that value for money at other locations is much better. Turn out the lights, the party is over.

  13. 2

    Ross, why you don’t have Garcia live in your slum?…he would be in worse company but an improvement on you. Phuquing wrinkle you.

  14. NU IDEAS

    I always tell my friends, Barbados Tourism is going to get worse? When you look at the other Caribbean islands, how they are developing so fast. Take a look at St. Vincent, they are building a master full, grand international airport, when it’s completed, that is when we all will see the negative impact on Barbados tourism? 90% of their citizen now transiting through Barbados, 65% of other traveler and tourist transits through BDOS FOR SVG, so the BTA has a big job to do, they need new ideas how to commercial BDOS tourism more. Right now, if you are living in Europe, every time you turn on your TV you see St.Vincent commercial-in there tourism…

  15. Check-It-Out

    Advertising Score Card so far this week in Toronto.

    Monday Oct 8 – St Lucia – full page ad – features 13 properties , on back page Globe & Mail Report on Business. Barbados 0

    Tuesday Oct 9 – Air Canada Vacations/Sandals & Beaches Resorts – Antigua, Nassau, Great Exuma, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Turks & Caicos full page ad on back page of first section. Barbados 0

  16. BFP

    Hello Check-it-out…

    Any chance of photos of the pages? Please send them to us and we’ll do up a story.

    barbadosfreepress@yahoo.com

    Marcus

  17. BFP

    Thanks Robert Ross,

    Did not. Been night shifting.

  18. It is so obvious that we have virtually succeeded in driving ourselves out of the tourism industry. However, it had to happen. We were told to :smile for the tourists ; to keep the island clean for the visitors and so on. Well, the planners did not understand the psychological effects of their messages. Rather than turn on the citizens -it turned them off ! Hence why should we smile for tourists? Why should we keep the island clean for tourists?

    Then we had rampant discrimination in the industry. The white gigolos were allowed free access to the hotels ,while the black ones were told the properties were off limits; then all the beach vendors were declared to be deviants and chased off the beach; then all the small hire car operators and so on were systematically forced out of the industry;.The hoteliers refused to actively support local agriculture and manufacturing efforts. In other words rather than make locals a real socio- economic partner,, the powers that be, engaged in literally making locals believe that they were only to serve not to participate.

    So we fast forward to 2012. We have the political managerial class making pure political appointments in the industry and a marketing program that is apparently not spectacular. As for the hoteliers, I read in another section of the press that some invited from overseas big shot, addressed them and told them their website was below par ! Now tell me : How can hoteliers who cannot even collectively present a proper website can be expected to really have a decent marketing program.

    The hoteliers and big wigs always blaming : government, workers, beach vendors and they don’t even have a proper website! As the saying goes: if the head bad the fish bad. Time for government to stop politicizing the industry and time for hoteliers to start working and stop throwing tantrums.Quite frankly I give the entire industry a failing grade both at the government and private levels.

  19. fingerpointing by government

    While WS may be partially right, the fact is that we all in it together or we are just cutting our throats. The solutions and leadership always have to start at the top.

    Barbados is steadily losing hotel rooms and this is the responsibility of government all the way down the line to the street and beach vendors. If no new major hotels and capital are coming in to Barbados that is a reflection of interia, government red tape and failure to account.

    You reap what you sow!

  20. Watcher

    Its about the price……Barbados is too expensive.

  21. Adrian Loveridge

    Watcher,

    you might be right but you have to ask WHY things are so expensive here.

    Ultimately when a Government raises VAT by 16.6 per cent and land taxes by 50 per cent during a recession, operators have no alternative but to try and pass it on. As Horace Cobham of the Barbados Bankers Association pointed out recently, that 43 per cent of all NON performing loans from our commercial banks are in the tourism industry, so its not that the sector is making any money through high prices.

  22. eleemosynary

    When I saw the example of Domino’s pizza reinventing I was excited for examples of businesses (hotels) in Barbados that have also reinvented. I was surprised to be offered the connection between a business (hotel) and the government’s need to reinvent. I have not eaten at Domino’s pizza in about 30 years so somehow the idea of they reinventing has not yet reached or motivated me to try their products as I do sometimes enjoy a slice of pizza.

    Instead of focusing on the government I would suggest that hotels in Barbados follow the lead of Domino’s pizza and reinvent. Take a look at your product and make sure there is value. The customer should be saying for these $300 I am paying, I am obtaining substantial benefit. Improve on your quality of service; develop local markets within the islands; create points of difference – for example encourage barbadians to open up their homes to visitors. Allow tourists to leave with beautiful memories of an excellent vacation which they can share with their friends. It is the cheapest and most effective form of advertising.

  23. The Watcher!

    “Tourism is our business, lets play our part!”
    This is what we heard continually for years regarding the role of every Barbadian and their part with regard to Barbados tourism.
    Now, if we accept that Tourism is a business, and they are no significant objections to this assertion, then I would really like to see a complete forensic audit of all of our Tourism regulatory, policy and core business organizations that use public funds. I would want such an audit to be undertaken by a local accounting firm with another audit simultaneously undertaken by an external organization.
    At the conclusion of the two audits, and on their publishing, we can then make an informed decision on where to go regarding this industry.
    Until then, this all amounts to hot air, smoke and mirrors.

  24. blackberry

    I have travelled to Barbados many times but will not do again for the following reasons:

    Barbados is too expensive – I recent stayed there self catering for a few months with a friend and easily spent $800 US on food without eating out and I was shopping in PriceMART, buying vegetables in the market and fish direct from Oistins; How the residents cope I really don’t understand;

    In the main the staff are RUDE; I intended to set up a call centre business there with the intention of employing circa 50 staff but with very few exceptions found people in the retail and service sector rude to the extreme. In addition, they were generally unhelpful and in some cases purposefully obstructive. I found this to be a particular trait in large Corporations such as Supercentre; LIME; Digicel; Courts; DaCosta Manning, etc My experience of most smaller establishments was better but maybe because these individuals own their businesses and thus have a vested interest in ensuring a high level of customer service. In my view, the lack of customer service in many of these large establishments is damaging to tourism as tourists are not use to accepting such poor service levels. The business I intended to set up is person-centred, I therefore have decided not to locate my business in Barbados as I would have to be present there continuously to ensure high service standards.