Promoting Barbados as a tourist destination: doing lots with little funds…

Small hotel or 300 people around the pool? Tourists love small!

Small hotel or 300 people around the pool? Tourists love small!

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

Much has been made of the lack of funds available to the Barbados Tourism Authority and reported outstanding debts, severely limiting the ability of the organisation to effectively market the destination. Whatever, the facts are, those of us that have spent almost an entire lifetime in business have learnt, usually from necessity, to do a lot with very little.

There are so many ways that you can raise the ‘brand’ profile, often at low or no cost. TripAdvisor, is perhaps one of the very best examples.

Around 6,000 hotels have recently been awarded the so called Oscars of the hospitality industry, Traveler’s Choice Awards, in various categories for 2013. At first you might say, 6,000 hotels, that’s an awful lot. But when you then consider that those who receive this coveted distinction are selected by the highest ratings in a single year out of over 650,000 listed hotels in 82 countries across nine regions, worldwide – so less than one per cent make the grade.

As you would expect, many individual properties and savvy destinations now go into hyperdrive, using this incredible opportunity to highlight their product with media mentions and press releases at zero cost. The ratings are entirely generated and positions gained by guests personal experiences who have actually stayed in the featured accommodation providers.

What could be a better accolade than reviews and opinions based on the feedback from those who really matter… their guests?

The proof is in the pudding.

I am pleased to report a small number of hotels on Barbados are winners for this year and I would expect  that our national marketing agency will take every opportunity to highlight them, while at the same time growing awareness for the destination.

Staying with TripAdvisor, I would like to mention, what I consider some of the least recognised ‘unsung heroes’. These are the so called Destination Exports or senior contributors, who volunteer their time to answer a myriad of travellers questions posted on the Barbados Forum. This is done with a certain amount of anonymity, doing so, not under their own names, but using a number of evocative ‘title identities’ like butterflysue1, footychick, InBarbados, Kirimist, LittleMiss Red, LoisInsider, Scary, Sunniebgi and perhaps the most prolific, BGIWorldTraveller with an incredible almost 11,000 posts, at last count.

Promotion by Social media costs us not a single cent

I could not begin to calculate a value that they add to our island, entirely without costing ‘us’ a single cent.

Just as we recognise visitors who return to our shores, year after year, personally I think its time the Destination Experts received some form of appreciation from our policymakers. These are people motivated by the love of the country, whether they live here or are frequent and/or long stay overseas guests. There is no possible way that we could ever afford to employee sufficient people to perform the function they do.

And as social media sites continue to gain a pivotal role in holiday selection and final accommodation choice, we really have to learn how to nurture these smart partnerships better.

32 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

32 responses to “Promoting Barbados as a tourist destination: doing lots with little funds…

  1. Jrjrjrjr

    Saw the latest pic of Rhianna to promote the island as a tourist destination. She would portray it as s hedonistic holiday resort with her behaviour , dress sense etc

  2. Anonymous

    Would you rather see a group of old white farts having tea in a garden being served by well dressed native girls…as in the colonial past?

  3. James Jonstone

    I congratulate BGIWorld Traveller on going out of his way to help tourists who wish to know about Barbados, he goes the extra length every time, even though some of the contributors try and challenge his knowledge.

  4. Anonymous

    Unfortunately, Adrian seems to equate quantity with quality. So let’s look at those numbers more closely:

    – 11,075 total posts
    – 5,537 consist of “You’re welcome. Regards.” or similar comment
    – 2,768 contain copy/paste of duplicate info from previous posts
    – 1,384 consist of him telling us we don’t know WTF we’re talking about because we weren’t born there.
    – 692 contain snide political jabs at the DLP because Daddy is a big BLP supporter and told him Owen Arthur’s re-election would be bigger than the Second Coming.

    Which leaves about 346 posts with actual content.

  5. James Jonstone

    How spiteful, shows whoever you are in your true ‘green’ colours.

  6. Dave

    An excellent article but I also have some sympathy with comments from Anonymous on both Rihanna and BGI Worldtraveller. Half his comments are ‘Thanks’ etc and he does have a very old fashioned view about Bds

  7. Anonymous

    There is truth in the nubers
    Deny all you want
    The facts are the facts

  8. Steve

    I happen to see BGI on a regular basis. I don’t feel that being polite counts as padding your posts Mr. Anonymous. BGI might have his political views, but so does everyone. At the end of the day, BGI helps people make informed decisions like a lot of other TA people do. His political opinions aren’t relevant, the fact that he helps people is what is relevant. I feel it’s unfair to mock him cause of post count. Even if 350 of his posts are new content and 2768 posts are copy/pasted answers, that’s still over 3000 posts where a potential Barbados traveler gets the info they need to make an informed decision.

    On many occasions people have come back to thank the board as they’ve had a wonderful trip largely due to the advice they received from BGI and others. BGI has long advocated the improvement of tourism marketing and genuinely cares enough to take the time to help the tourism sector grow, regardless of all that other crap you want to spew about him. Just because he says thanks and it pads his post count doesn’t mean he doesn’t do any good. Stop trying to downplay the fact that he’s doing something beneficial to the tourism community. Maybe you don’t like him, not everyone does, but at least have some respect for the good that he does.

  9. James Jonstone

    Well said Steve, and who but a saddo has taken time to scour through over 11,000 posts ? Says it all about Mr. Anonymous

  10. Dave

    The problem with cutting a pasting is that much of the information is out of date such as ‘buy your dollars in Marks and Spencer’. I agree however than in the main he does try to be helpful. What I really enjoy are his spats with Canby.( that is someone who is less than helpful!) They really love each other though!

  11. Anonymous

    This is a disgrace!!!!!

  12. Peace & Happiness

    Sorry it was me that just put that last comment! forgot to add a name!!

  13. A disillusioned traveller to Barbados

    The best boost to tourism on Barbados would be to sort out the RBPF. Whilst Commissioner Dottin continues to condone 3rd world tactics at the expense of true justice, no tourist will feel safe going there!

  14. bear

    I agree that BGI is very helpful to us Barbados vacationers and should be commended,and Canby, well just what is the point of his less than helpful posts.

  15. Dave

    What is a disgrace Peace & Happiness?

  16. Joanne

    It is a shame that a well meaning post has turned into this. I have received excellent information from BGIWT and he is always well mannered in his responses. He definitely is an asset to Barbados tourism. As for Canby well ’nuff said.

  17. Adrian Loveridge

    The purpose of the column was to thank all the Destination Experts for their VOLUNTARY contributions and give them some sort of recognition. It certainly was NOT to solicit personal attacks.
    I really would like everybody to focus on our current problem. Over the last five years we have lost almost 100,000 long stay visitors. ANYONE that can make a constructive contribution (to me at least), is playing a pivotal role in trying to redress the obvious problems we have with our tourism industry.

  18. I think that the article does make a valid point and that is to recognise the contributions made on Trip Advisor which encourage potential visitors to Barbados to actually decide to go ahead with a visit or to recommend hotels, bars, restaurants, visitor attractions etc which they might enjoy given their preferences – thereby making them more likely to become a return visitor to the island.
    It’s unfortunate all round that names were named. Some of the DEs named in Adrian’s article no longer seem to post on Trip Advisor or do so only infrequently. Some DEs who currently and regularly post received no mention. It’s also the case that there are regular and frequent posters who don’t have DE status (Trip Advisor seems a bit random in that regard) but who offer helpful advice. It’s also a pity that personal criticism has cropped up here!

  19. Babiface

    I also agree that Adrian’s article makes some very valid points. I am a Destination Expert on TA Barbados forum and would like to thank Adrian for his comments of recognition. Even though I was not mentioned by name, I regard that this article was aimed at every DE on the forum. I am a very long term visitor to Barbados, as are some of the other DE’s and just simply enjoy giving suggestions to other visitors, whether it be an area of the island, restaurant or hotel/accommodation.

  20. John t

    Some DE’s on Trip Advisor haven’t been to the island for years – how is that?
    Some DEs live on the island and these are the people in the know, I am sure they must get irritated by the people who visit a couple of times a year and think they know it all.

  21. dunnedg

    Disagree John t. There is a place for both residents and non residents commenting. eg Residents dont necessarily know the hotels because they have not stayed in them. They are also less unlikley to do the ‘tourist’ things, Jeep safari’s, hire cars etc .

  22. Selection of DEs by Trip Advisor lacks consistency and they don’t keep their lists up to date.
    There’s a place for DEs who are residents and also for DEs who are not. The latter often have more insight into hotels etc because they are the people who actually stay in them. Residents bring a more detailed perspective in relation to other matters. A healthy forum should value both.
    Trip Advisor is a long way from perfect but the Barbados forum is well used by many. Trip Advisor has its own policies but the main point of Adrian’s article should not get lost here – it is doing a good job promoting Barbados. A better job than the BTA?

  23. John t

    So dunnedg do I listen to someone who visited 2 years ago and maybe gives an opinion on say a restaurant they visited 5 years ago or do I listen to a local who perhaps dined at that particular restaurant a couple of weeks ago? BGI will phone a place and get specific info, would a overseas visitor do this? Yet he gets maligned for being helpful and doing this service. Some DE’s on TA are very knowledgeable but some get info off friends and post what they hear, then you get the condo owners who blatantly advertise their places while bemoaning others that dare to advertise.

  24. bear

    my point was that tripadvisor is helpful to tourists, however the negative and selfserving comments by some can turn off someone who is considering vacationing in Barbados for the first time.

  25. Babiface

    John t ….. as far as I am aware approximately half of the DE’s on the forum live overseas and are regular visitors, most of them visiting several times per year.
    I don’t think that any of us would profess to knowing everything about the island but offer our experiences and opinions of places we have visited as a tourist in the main.
    I visited Barbados for a 6 week stay very recently and dined in many restaurants which I shall be writing reviews on. Reviews on restaurants by overseas visitors are usually written by people on their immediate return so are bang up to date and personal experiences. Of course an overseas visitor will not telephone a restaurant to find out information but a lot of information can be found on the internet to pass on and help, which is quite often done.

  26. dunnedg

    John t. Not aware I maligned BGI? As I already said there is a place on the TA forum for both locals and visitors who bring their own expertise. BGI knows a considerable amount and is very generous with his time on the forum. His information is invaluable for visitors.He has not however stayed in every hotel, eaten in every restaurant and has not visited or taken part in every tourist experience in Barbados. This is where the regular visitor/holidaymaker comes in. I am about to visit Barbados for the 6th time in 8 years. That does not make me an expert and I do not put myself forward as one. Like most of the people who do answer posts however I do love Barbados and follow TA to keep up to date with what is happening and to offer positive advise as appropriate. If TA was restricted to locals only it would be a boring place.

  27. Mark Fenty

    I think that some of us here would most certainly agree that the Barbados Tourism Industry has done a poor job in promoting Barbados as an ideal destination. I believe that within the last twenty five years or so, that the Ministry of Tourism has been somewhat lackadaisical in their efforts to attach the tourist especially from North America.

    And the reason I’ve taken this position is quite simple. I recalled quite vividly, back in the late 1980s observing advertisements speeding across my television set with images of those beautiful beaches and hotels in Barbados. And then suddenly, all I saw was images of Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Antigua in plentitude, in this part of the world. And this was cause for concern, because I missed seeing those advertisements about my island. And being able to boast to my coworkers and friends how beautiful Barbados was at the time.

    We’re now living in the year 2013, and still many of our neighbors in North America haven’t the slightest idea where Barbados is located. That’s a shame in our day and age, as a civilization that is supposed to be scientifically and technologically advancing with this new global economy. Now, is it because of a lack of awareness by those folks in North America, that Barbados haven’t been their number one choice as far as vacation destination are concern? Well I guess that’s an argument yet to be had, would you say? Nonetheless, I stand corrected on this point that I’m going to make. You know, something tells me that some in the Tourist Industry in Barbados, took for granted the fact that the tourist would stop coming.

    All in all, I believe that hope still exist as far as the revitalization of the industry is concern. Let’s do what worked in the past, and that is to try to promote Barbados as the ideal destination in the Caribbean. But, this would call for some creativity and inventive ingenuity, on the part of those who are trying to sell Barbados this ideal spot in the Caribbean. It like any good salesman who is trying to get ahead of the competition, he must present his commodity in way that is quite different than the rest. Note) the Ministry of Tourism in Barbados should really contemplate this question. Why is it that Jamaica has what is probably the highest crime rate in the Caribbean, but yet the tourist keeps coming?

  28. sith

    @Mark Fenty

    to fully understand what is going on with Jamaica there has to be a way of looking at how returning nationals or relatives thereof effect the numbers. It is a certainty though that Barbados is not getting the amount of publication and tourists as other places. The cost of travel and hotels has a lot to do with it. My perception is that other places have progressed and invested in updated properties and Barbados has not kept pace. As they say if you snooze you loose. Monetary policy also has a large effect on the cost of things for the tourist. Bit of a vicious circle that is not going to change.

    If you have a problem fix it. If you fix it wrong it will come back and slap you in the face then you get to fix it right. Doing nothing is a comfortable alertnative but a diasterous way to run things. Obviously fixes are needed.

  29. John t

    I do wonder where some of
    the comments come from when I read that Barbadios is as cheap as the UK. For instance grocery shopping is way higher and yet the Bajans do not earn what the UK , Canadians, US visitors earn. Barbados is still trying o live with its bygone image as a wealthy man’s holiday destination, it needs to drag itself up into the 21st century and realise that tourists are turning their back on what they have to offer. Take a family of 4 going to Florida/Jamaica/Turks & Caicos they get a much better deal than possibly paying double to go to Barbados. The die hard visitors will continue to pay but they are die cling in numbers. Get your head out of the sand Barbados.

  30. 79

    Whilst BGIWorldTraveller has a great deal of knowledge of Barbados and is passionate he unfortunately isn’t always realistic. If he stopped looking through the rose tinted glasses and perhaps sometimes recognises that there may be problems with certain hotels/establishments it would make him a better contributor.

    Only recently I got into a discussion on TA about a certain west coast hotel that was receiving bad reviews, many by repeat customers. When sombody asked uestions about this hotel he had to be right that this hotel is the best when the reviews were telling a different story. There was no shifting his position. Things do go wrong and recognition of this is a step forward to a resolution.

    The constant arse licking of British Airways also gets a little tiresome. Yes, we know you’re a fanboy, don’t have to read about it all the time!

  31. Mark Fenty

    It is an affront to the laws of logic when the silver tongue demagogue masquerading as a Caribbean politician. Continually, endeavors to undermine the collective conscience of underprivileged and marginalized masses in the Caribbean. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that I’m, with respect to the point I’m gong to make here. But, there seems to be a belief amongst the arbiter of the public policy, that the unlettered which constitutes the lower echelon of societal hierarchy. Somehow lacks the prerequisites understands of the public affair, so therefore, it seems quite easy to pull the wood over they eyes, or so they think. Obviously, one would think that the overseers of our public policies are intelligent enough, to possess sufficient foresightedness to keep pace with the changing face of tourism, given fact the Tourism is one of those industries with generates enough foreign capital for Barbados.

  32. …or even wool over their eyes.