September promises to be a brutal month – but it need not be so!

American-Airlines-Dallas-Barbados

We have to do more than hope

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

Once leaving August behind, we enter what is traditionally the most challenging periods in tourism terms.

Historically, the month that experiences the least number of arrivals of the year is September.

September 2012 recorded just 27,230 long stay visitor arrivals, the lowest number in any month for the past ten years.  A decline of 6.6 per cent over the same period in 2011.

Given our already dramatically reduced airlift, with an average of just 907 passengers per day, it will result in flying hundreds of empty airline seats daily, or in fact thousands by month end. Once the plane has taken off, clearly these seats cannot be sold twice the next day.

From an accommodation perspective, even if all these 27,230 persons stayed in a licensed hotel and the average stay was 7 nights with two per room, that still only fills less than 2,000 rooms – against a total that is often quoted of between 5,000 and 6,000. This of course, does not take into account all the apartments, villas. condominiums and any unregistered accommodation providers.

It also helps explain why several hotels and restaurants decide to close during September for annual holidays, refurbishment or simply to curtail operational costs.

September, perhaps, would have been the most logical month to roll-out the proposed APD Voucher, but this could have only possibly influenced one main market – the United Kingdom. As I have to submit this column a few days before publication, perhaps details of the voucher conditions will be announced in the interim.

So should the industry simply lay down and accept the current trend of falling visitor numbers?

Under the current fiscal challenges, we cannot afford to, so it becomes an imperative to look for other creative ways to achieve a positive difference.

AAdvantage could help

From 7th September until 14th November, American Airlines through their loyalty programme, AAdvantage, lowers the mileage requirement to 25,000 miles from any point they currently serve in the Continental United States and Canada to/from Barbados.

With over 66 million members, it’s a huge untapped market for us. When American merges with US Airways, ten of millions more people will have the means to reach us, from many more connecting cities.

Now look at it from a potential visitors perspective. If I wanted to fly from Los Angeles to Barbados, the lowest bookable return fare online is US$1017 for travel in September. Using miles, it’s only US$59.70.

This breaks down the huge geographical airfare cost differential and opens up what are considered far-flung price deterrent source markets.

How do we reach this massive group of travel ready people?

The simple answer is to smart partner with the airline and use their existing channels of communicating with frequent flyer customers, electronically. The destination could also purchase additional miles to further lower the travel threshold and make it almost irresistable.

Already some private sector partners are offering triple miles over this period to maximise opportunities for every part of the sector.

Timing is critical, and in this industry there is no longer the luxury for procrastination in decision making. Not that there ever was, but we seem to have grown accustomed to apathy and a lack of lucidity.

Let us collectively make it the best performing September in eleven years, rather than set yet another record of failure.

6 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

6 responses to “September promises to be a brutal month – but it need not be so!

  1. Anonymous

    This does not actually relate directly to BB, but I would never return to the Caribbean if I had to use Liat to island hope – ever

  2. relax you are on holiday

    just used liat for trip from bim to canouan and svg

    what a cowboy outfit, so wont be doing much island hopping until they sort themselves out

  3. Oracle

    i ,just let a desperate rear vental blast fly and its a lot worse than September let me tell you.

  4. exbrazilian

    The trend of falling visitor numbers has a lot to do with fixed foreign exchange rates , the lack of investment in upgrading facilities, and increasing crime. The reality is there are much better “value for money destinations”.

    With foreign exchange reserves most currently falling at the rate of about $100 million per month, the severity of the situation should be high on everyones mind. The island needs the effort of every citizen to make the place a more attractive place to visit.

  5. doc

    bim had its attractions once, 1990 to 2000, now its only an addition of
    unfriendly incompetent staff from customs to operators to cabbies to hotels and restaurants
    ongoing hazzling by druggies and other shitflies on the shores
    stabbings and gangland killings and robberies even in daylight
    if an island should submerge in shame its bim
    blacks hate whites , whites wont visit no more , leaving greenbacks, for zero service
    submerge little island in shame and poverty!

  6. BARBADOS TRIPADVISOR.COM

    adrian please shut up?
    we do not need you!
    please go back from where you came.
    you boring us bajans to death with your gross greed and love of money.
    a bajan would ask you “you ever get a hard lash in the back of you head yet.”
    wait pun it.
    i thought you had not.
    dont worry it will come someday.
    dont listen do you?
    well keep up the good blabbering about what is none of your business/
    lol na na looka look.hoy noy.