Connect 2014 – the most important event for Barbados tourism industry

“While all the figures are not yet a matter of public record, nearly every other Caribbean country is recording tourism growth of up to 18.6 per cent for the first six months of 2014.

Barbados currently lies eighteenth in terms of numbers with no significant improvement at all.”

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

For three days later this week one of the most important travel trade events takes place, called Connect 2014. It is estimated that around 97 tour operators representing 74 companies from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Continental Europe and the Caribbean will attend. Courting their crucial business and hoping to positively influence choices around 125 local hoteliers and ancillary service providers will also be taking part.

 Along with a number of other industry interests including the Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival and Bushy Park, the Barbados Tourism Authority (or perhaps I should now refer to the new name, BTM Inc) have been kind enough to invite me to make a presentation on our re-DISCOVER initiative.

 With so many destinations to choose from, often at substantially lower cost, it is in my humble opinion that we must collectively make every possible effort to get across that Barbados can offer value-for-money by providing a greater selection of more affordable options.

For us, the perfect scenario is to persuade the tour operators to place our website address on their client’s final documentation, whether in print or electronically. That way the consumer can plan ahead, budget for their out-of-pocket expenses which helps maximise the potential for participating restaurants. 

Having been a tour operator based in England for twelve years, it is also important to stress just how vital current product knowledge is from a first hand perspective. Even if the last visit was a couple of years ago, things change, businesses open, close, refurbish and upgrade during that hiatus.

Tourism is constantly evolving and forums like Connect give a wonderful opportunity to develop differential holiday products in an increasingly competitive world. This is rarely possible from behind the desk of a remote office location. It needs research, negotiation, planning and effective marketing, based on personal experiences if the offering has any hope in success and guaranteeing ultimate customer satisfaction.

One area that I believe there is a tremendous potential for growth is what the British travel giant Thomson Holidays brand as its Small and Friendly programme. The concept would be a two week holiday including a rental car and allowing the client to choose two or three different small hotels.

The package could be enhanced with a dine-around ‘card’ offering both lunch and dinner choices and perhaps a heritage passport that would allow reduced priced entrance to several attractions.

September is traditionally one, if not the quietest month of the year in terms of arrivals. September 2013 recorded the lowest number of long stay visitors (26,970) during the last 11 consecutive years, with the same month in 2012, a close second.

While all the figures are not yet a matter of public record, nearly every other Caribbean country is recording tourism growth of up to 18.6 per cent for the first six months of 2014.

Barbados currently lies eighteenth in terms of numbers with no significant improvement at all. I am sure this will be the main focus of the new marketing entity along with addressing stale dated websites and social media presence.

9 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Connect 2014 – the most important event for Barbados tourism industry

  1. Élan Trotman

    Please share my concert on Saturday sept 13 at the Crane. Thank you

    Sent from Elan’s iPhone http://www.elantrotman.com

    >

  2. If you keep on doing the same old thing over and over, you will always get a similar result. Wake up Barbados. The Minister ought to be working with industry to come up with exciting NEW events. Off sure Gaming Facilities for our Chinese clients would be an excellent incentive to stimulate growth in the industry.
    Thank you.

  3. BARBADOSTRIPADVISOR

    the race wars going on in the USA and Europe surely are not encouraging white tourist to go to black destinations.
    Chinese also do not like blacks or Japanese.
    Google it.all the tricks are known now.!!
    the thing is for barbados to change its atmosphere.
    of people bothering tourist and vulgar behavior.
    i keep saying this and you all say build this and they will come. first you have to have control of your people as far as dealing with tourist. a voice talking in to the wind.
    dont listen then and see.!bajans go and touch tourist.
    that is assault in most countries and sit on their chairs and
    so on and so forth.not to mention germs.all this kind of thing
    is very frightening to tourist not accustomed to this .see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_space
    all your talk does not address any of this huge problem.
    most men do not want their wives or girl friends touched and
    harassed any where.

  4. Thanatos

    Barbados…dead island barely walking…Can you spell B-O-Y-C-O-T-T?

  5. Responder

    Why don’t you hoteliers give a rest. Who Government has to do everything for you, advertising, giving you money to refurbish your plant, security, trying to get airlift for your sorry butts. The next thing you would want is Government to wipe your asses. Go out their and do your thing, and stop this reliance on Government for everything.

  6. Responder

    Excuse the spelling. Take out the who, and go out there in the second last line.

  7. robbar

    A lot of negative comments here.. educated tourists do not respond as suggested and who would want racists of any kind to come to Barbados anyhow.
    Hotel owners faced with deep import charges by Government for small suppliers versa large suppliers of course are at a disadvantage though government has announced equal relied to occur . Private must spend monies on renovations and offer an affordable product in competition with other islands.. Ensuring staff provide good and polite service is an essential and education that they understand their jobs depend on team work and quality of all service provided. High airfares can reduce the numbers to Islands far away yet a quality product can cause that person to come .
    From my perspective, I have seen an increase in polite and friendly service by the average worker in tourism and willingness to go the extra mile to allow one to enjoy time in Barbados including with ones Bajan family.
    One aspect I find limiting is Tourism officials in Barbados seem to offer coupon packages of a reduction but only if you book a hotel stay with Air or Hotel only. They seem to forget that a large number of visitors that can be relied on to return and bring friends are returning Bajan’s to see family. We too partake of tourist attractions, sights, restaurants, car hires, local shops, groceries, petrol, , renting of halls for weddings , anniversaries , , occasions. Our only crime is we are staying in a private residence with family. So ,, open the door… and share with all of us. A lot of us , if it was for sun and surf only could go to a closer destination near where we no live. We chose instead to return and bring non Bajan’s or our growing families.

  8. Peach but not quiet

    Hooray to James Paul the sole public figure who dares to stand up to the millionaire crows who run the hotels. Paul is bang on that govt should not give one cent in concessions unless the greedy selfish hoteliers sign on to the MOU to buy local first before wasting foreign exchange importing goods. You would think such a move would be automatic to the hotel parasites who bleed government coffers daily. Think again they demand concessions constantly yet the tourist industry is declining. Bet you none of the millionaire hoteliers personal wealth is declining. Put Barbados first people its the only way to save the economy and society

  9. Rob

    As one local told me one day , hard to buy local produce when one cannot depend on it being available and this was not a person in the Tourism or Hotel industry.. Perhaps millionaire hoteliers are present but not in your many small local hotels run locally. Tell that to the person who spent $30,000 in renovations to accommodate the booked Nigerians last month but had the rug pulled under her at the last moment by the government cancelling the visas due to the Ebola crisis. Not fair for sure but valid.. No compensation here. The president of the BHA just announced all the small ones would be renovating to a tune of forty million locally and trying to work with the local produce growers for timely , reliable produce. Takes a team to make it work. http://www.bhta.org/index/about-bhta/our-achievements.html