“If anyone realistically thinks… that lower prices do not drive additional business, then think again.”
Atlanta to Barbados – Return from US$227!!!
I subscribe to a website called airfarewatchdog.com which for those of you are unfamiliar with, monitors airfares across the world.
When Delta Airlines resumed their flights from Atlanta to Barbados, I placed an alert which several times daily, automatically scans all available options on that route whether direct flights or through connecting cities. Last week a series of alerts advised that for certain days and months, subject to advance booking, return air fares were available as low as US$227 with the amalgamated American Airlines and US Air.
Delta flights are of course direct and non-stop twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays, while flying with the other carriers would involve a change in Charlotte or Miami, obviously resulting in a longer overall travel time.
But look at the fare, and if anyone realistically thinks for at least part of our target markets, that lower prices do not drive additional business, then think again.
I also monitor the very popular Trip Advisor Barbados Forum site and could not help notice that a lady had also spotted the bargain fares and had no hesitation in booking her family of five to Barbados, due to the lower cost travel opportunity.
How can we as a tourism driven country better take full advantage of these chances, especially as they cost us absolutely nothing in terms of marketing dollars?
Maybe by following other examples, both in terms of the tourism industry, but also other sectors, by including a ‘last minute’ portal on the national website with links. It could even be branded as a distinctive by separate product with catchy name like ‘spontaneous’.
Clearly there is no profit in empty airline seat or hotel bed, so it’s in everybody’s interest to explore more effective ways of converting all the component parts in vacation experiences to ensure first time visitors are tempted back year after year.
Next week marks the official end of the winter season, so by now many will be reflecting on just how viable the last four months have been. The numbers appear encouraging, but unless an enabling environment by finally created something close to a level playing field, no intelligent investor is going to pour further monies into upgrading, refurbishment or enlargement without categorical evidence of the promised concessions becoming a working reality.
With the national marketing body still clearly under severe budget restraints, it would be almost foolhardy for any private sector industry partner to depend on Government for promotional salvation any time soon. And while the majority of people welcome the re-opening of a dramatically upgraded Sandals, we have to focus on the fact it’s re-entry into Barbados has not in itself filled any recent increased airlift.
With a delayed proposed building start date of at least August 2016, a new Beaches or whatever it may be called by final completion might be not until 2018. So the question that has to be asked… who is going to fill all those extra those seats in the interim?
Government and its representatives must eventually comprehend that every week that goes by without being granted the same incentives, that task becomes more and more difficult, if not impossible for the rest of the tourism sector to address. With already restricted marketing spend, if we do not find a meaningful solution it will only be a question of time to when any seat support monies will have to be pulled.