Tourism success is about perceived value – and Barbados is slipping

barbados-beach-sand-surf

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

While not actually attending the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Annual General Meeting recently, if media reporting was accurate, the current Chairman is quoted as stating ‘that discounts were not the way to attract visitors to these shores’. I have enormous respect for Mr. Chatrani (despite his opting not to join the re-DISCOVER initiative) and in principal totally agree with this statement, but in reality we have a mountain to climb to change the current perception.

Sadly across many of our markets we are generally considered as not offering value-for-money in our tourism industry and until the sector becomes more competitive this simply will not change.

As a tour operator in Britain for 12 years, we learnt from the mistakes of others and did not discount a single holiday out of hundreds of thousands sold, other than for people booking and paying in full up to 18 months prior to departure.

The year our company was formed, 1976, interest rates peaked at 15 per cent per annum and so we used our customer’s monies to partially subsidise commercial bank lending charges to grow the company.

Every person who booked also knew that they were not going to get a cheaper holiday if they waited until the last minute, so to get the holiday they wanted, necessitated booking earlier and enabled us to plan better. It was a policy that we continued while operating our small hotel for 25 years.

If we are going to achieve Mr. Chatrani’s objective, we are going to have to fundamentally change the way we currently do business.  

As an example, if you take the often vaunted ‘masters’ of marketing, Sandals, they apply a markdown to almost every aspect of their product.

Go onto their website and prices are largely discounted by up to 65 per cent and that’s before you take into account, an air credit of US$1,000, resort credit of US$215, one night free (on certain rooms) and a further US$35 for booking online. For many perhaps, this might indicate the massive discounting is presenting the opportunity of a bargain. To me, I am afraid it just tells me that the original rates quoted are grossly overpriced.

I believe we have to get across the concept of offering a product that is truly value-for-money rather than maintain a second-hand car selling approach that tends to appeal more to a transient fickle segment of our potential customer base.

But saying and doing this are two totally different challenges. Discounting has become an ingrained component in the travel and tourism industry and the practice isn’t going to disappear in the short to medium term.

Also in the case of Barbados, it cannot be achieved by the private sector alone. Government has to be an integral part of the process and ensure the promised concessions are fully implemented, before there will be any meaningful progress on the building block recovery road to viability.

Until that is done, we are frankly left with no alternative or opportunity to avoid being forced sometimes to sell our product below its actual cost.

7 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

7 responses to “Tourism success is about perceived value – and Barbados is slipping

  1. NYCBGI

    ADRIAN WHILE YOU HAVE A VAST AMOUNT OF EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE IN THE TOURISM MARKETPLACE AND I RESPECT YOU THE MARKETPLACE HAS CHANGED, AMERICAN AIRLINES PUT BARBADOS ON THE BACK PAGE OF THE NY SUNDAY TIMES TRAVEL SECTION BECAUSE ROCKLEY AND OTHER HOTELS FEATURED IN THE AD” LETS GET CARRIED AWAY” BECAUSE THE HOTELIERS GAVE DISCOUNTED TO AA STEVE HILL AND IT PUT BGI ON THE US MARKET AS DID WARD AIR DID FOR THE CANADIAN MARKET. LOOK AT THE BAHAMAS FOR EXAMPLE THE GOVERNMENT MANDATED AND MADE SURE THE HOTELIERS ALONG WITH THEM GOAL WAS TO BRING TOURISM TO THE BAHAMAS. WE CHARTERED EASTERN AIRLINES 727S TO NASSAU SOLID AS WELL AS GREAT RATES AND SERVICE. IN THE 70’S AND NOW THEY HAVE REAPED FROM THE EFFORTS. NOW THE MARKETPLACE HAS CHANGED AND THE GATE ONES,APPLE AND OTHERS HAVE FOUND A WAY TO SURVIVE AND BE PROFITABLE., YOU HAVE CUBA READY TO OPEN UP AND THAT THREAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED.
    THE OLD DAYS ARE GONE NEVER TO RETURN BUT ONLY CREATIVE PRICING AS SANDALS HAS DONE IS THE WAY TO REBUILD TOURISM , I GAVE THE BTA A WAY TO INCREMENTALLY BUILD TOURISM AND THEY KNEW BETTER THAN I SO THEY ARE OUT AND THE BTA IS BACK TO THINKING IN THE LAST CENTURY. TIME TO REALIZE THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY

  2. PLANTATION DEEDS FROM 1926-2015 AND SEE MASSIVE FRAUD ,LAND TAX BILLS AND NO DEEDS,DLP AND BLP MUST GO VOTE CUP

    To much fraud ,

  3. De Castro

    The political class are becoming tribal. Openness and transparency lacking.
    People are more aware of this which does not help their cause. Change they must or die they will. The electorate will demand this by voting them out.

  4. SB

    Reports of tourists being mugged or killed or raped or ZR vans over-turning due to over-crowding or bullying beach bars or rip off taxi firms swarming like locusts outside the cruise terminal etc., etc., all help to ensure that tourists are warned that Barbados is not now a holiday destination in a fantasy paradise. The numerous adverse reports on TripAdvisor must be a warning to every intending visitor. But greedy, corrupt &/or inept politicians will rule the day, local businesses will suffer from the down turn in visitors, and Barbados will go to the dogs – its half-way there already.

  5. de castro

    Tourism not unlike restaurant business is very dependant on “return” clientele……one serious error and numbers dwindle.
    Mass numbers not as important as quality of service.
    Wake up bajans or you will kill the goose……
    And don’t put your eggs in one basket.😇

  6. de castro

    Am no expert on tourism but I am a tourist (retired) with lots of time and little movies. bargain hunter.😇

    In my working life I packed my car full of “necessities” for my three day journey to Algarve Portugal. 4 to 6 cars in convoy.
    Drove from UK took ferry to Calais (no Chunnel by rail) then drove through
    France along coast to Santander Spain sleeping a night in French hotel along coast….next day drover to Lisbon Portugal spending night on border
    between Spain Portugal sleeping in car if summertime.Finally arrived

  7. de castro

    Continued
    Finally arrived in Algarve where we would all find a bed ad breakfast to spend next 9 days near beach. After which 3 days drive back to Calais then UK. This was repeated for several years as borders free ad one currency
    Euro. After retirement this all changed.
    Plane replaced the ferry car…..a decade ago.
    Today its all done on internet Flight booking hotel/hostel booking some for
    a two three day visit to most European cities or ROW cities.
    Long haul flights its usually a longer stay Atlantic Far east cities.

    The plane has replaced the boat train car as a way of getting from point A to B globally. Things are changing will change how quickly we adapt to these changes by diversification how to survive.