Category Archives: Barbados Tourism

Bargain airfares offer hope for Barbados Tourism – but only if we act!

American-Airlines-Dallas-Barbados

“If anyone realistically thinks… that lower prices do not drive additional business, then think again.”

Atlanta to Barbados – Return from US$227!!!

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

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’.  Continue reading

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If each small business in Barbados could hire just one more employee…

got the job barbados web

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

As a small business person for most of my life, trying to make miniscule budgets become larger profitable realities goes with the territory. As a general rule we adopted a very simple psychology – that any marketing dollars spent had to produce a tenfold return, or return on investment ROI of 1:10.

For instance if you took a quarter page on a peak circulation day in the sister publication of Business Authority, the ‘ad’ space would cost around $900 per insertion.

Very few smaller businesses could reasonably expect that a single ‘ad’ would generate an additional $9,000 in turnover, so the only plausible alternative could be to partner with 8 other entities each contributing $100 and then ask the question again.

Could an individual participant in a collective ‘ad’ expect to drive another $900 in new business?

An example might be a standalone restaurant ‘ad’ at $900 would probably need to drive another 60 customers a week to justify, but a shared cost of $100 would require just six or seven more patrons per establishment.

More historically traditional mediums like newspapers have been driven into looking for far more creative ways of retaining advertising revenue to compete with internet and other competition, but at the risk of the editor sacking me, they have to do a lot more to retain viability. (Editor’s note: Not around here, Adrian. Our advert ratesheet is very reasonable!)

One of the simplest ways this could be achieved would be to run a dedicated weekly restaurant and/or staycation/attractions page. Break the cost down to a level where individual ‘partners’ could afford to participate and justify the expense. Perhaps even build-in a discount voucher which is exclusive to the publication.

The recent revamping of the Nation and its various supplements may provide a new opportunity with one or more sales staff dedicated to following through with this concept.

There is also the possibility of sponsorship by other businesses that ultimately stand an equal opportunity of adding turnover or brand awareness. A local branded credit card issuer would be a natural partner who would benefit by users selecting a preferred method of payment.

The remodeled Easy Sunday insert just might be one of the best mediums for such a regular feature, as it appears to be targeted towards a particular lifestyle and perhaps would be easier to manage in terms of size and content.

As we rapidly approach the more challenging long tourism softer summer months the launch timing also seems to be perfect.

Personally, I am absolutely convinced it is going to primarily our small businesses that will be largely responsible for aiding economic recovery. Just imagine if by encouraging co-operative marketing initiatives each small business is able to employee just one more person. What a difference that could make to reducing unemployment levels and increasing disposable income into the system.

So I have thrown out the gauntlet to this publisher and those enterprises who think they can work together collectively to make a positive difference.

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How many tourists use Air Miles to travel to Barbados? We should know!

Barbados Grantley Airport Tarmac

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Way back in 2001 we registered a business name and established a website domain under the trading title of MILESCloser.

 The idea then, which still has not changed, was to target the hundreds of millions of frequent flyer members who largely use their accumulated miles on vacation or holiday travel.

One of the impediments to growing the United States market especially, has been the reality that because we are a little further away from key source market cities. Inevitably airfares are often more expensive, resulting in the overall cost of the ‘vacation’ making it more difficult when competing with other destinations.

This is especially true with non-gateway departure points. A good example is Minneapolis-St. Paul to Barbados where the current cheapest bookable fare online in October or early November is US$761 economy return. For the same dates the miles required are just 25,000 and US$60.60 in taxes.

So by getting rid of the perceived ‘high’ airfare, we then only have to compete on accommodation options.

Gone are the days when you only earned miles by flying. In fact it is now almost the entire opposite. Most miles are gained by non-airline purchases.

The first major airline loyalty programme, American AAdvantage now boasts over 1,000 partners who offer miles simply by selecting a method of payment.

Among these are financial institutions who offer huge mileage incentives to sign-up with particular brand name credit cards, which in many cases grant sufficient miles on application for the first flight, without any or a very limited level of purchasing.

By selectively using a miles earning credit card to pay every day bills, it is surprising just how quickly the numbers mount. Personally I have not bought an airline ticket for myself for some time, but have currently amassed nearly 600,000 miles.  Continue reading

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Fallon Best takes issue with Honey Bea III sea turtles accusation

Honey Bea Fishing Barbados

 Honey Bea Charter’s crew members respect the turtles!

by Fallon Best Christ Church

by Fallon Best
Christ Church

Contrary to what BFP’s article about the Honey Bea III states, no one has ever apparently contacted the owner Mr Elson Best directly of Honey Bea III. (See BFP’s Bridgetown Careenage and Harbour beautiful… but deadly to Sea Turtles?)

The telephone number is public on brochures all over Barbados and on website HoneyBeaBarbados. Telephone 230.9936. The recently retired captain at the time has worked for Honey Bea Charters for approximately 40 years and the mate for almost 20 years.

These are experienced local fishermen in a small tourism service and have never to my knowledge ever landed nor fished for turtles, especially on Honey Bea nor in the Careenage. Many charters boats feed fish and bait scraps to turtles in the Careenage and tourists usually enjoy watching them surface. They inquire on the spot about cruises to snorkel and feed turtles on West Coast and fishing charters. You can imagine the crew would be the last people to deliberately fish, hook, land a turtle in the Careenage as they support their life’s living off the turtle feeding practise.

On the other hand, turtles bite at fishermen’s bait meant for fish regularly and if a hook was overboard during feeding, the high probability is the hook disintegrated or came out of the turtles mouth.

I wish Barbados Free Press the best with quality investigative journalism in the future, which protects the rights of the vulnerable, the working class and exposes injustice, unethical and criminal behavior in society – but of course based on facts and not any uncertain libel accusations which may neglect truth and slander hard working people and more innocent members of society.

Fallon Best (relative of the owner)

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, Wildlife

Fifty years of advice for Barbados Junior Minister of Tourism, Chloe Walker

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

While this column has never been about individuals, I celebrated a milestone birthday a couple of weeks ago and could not help but spend a little time reflecting on the fifty years that I have largely spent in the tourism industry.

Different people evaluate success or what the definition of it differently and there can be nothing wrong with that.

My introduction to the world of commerce at a very early age was driven not so much by any desire to become fabulously wealthy with all the associated trappings, but more by the basic need to fend financially for myself without the benefit of sustained further education, as a result of a prolonged illness.

Looking back, I learnt very quickly and by the age of 21, I had already become the majority shareholder and managing director of four companies which employed scores of people. This is not a boast, but a simple fact.

By the time I reached 24 years, I had been offered the position of executive chairman of a substantial British tour operator. After turning the job down, it is almost impossible and probably totally futile to speculate on what difference that move would have made to my life.

Not that long ago I experienced a public admonishment by someone that can only be described as successful and it got me thinking of what exactly was the attraction that has kept me in this industry virtually all of my adult life. On reflection it never was about the money, but the means to travel and experience a world of differing cultures, architecture and experiences.

Now having past retirement age who knows what opportunities lay ahead.

It seems that it takes almost a lifetime to acquire sufficient skills and knowledge to effectively make things happen. And when you hopefully reach that point, is there is still sufficient energy, drive and desire to use it productively for the greater good?

Decades ago, naively I thought I could change the world. Nowadays, my goals are somewhat more realistic and but perhaps stand a greater chance of ‘success’, whatever that really means.

One thing for sure, very few objectives can be attained without help and I will be eternally grateful to those who have looked beyond the petty partisan politics and purely focused on what positive differences can be achieved.

Junior Minister of Tourism, Chloe Walker

I would also like to congratulate our new Junior Minister of Tourism, Chloe Walker, and plea with our policymakers to give her more than just superficial exposure to decisions taken within the sector. One way, even if it’s just in an observer capacity, would be to let her attend the frequent Barbados Tourism Marketing, Product Authority and Hotel and Tourism Association board meetings.

With the stated intention of increasing our e-commerce and social media presence in all source markets, a bright young and fresh contribution could add meaningful value to any plans yet to be implemented.

So Chloe, if you read this column and I could proffer just one piece of advice…

If you make this industry your chosen career, remember that success is not always measured by the number of private jets and yachts you have. For many of us, just making people feel very special and appreciated, is more than enough reward.

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Time for Barbados businesses to move into the Internet age – better late than never!

barbados-beach

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Anyone who has used the internet to shop in Britain, North America and Continental Europe cannot fail to be impressed with the variety available, level of service and delivery options.

And I wonder with the recent change of ownership, branding and appointment of new management in some of our distribution and supermarket outlets has not presented an incredible opportunity to better serve up to 500,000 long stay visitors that we attract each year. Especially for first time visitors staying at our vast choice of villas, condominiums and apartments and who are unsure of what is available and pricing on certain consumables, at least prior to arrival.

What prompted these thoughts was the appointment of Judith Wilcox as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TriMart Inc. Her vast knowledge of the tourism industry gained with Virgin Atlantic and more recently, one of our largest villa rental agency, could provide a unique insight in developing better synergies between our suppliers and overseas visiting customers.

While there have been various local websites in the past, perhaps now is the time to take this marketing medium to a much higher level with the means to research product offerings prior to homeland departure, pay online with a credit card and delivery to coincide with the visitor’s arrival.

It is also potentially a great promotional vehicle to expose more locally made items and build better brand awareness to a much larger marketplace.

Does our reputation as a playground for the rich, work against Barbados?

While we are often depicted as an iconic destination for the rich and famous, let none of our tourism planners be lured into the illusion that the vast majority of our visitors are not increasingly demanding value-for-money. This will become even more critical as we transition from the peak winter season into the long eight months of summer, if the additional airlift attracted is going to be sustained.

From a business operation aspect in many cases we appear to be light years behind many developed countries in the area of e-commerce. By now we should be able to order and pay for so much more online, including electricity, water, all government taxes and licences, postage stamps etc.

There seems to be little alternative to queue in line for up to an hour to deposit cheques in most of our banks, but it should not, as it recently did take four hours to renew a vehicle tax disc, because the licensing authority had decided, without telling it’s ‘customers’, the rules had changed.

It seems the phrase ‘time is money’ isn’t understood by many of our service providers and this will have to change if we hope to emerge intact from the current financial challenges.

Of course there are notable exceptions. We can pay our phone/internet bills online and we can order a very limited choice of everyday supplies, but it’s far from the ‘norm’. Often it means hanging on a telephone while a check is made if the item is in stock, then writing a cheque for payment on delivery or at the end of the month.

All these transactions require time while this precious commodity could be spent far more productively, both from a consumer and suppliers perspective.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

Time to resurrect re-DISCOVER the Caribbean

barbados-beach-sand-surf

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

One of the most difficult and painful decisions I have ever made was to cancel our last re-DISCOVER the Caribbean Show some years ago, which had become a highly successful annual event spanning over seven years.

As well as highlighting and driving new interest in Intra regional travel it was also used as a catalyst to build trade between the islands. It also brought almost around $1 million of foreign exchange into Barbados, filled scores of hotel rooms, generated significant car rental business and helped keep our multitude of restaurants busy, during a traditionally quieter off-season period.

If you were among the thousands of people who visited the show over the two days it took place each year, you would have met representatives from up to 22 participating territories, from Surinam in the south to Jamaica in the north and almost everywhere in between.

What finally prompted the final resolve to stop co-ordinating the show was the reduced funding by the then Barbados Tourism Authority, which even at its peak, represented less than 10 per cent of the actual cost…

Plus the sad realisation, that they could not find two or more of their staff to ‘man’ a stand for the duration, out of what were then over one hundred employees.  Continue reading

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