REDjet And re-Discover Caribbean

Adrian Loveridge - Hotel Owner

By now, much of our energy would be going into fine tuning the annual re-DISCOVER the Caribbean Show, which usually takes place in late April. Just in time for the longer and leaner eight summer month tourism season. Sadly, unless a major sponsor comes forward, it will not take place this year and this may prove to be one of the biggest mistakes ever.

The Barbados Tourism Authority lost interest in what would have been the eighth annual show by reducing their already limited financial support and not even being prepared to ‘man’ a stand for the two days of the event. This despite a compliment of over 130 staff members and the enthusiastic support in the past by the current Minister of Tourism. In fact, before entering office, he won and enjoyed one of the spectacular prizes donated by our many exhibitors.

It became ever more difficult to explain to the twenty other participating Caribbean countries, who were willing and enable to send a delegation, often at considerable cost, when the national marketing agency of the host country was half-heartedly supporting the endeavour.

If three of our main traditional markets, the UK, Canada and USA, fail to show some sign of growth during this summer, it will be largely down to the extra air capacity being generated by REDjet within the region, to give any hope of maintaining visitor arrival numbers this year. The event itself, brought in over 400 overseas delegates annually, who all needed hotel accommodation, with secondary spending on meals, taxi transfers, car rental etc. Many extended their stay to take into some of our tourism offerings and/or visit travel agents.

Even at the height of their support, the BTA cost contribution was under BDS$60 per delegate or less that the departure tax each attendee would have paid, let alone the VAT and taxes collected on other goods and services. We calculate each overseas exhibitor stayed an average of 4.4 nights and spent around US$1,200, so it delivered a 40:1 ROI (return on investment).

Putting that in perspective, the Best of Barbados (BOB) programme attracted a direct subsidy of up to BDS$600 per person, and thats even before the additional costs to promote it were taken into account. The lead-in BOB package price including flights and 7 nights accommodation was as low as US$459.

Or analysed another way, when you compare the same ROI that re-DISCOVER delivered to the quoted $4 million Rihanna concert, it would have produced $160 million in tourism revenue or the overall BTA annual budget, a staggering $3.76 billion.

I have no doubt those managing REDjet, fully understand the critical importance of filling their aircraft in both directions. And that was always a considerable component part of the motivation behind the show concept.

Now that the BHTA’s Staycation website is linked to that of REDjet, the lower fares offered by the carrier makes it the perfect match for other Caribbean territories to take full advantage.

With the end of what hopefully was the more lucrative winter season less than a month away, the Olympics on the horizon, increased APD levels and with seemingly no national marketing initiative on the horizon.

It appears again that it is going to result in some sort of knee-jerking retroactive response, maybe launched so close to the sell-by date, that any effect could be limited.

PS: This column was written before REDjet announced its suspension of services.

0 thoughts on “REDjet And re-Discover Caribbean

  1. Oh poppycocks! I was just planning to take a trip stupse. A ferry would have been a better choice. Stupse my plans mess up now. After this I ain’t trusting Red Jet at all!

  2. A low cost carrier in the caribbean is not sustainable!! and RedJet started wrong by shunning the Travel agents, plus the fares advertised did not show the add ons – always wondered how the Fair Trading allowed them to get away with that.

    Looks like Bizzy made a bad investment.

    • @Tudor

      Bizzy will retort that it is the bureaucratic delays by Barbados Authorities which caused REDjet to eat into its start up capital and ultimately has compromised its business model and cash-flow.

  3. I predicted the failure of REDJET before it even started, my prediction is now justified and to the know it all’s that said it would succeed, I TOLD YOU SO. It is impossible for any airline, that is not heavily subsidized, to operate in the Caribbean as long as LIAT and CARIBBEAN Airways are funded by local governments.

  4. I am not surprised at all. I said it before that their model were not sustainable.Not only were their fares not sustainable but the size of the planes used in this operation . You just don’t use those kind of planes for Island hopping.

  5. but any body with half a brain could have preduicted the inevitablewith thehigh rising cost of fuel plus a depressed economy there is no way Redjet could have survive

  6. RedJet is a private company. Do they expect to be subsidised by a cash strapped government ?

    They should change their business model, forget the low cost fares and charge the same as Liat and CA. Then make sure their service is awsome and that will make them successful.

    The best service I have experianced has been on WestJet Toronto to Barbados and Toronto to Calgary. RedJet should emulate.

  7. Hants,

    That same cash strapped Government has subsidised WestJet to fly to Barbados. It might be called by another name, seat or marketing support, but its the same.

  8. @Adrian Loveridge,

    If the ROI from the Caribbean Tourists is the same as from the Canadian Tourists then RedJet has a strong case for subsidies.

    RedJet should have negotiated with government before they started flying.

    They should try and borrow some money from COW.

    • The following message appears on REDjet’s Website.

      REDjet – Service Suspension Message
      For Immediate Release
      REDjet Announcement –from CEO Ian Burns
      The shareholders and staff of REDjet wish to sincerely thank all our passengers and supporters for enabling our airline to achieve the tremendous feat of breaking the high fare experience of many Caribbean passengers, while increasing regional travel numbers for the first time in decades.
      We at REDjet set out to deliver the Caribbean’s first affordable air service and we have successfully launched a small number of routes that have in their performance, demonstrated the necessity and popularity for a low fares service in the region.
      Our aircraft and our dedicated staff are performing extremely well and we are willing and able to continue to provide affordable transport across the Caribbean and beyond but we cannot.
      Unlike the heavily subsidised airlines that serve the region, REDjet does not receive any assistance. As indicated, REDjet is hopeful that we will be given a small part of the State assistance others receive, as it will allow us to get our recently approved and exciting new routes established and profitable. Once this happens, our shareholders and staff will do their utmost to see that there is no return to high fares and business as usual.
      We have seen other carriers drastically cut their fares in an effort to shut down REDjet and return to high fares and business as usual with no regard to the negative impact on travellers. Unlike us, they do not have to be profitable to stay in business.
      In spite of their subsidised efforts, our passenger numbers have continued to rise because you, our patrons, enjoy our clean, comfortable and well maintained aircraft as well as our excellent service delivered at affordable ticket prices.
      REDjet has no alternative but to suspend flights from 23:59pm on 16th March until further notice. All passengers booked on any REDjet flight from Saturday should contact the call centre 24 hours before scheduled departure time for an update on their flight status.
      Affected passengers will be offered refunds or the option to travel with REDjet upon commencement of services.
      Our Refund Procedure can take up to 3 weeks and is outlined below:
      Refund Procedure:
      Complete a refund request posted on our website and email to
      Alternatively submit your refund request with passenger names and booking reference numbers to: REDjet, P.O. Box 6072AP, Barbados.
      Further announcements regarding services will be made on Monday 19th March. All tickets for future travel remain valid.
      REDjet sincerely apologises for the disruption and distress this temporary cessation of flights will cause and looks forward to serving you in the future.
      March 16, 2012

  9. While I had hoped RedJet would succeed they should not have started a business with success depending on Government subsidies without first negotiating.

    However, if the BLP win the next election they are sure to get a few mill from Owin N I suggest they give a cheque to their future benefactors.

  10. Adrian

    “off-topic a little bit”

    I would like to give you a suggestion that I would like to see folks like you in the tourismhotel industry leverage, I do this as a bajan who wants to see our economy survive these challenging times.

    I am sure when folks check-in hotels like yours, you capture visitor information to include phone numbers, however this information is not being leveraged from an ICT perspective effectively enough. If you have the phone numbers of guest you can use SMS mass texting to send them texts (right to their phones, which is better and cost less then other traditional forms of marketing) ….. you can send former guest promotions on return stays, not to mention new potential guest they may forward the text promos too..etc

    The reason SMS has been a challenge for our region is due to LIMEDigicel’s ICT restrictions and cost … (so jacking our business concept will not be easy, sorry I had to say or imply, but you understand I’m sure 🙂

    As a bajan business we have launched a new SMS mass texting service in Basrbados and T&T which is currently being used by a few clients succesfully… check out our in-development website which will be launched next week.

    Anyone who contacts us from this blog (see site contact page) will get (1) free month of mass texting …. as a pre-launch promotion we are running which expires next friday 3/23.

  11. Redjet had the right idea but oddly enough they had trouble since it’s inception. I can say Redjet tried on behalf of everyone in the Caribbean who wanted to travel without paying loads of money just for a short flight to any Caribbean Islands.

    They will have to adjust their gameplan as a service otherwise they’ve really hit rock bottom.

  12. JamesB,

    I totally agree that we do NOT use this form of communication to any real effect in tourism, either nationally or individually.
    Even if its down to simple things like texting when our traditional markets are experiencing excessively cold weather, to remind repeat and potential guests what our climate is like.
    May I suggest that you contact Colin Jordan ( or Sue Springer ( at the BHTA and offer to do a presentation at their next quarterly meeting. There is a small charge but you can get in front of the largest number of tourism decision makers at one time.
    Usually there are representatives from the MOT and BTA there too.

    • Thanks Adrian … We will do as you suggested …. When you are ready for your free SMS MASS text for your hotel let me know, we can reach 100’s of folks in minutes.

  13. Austin,

    I have already sent a website link to Colin and may I again suggest that you use the BHTA StayCation programme as a trial run and then the response could be easily measured to then demonstrate the effectiveness on a larger scale.
    The StayCation programme has some nice colourful graphics which I am sure could somehow be incorporated.

  14. Government and the BTA must decide if ‘we’ are really serious about the Caribbean market. Even the current Minister of Tourism is on record as describing it as the ‘Cinderella Market’ with the least proportional part of the national BTA spent on it. This despite its critical role in filling our remaining hotel rooms during the long summer season. We are also told the Caribbean visitors are among the highest per day spenders.
    One small start could be the removal of the ridiculously high depature tax, at least for the softer summer months. Government has spend all this time and money sending people to lobby the British Government NOT to increase the APD, but what did ‘we’ do ourselves? Increase our taxes. Plus a reminder the British Government does NOT charge VAT on airline tickets. We charge 17.5%.

    • Most airlines as Adrian has stated receive subsidies.

      The regional market is an important one.

      The Minister of Tourism only yesterday suggested that regional tourists rent cars and spend USD just like extra-regional tourists.

    • The Tourism Global Market has “evolved” and we must “evolve” with it …. for years I have always though that we do not pay enough attention to visitors from other islands, and bajan yankee’s who visit Barbados yearly, sometimes religiously.

      Yet we do nothing special for bajan yankee and the like who spend real $$$ in barbados at all levels of our economy, we are still focusing to much of our marketing dollars in the same old markets, and brazil does not count as a great new one.

      Few suggestions from a guy that travels alot 🙂

      – You can now fly from the west coast of the US from Texas to Barbados directly but we are not efectively marketing BDS in the US mid-west or west ….

      – The average American still does not know about Barbados, we need and awareness campaign to do whatever jamaica and the bahamas has done in this areas.

  15. ‘The Caribbean market is still treated like a Cinderella. That we will change for sure, Sealy told the Lower House’

    Caribbean focus for tourism planners
    Published on: 2/10/09.

    WITH ITS MAJOR MARKETS buckling under the pressure of a worldwide recession, Government will be paying special attention to the Caribbean as it seeks to improve its tourism product.

    According to Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, it would be targeting a number of “empty seats” on LIAT flights so as to maximise airlift into Barbados this year.

    Sealy said Government would be willing to partner with LIAT in the near future, so it could work out a number of discounted rates to reduce the number of empty seats currently plaguing the regional airline.

    The minister made the disclosure in the House of Assembly today, as he debated a bill for Government to provide $10 million for the tourism sector this financial year.

    “The Caribbean market is still treated like a Cinderella. That will change for sure,” Sealy told the Lower House.

    Sealy said a report published by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) had shown that visitor-spending by Caribbean nationals was only a few dollars less than what is spent by tourists visiting from the United States or Canada.

    “We can’t ignore the numbers regarding the spending power of our own CARICOM nationals,” the minister said. “When you look at the way our sector is now, we can’t treat the Caribbean market any differently than we would the markets of the Britain or the United States or Canada.”(BA)

  16. RedJet business plan was wrong from the beginning, they never learned from Cairb Express. Which caribbean island that have airlines which are being prop up by taxpayers is going to roll over and allow Redjet to dominate and erode the market?
    What RedJet should have done was promote their selves as a Caricom airline and instead of fighting with LT and CAL, go into non Caricom markets like central america, DR, SXM, Cuba, Aruba and Curacao using BGI as the gate way to the rest of the Caricom territories by LT and CAL. A partnership that could have work if only they had thought it through correctly and negotiated with Caricom with common sense in the spirit of building Caricom tourism

  17. How is RyanAir still in the skies? Why are Northwest and Southwest in the USA still zipping about, inclusive of Celebrity Faux Pas (Gerard Depardieu and his Urination)? Or Celebrity Victimisation (Kevin Smith & Seating)? How do EU or USA Governments assist or how do these Low Fare Carries thrive?

    Ask CAL the ridiculous concessions all regional governments made about Fuel Surcharges for them, approvals that take no time for LIAT or CAL are dragged on as REDjet will NOT “grease squeaky wheels” – ask which inter-island service has staff who deliberately leave off luggage since the hold has so much room and do with impunity, they are aviation civil servants, believing they are immune to sacking!

    Why is Gabrielle Springer, a Permanent Secretary in Barbados, apparently affiliated to LIAT?

    LIAT Directors of (Barbados)

    Mr. Trevor Mayers
    Mrs. Gabrielle Springer-Taylor
    Mr. Grantley Smith

    If indeed accurate, is this not a blatant CONFLICT OF INTERESTS in the whole sordid mess? Should she not resign from the Civil Service for holding two similar posts simultaneously? In turn, George Hutson, if aware of such a mistake and took no disciplinary action, should be made to demit his Cabinet Portfolio, you cannot be buying planes for LIAT and in turn telling REDjet fend for yourself when Government already granted it Designated Carrier status!

  18. It seems some Barbadians really wanted REDJET to fail, judging from their “I told you so behaviour”.

    The low cost air fare intra-regional model is a good one for REDJET.

    First, the Government of Barbados is primarily responsible for REDJET’s suspension of business, and then some CARICOM governments are secondarily responsible for this suspension of business.

    The Government of Barbados and some other CARICOM countries seemed bent on supporting a backward and inefficient airline like LIAT and a recently incorporated Caribbean Airlines.

    Unless and until the DLP and BLP are driven out ofthe parliament of this country no substantial progress will be made in this country.

    The same goes for some of the other joke parties in some other CARICOM countries.


  19. @ David,

    These guys behind REDjet thought they could set up a shop front low cost carrier and then spring the trap on the Governments in the region (Barbados specifically) and get a slice of the subsidies paid to LIAT and Caribbean Airlines.

    Bizzy you seem to chalking up business failures on a quite regular basis. Here is the model, get some Irish guys (friends of Hobson) and get them to come to the Caribbean and try to fleece the Governments.


  20. Perhaps it should have been Mr Johnson,instead of Bizzy, who invested in RedJet,as it is now re-branded in his name .Bruggadung.

  21. You know what you have, but you don’t know what you are going to get. Barbadian women are making millionaires out of a new set of immigrants, purchasing their false hair and wigs, as if money has no value. And, Barbadian women are not only wasting their money on this garbage, but risking their health and wasting their partners’ money. These immigrants have absolutely no regard for most Barbadians. Free education, but we are not as smart as we think.

  22. Hotels on the brink: How can Bermuda tourism become profitable again?

    The statistics also show the number of hotel properties on the Island has fallen from more than 100 in 1980 to 48 last year, although the website only lists 29 being actively reviewed and the Tourism website lists only about 40, of which several no longer appear to be taking tourist bookings, or are very small guest houses.

    The number of hotel beds, around 5,000 last year, is half of what it once was in the 1980s and hoteliers say probably far less in 2012 than even that number.

    According to US real estate developer and owner of Bermuda’s Munro Beach site, Sam Byrne, the tourism industry in Bermuda needs an overhaul.

    The statistics also show the number of hotel properties on the Island has fallen from more than 100 in 1980 to 48 last year, although the website only lists 29 being actively reviewed and the Tourism website lists only about 40, of which several no longer appear to be taking tourist bookings, or are very small guest houses.

    The number of hotel beds, around 5,000 last year, is half of what it once was in the 1980s and hoteliers say probably far less in 2012 than even that number.

    According to US real estate developer and owner of Bermuda’s Munro Beach site, Sam Byrne, the tourism industry in Bermuda needs an overhaul.

  23. Hoteliers: Fix the broken brand and focus on high-end market

    “We will examine how far we have fallen since our heyday in the 1980s, why dozens of resorts and hotels, including highly rated ones, have failed and closed, why no one wants to invest in a hotel in Bermuda right now, why no new developer has broken ground despite promise after promise, and what it will take for a new resort to be built, and for the less than 50 hotel properties we have left to be profitable enough to keep their doors open.

    Hoteliers say Bermuda needs to fix its “broken brand” and re-engage with its core high-end market.

    They said the Island needed to stop being all things to all people, because it was diluting the funds available for marketing and giving tourists the wrong message.

    The number of hotel beds on the Island is now less than 5,000 when it was once almost 10,000 back in 1980. While cruise arrivals have risen, air arrivals were down to 236,000 in 2011, of which 57,000 stayed in private homes.

    “Because demand is so low overall for the Island, you now have Government and the hotels trying to reach out to myriad potential sources of business and to steal market share by way of discounting,” said Michael Winfield, president and CEO of Cambridge Beaches Resort and Spa.

    “That discounting means that hotels’ revenues are reduced and they can’t afford to put money back in to improve the physical product to ensure they stay competitive, and the cycle just goes on and on.” ”

  24. Carson,

    You didn’t mention that Barbados has ‘lost’ 32 hotels over the last 20 years.
    And when you speak about broken brands, if over 30 per cent of guests posting reviews on TripAdvisor state they would not recommend our largest hotel grouping to a friend, it’s no wonder the BTA doesn’t want to highlight our nine hotels that did excel and win awards this year.
    It must be the only destination on the planet that has failed to recognise the destination leverage of 50 million unique website views per month.
    4,849 people visited ‘our’ TripAdvisor page last month. 235,111 visited the Christ Church TripAdvisor page.

  25. Really sad to see all these gloaters at the demise of ReDJet.
    It would have been great had it worked…..COMPETITION..I do recall LAIT substantially lowering it fares..Do YOU recall ?…This speaks volumes don’t you think ?….Hey Uncle Chris.. the UNEMPLOYMENT figures still stands at 10 % now right ?
    We Barbadians are a real peculiar bunch Fa real.

  26. If nothing else RedJet has shown Caribbean people they WERE being taken for a RIDE……..$19.99 .vs. $675 …by odders

  27. Redjet as still not paid its staff .The last time they were paid was February 2012.They will not have any pilots if they come back,because most of the pilots are looking jobs.Also they still have not paid some of there pilots who had left from last year.

  28. Pingback: REDjet’s Demise + LIAT’s Haemorrhaging = Regional Transportation In Crisis | Barbados Underground

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