Our Tourism Marketing Model: Dispense With The Old Embrace The New or Die!

Adrian Loveridge – Hotel Owner

First, I would like to sincerely congratulate Zed Layson and his team at Surfers Point for being awarded one of the world’s top ten surfing schools by the prestigious National Geographic Traveler Magazine. It’s a tremendous accolade for a small business operated by a vibrant young entrepreneur and you would think that it might be a role model example for our media and national marketing agency to highlight. Perhaps they do not fully understand the branding and destination exposure benefits brought by have having ‘famous personalities’ like teen super star, Justin Bieber learning to surf off our shores. Only this year Forbes rated the singer, the third most powerful celebrity in the world, so its not surprising that even an amateur video of Justin taking board lessons off Inch Marlow has been watched by hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube.

Or discussed among his 43 million FaceBook fans.

According to the ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) Traveler has a verified circulation of over 725,000 copies, so a readership of nearly 2.9 million people. I would also argue, probably with a demographic profile, more likely to be influenced by Barbados as a vacation choice. By piggybacking on the years of endeavour Zed has taken to build his business, through ensuring consistent customer service, ‘we’ as a destination have not paid a single cent for this extensive coverage.

Staying with the subject of lost opportunities, TripAdvisor reached yet another milestone last month by amassing 75 million reviews and opinions, a staggering 50 per cent increase over the previous year. Fifty contributions are posted per minute and 56 million people now use the site each month.

Over 11 million images have been submitted.

It is difficult to imagine any other reference medium that plays such a critical role in travel planning, the final decision of where consumers take their holiday and what influences accommodation choice. There is no doubt in my mind, that if we are ever going to reduce the overwhelming dependence on tour operator driven business, we must all learn to take better advantage of these vast social media forums. Until this happens, and the percentage of direct rack rate bookings is increased, we simply will not achieve the viability that is urgently needed to upgrade our existing tourism plant.

But for those tourism players that have no immediate plans to change their business model, do not think for a minute that the traditional tour operators and wholesalers have not cottoned-on to the power of the world’s most visited travel website. The first UK company to incorporate TripAdvisor reviews of featured hotels was Hayes and Jarvis. The logic was that it was better to keep a customer logged onto your own site, rather than let them stray and possibly lose the booking. Plus it’s far better to put the emphasis on the customer to ultimately make the decision on lodging selection. The net result is that 20 per cent of people visiting the hotel description pages on the Hayes and Jarvis site click onto the TripAdvisor reviews and the booking conversion rate is twice that of those who do not.

It would appear the proof is in the pudding.

0 thoughts on “Our Tourism Marketing Model: Dispense With The Old Embrace The New or Die!

  1. Spot on article…

    Adrian as long as we keep placing unqualified folks in key tourism industry position the old we stay and at some point we will die.

    The things you have highlighted don’t take rocket science to get going …. But our tourism leadership is weak, cannot think too far out de box, spending money on the wrong stuff and then complain they have no money, and they simply have no interest in knowing what they don’t know…

  2. Great article Adrian. Good vision.

    But how is this going to improve the leaking creaking Hotel infrastructure.
    Clean the garbage from the streets especially in Bridgetown.
    Improve the standard of food served in the restaurants.Improve the transportation system.

    In other words while using your methods to bring more tourists who is going to improve the quality of the product you are trying to sell.

  3. Didn’t TripAdvisor survey show that Barbados is too expensive a destination. How will airlift help this? Only asking.
    What can the Hotel sector do to help with this?
    I know an answer will be for Government to cut taxes on all things.
    Even if they did the prices will not fall just like in the retail sector. Gas goes up prices go up. Gas come down prices stay up.

  4. Enuff | August 5, 2012 at 5:16 PM |
    “I would like to know why Mr. Loveridge was removed from the BTA Board?”

    The same reason Ralph Taylor was removed.
    Enuff, deal with what the man is saying and put aside your personality-based attacks for the time being.

  5. Austin/Hants – Thank You.
    Clone – dramatically improve the service level at many of our hotels. If you look at TripAdvisor ratings, in many cases up to 40 per cent of guests posting reviews would NOT recommend the property.

  6. A Canadian trying to save a already spoil island .too late my friend.
    barbados already done for and will never change.Justin Berber is a tiny popper..
    what you want young teenage girls to come to barbados.they don’t have the Money..You can keep trying but you flogging a dead horse.
    Africa for Africans.try not to catch a heart attack when you hit the final brick wall
    you are headed towards.

  7. Harry,

    With the greatest respect I think you have missed the point on this one.
    I am so lucky to live within a few hundred yards of Surfers Point, so get to see almost every day the huge cross section of all ages that come here to board, paddle, wind and kitesurf. Kitesurfing certainly isn’t for the impoverished teenager and I would not describe the same group to almost everybody that take lessons with Zed. YES! Justin Bieber is a teenage idle but look at his various social media achievements including earning a reported US$55 million in 2011. His demographic following maybe does not attract huge numbers to Barbados, but then you could use that argument with Rihanna and then you would have to question the BTA investment in terms of cost-effective returns.
    Both bring enormous attention to Barbados and that is where we can raise our profile. Barbados isn’t a perfect place and ‘we’ have made mistakes but having lived in Canada for four years, doesn’t that apply to you as well?

  8. @Adrian

    Do you think that a questionnaire on the back of our immigration or customs form makes mor sense? It would validate the info gathering process unlike what presently obtains.

  9. Harry wrote,”what you want young teenage girls to come to barbados.they don’t have the Money”

    The parents have money and people still go on “family vacations” influenced by their children’s choice.

    Adrian why don’t you tell some of your Hotelier buddies to follow Royal Westmoreland’s lead and put a web cam showing the beach.

    The BTA and BHTA should also consider web cams at various locations in Barbados.

  10. David,

    YES! Much more sense. I dared suggest this a few years ago after I saw a similar form issued by Aruba. They gave an incentive to fill it it accurately by offering a free return holiday.
    This could be used in all sorts of ways including emailed Thank You for coming and reminders when the weather up there turns cold.
    I was told that ‘we’ would never get permission from the Immigration Dept and other Government agencies. I wonder who and what pays their wages.

    • @Adrian

      Many of our competing destiations are doing it. In the private sector it is called sharing best practice.

  11. Hants,
    I think thats a great idea and I suggested something similar for those visitors that visit us to surf around the island. They could see from their mobile phones, iPads, Laptops etc., where the best surf conditions were that day.

  12. i lived in Canada for 25 years.and will soon be returning as barbados
    where my ancestors been here since 1627 as Irish slaves.
    barbados has to me and many like myself a place that is not comfortable lets say.
    By he way that used to be called kayak point as David Gittens tried to do kayaking there .until some gung ho tourist crashed straight into the rocks
    and busted all his teeth then tried to sue him..To me not a place to learn to surf really with all the rocks.
    away from the point .
    lets just put it this way ‘i give up’—lost cause.
    hope you all the best .
    shore hope zed is well and gets customers to sign wavers etc.insurance is impossible for surfing.,wind surfing,kite surfing etc.do at own risk.
    here is a joke OK——-how about we offer a free rent a rasta with every booking.lol

  13. “Dispense With The Old Embrace The New or Die!”

    Barbados is already DEAD, just a question of when the funeral will be called.

    Barbados is presenting such a poor image that other third world countries are now looking to distance themselves from Barbados as it’s giving them a bad reputation.

  14. @Adrian

    Can you explain why the Nation has printed a PR piece about Halequin?

    Do you think the editors are aware of Harlequin’s problems?

  15. David,

    The Nation are certainly aware of the Harlequin Property situation including the two page article written by award winning journalist Jon Austin entitled ‘Wickford Man at the centre of storm in the Caribbean property market’ publiced with the British Echo Group newspapers – 10th July 2012.
    It is mind bogling that the authorities here have seemingly not done due dilligence but thats how it appears to go.
    Tell me please what is going to happen to our reputation when things start to fall apart.

  16. “due diligence” another phrase I need to add to words not in the Barbados mantra along with “maintenance”, “integrity” etc.

  17. Recently a wealthy visitor whose child contracted dengue had to wait three days for a bed at the QEH and was shocked by the condition of the hospital. She slept in a chair with her child until a bed became available. She vows NEVER to step foot on this island again.

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