The Loveridge Column – Secret to Secret Escapes

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

Secret Escapes maybe is not a travel company that immediately comes to mind when thinking of booking a holiday, but, they have created a loyal discerning and massive following in a relatively short time. Founded only in 2010 by Alex Saint and Tom Valentine, who trace their careers back to Unilever, eBay and fashion brand Koodos respectively, already were boasting an annual turnover of over US$112 million in their third year of operation. They sell heavily discounted (up to 70 per cent) luxury hotel stays and target online subscribers via a daily email newsletter.

Based in Britain, Secret Escapes initially built a client base using carefully positioned TV ‘ads’, aired at non-peak viewing times. According to Saint the most successful ‘slot’ was during an afternoon showing of the ITV2 mystery series, Poirot.

The rationale was that they wanted to reach consumers, when in their own words ‘they were at a loose end’, adding ‘the level of engagement we achieved was directly related to people watching time-filler TV. If you’re deeply engrossed in a football match you’re not going to have time to log on and explore holiday deals’. Very few hotels, at any level, can boast year round occupancy of 100 per cent and from recently published accounts of one local lodging group it reached an enviable 68 per cent across five properties in their last financial year.

The travel operators negotiate a heavily rack rate discount where the consumer can compare what is offered on the hotel’s own website and then independently confirm travel arrangements or book a package which includes flights. It’s a win-win scenario for the consumer, travel entity and especially the hotel which would otherwise have unsold vacant rooms generating no revenue whatsoever.

And it certainly appears to work. In an interview carried in the Daily Telegraph, Valentine stated ‘we have a ruthless focus and intense selection process to ensure quality stock at market beating prices. Without this consistent delivery, it’s conceivable you could be left with a great but empty brand’. As a result, the e-commerce company claims a ‘95 per cent customer satisfaction rate’.

In July 2015, Secret Escapes secured an additional US$60 million in funding from existing investor Octopus Investments as well as Google Ventures to fund further expansion. According to IBT (International Business Times) the company had over 19 million members and has sold 2 million room nights. The founders have set its ‘sights on becoming a multi-billion turnover business by the end of the decade’.

It is a graphic example of how the tourism industry is changing due to the creative implementation of technology, which makes it absolutely critical to our perdurable survival in this highly competitive world that we embrace all possible avenues of latent but potential business.

Secret Escapes currently feature from time-to-time a handful of hotels on Barbados. However there must be a greater scope, especially for our smaller boutique properties that have difficulty persuading traditional tour operators to include them in their product offerings. Again it is down to understanding and fully embracing astute revenue management.

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22 Comments on “The Loveridge Column – Secret to Secret Escapes”

  1. David January 18, 2016 at 5:55 AM #

    Link received:

    Read More

    Top 10 ethical travel destinations for 2016 @CNNTravel

    Help has arrived for travelers who’ve resolved to avoid spending their tourism cash in countries with poor human rights and environmental records.


  2. David January 18, 2016 at 5:56 AM #

    Cuba on the move!

    US FCC Removes Cuba from Exclusion List

    by caribbeantradelaw

    Alicia Nicholls In a further thawing of United States-Cuba relations, the US’ Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) International Bureau has removed Cuba from the Commission’s Exclusion List with immediate effect, making it easier for US telecommunications providers to offer facilities-based telephone and internet service between the US and Cuba. The FCC’s Order removing Cuba from the Exclusion List for International Section […]

    Read more of this post



  3. lawson January 18, 2016 at 11:22 AM #

    secret escapes….it sure has that Ashley Madison ring to it

    Liked by 1 person

  4. David January 18, 2016 at 1:18 PM #

    @lawson Don’t worry about Zika, the ministry of health has every thing under control.


  5. chad99999 January 18, 2016 at 2:49 PM #

    This is where we need the government to act. They can overcome a whole series of information asymmetries that limit the benefits delivered by the market. But arithmetic democracy means dunces are in charge of tourism planning.


  6. David January 18, 2016 at 2:54 PM #

    What is scary is that the tourism planners appear to be happy we are seeing arrivals up, and this good. However arrivals are up in all markets. What we need to see is investment in the product, places of amusement, garbage collection, customer service attitudes on the improve etc.


  7. lawson January 18, 2016 at 4:44 PM #

    David no fear of zika, I think you need standing water and since there doesn’t seem to be any flowing water to make standing water Barbados has lucked out again Now by investing in places of amusement are you suggesting that parliament deserves a pay raise


  8. David January 18, 2016 at 5:13 PM #


    The water issue is affecting mainly the West Coast, given your not so deep pockets which forces you to stay on the South you should have no water worry.



  9. Due Diligence January 18, 2016 at 6:32 PM #


    Your last sentence is amusing, and bang on.


  10. lawson January 18, 2016 at 8:41 PM #

    this must be quite concerning for the people in the west coast because like most Englishmen they like to walk on water and having to leave the house to find some must be putting them in a right tizzy ..You guys have had that big head little brain market cornered for years and since other countries are getting in on the act, you will have to come up with something to separate yourself from the herd and make the island a talking point . So one of you human castanets will have to fall on the sword and be the first human to get fibro papillomatosis from a sea turtle. That will bring in the eco tourist just like a car accident draws them in .


  11. Vincent Haynes January 18, 2016 at 9:08 PM #

    Sad to say west coast has been brown water off and on,coupled with no electricity for the 4 months we have been here.


  12. Vincent Haynes January 19, 2016 at 12:54 PM #

    Heard the deputy Min. of Tourism said on VoB 12.30 news that due to increased arrivals the Airport needs to upgraded and expanded…..this augers well for the country.


  13. David January 19, 2016 at 1:19 PM #

    Air Bridges coming for GAIA, finally.


  14. Vincent Haynes January 19, 2016 at 3:22 PM #

    Interesting the GoB in his report(attached)has stated that we have not done better than 2007……..and yet we want to expand capacity at GAIA…..interesting.


  15. Hants January 19, 2016 at 9:27 PM #

    Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) announced that an offer of a 50 per cent discount will be extended to multiple markets, with “More Excitement. More Value. Come Celebrate!” as its call to action.


  16. Exclaimer January 22, 2016 at 11:00 PM #

    Watch out tourist industry!


  17. David January 23, 2016 at 8:54 PM #

    Anybody who had reason to visit Grantley Adams today would have been impressed by the numbers of visitors entering the country.


  18. Exclaimer January 23, 2016 at 11:53 PM #

    …..Visitor numbers are no indication that that they – tourists – are spending money in our country. Having arrived recently, I can confirm, that all but some forty of those who alighted from the plane were cruise ship passengers.

    Do we have any numbers concerning the average spend of Sandal’s visitors? I would be very surprised if they spend any serious money in the local economy. Yet, it is the domestic tax-payer who is subsiding this “private” business.


  19. Exclaimer January 24, 2016 at 12:06 AM #

    @ Once the tourist becomes fully cognizant of zika then I predict a sharp decline in our tourist numbers. There are many popular destinations which are affected with malaria; however, one has access to medication to limit your exposure to this virus. The same cannot be said of the zika virus.

    The thought of giving birth to a baby with a shrunken head and an undeveloped brain whilst soaking up some sun and taking in the local sites does not seem an attractive proposition to me.

    That our economy consists primarily of one industry confirms the folly of our governments both past and present.


  20. David January 24, 2016 at 12:11 AM #

    The passengers who are passing through to the port exit via Spencer’s plantation area and not the terminal.


  21. de Ingrunt Word January 24, 2016 at 3:24 AM #

    On the subject of tourist travel, there was an an ‘interesting’ news tidbit on the wires which suggested that the US has quietly adopted the Mexican city of Cancun as an American territory.

    At least that can be one interpretation of the US Customs and Border Control allowing arrivals from that locale to enter directly into NYC — no customs checking, no passport review, no fingerprint validation. NADA….

    Just as if the plane had arrived from US Virgin Islands or Miami. Or maybe it’s like The Bahamas where there is Customs and Border Control …at least there used to be!

    The US sure wants to get El Chapo extradited…you think! LOL


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