The Adrian Loveridge Column – Tourism Stakeholders Must Work Harder
Barbados is just about a month away from hosting the very first Carib Food and Hospitality Show and frankly I have been surprised at the seeming lack of interest expressed by many of our manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and some of the trade organisations dedicated to the interests of their members.
As well as filling beds during our quieter summer season, generating more business for our activities, car rental companies and restaurants, it gives our entire tourism industry a wonderful opportunity over a three day period to look at new and creative ways of enhancing their product and for ‘local’ suppliers to grow a larger market share.
While the costs of exhibiting are at first, fairly high for smaller players, I would have thought some of the many agencies would have devised ‘shared stands’ to make it more affordable for those wishing to participate. Why is it that a company which specializes in packaging and supplying nuts located in Florida can justify the cost of travelling to Barbados, book paid accommodation and supply sufficient ‘manpower’ to ensure the stand is adequately occupied throughout the event, but a comparable local or regional (Trinidad) manufacturer does not comprehend the potential benefits?
Especially, as many in the various trade associations are frequently so vocal about supporting local businesses. Are we a nation of order takers, just waiting to get business, almost by default, or are there enough prime movers out there to make a positive difference?
If in any way you can compare the early days of operating our hotel, there was never the luxury of sitting back waiting for people to book. We got out there, invested in flights, hotel accommodation, participated in road shows, trade and consumer shows and personally visiting literally hundreds of travel agents across entire countries, states, counties and provinces. There is absolutely no room for complacency in the current modern trading environment. Those who strive, innovate and excel will survive and flourish. The remainder, especially those who fail to follow what their competitors are doing, without doubt will fall by the wayside.
From time-to-time you will see impressive full or half page full colour ‘ads’ in the local media exclaiming that this or that distributer is now carrying a new brand or product, and in several cases, we have responded requesting full information or a price list.
Almost without exception, these enquiries fall on deaf ears, so you are left to wonder, what is the justification for placing relatively high cost advertising and how do they think this ‘investment’ will be recouped?
Events like this, when they are well marketed and staged, will attract substantial numbers of decision makers and key managers who with their limited time can make all the difference. This is a critical factor as there are very few forums, especially on our doorstep, where buyers have a large variety of purchasing options under one roof at one time.
And if anyone needs further convincing, then you only have to look briefly at similar events hosted around the world to appreciate how successful they are elsewhere.