First a heartfelt thank you to all those who made welcoming our third annual re-DISCOVER competition winners last Wednesday. From Kay at GAIA Inc., and associated airport personnel, Marsha and her staff at the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), all those at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI), SunTours for providing transport in style with a beautiful limousine, Ocean Hotels, Atlantis Submarines and Courtesy Rent-a-Car. Plus all those in the background, including Kathy our amazing social media lady!
Once again, our winners were Canadian, Sheila and Mike McWade from Guelph who are returning to Barbados and extending their holiday by an additional week.
I never ceased to be amazed just how much more we can achieve by working together for a common objective. Without a doubt this year’s winners will fly back to the frozen north with many wonderful memories and become even greater ambassadors for the destination.
The competition also plays a critical role in helping us monitor, where and how many times the voucher holder frequents our restaurants and which ones. The average usage per stay for completed entries is three different establishments during their stay, which to us demonstrates that many of our visitors are striving to obtain better value-for-money.
It is easy to labour under the illusion that Barbados is restricted to the highly privileged and rich, but in reality, the mainstay of our tourism product has a huge widespread appeal to almost every social economic bracket from our main source markets. And while we are truly blessed to have iconic hotels like Sandy Lane, with just 112 rooms, it could not possibility sustain our increased airlift, let alone maintain current capacity.
Having spent most of my working life creating and growing smaller businesses, it has become second nature to learn how to use tiny budgets to make bigger picture things happen and I wonder sometimes why more aspiring entrepreneurs do not follow this concept and motivation as a model.
Is it a fear that we could help, what are perceived as our competitors, at our expense?
Years ago, participating in numerous travel road shows and events overseas, the number one priority was always to influence destination choice. Simply put, to persuade someone to make a first time visit to Barbados hoping that we could collectively bowl-them-over to create regular returnees and introduce next generations for decades to come.
As mentioned before, we have a product suitable for almost everyone and in my humble opinion it represents one of our greatest marketing strengths.
We are now just days away from the announced opening of Sandals Royal Barbados and while I have my own misgivings still about the unilateral concessions granted and the justification for them, sincerely wish them well. Having experienced a paid stay at the current adjacent property, it is unlikely with current budgetary restraints that we will personally sample the new hotel and perhaps following my confrontational dialog with the owner will not wait patiently for an invitation to the grand opening.
Regardless, the additional 222 suites could easily fill another 440 plus airline seats each week on average and that can only be positive.
Ultimately, it is our cherished visitors who will decide on what they want and whether to come back and hopefully that will never change.