The Adrian Loveridge Column – We Can Do Better!
From my very early days in the tourism industry I have never really thought that there was anything overly complicated about the sector which necessitated even remote levels of rocket science. But there are just some people in key decision making roles, who simply do not understand what it takes to function properly.
Having just spent a couple of weeks in the United Kingdom, a classical example was our flights out of Barbados. While scores and probably hundreds of travellers were queuing inline for the bag drop or check-in for the equally busy Thomas Cook and British Airways flights to Gatwick, a brief glimpse upwards revealed that out of the seven or eight overhead industrial fans the only two were not switched on were above us. All the other fans in use had no-one checking in and our cherish visitors were just left to sweat, with many of them already partially dressed for the exceptionally severe ‘beast from the East’ unseasonal cold weather back in Britain.
Surely we can do better?
Of course it didn’t get any better. Surly ‘security’ guards with seemingly no limited public relations training, castigating passengers for not completed required embarkation cards and questioning why British Airways staff did not hand them out. As if any first time visitor would know that answer.
Add further delays at Immigration and passenger screening.
Compound this with hundreds and possibly thousands of cruise ship transferred passengers adding to long stay visitors already struggling to find seats for the many delayed flights. Someone should explain why the cruise ship passengers are not being ‘fed’ through the normal airline channels, when they used to be processed at another facility located at Charnocks?
Since the Danish company refurbished Grantley Adams International Airport, the air conditioning system has never worked properly, even during modest traffic use. Squeeze thousands of passengers into limited space with many of them waiting up to four hours and how can any Airport Manager comprehend this is the way someone spending thousands of Pounds or Dollars on a holiday wants to spend their last precious leisure moments?
What is perhaps most disarming is that after decades in the hospitality business, some key policyholders simply do not understand what brings back our cherish visitors year and year. While nearly everybody involved in the caring process may do their job to the best of their ability, it is often the first or in this case, the last impression that has such a profound influence on future destination choice.’
If after this fortnight, I had any lingering doubt that we (Barbados) as a holiday choice were getting dangerously close to losing the perception of providing value-for-money to British visitors, now I am absolutely convinced this is the case. GB Pounds 93 for 14 days car hire, GB Pounds 10 steak meals and a multiplicity of Groupon-type offers make our prices look ludicrously high.
One thing for sure, with a hugely widening choice of more affordable sun long haul destinations and a rapidly approaching extended soft summer in sight, there is no room for complacency.
Even if you accept that ‘we’ can never be a cheap holiday choice, there remains a chasm of what we offer and what our visitors pay in terms of value-for-money, especially in what remains one of our largest source markets.