The Adrian Loveridge Column – Welcoming Locals

Adrian Loveridge

With the recent reminder that on average around 30 per cent of the entire regional hotel room stock is empty by Hugh Riley, the Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) at any given time of the year, it is perhaps even more surprising that greater emphasis is currently not been placed promoting the much heralded Staycation initiative.

As we enter the long soft summer period, surely our hoteliers can see the value of filling otherwise empty rooms, even if they cannot command those hefty rates extracted in the winter peak period?

With a resident population of 285,000 persons if only just 2 per cent of locals book one average 3 night stay annually with two persons per room, that’s a staggering 8,550 additional occupied room nights. Or put another way that would be the equivalent of entirely filling another 31 British Airways B777 aircraft.

As well as the direct room revenue generated, there is also the real possibility of additional turnover through food and beverage sales and other optional services.

No one should really need reminding nowadays, that once a plane has taken off, or a room remains empty overnight, you cannot sell it twice the next day, so that potential income is lost forever.

My wife and I have been strong past advocates of Staycations, enjoying wonderful stays at properties like Coral Reef, Hilton, Little Good Harbour Bougainvillea and Atlantis, among others. There is something almost magical at sunrise rolling out of bed at award winning Coral Reef Club and slipping into the incredibly calm west coast warm ocean water.

I also strongly believe that the more ‘locals’ exposed to the tourism industry will inevitably lead to a better understanding of the sector and entice more people to consider it as a serious career option where the experience gained, could lead to being labour marketable anywhere in the world.

There is also a tremendous opportunity for one of our local credit card issuers to smart partner with our accommodation partners and offer a similar ‘cash back’ bonus that they currently offer with groceries and petroleum products when selecting a particular method of payment, perhaps also offering a weekly or monthly prize booking incentive.

With dismal rates of interest payable on financial deposits, unrelenting internal devaluation driving almost weekly price hikes on essential consumables, at least Staycations largely do not impact on foreign exchange demand and provides sustainable employment for many.

And hopefully our more creative media and advertising entities can step up to the plate and offer more affordable promotional options, perhaps via a regular weekly Staycation page in concert with potentially benefiting sponsors and suppliers to ensure a win-win for all involved.

Ultimately at the end of the day, it’s down to the more forward thinking managers and marketers applying revenue control to help fill those quoted 30 per cent of empty rooms, at a rate they are comfortable with and which will appeal to a domicile populace on our doorstep.

Not forgetting this market is as large as our single biggest source of overseas visitors in terms of arrival numbers.

20 comments

  • This makes a lot of sense. The credit card idea is good and the advertising promotion could add…the luxury of not having to worry about preparing meals for three days.

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  • PoorPeacefulandPolitePensioner

    There is also a cascading effect in motion when one family’s decision to go on a staycation is followed by others who are in the same circle of friends. An agency that arranges “chartered staycations” with group fares that include activities. . . . people, animals (and children) like to do things in herds !! Bring it on Adrian !!

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  • Pity the local hoteliers didn’t consider offering summer rates for an Easter staycation. I tried booking a three night Easter staycation for a family of three and the rates are still pegged to Winter rates. That’s all good for visitors but locals too? Come on hoteliers, time to admit you don’t really us staying in your posh dwellings.

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  • Robert MacDonald

    Adrian: I understand the premise of offering residents lower prices than tourists. I think of Florida and Disneyworld right away. However, as a frequent visitor to Barbados in all seasons, I feel discriminated against that these rates are not available to me.

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  • Nothing new here.In the 70’s Trinidad was the target market for summer tourism and Bwee was fully on board with a Caricom fare as I recall it was Bd$50.00 for Bajans to go to Trinidad and Tt$50.00 for Trinis to come to Bdos.Carribee,Royal,Regency,Silver Beach,Blue Waters,Accra were teeming with TT families.Lovely TT lassies included some of whom were smitten enough to marry bajan guys and live in Bim.British Airways staff in their hundreds also made Barbados their no 1 holiday spot in the summer and it was such a hit with BA staff that BA put a restriction on the number of staff holidaying in Barbados because the space available demand and supply curves were constantly in disequilibrium.
    I have spent Easter weekends in particular back in the 80’s with my then young family variously at Crane,Sam Lord’s,Hilton,Holiday Inn,Glitter Bay,Cobblers Cove ant Sandridge and not at the Winter rate.I recall the excitement of my kids when we spent the weekend at Holiday Inn in the ‘First Sea Lord’ suite on the pier.Lovely memories.

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  • PoorPeacefulandPolitePensioner

    But R. MacDonald, when Bajans stay here all year looking after your “farm” so that you can arrive and enjoy peaceful exclusivity with delights we have laid out just for you, are you still feeling the separation that we feel? Marginal pricing is not a Barbadian invention. I think it’s coming time for Barbados to forget the lower end of the tourist market completely. We should not tolerate their arrogant intrusions !! Next thing we’ll see in the international press is that Barbados is “violating world trade agreements” with discriminatory pricing. Let the old MacDonalds of the world stay where they can afford too as we will have to !!

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  • Robert MacDonald

    PPPP: I was in the travel business for most of my working career. When I was working with the travelling public in my home country I did not feel I was staying there looking after anybody’s farm? You think that Barbados should forget the lower end of the tourist market, I would imagine the lower end are the ones who spend more money “in” Barbados than those high end who pay their money offshore or the really high end who spend very little in Barbados. If I thought you spoke for most Bajans I would quite happily spend my money elsewhere, however in my over 50 years of visiting you appear to be an exception

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  • In jamaica locals are encouraged to take vacations in Jamaica and they get a discount. Jamaicans who live abroad also get discounts when staying in Jamaican hotels. I am Bajan and when I was there in 2009/10, I found out about the discount and got one too. At the hotel they asked for my Jamaican address (as I had no Ja ID) and I gave the next address I was going to, which was a guest house on Tichfield Hill, in Port Antonio.

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  • Here’s another thought – if my 14 year old daughter stays in a room with her mother and me, she is charged for as an adult. If she goes to the dining room or attends a Sunday lunch at any to the hotels, I have to pay for her as an adult. Fourteen years old, dammit she’s a child. She can’t vote, she can’t get a drivers license, she can’t attend the cinema as an adult but can be considered an adult by the hospitality industry. Would they serve her alcoholic drinks at the bar? I think not.

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  • I suppose prices have changed over the years.There was a time when an infant in arms rode free on the aircraft and children were those between the ages of 2 and 12 and eligible for paying only half the adult fare.Over 12 you paid the full fare.

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  • @FearPlay March 26, 2018 at 4:14 PM “Here’s another thought – if my 14 year old daughter…”

    Actually it is not the hotel industry’s doing that your 14 year old child is charged as an adult. It is entirely the doing of Inland Revenue/Barbados Revenue Authority which has determined that people 12 and older should be charged adult rates.

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  • SS Please tell me you’re pulling my leg.

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  • Good ideas Adrian, but I sometimes wonder if local hospitality businesses truly wish to do busine with local people. Somehow they still seem ambivalent to me.

    I was helping to arrange a local wedding reception which was due to take place in the off season. Several month before the date we called a local establishment, which we had heard had a good reputation and served excellent food to make enquiries and we were told “we are on vacation at Bathsheba. Call back at the end of the month.” No offer to take our name, our number, no offer to arrange an appointment to see their place at the end of their vacation. Nothing. Nothing. Of course we did not call back. Why would we?

    We went to Atlantis, a place which understands customer service and spent our $14,246.65 with them.

    Until local establishments are certain that they really truly want to court local people…

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  • SS there has always been two prices the local and the stick it to the tourist one.

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  • NorthernObserver

    SS…..and Atlantis ent local? You en know both the husband and wife who run that place is great grands of Mr J.N.Goddard….wuhloss.

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  • @FearPlay March 26, 2018 at 6:43 PM “SS Please tell me you’re pulling my leg.”

    No I am not pulling yor lrg. I got nuff, nuff siblings and of course at least one served a life sentence with Inland Revenue/BRA. Loll

    What I have told you is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

    And it has nothing to do with tourist vs locals. I too had my kids taxed as adults when they were kids and had not yet earned a single cent.

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  • @NorthernObserver March 27, 2018 at 3:46 AM “S…and Atlantis ent local? You en know both the husband and wife who run that place is great grands of Mr J.N.Goddard…wuhloss.

    Yes, yes. I know. I know that Atlantis is local. I know that it is white local. I am not racist you know. I spend my earnings with black people and with white people. But the attitude of some white Bajan so called “business” people stinks. They act as though they are doing you a favour by taking your money.

    When i get the nasty attitude I take my money elsewhere. Sometimes to foreigns or to foreign owned companies.

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  • Had a real, real nice reception lunch too, with plenty drinks and everybody went home happy.

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  • And the tax thing is not a DLP/BLP thing.

    It has long, long been so. It is an all party juck the people ting.

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  • By simple observation we have a full house on island as far as tourists arrivals go, it appears we have enough foreign exchange to fulfill our day to day requirements. The challenge is with servicing our debt payments.

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