Many years ago, I bounced an idea off the late Sir Harold St. John, which we dubbed the 10/10 concept.
Originally the 10/10 concept was geared towards our 100 plus small hotels which, according to the recognised Caribbean definition, is a property under 76 rooms, the typical small hotel on Barbados is closer to 22 rooms.
The objective was to take the average occupancy level during the long eight summer months from 50 to 60 per cent and the four critical peak winter months from 70 to 80 per cent.
The second 10 referred to increasing average room rate by US$10 per night.
To help put this in perspective, our largest private hotel group reported an average of 67 per cent occupancy for the six months ending 31st March 2018. This directly correlates to having up to 588 empty rooms for 60 nights or over 35,000 vacant room nights. If we can collectively find a way to fill these rooms, it’s a win-win for everyone.
The newly appointed Chairman of the soon to be merged Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, (BTMI) and Barbados Tourism Product Authority recently articulated in another branch of the media, that his first mandate will be ‘to give the private sector a much bigger role in running the BTMI’.
The second mandate would be ‘what we call the PPP and the intention is to really get more players to the table, more participation and joining our efforts, in terms of marketing. We have a lot of small hoteliers and a lot of industry players across the island that (who) do their own things in marketing. If we can coordinate that better and be a little more focus with it, I think that we can achieve a lot more in terms of getting results out of the marketing effort that we are putting in’.
To many of us that is music to our ears and a practice that our own efforts have seen as a primary objective for decades. Despite the obvious merits in adopting a collaborative marketing approach, there will always be those wanting to go their own way or not being able to fully comprehend the bigger picture.
But this should not dissuade creative ways of including a greater and more focused sector participation and just as important, the savings associated through cost sharing.
Of course, there are already shining and successful examples of joint co-operation among our tourism entities. The re-DISCOVER dine-around initiative which was initially launched in 2002, now embraces an impressive 65 restaurant partners.
While it continues to operate as a not-for-profit venture, it is fully supported by a car rental company, submarine operator, one of our leading banks, BTMI and the Tourism Development Corporation.
This year re-DISCOVER joined with the travel giant, Expedia and the BTMI under the Brilliant Barbados banner, raising the level of visitor awareness and usage to a record high.
It has also created a platform to support major sporting events like the upcoming Rugby Barbados World 7’s where every attendee and participant will be given added value.
I sincerely wish the new BTMI Chairman and his board all the very best. We have extremely challenging times ahead and it will take a concerted unified effort to ensure new innovative plans are effectively implemented.