The Adrian Loveridge Column – Open for Singles!
Depending on which of the multitude of sources you believe, our average year round hotel occupancy is quoted at around 67 percent.
Recently a senior industry spokesperson stated that we have a total of ‘6,000 hotel rooms and 3,000 villa rooms’.
This does not of course include the explosion of alternative lodging choices which has ‘appeared’ over the last decade. Until these Airbnb type offerings are fully identified, systematically listed and licensed, we can only speculate on just what percentage of our total arrivals choose to stay at these previously non traditional accommodations.
So, let’s just focus on those 9,000 villa and hotel rooms for the moment.
At 67 per cent average annual occupancy that would equate to having every one of those rooms full for 244 nights of the year. If a typical average stay is 7 nights with two persons per room, that’s a total of 627,428 people, but that does not seem to tally with published arrival figures.
This is perhaps an area which needs a great deal more investigation and clarification or our combined efforts in marketing the destination could be based on misconceptions.
Conversely, that would also mean that the ‘9,000 rooms’ were empty for 120 nights of the year, which based on the same assumptions, mean that we actually have an unfilled capacity of another 308,571 visitors or guests per year. I use the word ‘guests’ deliberately, as I personally feel there is a great deal more opportunity for domestic staycations.
The question then begs, how do we creatively fill all those empty rooms both to the financial benefit of the individual properties and to the country at large with the collection of increased taxation?
There are many existing promotions to encourage special events including sports, culinary and other potential areas of mass interest.
Could a singles month be a possibility?
Most of us fully understand the reason for single supplements and the economic reasons they are applied. But an empty room has no value, as it’s impossible to fill it twice on another night.
There are several specialist single travel tour operators who already have a captive customer base that we could work with and I am sure our partner airlines would welcome the possibility of filling more seats, even if it’s one at a time. When for instance, was the last operator FAM (familiarization) trip specifically aimed at these tour companies?
When I GOOGLED ‘single travel to Barbados’ I was surprised just how little information was available, so perhaps this is an area that our tourism policymakers could highlight and exploit.
It would of course be foolish to speculate substantial funds on any targeted
marketing plan without first embarking on research to identify the very best way of engaging this niche group, which some estimate could be as high as one in four of all travellers from our major visitor sources.