The Adrian Loveridge Column – Incentive Travel

Recently seeing an image of one of the late Sir Freddie Laker’s B707’s, registration number G – AVZZ, painted in Caribbean Airways livery, took me back several decades to when we conceived and operated one of our largest groups at that time to Barbados.

We had approached a Swedish owned high end caravan company who had a small manufacturing plant in Felixstowe, England. They had a fairly steady average production line each month with the notable exception of September, which was traditionally a quiet time in terms of unit construction and sales.

So we crafted an incentive scheme, where every retail dealer that purchased at least one caravan to be delivered and invoiced in September, ‘won’ a ten day holiday to Barbados for themselves and accompanying partner.

Even factoring in 40 years of inflation, the cost per holiday had to fall below GB Pounds 500 each person, which gave return flights, hotel accommodation, most meals and what now seems like an incredible offering which included a mini-moke safari, exclusive charter of the original Jolly Roger and several other goodies.

Southern Palms was chosen as the host hotel, which still remains one of my personal island favourites. All went incredibly well with the 72 member group until the day of departure. After checking-in, we boarded the aircraft and taxied off almost exactly on-time. A few minutes later, there was a very loud explosion with one of the four engines fragmenting across the fuselage.

In what appeared to be a very English accent, the Captain, who I suspect was ex: Royal Air Force, calmly announced that we ‘had developed a slight technical problem’ and had to return to Barbados, which would take a ‘few minutes’.  At first you could barely hear a whisper, but as the time ticked away, that mummed quietness slowly turned into an almost crescendo of noise as anxiety grew. Eventually, as we saw the island lights in the distance, that noise evaporated and we landed perfectly safely without further concern.

Of course, with almost full fuel tanks, the plane could not land before dumping thousands of gallons of aviation spirit at sea. By then, Southern Palms Hotel had re-filled with new guests, so our next challenge was to find almost 40 empty rooms at a few minute’s notice. Fortunately, Rockley Resort was able to accommodate the entire group for the 4 days it took to fly a replacement engine down from Miami and the time to fit and test.

The same air crew flew us back to Gatwick without any further incidents.

I still believe incentive and motivational travel offers incredible further potential for a destination like Barbados, despite tax changes negatively impacting on the net beneficial value to the recipients.

For many of our visitors, a taxation rate of 40 per cent on earned income is not uncommon, so the award of unplanned holiday can often be a far more compelling ‘carrot’ than cash after mandatory deductions.

23 comments

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  • Ah, happy days! I recall flying on ICA to Luxembourg in 1972. I don’t remember Gatwick being an available destination at that time, either for operational reasons, or denial of landing rights. Freddie put the wind up the price gouging BA and was the reason the latter soon had to drop its prices. Sadly once again Barbados is a price gouging route.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Adrian: Quite an interesting story. My question is did the manufacture of the caravans repeat the incentive program?

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  • Adrian

    It would be nice to hear from you as the winter season develops what feedback you are gettinh from our visitors on the various taxes on room etc.

    I think that is another policy that this government might have to revisit.

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  • Robert, soon after the trip the company was sold and the new owners did not see fit to repeat it.

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  • A few years ago, some travel agencies in Barbados offered “packages” to various Caribbean islands, which included airfare, accommodation, taxi from and to the destination’s airport and scenic tours.

    The prices varied according to each destination and one could have travelled to St. Lucia, for example, and stayed at Glen Castle Resort in Gros Islet for 4 nights for $600.

    From October 1st, 2018 this current BLP administration introduced an Airline Travel and Tourism Development fee, which, for passengers travelling outside of CARICOM will be US$70.00 (BDS$140) and for those within CARICOM US$35.00 (BDS$70). This fee will be in addition to the Departure Tax.

    Sometimes we “castigate” LIAT for its high airfares and tardy service. However, we must be FAIR in our criticisms. The cheapest airfare quoted by LIAT to travel from BGI to SVD from January 18 – 21, 2019 was $603.54.

    The breakdown is as follows:

    Airfare from BGI to SVD = $90.00
    Taxes = $237.04

    Airfare from SVD to BGI = $120.00
    Taxes = $156.50

    That’s $327.54 to SVD and $276.50 from SVD to BGI.

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  • @Artax

    The modern airports constructed from the proceeds of loans must by serviced and maintained.

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  • David BU

    Yes, Antigua and St. Vincent recently constructed new international airports……and Dominica is about to construct one as well.

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  • but couldn’t this policy be ultimately counter productive given the relatively low fares to international destinations from time to time which the average holiday passenger will prefer?

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  • Vincent Codrington

    Airports are costly enterprises to own and to operate. Are the recovery costs of international airports any cheaper.?

    Cheap tickets are not plentiful. Try booking a full regular fare on those same airlines and it quadruples.

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  • Back in the early 70s I had a family member who was flying back to Bim from Europe arriving either very late at night or in the early morning hours on an Internation Caribbean Airways flight. When the plane got down by BGI it went into a holding pattern and was circling around for some time. The captain came on the PA and said they were flying a holding pattern waiting for a turn to land because the airport was busy with other airline traffic that night. This was at like 1AM in the morning at BGI, mind you. Then one of the crew came out of the cockpit, walked down the aisle to roughly mid-wing, removed the floor carpet and opened an inspection panel in the now bare metal floor and proceeded to start poking around in the aircraft’s innards underneath. After a while he got up, put everything back in place and went back up to the cockpit and they proceeded to an uneventful landing at a very quiet and unbusy BGI.

    The story came out later (I am not sure if it was just a rumour or a confirmed news story) that the ICA plane had a problem that night getting the landing gear to come down, and plans were actually being made as they were circling around to have them ditch the plane off of Oistins in the pitch black of night if the worst came to the worse and the gear was found to be well and truly stuck in the up position. Fortunately for everyone on board and their loved ones, it wasn’t.

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  • @Green Monkey

    You should call retired Pat Callender to ascertain if there is truth to the story.

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  • Looks like it is not only the traveler looking for incentives.

    PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands, – The Sandals Resorts International (SRI)-owned Beaches Resort Villages and Spa has confirmed the “indefinite” closure of its facilities in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) from January 2021.
    Media reports here had indicated that shut down is linked to a multi-million dollar tax bill which is in dispute, with the TCI government.
    “Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa will be closed from September 3rd to October15th in 2019 and from September 7th to October 22, 2020, and then for an indefinite period from January 2021,” the resort said in a statement.
    “Guests travelling between now and January 2021 that are not impacted by these closures will receive the vacation experience that we have become known for. All features and facilities of the resort will be open and operating per usual.
    “For impacted guests, we are committed to making this as seamless as possible by allowing them to change their travel dates to Beaches Turks & Caicos or travel on their original travel dates to one of our other locations in Jamaica …at no additional cost, including airfare change fees. Guests may also choose to travel to any of our 16 Sandals Resorts,” it added.
    Media reports said that the government taxes owed by the hotel are in the vicinity of US$60 million and that discussions to settle the matter have been ongoing for some time.
    In the statement, the resort noted “the upcoming closures of Beaches Turks & Caicos are the result of several critical and long-standing issues which have impacted our operations over the past several years. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our customers and look forward to welcoming them back soon.”
    CMC

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  • “Media reports here had indicated that shut down is linked to a multi-million dollar tax bill which is in dispute, with the TCI government.”

    At least they won’t have that problem here in Barbados as the tax concessions granted by the last government will be picked up and paid for by the taxpayers! Bully for you Butch.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Sir Simple Simon, P.C.

    How are you faring under this year’s polar vortex?

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  • What say ye Loveridge.
    Any comments coming from your well oil penned

    lacklustre tourism performance

    New BES head ‘puzzled’ by lacklustre tourism performance
    Article by
    Barbados Today Published on
    January 30, 2019
    If the tourism industry is to continue to be Barbados’ largest foreign exchange earner it has to evolve.

    That is the view of new president of the Barbados Economic Society (BES) Simon Naitram, who has described a slowdown in the sector despite a 2.8 per cent increase in visitor arrivals in 2018 as “puzzling”.

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  • Mariposa,

    absolutely no surprise to me. Shorter average stay, decreased spend partially due to increased taxes (second departure tax, room levy and 2.5 tourism tax). Growth of alternative accommodation (quoted 40,000 plus in Airbnb properties alone last year) with substantial proportional of this revenue unaccounted for, 500 plus rooms with Sandals, again without collecting revenue here. I could go on and on, but we are rapidly (if not already) becoming an overpriced destination that is not offering value-for-money in many cases.

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  • @Adrian

    The trend started about when?

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  • David, some time ago. That is why we have been so pro-active with re-DISCOVER because the overwhelming feedback (from the customers) is that we have been overpriced for years.

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  • We known Adrian. The question was asked to deflate the political nonsense associated with the discussion.

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  • Truthfully i think those increased taxes are a killer.
    It all but place the local economy on notice ( meaning that tourist spend would not accommodate local spending) after having to doll out hotel accommodation fees which include taxes on food and room plus deparure tax and luggage tax.All this adds up to short changing local spend where the money really counts

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  • Can any one explain or interpret what Kerrie Symmonds was speaking in his utterances about tourist spend for their money worths
    Why did govt not take the initiative of giving back something of worth to the tourist before hog tying the tourist pocket book ( like ganstas) and placing a truck load of taxes in their face before their feet hit the sandy shores of barbados
    Now we have Symmonds ( the babbler) talking a load of jobby after the fact.

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