The Adrian Loveridge Column – Sharpening Tourism Pencil a Must

What practical measures could we implement to help negate the consequence of the falling value of Sterling and make Barbados more affordable for our existing and potential British visitors?

My thoughts are, that we have to think way beyond the very basics, like flights and accommodation and look for smart partnerships which will bring the overall cost of the holiday down significantly.

For our locally based tourism providers, it is perhaps easy to forget that for most of our arriving passengers, their overall experience starts with a journey to the airport by car or train, and often includes pre or post flight hotel accommodation and long term parking. These and other areas like preferential currency exchange and the choice of how to pay for these services, could through alliances, provide significant savings for our visitors.

By negotiating volume rates with specific hotels and parking options and tying this in with a named credit or debit card which offers cash back, is a win-win option. Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester airports are incredibly well served by trains and with one of the various RailCards, available for a small annual fee, savings of over 30 per cent for adults and 60 per cent for children.

By working with existing highly successful online marketing companies like Groupon, TopCashBack and Loco2, further substantial savings are possible, reducing the overall bottom line expense.

In 2014, Groupon boasted they had over 48 million active customers across 48 countries spending more than US$7.6 billion during that year. TopCashBack partners with over 4,000 merchants where registered users can obtain significant discounts in the way of returning cash rewards on everyday purchases across a huge range of goods and services.

Loco2, now a subsidiary of the French railway giant, voyages-SNCF, is an integrated booking engine, incorporating train franchises throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, supplying the most competitive fares and journey options. They are one of the few such entities to offer an introductory bonus, which allows both those recommending the company and new users to receive a meaningful discount on their first ticket purchase.

Naturally the airfare is one of the largest component costs of the holiday and our more independent travellers are increasingly ‘shopping around’ for more competitive choices by using websites like Google Flights which gives all the options and a very useful ‘price grid’ which helps identify particular days of travel which are less expensive.

Again by choosing to link through TopCashBack, both Virgin Atlantic and Thomas Cook Airlines offer a rebate on total ticket price.

While we may remain a largely tour operator driven destination that has a small number of brand name properties, the larger hotel groups worldwide are aggressively concentrating on attracting online direct bookings by guaranteeing the lowest possible room rate. They have found that this increases guest loyalty while reducing the dependency on intermediate booking agencies and the substantial commission they extract.

This trend will almost certainly continue, with the more innovative hotel groups further strengthening that brand allegiance by probably offering ‘free night’ stays to be taken at a later date based on completed stays. Of course there is a great deal more that ‘we’ can do, but the longer we delay, the risk is that our competitors will inevitably seize the moment.

37 thoughts on “The Adrian Loveridge Column – Sharpening Tourism Pencil a Must

  1. From what I gathered here, it means that our profit from room rentals may decline. This therefore leads to the question of partnerships with large hotel franchises and what are our real benefits.
    This article opens up a can of worms. Recent radio reports suggest that tourism earnings are showing a decline.

  2. I noticed a large percentage of the plan to fight off the sterling is based on foreign and third party negotiations.

    My question is what are the hoteliers and the BTA doing locally to market an aggressive plan for the last quarter of this year? Have they been discussions amongst those locally and the marketing wing of the BTA? Is there a Brexit Promotion planned for the last quarter?

    I hope you guys realise that Boris will leave the EU regardless to the fallout. The Brits now have a right hand drive Trump to deal with!

  3. @ David

    I sure they got a few million there or can have an emergency vote for it. This is way more critical than alot of what they are spending on. While we sit here and twiddle our thumbs places like Spain working on deals for that last quarter.

    The spend has already started to slow with the British visitors here and we can’t blame them, as they don’t know what sterling will be worth when they get home.

    I think in the last quarter for those that come we will have to literally pry the money out of their wallets.

  4. @ David

    If You go to The Guardian International Edition you will see an article entitled ” consumer spending at weakest since mid 90s amid Brexit Chaos.”

    So even of they come this is what we will have to deal with here too. We need to offer serious value this last quarter and into winter till this matter settles down.

  5. @ John A
    The tourism industry has been heading in the wrong direction for decades. We always bragged about the numbers but we operated as if we had no competition.
    The industry was the ideal vehicle to be used for a truly progressive enfranchisement program. Billions of dollars have passed through the country like a burst water main.
    Where there is no vision the industry will perish.

  6. @ William

    That is true but they will now have to get their act together quickly. Extracting spend from the Brits over the next couple of months will be tough to say the least. Thing is I don’t think those responsible have a true idea of what is ahead for them.

  7. @ William

    Also remember over 17 million Brits visit Spain yearly. You can bet they will be at the forefront of a market push to hold on to that business.

    We are fray in shark business here and we better come to that realisation quickly if we want to have our foot in the Brexit door.

  8. @ Jon A

    The tourists (visitors) who will always return to Barbados, no matter the exchange rate with the pound, are those whose heritage are in Barbados. But, somehow, I have a suspicion that the tourism officials do not want those visitors. Not our type.

  9. @ Hal.

    They better open the door for all with money to spend this time around! I been asking what the hoteliers and the BTA have planned to put in place, but they all quiet like a church mouse on it!

    Have any of you heard anything from the minister of tourism on this matter?

  10. @ John A

    Apart from sun, sea and sand, why should a tourist visit Barbados? For the restaurants? The Museums? The architecture? The theatres? Music festivals? The friendliness of the people? What?

  11. @ Hal Austin,

    “But, somehow, I have a suspicion that the tourism officials do not want those visitors. Not our type.”

    And you can add to that the natives!

    If you are quick you may just catch on ITV+1, Ainsley Harriott’s cookery programme which highlights his stay in Barbados. He interviewed two people: both of them were local whites. The first was a lady who gave him a tour of Welchman Hall gully. The other was an award winning Bajan chef. There was a complete absence of the Afro Bajan. It was almost as if they did not exist!

  12. @ Hal.

    We undoubtedly have a great deal of competition now with the British visitor. Barbados is still in their eyes a very desirable destination, but they are other places who are way cheaper and closer, which with a weak sterling would now be a threat. This issue will be a challenge for all the Caribbean destinations and the first horse out the box will have the advantage on the rest.

    What will be interesting is to see how those traditional visitors that come often will respond to the weaker currency. Will they still come? Will they come for a shorter period? Will they look for a cheaper destination till things settle?

    In the meantime the minister of tourism and the BTA remain silent on this critical matter.

  13. @RLSN

    I saw it. Ainsley has form when it comes to Barbados. He is of Barbadian/Jamaican heritage. Remember the programme he did that included Gwen Workman. That was good. This the Barbados the tourism officials like to project.
    Tell you a story: the tourist board here in London invited me once, years ago, to one of its events, at a Park Lane hotel, and put me to sit next to their PR person, a young Pakistani woman. And, throughout the evening, she was trying to sell Barbados to me as a Daily Mail journalist. I kept quiet until at the end I told her I was from Barbados. She turned and talked to the person at the other side. The tourist board in London are jokers.

  14. @ Hal
    @ John A

    We seem to treat tourism as separate from the entire leisure industry. Our marketing concepts and budgets were always limited. It’s a ministry that embraces many marketing/ sales dynamics that can’t be supervised adequately by any politician who just win votes.
    We had some top local managers back in the 70s and 80s who used to keep the personal touch alive. They were the ones who sent the tourists to Baxter’s Road etc.
    The charm of the island was its major attraction and the then excellent staff at hotels such as the Hilton.
    A tourist imagines an island and its people differently. Once they are no longer charmed by these two seemingly small factors, the attachment is gone.
    For example many tourists cannot believe that ordinary non- rich Bajans live on some of the most picturesque pieces of land in places such as St Joseph. That simple thing fascinated them.They are also fascinated by children wearing uniforms to school etc.
    Remember the floor show at the Island Island where tourists and locals intermingled. That’s charm.
    The trick in marketing is the messaging. We missed it.

  15. @ William

    You are right. Brits are different tourists to Yankees. But Barbados s different. Everytime I go to the Bahamas they treat me like a local. In fact, I have many Bahamian friends I met through visiting the country. And on Paradise Island they treat me differently, but in a nice way.

  16. @ Hal.

    You know what many tourist that come are amazed by? The fact that we are one of the few places where an open air movie drive in still operates. I know several who go just for the novelty of being able to sit outside the car and watch a movie in the moonlight. It’s this little gems we don’t market to the visitor.

  17. @ Hal

    I warn you already to stop eating that conch chowder from up there by the bridge across to Paradise Island and you will not listen! Lol

  18. @ Hal

    Actually now you mentioned The Bahamas, I remember when they had the market crash in the USA in 2007 to 2008 The Atlantis Hotel was running a special. If you paid for 4 nights you got the 5th free and if you paid for 5 nights you got 2 free. I guess they were not willing to wait for their tourism minister to announce a plan!

    Maybe the hoteliers here should consider taking a page out of their book.

  19. @ John A

    Love it. Great country. Nassau reminds me of old Bridgetown, Grand Bahama is a bit more trendy. I remember when we had conch in Barbados, before our leaders allowed over fishing. Bajans are bad, no terrible, stewards of the environment. Whatever happened to flying fish, conch, wood doves, ground doves, etc. What about the Animal Flower Cave?

  20. @ Hal
    The Animal Flower Cave has been nicely developed restaurant included. Beautiful view of the big sea rock is still there

  21. @ Hal Austin

    ” ground doves”

    Use to be lots of them by the Garrison but I don’t see many these days. Still a few around. The destruction of the habitat( concrete) and the excessive use of pesticides seem to be the causative reasons for the decline. I cannot remember the last time I have seen a Mole Cricket or for that matter a Pond Fly ( Dragon Fly) or Lady Birds (Lady Bugs). Years ago before the widespread use of pesticides they were a common sight. Just like the absence of sea shells on the beaches and sea-horses. The ladybirds were particularly good at destroying Scale insects on legumes. With some of them around one didn’t have to use chemical pesticides.

  22. __ But, somehow, I have a suspicion that the tourism officials do not want those visitors. Not our type.__

    Come on Hal, you should know by now that in Barbados a Tourist is a person of European extraction from Europe or North America. Black people – however wealthy or well-heeled – can not be tourists and will not be treated accordingly.

    @ William Skinner

    It is almost 2020. The 1970s and 80s are many moons ago now, 40-50 years in fact. That quaint version of Bdos you remember is gone forever and will never return.

  23. @ Dullard

    I understand your comment. It’s possible to move with the times and still maintain the charm of the country. This is mainly achieved by how you not only develop but maintain your environment. Why do you think people still go to Italy , Parris , Egypt , Hawaii , France, London, New York etc ?

  24. Wood doves, ground doves, and ladybirds (bugs) are thankfully still plentiful in my neck of the woods.

  25. Every two days there is another law on the books restricting Barbadians from doing this or doing that. We must be the most legislated nation in the world yet, very little application of these laws.

    Take for instance last Sunday morning. My family and I went to Accra Beach around ten a.m. and shortly after arriving there witnessed a pharmaceutical sales professional approaching and selling what must surely be medical Marijuana with impunity. This taking place in the shadow of an overflowing skip on one of the more beautiful and still public beaches in Barbados. Easy like Sunday morning. Where were the police or NCC beach wardens? Would it matter?

    Two other observations: Are the NCC benches placed on the beach for the convenience of beachgoers or are they there to satisfy the sleeping needs of our many beach nuisance?
    Secondly, with the upsurge in umbrella and beach chairs being placed strategically on many popular beaches, what standards are applied to sanitizing these recliners before rental? Keep in mind that mostly unclad bodies come into contact with these chairs and further, they are also left exposed to the elements (vermin and rain) overnight.

    Yes, we need to look at the big picture before and after BREXIT but we must also pay attention to the small details.

  26. Hants, in the UK when a building site is being excavated and an archaeological site is discovered then work is ceased immediately. No credible site manager would sit back and allow such wanton destruction. Imagine if half of Harrison’s cave was demolished before somebody decided to alert the construction company that it is a crime to continue excavating the site. This story is good in that it highlights the plight of the country. A docile and an ignorant people led by a party of philistines. Surely this must be a prosecutable offence?

  27. @TLSN

    It is the law. You call in archaeologists, not historians. You see it on nearly every building site in the City.

  28. @Hants..
    I felt very sad when I read the story…

    “But our major and immediate recommendation is that no more demolition continues,” said Watson, who added that “50 per cent of it is lost, but what is there, the other 50 per cent, is outstandingly beautiful and really can be kept”.

    Clearly there is a lot of damage to the structure, but there is a lot more to be seen, there is a lot more to be discovered. Clearly the Barbados National Trust, the Barbados Museum and the people at the Garrison Historical Consortium and an appropriate archeological and engineering team need to be established as a matter of urgency . . . This is of such enormous value for our history, for our people and for our tourism, of course. So this has huge intrinsic value as well as economic value,” he said.

    Recalling that in the past he would go to the area “dozens of times” with his son to fly kites and pick dunks, Sir Henry said he had no idea of the structure he was walking on.

    “This is a solid structure, the walls are several feet thick. It is astonishing that this was hidden and there was no oral history or memory being passed on,” he added.

    This could be a place for tourists to visit. It appears to have the size, beauty and history. I am wondering what made them realize that they were destroying a piece of history?

  29. @ Hal,
    How ironic that in Syria and Iraq during the rise of ISIS we witnessed the destruction of both countries rich building heritage. Can you remember the staged videos of those lunatics destroying the countries monuments? Fast forward to 2019 in Barbados and some idiotic Philistine building company believed it acceptable to desecrate/destroy the heritage site containing Fort George before having second thoughts.

    The only difference between ISIS and the not too smart construction company responsible for the destruction of Fort George was that ISIS knew exactly what they were destroying unlike the Bajan based “construction” outfit.

    I will once again ask the simple question: “Will the company who was responsible for this destruction be prosecuted?”

  30. @ Bajan in NY,

    Good idea. They should be asked to restore, immediately, the damaged part of the structure. They should also be fined heavily and named, This is how it is done in the UK and in most developed countries. Why has the construction company not be named and shamed?

    Chew on this. During the period of slavery the infrastructure of the country was, generally speaking, well planned, maintained and on a par with Europe and other developed countries at the time. However the slaves had no rights, lived in deplorable conditions and were not free. Fast forward 2019. Slavery has been abolished and the descendants of these slaves have been left free to govern the country. They have proved themselves to be incapable of managing the country’s infrastructure. It is their job to ensure that the built environment is managed, protected and developed with respect to both the environment and the country’s heritage.

    I can assure you that the government would have survey records of the Fort George site.

    I have long since given up on that island. Surely you would agree with your friend Hal Austin that Barbados is a “failed state”

  31. @TLSN
    They should be asked to restore, immediately, the damaged part of the structure. They should also be fined heavily and named.”

    Just want to based my comment on the very last word of your sentence “named”.

    I have seen a number of local stories where there was some ‘wrong’ done and these stories do not name the person who committed the ‘wrong’. At times there seem to be a set of rules about when people should be named.

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