Submitted by Aubrey Bowler
What credit policies do the small hotels in Barbados have in place to protect their assets when dealing with tour operators and/or hotel consolidators?
Hotels and apartments owners in small exotic island destinations today are at a disadvantage when dealing with large charter operators and hotel consolidators like Webbeds, Hotelbeds, Airbnb etc. as their payment policies are one sided.
The recent demise of Thomas Cook has shone a light on these practices which have been abundant from the 70’s especially with regard to Barbados. It is unfortunate that if you are a small hotel and want business you have to follow the practice of getting paid 3 weeks to 3 months after the guests have departed. Moreover, most hotel consolidators demand up to 38% off rack rate.
Besides Sandals Resorts, there are two other Caribbean hotels that run 93% occupancy year round. One is in Antigua and the other in Aruba. These are not chain hotels nor are they big hotels. They have found a method of offering exactly what their clients want and provide the best pictures, texts and descriptions to tour operators. More importantly, they see that they are included in as many small and medium tour operators brochures as possible and demand prepayment – no credit.
What is the solution?
Unless you are a good marketer and can control your inventory, you are in trouble.
Small island destinations like Barbados need to grow small businesses who are learned in social media and marketing skills as this is the future. For example competence in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc not only postings but also the advertising aspect of these organizations.
If one looks solely at the hotel sector, I suggest that they try to get direct business. Three or four hotels should get together and market under one name and one website. “Turquoise Barbados” for example. It is important that the word Barbados is in the name as this is strength in social media searches.
If they are unable to use social media themselves, they need to hire a local company that can take care of this assignment. Daily tweets or published info with GREAT pictures are needed for the first 3 months, after that they can publish every week.
The technical requirements for setting up a social media consulting company besides knowledge of the products is simply a laptop or smart phone.
A social media company can draw the business to the hotel. It is now up to the hotel management to ensure that the clients are provided with an outstanding travel experience as they in turn can give good reviews of the hotel on leaving.
A small hotel MUST provide an outstanding personal service as this is what the larger hotels cannot do.