Are WE Any Better?

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.

27 thoughts on “Are WE Any Better?

  1. These are the issues that need to be raised in the BHTA where solutions should be generated. Tour operators are in the business of making profits for themselves. But they need the small hotels who should demand their pound of flesh. It is businees not welfare.

  2. Mr Aubrey Bowler,

    You have spoken a single, simple truth here that de ole man has been chanting to these people for 26 years.

    Having commended you for your absolute brilliance let de ole man use your words to show you the depth of the problem

    “…The technical requirements for setting up a social media consulting company besides knowledge of the products is simply a laptop or smart phone…”

    On your first essay to Barbados Underground you have, de facto, cussed all the people and sheeple with that sentence.

    And let me show you how

    De ole man did a search for the names of the past presidents and CEOs for the CTO and CHTA and BHTA, you want to know why?

    Because, in your blazing “cuss word tirade” when you said and I quote

    “…The technical requirements for setting up a social media consulting company besides knowledge of the products is simply a laptop or smart phone…”

    you spoke to the one thing that all of these people DO NOT HAVE – KNOWLEDGE!

    You seem to not comprehend the enormity of that chasm that you have mapped out with your “foul language”

    Define for me the relationship between social media and the CTO/CHTA?

    Tell de ole man how

    2015 – 2018   Karolin Troubetzkoy, St. Lucia
    2014 – 2015    Emil Lee, St. Maarten
    2012 – 2014    Richard Doumeng, USVI
    2010 –2012    Josef Forstmayr, Jamaica
    2008 – 2010    Enrique de Marchena Kaluche, Dominican Republic
    2006 – 2008    Peter Odle, Barbados
    2004 – 2006    Senator Berthia M. Parle, MBE, St. Lucia
    2002 – 2004    Simón B. Suárez, Dominican Republic

    2000 – 2002    Ralph Taylor, Barbados
    1998 – 2000    Edward Malone, Aruba
    1996 – 1998    John Jefferis, Bermuda
    1994 – 1996    Sir Royston Hopkin, KCMG, Grenada
    1992 – 1994    Michael Williams, Bahamas
    1990 – 1992    Chris Sharpless, USVI
    1988 – 1990    Alfred Taylor, Barbados
    1986 – 1988    Ed Sheerin, Antigua
    1984 – 1986    Heinz Simonitsch, Jamaica
    1982 – 1984    George Myers, Bahamas etc.

    and the Software Requirements Specification will be linked?

    Do you really understand the seriousness of what you have written?

    Now, people going tell you dat dere is a nex feller heah dat does write a similar column, he name Loveridge but I doan read he no more cause…

    I going linger here a while and see how you develop this Aubrey cause dem going soon come heah and demand de ole man say what de solution is AS OPPOSED TO TEASING…

    But I’ve learnt that if people dont self actuate ALL ELSE IS WASTED if it is done for them.

  3. As a small hotel owner and operator of 25 years, after our initial start-up period, we never had any problem filling our 22 rooms and operating close to 100% during the winter months, which for us was November until Easter.
    When we were open during the summer months, occupancy was closer to 50-60 per cent but, we did not change our rates (winter/summer) during the last ten years, which worked for us.

    As the person who conceptualized the first working small hotels co-operative (Barbados Treasures), clearly there was and still is a great deal more that small hotels can do to improve marketing and occupancy. Our 10/10 concept was a classic example. Increase occupancy by 10 per cent year-round and increase room rates by US$10 per night.

    Barbados Treasures was also incredibly successful by incorporating a number of additional services like car rental, attractions, actiivities and dining experiences, passing on the savings to our guests.

  4. @piece

    It is better you tell it.

    When I began school we had a slate to write on. Today it is an Ipad.

    Social Marketing & digital marketing is my daily bread and you and I both know that time and technology waits for no one.

    Today technology is changing so fast that those on your list who were born in the 40’s & 50’s are at a disadvantage if they do not keep up. Therefore the hiring of digital and social marketing professionals is important.

    Unless the BMTI and hoteliers understand that Face Book, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat and other social vehicles are the new drivers of business, they are lost. Digital marketing was the way yesterday, is the way today and will be tomorrow – albeit in a more defined fashion.

    BMTI needs to have social marketing people in their office who speak many languages. For example.
    These persons should be young, and if not available in Barbados, import them on 3 year contracts.

    USA market – English & Spanish
    UK market – English, Arabic & Hindi
    European market – German, Italian, Spanish, French & English.
    Japanese market – Japanese

    Moreover, the BMTI in association with the hoteliers must target specific niche markets instead of wasting money on the shotgun approach and bad advice. For example, recently I saw an ad in Ireland for Barbados with no call to action. The reader has no idea who to call. What an absolute waste of money!

    Weddings & honeymoon market
    Long weekends

    Weddings & honeymoon market
    Cricket groups

    Senior market 50+
    Weddings & honeymoons

    Weddings & honeymoons

    The BMTI should have a separate website with beautiful images of Barbados for Bajans who want to download these pictures and send to their friends and colleagues via social media. This should be encourages as it is free advertising.

    Yesterday, a news release stated a shake up in the BMTI and that they were promoting particular persons. The question is if the BMTI gurus understand that the old way of marketing is out of the window and that fresh ideas and creative thinking needs to be utilized to fill the hotel beds on a year round basis.

    A little tip
    PLEASE use only beach pictures where the sun is shining, the beach has been raked, the sand is white and the sea turquoise.

    Let it not be said that I know all the answers as I do NOT. My company utilizes digital marketing & social media and my contribution is simply to give a wake up call to whosoever is marketing Barbados.

  5. so let de ole man pretend that I knew shy$e all about a bespoke Tourism system what would be important to me?

    I guess the first thing that I would look at is sales and finding clients who my product appealed to.

    ooops did I mention that my first order of the day would be to made sure I had product right?

    so as Adrian Loveridge said “…A small hotel [or any hotel for that matter] MUST provide an outstanding personal service as this is what the larger hotels cannot do….”

    The strategy whether big or small is niche, BUT IF YOU ARE SMALL, it must be that you offer that which is exemplary.

    Mr Loveridge “doubles-down” with his 10/10 programme with a focused 10% increase for an additional $10 US / night

    I like that AND I COULD BRAND THAT and market that AUTOMATICALLY, for the simultaneous propagation of a single integrated social media platform, FOR ANY SET OF CLIENTS, ANYWHERE IN THE CARIBBEAN!!!

    But then again, I am just an ole man

    That is the second thing that must obtain for such an integrated zystem – Efficiency:

    By that de ole man means that, the system being proposed, will it lead to the optimal use of the HR resources or $$ of the clients under management?

    what is optimal, AND WHAT I AM PROPOSING, will ensure that the respective sales teams of all these smaller hotels, who DO NOT HAVE TECH SAVVY STAFF, WILL NOT BE tied down in effecting the maintenance of this service.

    The third thing is Metrics!

    How do respective clients know and can measure the efficacy of dis product and service Aubrey?

    This week like it is de ole man week for apologies Aubrey.

    I now issue a second one to Mr. Adrian Loveridge (earlier this week I had to issue one to John, whom I sometimes call the Quaker, when he does his sadly correct pieces on the white enlightenment. JOHN had spoken of on the Aid Harmonisation topic here by a gentleman from the Bahamas. I had accused John of hijacking the topic. it was only after his insistence that it dawned on my ole ingrunt self that what John was saying made perfect sense I.e. that flooding, while it attracted Natural disaster funds emotively, has a “flip side”, one which Barbados is caught in – DROUGHT!)

    Now I continue to offer Adrian Loveridge, one, or two, or three.

    Loveridge has revealed that he is the author of at least 3 Tourism Marketing Initiatives!

    These, IN AND OF THEMSELVES, clearly show that Loveridge has deployed some premiere strategies to widen the tourism matrix significantly!

    Just and aside to you, and Adrian.

    you see those mini brochures that get stuck on desks all across hotels islandwide?

    de ole man got a problem with them because they lack “an effective virtual component” for performance measurement WHICH I AM GOING TO KEEP SECRET TOO!

    Just for a little while gents.

    But let me continue to discuss Adrian’s “organic matrix”

    He says, and I quote, “Barbados Treasures was also incredibly successful by incorporating a number of additional services like car rental, attractions, actiivities and dining experiences, passing on the savings to our guests….”

    I am sure that you get the genius behind that “widened, tourism focused, offering” dont you? And the impact on coterminous sectors? Rentals, attractions, dining etc.?

    can you imagine Adrian’s initiative on your “steroids”?

    Do you, and he, comprehend how de ole man’s Digital back end platform gives you access to Performance Measurements that minutely detail what are currently meaningless, outdated methods?

    You see why de ole man does speak so “denigratingly” (Walter Blackman the “He ***, Badword Removed, rightfully describes my language here on BU, like that)

    Do you now begin to understand the source of my righteous indignation when I sit and see CTO and CHTA and BTMI wasting millions of dollars doing poop?

    You see why de ole man does be shouting, in this Digital Wilderness, at the entrenched ineptitude?

    You see why I does curse these posturers who, AS OPPOSED TO COLLABORATING WITH AVAILABLE INDIGENOUS RESOURCES, seek to destroy them, Aubrey?

    I am here today apologising to Adrian Loveridge because, with these disclosures, i unnerstan dat de man herself is another innovator who musee get as many licks as a next few bajan innovators, AND ENT SAY WORD ONE, or if he did, DID NOT USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO COMPLAIN!

    De ole man gine issue a challenge to you Aubrey, and Adrian, and to any and all Bajans who are serious bout this Digital Opportunity, that goes a-begging.

    if any hotelier or B&B owner wants

    1.To increase the number of tourists coming to his/her facilities integrated digital tool that harmonizes their outreach and simultaneously facilitates realtime measurement of such outreach leverage currently static key customer data/profiles and deepen their market penetration
    4. leverage their limited marketing revenues for tourism promotions

    den they need to contact me grandson who is an expert in these matters and can do all of the above SLEEPING

  6. @ the Honourable Blogmaster your assistance please with an item here and another apology.

    This apology thing is becoming a habit

  7. De ole man is posting this item as an FYI.

    Its content is instructive

    The Problem is there and has been there for a long time in Tourism

    Therefore it would behoove the authorities AND THE RESPECTIVE INSTITUTIONS to search for a pertinent solution that IS NOT A SOPHISTICATED TEXT EDITOR that is irrelevant for Tourism CRM.

  8. @ Piece the Legend at 6:08 A M

    You are something else. I glad enough that you are only a piece. because a lot of we,in BU, would die from laughter. Excellent retort. Lol !!

  9. @ Mr Vincent Codrington.

    I am suitably humbled and simultaneously pleased by your words and summary observation.

    When I see the prolific talent and expertise that cross the doors of Barbados Underground, and extrapolate same to the landscape of Barbados ALL I CAN DO IS SCREAM!

    All our resources lie a-wasting while simpletons are running the ship aground!

    One of de grandchildren came home one day from school years ago with an experiment to make a compass.

    So de ole man watched the young un take a needle and magnetized it by stroking it with a magnet IN ONE DIRECTION for several minutes

    Then he stuck it in a dry cork and placed it in a cup of water

    And sure enough THAT PIN POINTED TO THE MAGNETIC NORTH , irrespective of how many times her turned around.

    He explained to de ole man that he had “induced” polarity into the material in the pin and consequently., given that the earth had its gravitational field THE PIN HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO POINT NORTH!

    Dem grandchildren real smart ESPECIALLY DAT GRANSON!

    If at independence we had a modicum of induced polarity towards true north, what has happened is that, over the years the rampant idiocy has subsumed our social and political atmosphere until the pervasive norm is that IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CREATE OR INDUCE THAT POLARITY because the elements in “the needle” have transmitted from metal to faeces WHICH CANNOT BE MAGNETIZED!

    De ole man gine try “to behave accordingly” to use your term BUT SOMETIMES IT DOES BE REAL HARD Mr. Codrington

  10. The continued pile up of garbage across Barbados…..under this BLP maladministration ……will soon enough – if not drastically improved – cause the death of tourism in this country .

    Unbelievable…but true…..with an additional monthly collection of 15 million dollars in Garbage and Sewage Tax.. ..the garbage stench across Barbados continues.. ..unabated.

    But garbage pile ups under BLP maladministrations over the years …..have become …par for the course .

    Many Barbadians will recall Liz Thompson ……spent a whole day working on a garbage truck picking up garbage……as a result of alarming pile ups across the island….at the time.

    A funny old place Bim can be at times…. incidentally on that said day Liz worked on the garbage truck ……David of BU fame…..was the truck driver !

    We know Liz got paid as a Minister that day ! David worked for FREE !

    That episode is immortalised in the RPB classic calypso……” Ain’t get a day “

    • @Fractured

      Be patient, you lot did not purchase trucks for 10 years, this BLP purchased how many within 15 months of office? The trucks are purpose built man, relax. The mistake you lot make meaning political class is that you are a despicable crew. You tell lies to the people in Opposition i.e. you promise the impossible dream, when you win government. A gullible people belie you every time. Guess what, that script is getting tired.

      Will nit touch the millions you lot paid to private contractors that could have purchased 50 trucks in the period.

  11. @ Hants at1:36 PM of 26 Oct.

    Please pardon my late response.I was not aware that this blog was still current. I do not agree with this mad rush to relieve small savers of their savings. Therefore it will not get my support.
    The same argument applies to investing householders deposit in high risk entrepreneurial projects directly. Obviously we need to introduce a compulsory subject of finance in all University courses. The level of ignorance is appalling.

    • Why the government cant incentivize credit unions to support the project (a good one) by allowing individuals to offset taxable income per the usual practice?

  12. @Blogmaster
    OK, so the energy concept is interesting. But without a hard prospectus, it is a pipe dream. Who is going to operate it? Have you seen how the bureaucrats in multiple NA jurisdictions have effed up the ‘legalization of mary jane’? They cannot run anything, anywhere, unless they have a monopoly. And it isn’t as Bajans have an excellent track record of publicly operating anything to offset the odds. I certainly can say the suggestion of ‘legislative intervention’ is not incentive. And renewable energy is a dicey area. A single reactor can power the island, and thorium is on the edge of displacing uraniium for smaller plants.
    Uranium science, was really about building bombs. Jumping on solar (renewable), because we have sunshine?

    • @Northern Observer

      As an alternative to fossil there must be a viable business plan out there. Agree government does not have a good track record to recommend it, does it mean it should always accept this position?

  13. @ the Honourable Blogmaster

    The posit suggested here by Northern Observer is a very simple one.

    If government, in which you are now placing absolute confidence, CAN’T COLLECT GARBAGE, CAN’T ISSUE DRIVER’S LICENSES, CAN’T IMPLEMENT ASYCUDA PROPERLY, NOR IMPLEMENT A FUNCTIONING NIS SYSTEM (both from an IT perspective and operating it)

    If government can’t do the simplest of regulatory things it is tasked and mandated to do DOES IT REALLY MAKE SENSE TO YOU THAT THEY SHOULD APPEND THESE MORE INTENSE & COMPETENCE BASED ACTIVITIES to their slate?

    While you express this incredulous expectation?

    Marijuana is legal down there yet?

    • One must live in hope. If hope does not fuel the making of our decisions what should be the purpose of our existence?



    • That type of society is gone, we operate in a secular and non secular place. The Constitution protects us all. We have to adapt to survive.

  16. @ David BU

    If you did a poll of Barbadian citizens they would choose Jesus’ protection rather than that of the Constitution.

  17. The pols have identified the liquidity available in savings. Even big Sinck did this. Their challenge is to get this money working. Energy has always been an issue in Barbados. If the goal is to replace ICE vehicles with electric, the problem grows. It has always held back industries/opportunities where power is a major input cost. So address energy. And be careful. The world is dotted with energy policy blunders. Don’t dictate to a depository of liquidity how they should reduce it.

    The Tourism Development Act 2002, which replaces the Hotel Aids Act of 1956, significantly expands incentives for investment in the Tourism and Hospitality sector in Barbados beyond the traditional accommodations sector. Incentives are offered in the new Act to restaurants, recreational facilities and services, development of attractions which emphasise the island’s natural, historic and cultural heritage and for the construction of properties in non-coastal areas. Provision is made in the Act for investors in tourism projects to benefit from write off of capital expenditure and 150% of interest; there is also exemption from import duty, value added tax and environmental levy in respect of furniture, fixtures and equipment as well as building materials, supplies and equity financing.

    I have highlighted this to suggest one of the problems in tourism has been the babying of tourism businesses that have refuse to grow up and remain in tourism neverland.

    Adrian LoveridgeOctober 22, 2019 4:39 PM

    As a small hotel owner and operator of 25 years, after our initial start-up period, we never had any problem filling our 22 rooms and operating close to 100% during the winter months, which for us was November until Easter.
    When we were open during the summer months, occupancy was closer to 50-60 per cent but, we did not change our rates (winter/summer) during the last ten years, which worked for us. Obviously Adrian was on of the very few that got out of tourism neverland and grew up.

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