Adrian Loveridge Column – We Need a Plan to Fill Rooms All Year Round

This week, I would like to follow on from my tourism wish list for this year, but by putting suggestions on how we can make a meaningful difference to the industry locally.

Whatever we do collectively to increase airlift into Barbados, unless the average annual room occupancy for our hotels, villas and other accommodation options can be dramatically improved, we will remain as a largely seasonal driven destination. Plans, discussions, projections and alike indicate that if only a percentage of the ‘promised’ new hotels are eventually built, it could easily add 1,000 rooms to our total room stock.

Unless these largely brand named properties have some magical proven formula, then we will be faced with the same challenge, to fill those rooms in the slower summer months without further diluting existing hotels occupancy levels.

Like Hilton, some of the other anticipated big names have very successful guest loyalty programmes, which can be fine-tuned to encourage rooms being redeemed during softer months and if these ‘brands’ can partner with airlines to offer attractive flights to reach us, there is tremendous untapped potential.  A classic example of this has been American Airlines offering special fares using lower required miles this year, citing Miami to Barbados for as little as 8,000 miles and US$7.10 in taxes.

The substantial change of use of the original Sherbourne or LESC conference facility has given us the opportunity to finally build a custom built alternative in a far more logical location.  Unless, there is an imminent intention to re-start a hotel with at least 400 rooms plus at Sam Lords, which could logically work with The Crane, jointly offering a large conference and meeting facility, then, at least to me, the only logical location for a new multi-use centre would be at Needham’s Point.

Whatever, the ecological challenges still are at the former Holborn oil refinery, we cannot allow such a prime site to remain unused and idle, especially if more rooms come online in the same proximity with the proposed Hyatt and Indigo.  Let alone any plans for redevelopment of the Radisson Aquatica and Savannah hotels, together with the St. Ann’s Fort site of the Royal Barbados Defence Force.

It must be overtly obvious by now, to our planners and policymakers, that those attending conferences want to be accommodated within comfortable walking distance of where their meetings take place. When you add to what is clearly one of the most spectacular sandy and swimmable bays in the entire Caribbean and offering a choice of eating and drinking establishments to suit all budgets, then, surely the combination is unbeatable?

Restore or re-build one or more piers, with additional restaurant choices and we would have a world class facility which would help drive increased airlift at off-peak periods. None of this is of course rocket science or has not been said before, in my case for over three decades, but perhaps the timing has never been better with an improved investment climate.

Let us not get carried away with adding vast amounts of new rooms, without a creative plan and vision to fill them.

28 comments

  • If Barbados had great cultural events, great scenic topography; great diversity of wildlife and plant life, instead of only sea and sun, the problem would be solved.

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  • Whenever policymakers and hoteliers like Adrian speak of the need to fill hotel rooms during the slower summer months, they should directly address the risk that they will damage the island’s brand if they try to meet this need.

    I’ve heard many personal stories of North American tourists who were unimpressed by Barbados because it was “too hot and humid”, or “too rainy.” And these were “high season” visitors.

    Imagine how disappointed many people would be if there only experience of this island is a visit in the stifling heat of the July-August rainy season.

    Local opinion leaders just don’t appreciate how much more difficult it is for visitors to adjust to the weather in the hot season. If hotel owners, in particular, want to fill hotel rooms in the summer, it would be self-defeating for them to think only of their own narrow interests and ignore the special problems they would be creating for tourists.

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  • There will always be those who criticise. Millions travel in the summer for the experience.

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  • The same around the mulberry bush year after year
    Some of the article input doesnt seem to take relief from additional room stock unless govt put measures in place that can satisfy the tourist appetites which goes further than sun and sea during the summer months
    Also i sense that Aldridge has concern as to the impact the additional room stock might negatively affect hoteliers dwindling numbers during the summer season

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ David January 13, 2020 8:49 AM

    But these “millions” travel to Europe like Paris, Rome, Venice, and Amsterdam (even the UK) for cultural attractions.

    Not to the Caribbean like Barbados offering ‘sun-sea-rum’ and wuk-up.

    Barbados is a winter destination for snowbirds and Not a Summer hotspot which is bereft of cultural attractions with the few relics of its ‘English’ colonial past being desecrated and destroyed yearly.
    Just take a look at the state of the cemeteries!

    There is very little in Bim for the Chinese or German tourists to experience.

    Barbados cannot compete in the growing travel market sector of eco-tourism.

    The only viable way of broadening the tourism fare is by way of water sports like surfing.

    Let Barbados focus on what it’s good at. A haven for snowbirds.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @DAVID

    “Millions travel in the summer for the experience.”

    Your falling into your own TRAP, keep to the topic AND READ what other bloggers(Miĺler) are saying and TRY TO UNDERSTAND. Time to abandon this Bajan centric point of view and thinking, time to THINK FOR YOURSELF AND OUTSIDE THE DUOPLOY BOX.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Miller.

    Be careful when you deal in
    Reality especially when our leaders hang our recovery plan on building more hotels.

    You are very correct in that the European summer traveller has Spain, Paris, Croatia and many other choices with summer weather at 50% of the cost of coming here. Not saying we can’t pull a few, but bare in mind the summer traveller is a bargain hunter. After all if he wasn’t he would be a winter traveller. We can get some BA and Virgin summer traffic packages, but it will never be enough to fill our hotels say in September and October.

    Liked by 1 person

  • @ Miller
    Finally reality is setting in. I had to publish a readily available article on BU , in another thread this morning to demonstrate to some noise makers that Guyana is now a top player in eco tourism.
    Then I realized that they were talking about Barbados helping out Guyana with adventure tourism . I asked what adventure tourism does Barbados have. I’m still waiting on an answer.
    We can build ten thousand more rooms if we don’t have enough experiences for the tourists to enjoy they will never come back. It’s called buyers remorse.
    This talk about us becoming a convention player is about forty years old. To put it bluntly the best site for a real state of the art convention Centre would have been Maxwell Coast Road. That entire area : about fifteen minutes from the airport; lovely beaches; quiet but still near to the hustle- St Lawrence Gap and nice beaches. Just imagine if some foresight like that were applied thirty years ago. That entire area would have been a gold mine for the convention business.
    Sometimes we have to ask how could our hoteliers be asleep so long and still find themselves in the business. They are jokers .
    And then we ask why Sandals got such gracious concessions. Answer: Butch Stewart has product. And he has vision. Combine those two and you win and can make demands.

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  • Great article Adrian. I think what you are referring to is the period May to September which has always been a problem for hotels over many years. In my opinion, the solution is not in building hotels but targeting persons who do not hesitate to travel in these months because the activity they desire may be indoors or of limited duration.

    Consider an age group of 50 – 70 years (retirees and persons with a higher disposable income), then I suggest that we target specific niche groups. However we must agree that there is no longer very much evening entertainment for visitors. There are no late night jazz clubs, dinner shows, old fashioned entertainment (i.e. Caribbean pepperpot ).

    Let me suggest we consider going after the following groups:

    Persons who play darts
    Persons interested in one day cricket matches.
    Persons who play dominoes.
    Golfers.
    Tennis enthusiasts.

    Let us set up weekly competitions in the above sports and provide $ 10.000 prizes in each sport. The competitors must stay for a minimum of 7 nights on the island and the fee to take part should be USD 100/person. This means that we get a minimum of 7 nights stay. This must be coordinated with the local clubs and a budget of BDS 1 million be provided in prizes.

    Darts: We may even be able to promote this to darts enthusiasts in UK pubs along with a beer distributor.

    Cricket: School s and country clubs

    Golf: To Golf players in the UK & US. In the USD especially to the black golfers and black travel agents specializing in golf in the USA.

    Tennis: to tennis players in the USA who live a max of 100 miles from the nearest direct airport to BGI using Facebook advertising.

    We may not be able to target all groups immediately but it could be a start to filling empty beds in summer and keeping employment up year round.

    Let me state clearly that the concept above is not new but arose from an ad I heard on VOB before Christmas for a dominoe competition.

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  • Thank you Andrew. What you have said is exactly what I was trying to get at. Giving reasons for people wanting to travel to Barbados during the softer months.

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  • I believe from the 1970’s we were to work to have year round tourism. Have we paid many persons in high positions and not get what was needed?

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  • Can it be that hoteliers see summer as a profitable time where no guests are needed? Can renovations be profitable?

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  • Miller

    Wasn’t the (phony) Crop Over Festival launched as a summer cultural attraction to reduce seasonality by bringing in black visitors — who tourist planners presume can cope with the heat in July-August?

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  • Adrian – Increased airlift, additional accommodations and new M.I.C.E facilities could help to generate summer traffic but these alone will not produce desired visitor arrivals.. As you maybe aware the majority of stay over visitor traffic to the Caribbean, including Barbados, during the winter season is generated and controlled by tour operators, vertically integrated tour companies and airline vacations programs. These companies all operate on a return on investment basis and follow demand patterns. When the winter season is over, they turn their operations to Europe and the Caribbean falls to the lower end of the totem pole.
    Not to be overlooked is the intra regional competition that is growing by leaps and bounds. This morning I saw on TV that one of Canada’s largest vertically integrated tour companies is now offering direct service from Toronto to Tobago. A couple of days ago,Guyana received tremendous exposure on NBC Today TV show as one of the Best Eco-Tourism Destinations. The Bahamas is also now high on China’s Tour Company Caribbean program as the Bahamas and China signed a memorandum of understanding for airline services between the two countries. Hopefully the intent is to bring Chinese visitors to stay at the Baha Mar. It is also rumoured that a Chinese 600 room development is on the books for Cuba as Air China is already offering airlift from China to Cuba..St. Vincent’s Argyle International Airport which came on line in 2017 and opened up a new gateway to St, Vincent and the Grenadines, a collection of some 32 islands and a yachting paradise, is also surely creating an awareness of the tourism facilities this destination has to offer and detracting from Barbados visitor arrivals.
    You are correct is saying Barbados needs a plan to fill rooms year round buy more specifically it needs one to generate summer traffic. We were successful in doing this in the seventies and perhaps a review of that program could be the Genesis for the development of a new plan?. Granted that times have changed and we no longer have wholesalers, but if the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and the Barbados Hotel Association were to combine their expertise, it should be possible to devise a plan to attract summer visitors. It would also be beneficial to get an appreciation of Cuba’s ability to generate visitor traffic despite the many challenges it faces.

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  • @Andrew & @Adrian:

    Now we are getting ‘proper’ proposals …. spot-on suggestions!
    But together with your suggestions, we must find a way to reduce airline travel costs…. especially within the region. That brings us to LIAT … lord help us!!!

    Make it cheaper to fly inter-regional ….. regional government must reduce the multitude of ‘taxes’ heaped on airline tickets. All those rich Trinis & Guyanese would gladly vacation in Barbados during the low summer months but not when they can fly to the USA for less than it cost to reach Barbados……… and offer more realistic staycation package to locals!!!

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  • There was a time intraregional travel was an important object to bolster arrivals.

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  • robert lucas
    January 13, 2020 5:08 AM

    If Barbados had great cultural events, great scenic topography; great diversity of wildlife and plant life, instead of only sea and sun, the problem would be solved.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The Quaker experience and its link to world history!!

    Strong familial links to America and of course GB and also Canada.

    Many people are interested in their ancestry and this Island was central to the settlement of America in the 17th century.

    For example, there was a Loveridge marriage in 1717 and a baptism in 1721 in the parochial records.

    A burial in 1690 suggesting the family was Quaker and one in 1736 of a 94 year-old.

    That’s just from doing a quick search in familysearch.org.

    I’ve met folks from as far away as Australia digging into the records at the Archives for ancestors, some of who were also mine!!

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  • Consider an age group of 50 – 70 years (retirees and persons with a higher disposable income),

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Many persons I have met and with whom I have corresponded regarding shared interest in genealogy are in this age range.

    Some are older!!

    Once bitten by the genealogy bug it is difficult to let go!!

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  • David what do you think

    Government is building a new immigration platform to allow high-net-worth individuals who want to reside and invest in Barbados to get permanent residency status and ultimately citizenship.

    Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson said Cabinet recently approved the new immigration policy which would make it easier for those who want to invest in Barbados’ economy.

    “Cabinet has approved that persons who fulfill that category, similar to Canadian immigration and some other countries, we will allow them permanent residence in this country, and after being here as an ordinary resident for three years out of five or six years following that, to become citizens of this country,” he said.

    Speaking to members of the media at St Alban’s Primary where he delivered remarks to students during a special presentation today, Minister Hinkson noted that the change in policy was a significant undertaking because of the need to give persons such as high-net-worth individuals “a psychological feeling” that they are part of Barbados and can commit to help build this country.

    “We can’t do it with the population that we have now, in terms of building this country and moving us to the next level, which is the vision of the Mia Mottley administration. We have to look to open up our country a bit more to people who can be productive.

    “Now we are not talking about people who are going to be a security risk, or people who are criminals or who would be looking to bring drugs and create havoc in this country because obviously we have security testing and scrutiny to ensure that we get the best of people,” he said.

    “We have a lovely country here to offer and these are people who would be able to build businesses in Barbados to create employment. These are people who will buy properties in Barbados and obviously to buy properties you will need to employ people who are in the construction industry.

    “We need to build capacity and to increase our population with productive people and this is going to happen in a way by building platforms to attract both CARICOM citizens and also people from outside of CARICOM who are willing to help build our country,” Minister Hinkson

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  • This blogmaster will NEVER agree to selling the Barbados passport to the highest bidder. You can call it investment program but it is still what it is – a sell out.

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  • “Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson said Cabinet recently approved the new immigration policy which would make it easier for those who want to invest in Barbados’ economy.”

    David BU

    This is something that should have been discussed with Barbadians.

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  • The blog master’s behaviour on this board is typical of the behaviour of many Barbadians.

    If you argue in favour of X, giving reasons A, B and C, the blog master will furiously announce his disagreement by saying, “I am against Y, because of F, G and H”.

    Problem is, you didn’t propose Y. You proposed X.

    In this case, the government is not planning to “sell the Barbados passport to the highest bidder”. They are planning to sell it to people who may NOT be the highest bidders, but who have some money and/or some skills or connections that can benefit Barbados. These people will be checked to make sure they have solid backgrounds and are interested in spending at least some of their time living in Barbados.

    A good Citizenship-by-Investment program is indispensable for the economic development of Caribbean countries like Barbados. Only people with ill-considered, backward attitudes, like those who think being a hotel maid is tantamount to being a “slave”, would characterize a CBI program as “selling out”.

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  • The problem with these type of policies is that in the long term the best interest of the native is lost and forgotten by those who the people elected while the wealth of a nation is transferred to foreign interest as has been happening with the Hyatt project

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  • David
    January 16, 2020 9:35 AM

    This blogmaster will NEVER agree to selling the Barbados passport to the highest bidder. You can call it investment program but it is still what it is – a sell out.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++

    How did Donville’s dentist buddy get his Barbados identity?

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  • WHY WUNNA ARGUING WITH THE BLOGMASTER?
    HE HAS A LOT OF BRAINS THAT HE HAS NOT YET USED

    LEAVE THE MAN ALONE

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  • Some of you operate on the mistaken belief that the blogmaster should not share his view on a blogmaster he is the blogmaster.

    Like

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