If there has ever been a time when tourism partners sharing the same sub-sector have needed to work together in the national recovery interest, it is now!
A couple of weeks ago I suggested to our national marketing agency that a short video be produced from the existing library of incredible images highlighting our amazing choice of restaurants and dining options.
The ‘theme’ would be ‘Did you miss us?’
The video could be aired, without any significant cost, through all available social media outlets and travel partners, to remind both locals, second home owners, together with returning visitors of what we have been capable of providing, year after year, under ‘normal’ circumstances.
A similar exercise may easily be done with our car rental suppliers without necessarily giving prominence to the merits of any particular company.
Most renters do not, of course, base their booking decision on the make or model of vehicle, but what the car can offer them in flexibility to explore the island, visit attractions, activities and sample the myriad of eating out choices and equally important, providing added value and experiences.
Several years ago we persuaded, for the first time ever, three of the largest villa rental agencies to jointly create a full page ‘ad’ that was placed in one of the leading travel magazines. The individual cost to each company for exclusive sole participation was difficult to justify, but collectively sharing the expense three ways, made it a whole different story, giving readers previously unknown choices, as whom to contact and search for their chosen property.
While highly targeted strictly print advertisements have fallen out of favour against the more recent electronic media alternatives, I still believe it can play a critical part in overall marketing, especially if carefully monitored for response and cost-effectiveness.
We also used this concept to launch the first fully functional small hotel group called Barbados Treasures. Each of the original five member hotels offered an identically priced package that included reduced rate car rental, a choice of attractions and an out-of-hotel dinner option. It became one of the best-selling offers available at that time and significantly increased average occupancy in each of the partner properties.
There are countless other examples of why working together makes economic sense, while building awareness of the destination and growing each participating business. It just takes resolve and commitment from sufficient big-picture people with a common objective to make the idea work.
One thing for sure, as tourism recovery inevitably takes place, despite the naysaying utterings of the pundits and doubters, every industry provider will be vying to seek out what they perceive as their fair market share. They will then be faced with attempts to do this alone in isolation, or learning to work as a team, to greatly increase the likelihood of overall success.