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Commentary: Tourism Matters: An adventure in learning
Published on June 16, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Adrian Loveridge

This last week has been what can only be described as an adventure in learning or how to maximise the results of a microscopic marketing budget while transforming a concept into a revenue generating tool.

Adrian Loveridge has spent 46 years in the tourism industry across 67 countries, as a travel agent, tour director, tour operator and for the last 24 years as a small hotel owner on Barbados. He served as a director of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, and as chairman of the Marketing Committee. He also served as a director of the Barbados Tourism Authority and is a frequent writer on tourism issues
Hopefully, it will play at least a small role in maintaining viability and employment in our tourism sector.

The very first lesson learnt is that you cannot expect to achieve this by yourself, but need “likeminded” people who are willing to donate their time and often incredible skills to take the initiative to a higher level.

Another prerequisite is having a cluster of interested players who can see beyond normal existing boundaries or to coin a rather over used term “think outside the box”.

It is then also absolutely critical that the initiative is supported at a national level rather than ruling out ideas that may appear to be emanating from personalities or messengers who may not garner universal approval.

Using the social media, I have frankly been amazed at the reach it is possible to achieve, at no or very low cost. By targeting specific areas and special interest groups, a higher take-up level is clearly attainable.

The Barbados Tourism Authority have given their full support by compiling superbly written full page features in both local newspapers and have already, or are about to issue media releases throughout all major markets.

Ideally, these will be used by travel publications and trade press to spread the word to a massive potential audience.

Ultimately though, it will be the consumer who makes the final judgment as to the value-for-money the product and/or service on offer is determined.

Programmes like re-DISCOVER also give an amazing opportunity for local businesses to become more involved, especially as an emphasis has been placed to source as many possible ingredients on-island or regionally.

Certainly hotel and restaurant suppliers should be knocking on the participants’ doors to see how they could help and capitalise on the collective efforts.

Already one local bank has been invited to jointly promote a competition that will offer a monthly dinner-for-two prize when paying by any one of their issued credit cards.

Some of the affinity cards also offer air miles, so it will offer the added bonus to reaching redemption awards requirement quicker.

Corporate entities that support the concept will assist in prolonging the project and help dissipate any benefits throughout the economy.

We are trying to monitor the results as closely as possible and if the predicted target meets expectations it should generate another $2 million in turnover across the various partners.

I firmly believe that every marketing project should be carefully evaluated with a proven analysis of its return on investment. Only then will ‘we’ be able to truly state that precious promotional dollars are being spent in the most productive and cost-effective way.
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