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Commentary: Tourism Matters: Reward vouchers
Published on August 4, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Adrian Loveridge

Perhaps, not surprisingly, there is a lot of donor sponsorship fatigue out there and who could blame any sensible corporate entity for not at least ensuring that any ‘investment’ has a reasonable chance of being cost-effective.

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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
We are now taking the re-DISCOVER restaurant initiative that we have been promoting with the help of the Barbados Tourism Authority and its successor to the next level, by introducing REWARD vouchers.

The concept is that we may be able to entice corporate Barbados to pre-purchase vouchers that can be redeemed at any of the participating restaurants.

Each voucher includes dinner for two, a bottle of wine, VAT and service.

A number of our villa, condominium and apartment rental agencies both locally and overseas have expressed great interest in the idea, to a point that some have even placed it on their websites and Facebook pages.

They also plan to use the vouchers as incentives to stimulate early bookings and payment of forward deposits.

Initially, 1,000 high quality full colour vouchers and inserts will be printed, which will equate to an additional 2,000 dining patrons and revenue generation of $198,000. Each of the five sponsors has been asked to contribute $250 towards the productions costs.

The reality is that, without this support, the idea simply would not become viable. Our responsibility is now to help ensure that each company can recoup their ‘investment’ over the next few months.

We view a successful return on investment (ROI) as anything above 10:1, so as long as the overall benefit in terms of direct spending or promotional value is more than $2,500 for each company then we have achieved the objective. Add the secondary benefits of enhancing brand images, increasing sales/market share, building awareness, generating additional web traffic and social media buzz and it becomes even more justifiable.

There is also a unique opportunity to use this initiative as a tool to tell the world that, as a destination, we can offer a ‘value-for-money’ product when all so often it is discussed at length, especially on the global social network, that Barbados is a high cost holiday choice.

Especially during these lean times, we all have to explore creative smart partnerships where, collectively, all partners can see a practical gain.

Fortunately, as this column goes to press our sponsorship positions were already oversubscribed, which will allow us to garner even more leverage and present those brave or visionary enough to support our efforts, even greater exposure.

As the vouchers are redeemed we will also get a better idea of which restaurants are outperforming others and the reasons why, through the eyes and comments of the actual customers.

Already we have noticed the positive comments being posted on TripAdvisor as a result of re-DISCOVER programme, which has, in several cases, raised the ratings of particular participating establishments.

More and more of these travel reference websites are being used as a benchmark to influence consumer choice and there cannot be any more effective medium than patrons who have already sampled the experience.
 
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