Bermuda tourism showing signs of recovery

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HAMILTON, Bermuda — Just two months into 2015, Bermuda’s tourism industry is beginning to show promising signs of recovery. According to several market forecast reports and analysis from the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA), rising indicators suggest positive results are ahead for the island.

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“This is a very positive sign for Bermuda’s economy, tourism stakeholders and new sales and marketing efforts,” said Victoria Isley, chief sales and marketing officer for the BTA. “The BTA put new marketing strategies in the field late last year and new imagination into last month’s Pink Sale. We’re now starting to see evidence those moves were steps in the right direction.”

There is momentum building throughout the “path to purchase” for Bermuda, which the BTA’s research and business intelligence team tracks consistently:

Hotel Vacation Reservations on the Rise

While Bermuda’s booking forecast appears relatively flat overall (.5% behind pace), which includes both individual and group bookings, a different story emerges diving deeper into the data. Significant ground has been gained since the last report (December 2014), when bookings were 5.7% behind pace – a swing of more than five percentage points in a one month period.

Individual leisure/business traveler room nights booked over the next 12 months (February 2015 to January 2016) is up 17% when compared to the same time last year. That means hotel bookings for these types of travelers, during the next 12 months, were 8,105 room nights higher on January 31, 2015 versus January 31, 2014. These figures are cited in BTA’s most recent pace report, which is a snapshot of confirmed hotel bookings over the next 12 months and includes the majority of medium and large Bermuda Hotel Association properties (representing 76% of the hotel inventory on-island).

The island’s Pink Sale promotion last month played a significant role in fueling advance hotel reservations. Seven of the remaining months in 2015 show more bookings versus one year ago to date, particularly September which is already up 2,527 room nights – a 54% increase over this time last year. Currently July, November and December are pacing behind where they were last year.

The latest pace report shows promise in future leisure bookings, but bookings for groups and meetings are down 14%. Since many meetings book as much as one to three years in advance, there’s not much more ground to be gained in group business for 2015.

Isley explained, “Our energy is focused on increasing demand on the leisure side by marketing successfully with our partners throughout the travel chain – while simultaneously fixing group sales in the future.”

The BTA has restructured some of its sales efforts to address future group bookings.

Airline Search Demand Increases

According to Hopper, an airline data company, searches for airfare to Bermuda has increased consistently week over week for the last five weeks.

Digital Engagement

The BTA’s new marketing strategy deployed in late 2014 seems to be paying dividends in many areas that indicate signals of interest and intent to travel. Digital performance results increased significantly versus one year ago, even while the marketing spend decreased.

“It’s very rare to see this kind of swing so quickly – in just a matter of a few months,” said Erin Smith, BTA’s director of research and business intelligence. “The timing of the marketing deployment, the increase of interest and demand we have seen through online channels and the actual room nights booked seem to all be related; we will know for sure once more time has elapsed and we can analyze the trends.”

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