Commentary: Tourism Matters: Visitors are becoming even more savvy

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Adrian Loveridge has spent 52 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

By Adrian Loveridge

All indications are that many of our visitors are becoming even more savvy or perhaps better described as creative in how they actually book and pay for holidays, tourism services and the various type of accommodation offerings.

One such area of usage and growth are websites like TopCashback currently with separate operational entities in both the United Kingdom and United States.

Together, they already boast 4.5 million members worldwide with a very proactive ‘invite your friend and earn’ feature, which financially rewards existing and new people, who sign up.

They claim that they are ‘the cashback rebate website that passes back higher rates to its members than anyone else at over 4,400 merchant stores’.

The range of goods and services offered specifically from a tourism perspective is extensive and includes: accommodation, car rental, flights and tickets, cruises, holidays, transfers and airport parking, travel insurance, days out (attractions/activities), Forex and travel money exchange.

As well as offering substantial rebates on these ‘products’ simply by booking through the portal, the more canny bookers could increase their ‘rewards’ by using one of the many cash-back credit cards available as their preferred method of payment.

Included in the almost endless list of British travel partners with TopCashback, are companies like: hotels.com, booking.com, Expedia, Last Minute, ebookers, First Choice, late rooms, agoda, Thomas Cook (airline and operator), Hilton, Opodo, TripAdvisor Hotel Booking, Marriott Bonvoy, HomeAway, Airbnb, Priceline, Radisson, Trivago, Virgin Atlantic, Travel Supermarket, Hotwire, Sandals, My Caribbean Holidays, TUI (the world’s largest travel group), P & O Cruises, Hertz, Sixt and On the Beach.

Frankly, I was very surprised not to see our largest privately owned lodging group, Elegant Hotels among them.

There also appears to be a potential opportunity for many of our other tourism partners. Currently, perhaps it is unknown what percentage of the growing 4.5 million TopCashback membership actually travel to Barbados, but if it is only one percent, that represents a staggering 45,000 possible market, that we currently may not benefit from.

Maybe, it would be best to test the concept and introduce a specific destination offering? The fact that it has not been attempted before should not deter consideration or participation.

Another very appealing attribute about TopCashback is that it allows you to ‘build’ savings and redeem them either directly into a bank or PayPal account or transfer the value into various merchant gift card options which also give additional bonuses. You can even choose a redemption anniversary date that could coincide with a holiday balance payment or actual day of travel departure.

As well as gaining enhanced value through tourism related goods and services, bonuses are also paid on a myriad of utility and everyday spending including basics like groceries.

As a practical example, within two months of signing-up, I had already earned ‎£75 (GBP) (about BDS$200) and that’s before any secondary benefit through cash-back credit card payment.

For the vast majority, it is a win-win scenario which could very well take many closer to affording a holiday of their dreams.

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