Roach: Price cut not viable for Barbados

Stacey Russell,

Added 16 November 2012


DISCOUNTING EQUALS DEVALUATION and is not feasible for Barbados’ tourism sector. That is the conclusion of Petra Roach, the Barbados Tourism Authority's (BTA) vice-president for marketing and sales in Britain. Roach told the BARBADOS BUSINESS AURTHORITY in an interview at her office in Central London that even in light of the ten per cent drop in British arrivals to Barbados from January to August this year, the BTA was taking a tough stance against pricing the destination cheaply in order to attract more visitors, as some destinations have done. “It's not viable,” she responded to the suggestion that price cuts could be used as a short-term stimulus. “It's like if you go into a store and see Coca Cola being sold for £0.25p – because it's on special. When they put it back up to £0.40p you don't want it; you look for something else.” Roach acknowledged that discounting could be used strategically when employed seasonally. Yet it incurred the risk of being pigeonholed by the market. “Tour operators are quite aggressive in their approach to the market and once you give them the first discount, 'trust me', they are coming back for more,” she added. She mentioned a US$100 rebate currently on offer for at least a four-night package into Barbados from the United States, being sponsored by the Tourism Development Corporation and Barbados Hotel and Tourism Authority, but remained confident that BTA would not follow suit. Moreover, Roach said that the ultimate success of any discounting strategy required the support of a wide cross-section of Bajan hoteliers, if not the entire industry. “Discounting, if it is not in collaboration with the hoteliers, is very expensive. With discounting you need to have a consistent message and you need to have the majority of the partners on board, otherwise, it does not have [guaranteed] impact,” she said. Roach is of the view that even if Barbados followed the discounting trend of some of its competitors, the island was unlikely to command significant business since other destinations could offer better deals. “If you've got something discounted by 20 per cent and somebody else has it discounted by 50 per cent, inevitably the person, who is motivated by the discount is going to go to the one that has the biggest discount,” she reasoned.

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