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Use free available media (TOURISM MATTERS)

Adrian Loveridge

Use free available media (TOURISM MATTERS)

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UP UNTIL THE TIME of submitting this column, well over 400 major news organizations and publications have reported on the 2012 TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Award winners.
Tens of millions of people around the world, among them many who will be making holiday plans,will scrutinise the list and finally decide where they feel they can get the very best hotel value for money and level of service delivery.
More astute national, regional and individual city tourism organizations have been quick to link their destination with the awardees, taking full advantage of what amounts to free advertising and promotion.
While our own Government tourism agency has yet to take advantage of this almost unprecedented global exposure, Barbados has done relatively well in a number of categories.
Exactly 3 943 properties across 30 countries and eight regions have received these coveted awards this year and as their Press release reiterates, “unlike any other hotel honours, TripAdvisor Travellers Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from travellers around the world”.
For those of you who have not yet read the list, this is how “we” did.
Top 25 Luxury Hotels, Caribbean: Sandy Lane No. 1.
Top 25 Bed And Breakfasts And Inns, Caribbean: Bayfield House No. 5 and Sweetfield Manor No. 24.
Top 25 Hotels For Service, Caribbean: Little Arches Boutique Hotel No. 23.
Top 25 Trendiest Hotels, Caribbean: Silver Point No. 13, The House No. 23.
Top 25 Relaxation/Spa Hotels, Caribbean: Sugar Cane No. 2, Waves No. 5, Sandy Lane No. 15.
Top 25 Bargain Hotels, Caribbean: Southern Surf Beach Apartments No. 8, Peach and Quiet No. 9.
Sadly, no Barbados property was listed in either the 25 Top Overall Hotels in the Caribbean or all-inclusive categories, and this must concern our tourism planners – considering the prevalence of all-inclusive rooms when equating it to our total accommodation stock.
We, in my humble opinion, are very fortunate to have a lodging product for the majority of our potential visitors and this is graphically reflected in the awards. There will always be a market for a luxury offering, recession or no recession.
Value for money
At the same time many guests have grown over the years to prefer smaller, intimate properties. Value for money continues to be a critical factor, and it goes perhaps without saying that overall service delivery is just as vital at all levels.
An interesting component was the average nightly rate of the near 4 000 properties who won is US$270 and 45 per cent have a nightly rate of US$200 or less. This the reality of competing in tourism on a worldwide stage.
One thing for sure, TripAdvisor or any similar site that could replace it is not going to vanish or dissipate into the upper atmosphere. We, whether in the private or public sector, ignore the largest travel community in the world at our peril.  
By embracing and finding creative ways to more effectively use it, we can generate greater occupancy levels and revenue.
Each month TripAdvisor advises individual hotels the actual number of views made to their page. In December, 3 328 logged on to ours and that perhaps is partially why we are responding to an average hundred email requests daily.