Small hotels to boost offerings
Barbados’ small hotels are taking the initiative to re-energize their business in response to declining tourism numbers.
Delivering her report to members of the Intimate Hotels of Barbados last week, chairman Renee Coppin listed four key areas in which that group planned to focus action.
She cited sports tourism, online marketing and bookings, staycations from the local market and funding as the main planks that could generate business for small hotels which continue to see falling occupancies.
“The time has come for us to focus on them and commit all of our resources to making them work,” Coppin told hoteliers and other tourism officials assembled at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Thursday for their annual general meeting.
Noting that organizers of the recent Barbados Rally Club SOL Rally Barbados claimed to have stimulated 3 000 non-peak room nights for the island’s hotels and generated a visitor spend of $2.5 million, Coppin suggested Intimate could create similar niche events to even out the fluctuations in the tourism calendar.
Intimate is also targeting the Barbadian market with staycations and has embarked on a joint campaign with some of the island’s malls to promote the idea.
“We remain undaunted by our colleagues in the luxury category that offer so-called ‘budget’ staycation rates to locals, but will focus on the personalized service and that intimate touch that only we can offer,” Coppin said.
The chairman said Intimate’s members had suffered from lack of funding, and while they continued to get administrative funds from the Ministry of Tourism, they had not received any marketing funds from the Barbados Tourism Authority for the past year and a half.
She, however, said she understood the reasons for this but suggested the absence of funding had caused the hotel group to be more strategic in its marketing.
Unable to afford travel to trade shows or to actively participate in similar marketing and promotional events, the group has been utilizing social media and continues to place online ads in highly trafficked websites to bring business.
Coppin said the Intimate planned to create a vacation planning site where hotels would become incidental to the entire vacation experience. (GC)