TOURISM MATTERS: Divided we lose
If there was ever a time that the expression “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” was appropriate it was the last two weeks.
This was the case recently when trying to resurrect one of the most successful dining programmes in recent memory presented a personal challenge.
Some restaurants understand and assess the merits immediately, even though it may not produce the profits that they would either like or require, on all business generated.
But in these days, guaranteed uniform profitability is not a reality. Almost all airlines use sales and other offers to fill a critical percentage of their flights, just as hotels contract lower than rack rates with tour operators to achieve a minimum viable occupancy mass.
Other tourism entities are not isolated from this actuality in the way business is now conducted.
The target was to persuade a minimum of ten restaurants to offer a fixed-price three course dinner menu at $99 per person with a half bottle of wine, Value Added Tax and service charge included.
Take away an average 10 per cent service charge and the establishment is left with $89 to provide the consumables and contribute towards the upkeep and operation of the premises. VAT is exactly what the description implies, a tax that is offset against taxable input costs.
Local wholesale distributors have come forward with special deals having seen a supplying potential to provide an anticipated 9 000 bottles of wine representing around $144 000 in additional revenue by the time the offer closes in December.
We have also tried to emphasise the desire for participants to source locally available foodstuffs which could go a long way in supporting our agricultural sector.
If a re-launched initiative even comes close to achieving the volume driven before then we are looking at adding around $2 million in sales to the economy. Those already sold on the concept use it as a tool to attain particular goals.
This includes introducing their hotel to regular visitors who may be contemplating alternative lodging options like fractional ownership. Others see the opportunity as one to entice early diners, resulting in maximising table optimisation while increasing overall revenue and viability.
And as all diners are obliged to make a reservation, revenue and volume, control remain entirely in the hands of the individual participating restaurants.
Initially, it will also not cost any partner a single cent to market or promote the initiative, so there is absolutely no risk or investment to recuperate.
There is no doubt in my mind that one of the key factors impacting on what is now concurrent years of long-stay visitor decline is that we as a destination are not focusing sufficiently on what our markets are repeatedly telling us.
And one of the key issues is not delivering value-for-money, a point rarely missed by our competing neighbours, who continue to grow arrival numbers.
There are numerous reasons for this, which include unbudgeted increases in operating costs and the lack, at least partially, to implement the lower rate of VAT and waiver of duties promised by our policymakers months ago.
• Adrian Loveridge is a hotelier of four decades’ standing.