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TOURISM MATTERS: Damage control

Adrian Loveridge, [email protected]

TOURISM MATTERS: Damage control

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ENVIABLE REPUTATIONS in the tourism industry, as I suspect in most types of businesses, can take decades if not a lifetime to build, but can be lost sometimes in seconds, if staff or sometimes management are not appropriately informed and fail to effectively communicate with a common purpose.

Out of the blue, we received a rather disturbing email from a named “disgruntled prospective customer” stating that they had tried making bookings at three separate current re-DISCOVER partner restaurants and were told on each occasion that they were no longer part of the promotion.

As the “disgruntled prospective customer” had not initially named the three restaurants, we naturally responded requesting this critical information. It actually transpired that one of the dining options had never previously participated in the peak winter months, as is their choice.

They informed us and within 24 hours their posting had been removed from our website. The second restaurant replied within minutes and clearly stated that they were indeed still enthusiastically participating and they were going to remind all staff of this. The third named restaurant was contacted but despite multiple emails and Facebook messages, days later we are still awaiting clarification.

Perhaps we all really need to spend more time appraising the consequence and effect of social media. No longer can any businesses afford to ignore its customers, either potential or existing, and justifiably retain any meaningful reputation.

All credible cooperative marketing initiatives require the full-time proactive involvement of every partner, especially those likely to garner the biggest financial gain. If this does not translate into an ongoing reality, then the substantial support from national agencies and sponsors will soon disappear and they will become the most reluctant to join any similar initiative in the future.

We have these incredible advantages over some of our Caribbean competitors and while recently trying to defend why our prices were above many alternatives in the region to someone, the subject of gastronomic ailments or simply put, food poisoning, came up.

Not that long ago, four British tour operators paid out £5.5 million (about $16.5 million) in compensation to 963 adults and children who contracted some form of gastric illness in a single foreign-owned hotel during a one-year period. Of course, I am not going to mention the hotel name or country within the region, but it reinforces that we need to better highlight the pros and cons of having a higher priced destination and all the positives that emanate from it.

Of course, it is not just down to the gross discomfort caused to the holidaymakers or the cost of compensation which will presumably be paid for by insurance or the offending hotel, but the fact that what appears to be lax management has allowed a situation to mushroom out of control and alienate nearly 1 000 people directly and many more potential travellers who may have booked that particular property and destination.

No individual or business is immune to the occasional mishap or service challenge, but it’s how you deal with the problem that makes all the difference.

Email: [email protected]