If I had to identify one of the single biggest challenges restricting the growth of the re-DISCOVER restaurant promotion, other than funding and the inability to obtain VAT refunds, it would be to persuade some of our tourism partners to fully embrace the concept of revenue control. It is now a fully accepted ‘given’ that when you board a scheduled or charter airline, even in the same class section of the plane that passengers have paid a myriad of different fares for exactly the same journey. Likewise it is the same for identical rooms on the same floor of most hotels. For individual or group hotel companies and airlines it’s an obvious tool for maximising earned revenue to ensure that beds and seats are filled to help reduce the overall cost of each occupied unit. Simply put, you cannot sell a seat after the plane has taken off and likewise it is near impossible to fill a hotel room twice the night after.
What some of our restaurants do not seem to understand is that if you guide customers towards earlier booking tables through financial inducements, then there is a strong possibility that space can be occupied twice or even three times during a dining session each night. Of course those dining at 6.30 pm may not be as profitable as those eating at 8.30 pm in real terms, but the earlier eaters have helped cover many of the standing costs like rent, insurance, land taxes, utilities etc., with the net result of substantially reducing operational expenses for the next customers and increasing overall profitability.
Participation in the dinner programme also does not cost the individual participating restaurant a single cent, despite garnering massive exposure through sponsored targeted advertising in publications like the Thomas Cook in-flight magazine. From November 2015 until the end of April 2016 over 4 million UK travellers will view a re-DISCOVER ‘ad’ in this particular publication on every flight to the current 57 destinations served by the airline, thanks to the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
Very few stand alone restaurants could possibly justify the cost of this sort of outlay on their own. It also creates a platform to entice other tourism sectors to support a significant destination presence in this and other journals. Imagine ‘captive’ passengers flying in a controlled environment for up to eleven hours each way. Do we have your attention? They are already ‘sold’ on the value and justification of a holiday, now our only remaining task is to persuade them to consider Barbados as destination choice. And while they are here, do a good enough job to bring them back, year after year.
I remain convinced that co-operative marketing initiatives are the only logical way to go. Together, we can make a positive difference and while it may dent a few egos along the path, it makes absolute economic and awareness sense. One wonders exactly how many of our restaurateurs have sat down and calculated what difference just ten additional early diners could make each night, six days of the week?