One of our strengths as a destination is the myriad of choice in dining experiences and it was especially encouraging to see that the annual culinary event, previously called the Food Wine and Rum Festival is being re-branded, extended throughout the month of November and its promotion stepped up this year.
I would however make one impassioned plea to our planners that the details of the 2016 event are posted much earlier than normal, to help maximise forward airline bookings and enable potential visitors to take advantage of often lower airlines fares which are revenue controlled by the different carriers.
Of course we are very fortunate to have top restaurants including The Cliff, Camelot, Lone Star, Tides, Champers, The Fish Pot, Zen, L’Azure and several others, but it is just as appealing to have many more affordable eating experiences. Some time ago, we branded a re-DISCOVER voucher for one of our largest car rental companies. With a fleet of around 130 vehicles and based on an average rental period of seven days, typically having a driver and one passenger per car, this could easily amount to over 13,000 people per year. Of course the car allows our visitors to explore the island and visit different eating options. By monitoring feedback from an inbuilt holiday competition entry form in the voucher, we see that the average number of restaurants frequented is at least three different establishments by each user during their stay.
The rental company also saw at the time that it was a great, an inexpensive (50 cents per renter) way of giving added value in the shape of a 10 per cent discount to their clients at over 30 restaurants and provide a marketing advantage over competing companies.
Now some villa rental agencies have come onboard, again with exactly the same shared motivation. They know their guests are going to eat out and in the wake of weakened value of currencies in the United Kingdom and Canada, are looking at creative ways to soften that blow.
My own thoughts are that we can find a win-win way of incorporating all the component parts of our tourism partners into a ‘passport’ type product for the month of November to coincide with the various events. This would extend to attractions, activities and shopping opportunities.
I still think that while it is enviable that we can boast that Barbados is an iconic destination that people strive to visit, while many of the rich and famous make it their second home. In reality the vast majority of regular returnees are ordinary working people searching to obtain value-for-money.
More great news regarding airlift with the re-commencement of the direct nonstop JetBlue Boston service from November and which will now become a year round service, plus a second weekly flight on Sundays from 4th December until the end of April 2017. This will open up the potential of 4.59 million people who live in the Metro Boston area and less than an hour’s drive from Logan International airport.