Following the Referendum on Brexit, I would imagine the entire outward bound tourism industry in Britain has gone into overdrive to mitigate the effect – both short and long term – that it will inevitably have on their businesses and market share. I have already seen opportunities that ‘we’ as a destination could potentially piggy-back onto to maintain our UK arrival numbers.
For instance a company called Fresh Horizons Travel, has almost, in anticipation, spent the last 18 months investigating how the payment model, popular in other retail sectors, could be applied to the travel industry. They have launched a ‘0’ per cent finance for travel’ scheme, where customers’ can book their holidays and pay with 12 interest-free payments.
According to their Managing Director, Leslie McCann, ‘this will potentially revolutionise the way UK consumers buy their holidays’.
He quotes the retail company, DFS (formerly Direct Furnishing Supplies) who have grown from single store location in 1969 to currently dominating the upholstered furniture sector with a GB Pounds 3 billion annual turnover and 25.7 per cent countrywide market share and who have applied the concept very successfully to their products. Extended finance for holidays is of course nothing new to the UK travel industry, but the magical word in this particular case is zero interest. Perhaps ‘we’ as a destination could study the feasibility of smart partnering with Fresh Horizons to see if there is any way that we can pass on the obvious financial advantages to our visitors from Britain.
Another area where we could possibly influence is credit and debit card market. Currently users get a near perfect exchange rate from most card issuing firms, but then up 3 per cent non-sterling exchange fee is added. This effectively devalues the visitors overall disposable spending.
According to the Money Saving Expert website, there are exceptions and identifies several card products including Halifax Clarity (www.halifax.co.uk/creditcards/clarity-card/), The Creation Everyday (www.creation.co.uk) and The Aqua Card (www.aquacard.co.uk).
All these do not charge exchange fees and in the case of the last one mentioned which even gives a 0.5 per cent cash back on all purchases, albeit there is a daunting interest rate if the balance is not paid on time on this particular card. Again, is there some way we can work with these institutions to result in our cherished visitors reducing the final cost of doing business with Barbados, whilst on holiday?
Thirdly, one of the single largest component parts of a holiday to Barbados from the UK is the flight cost, especially for non-tour operator independent travellers. From time to time both legacy carriers, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, reduce the mileage requirement for those passengers who have amassed miles or points.
This is especially helpful in the softer low season periods and it can make all the difference in destination decision choice.