NASSAU, Bahamas -- Marketing issues dominated the 38th annual
Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference here.
The meeting, held at the Atlantis resort from June 13 to 16,
attracted more than 1,000 hoteliers, vendors, government and
Keynote speaker Roger Ballou, chairman and chief executive
officer of Global Vacation Group, outlined seven elements -- what
he called the Magnificent Seven -- that will most heavily impact
the Caribbean in the next 10 years.
The elements are new destination channels, consumer preference
changes, demographic changes, consolidation, branding,
globalization and "hanging."
Branding is emerging as the premier marketing tool, according to
Ballou. "Agents will increasingly rely on well-known, branded
vacation products that deliver a consistent experience and bring
customers back again and again," said Ballou.
Mature couples without children under the age of 18 "will be the
market's fastest growing segment through the year 2005," said
Ballou. "There are 78 million aging baby boomers heading our way,
and we have to be ready for them."
Ballou forecast an accelerated rate of consolidation in the
package vacation industry. "The industry of the future will be led
by a few companies with strong, well-marketed brands; a handful of
off-price competitors, and a select number of niche players," he
Tourism competition is worldwide, due to globalization of the
economy, Ballou said. "This makes local competition tougher, but it
gives all of us a much wider market in which to compete."
"Hanging," according to Ballou, drives home a concept that the
Caribbean has been working toward -- becoming more of a marketing
force. If we don't hang together as a cohesive unit, we will miss
the opportunity to maximize opportunities," said Ballou.
Ballou urged the Caribbean as a whole to join forces to create a
data warehouse and products that will meet customers' needs. Both
Caribbean Hotel Association and Caribbean Tourism Organization
officials hope to launch a regional marketing program by 2000.
The CTO board of directors recently voted to support a $12
million program, with each government appropriating 3% of its
national tourism budget to the Caribbean Coalition for Tourism. A
similar CHA meeting is set for July 15.
"The Caribbean as a destination is not advertised or promoted,"
said John Bell, CHA general director and chief executive officer.
"We have to bury our differences from island to island and put the
Caribbean front and center in the face of the public."
Airport, hotels are discussed
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Airport enhancements and hotel developments
here also topped the news at the 38th Caribbean Hotel Industry
Conference. Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, director general of the
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, reported that foreign investment in
the Bahamas totaled $1.8 billion in the past five years; the
Atlantis project accounted for half of the investment sum.
He also said that hotel rates in Nassau-Paradise Island
increased 65% in the last three years. Hotel room inventory in the
Bahamas is up 23% in the past year, and airlift has jumped
accordingly, up 26% in the past year, Vanderpool-Wallace said.
Starting July 1, the Bahamas Airport Authority takes effect as a
15-member board, funded by the government, which will be
responsible for management of the airport.
"The airport needs attention in the arrivals and baggage areas,
customs, immigration, departure gates and taxi stands," said
Vanderpool-Wallace. "This board will be in charge of making the
airport a more user-friendly facility for our guests." --