CASTRIES, Saint Lucia – A high-ranking Caribbean tourism official said the region has to keep refreshing its product to ensure its people can continue to benefit from the revenue generated by the industry.
“Tourism is by far the biggest sector of our economies in the Caribbean and we ought to ensure our hotels and other visitor facilities continue to improve because our people rely on revenue from the sector for education, health, culture and environmental conservation,” asserted Karolin Troubetzkoy, First Vice President and President-elect of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.
“We cannot rest on our laurels because the global tourism market is growing rapidly and many countries are actively competing with us for the new business,” said the St. Lucia hotelier who observed that the Caribbean is likely to face some challenges as a result of the easing of travel restrictions for Americans to visit Cuba. For many Caribbean destinations, the United States is the largest market for tourists.
Troubetzkoy, who along with her husband Nick, owns and operates the award-winning Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain, two of St. Lucia’s most admired hotels, lauded this weekend’s first Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF) for pointing the way to effective refreshing of the industry. “CHIEF has astutely identified three areas we should be focusing on: operations, sales and marketing, and the need to go green,” she said.
Attracting and training the right personnel are the keys to successful operations, Troubetzkoy contended. “The personal touch is one of the most important elements. A tourist who connects positively, even on a perfunctory level, with at least one staff member, has a very high chance of returning.”
She also believes it is important to ask: “Are we delivering the Caribbean dream and are we maximizing the guest experience to increase repeat visitation?”
For sales and marketing success Troubetzkoy encourages hoteliers to pay attention to guest reviews and turn them into a positive reputation builder. “If you receive a negative review, embrace it, reply quickly and explain how you can use their experience as a teaching opportunity.” Positive reviews can serve as opportunities for hotels to tell their story and to embark on effective public relations, advertising and social media strategies.
Troubetzkoy urged the industry to use data collection to dive into new markets.
“The Caribbean is a maturing market so it is important to refurbish and renovate hotels and resorts,” she added. “As we do so, we must use the occasion to go more green and see the return on investment increase,” she contended.