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Published on : Tuesday, May 19, 2015
A new report from the Bermuda Tourism Authority shows a bookings spike for individual travellers to the island is making up for a slump in the group travel segment. According to a monthly hotel room nights analysis, individual hotel room bookings is up 9.8 percent while group travel bookings is down 13.8 percent over the next 12 months.
“This is why you’ve heard us use phrases like ‘on the right track’,” said BTA’s Director of Public and Stakeholder relations, and author of the report, Glenn Jones. “Individual travellers is one number the BTA can impact materially in the short term and it is clearly impacting that number in a positive way.
“As our new report explains, when group business like corporate meetings is secured, it takes 12 to 36 months before that group flies to the island. So the lacklustre group performance we see in 2015 is as a result of sales contracts secured, or not secured, up to three years ago.”
Group travel is defined as a minimum of ten rooms per night.
The report, titled “Group Travel: Where We Are and Where We’re Going”, was distributed electronically to hundreds of tourism industry stakeholders in a monthly bulletin. It provides an education on the group travel sales process and explains the strategies the Tourism Authority has implemented to improve the market segment’s performance going forward. Some of those strategies are:
A new sales partnership with Associated Luxury Hotels International
Realignment of business development managers in North America
Refocus of sales strategies from travel agents in geographic regions (like U.S. southeast) to vertical group business categories (like corporate, social and specialty association)
“The reorganised sales team is structured specifically to develop new business opportunities, uncover new leads and convert new bookings for Bermuda,” said Chief Sales and Marketing officer Victoria Isley. “By focusing on respective categories that align with Bermuda’s product, the BTA will be able to truly meet the needs of group customers whether they’re looking at a destination wedding, a corporate leadership summit or a sports training retreat.”
While statistics show the BTA’s sales and marketing strategies have helped to generate more individual hotel room nights for the island, it must generate more growth in the second half of 2015 in order to fill the hole left on the group side of business.
“If we could get group business for 2015 that would solve everything because it means thousands of air visitors and hotel room nights,” Mr Jones said. “But it’s too late to grow the group number materially in 2015.
“The main aim now is to win more individual vacationers to fill the gap. These travellers, on average, book 45 to 60 days out and are the target of new marketing efforts which began in November. The fact that individual bookings is up 10 percent over the next year suggests the new marketing is working.”
For 2015, individual leisure and business air visitors are forecast to represent 82 percent of all hotel room nights sold, while group travel is expected to represent 18 percent. For 2016, the goal will be to balance those numbers better. In 2007, for example, a year of high air arrivals, the split was 71 percent individual and 29 percent group.
The BTA’s report maintains that a strong performance in group business leads to a successful year for the entire industry, not just the host hotels. Area attractions, transportation providers, event planners, restaurants and others in the tourism value chain benefit when there is a thriving group segment.