It has not always been easy for potential guests to search and book condos and villas online, but this has been rectified by the introduction of a dedicated new online system called Caydirect.com.
“This allows condos and villas to be searched effectively,” said Trina Christian, executive director of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association. “Potential visitors can see each actual unit and get a great deal of information. They can familiarise themselves with the condo or villa and best of all it is now possible to instantly book somewhere no matter what time of night and day, rather than maybe sending an email and having to wait for a reply which can mean lost bookings as our demographic is now very familiar with booking online.”
Caydirect allows for instant access, referral, availability and booking for the condo and villa sector, much in the same way that online hotel booking sites work. Condos and villas comprise a potential 50 per cent of Cayman’s room stock.
At present, companies need to run a certain kind of reservation software in order to link to the system, but the next phase of development will open the system to more properties.
Historically, Christian said, many owners moved their room stock into the long-term market post-Ivan because so many properties were damaged or destroyed. However, as more new-builds and renovated condos came back on board, the long-term stock has increased and therefore the association is targeting more conversions into the short-term rental market pool.
“The challenge in terms of the condos is providing more educational opportunities for the owners and the managers to get involved in CITA promotions.
The Caydirect site is one tool; getting involved in Department of Tourism and CITA initiatives is another and it is important to keep websites up to date. These are key success factors and its an ongoing process,” Ms. Christian said.
It was incumbent on the association to see how owners could be educated as to the possibilities and positive aspects of this move plus what it can deliver, added the executive director.
“Some of the properties have renovated well and there are some which still need a little refreshing; it is a matter of getting people interested because people will definitely pay for a quality product. Pitch it at too low a price and people sometimes ask what’s wrong – deliver good quality and visitors will be more than happy to pay more.”