Smaller islands in the Caribbean can take advantage of an online strategy to boost their tourism standing in an affordable way.
Richard Doumeng, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, cited one island’s recent marketing strategy as an example.
“If there is one piece of advice I have it is to look at what countries like St. Martin are doing,” he told the Compass. “It is the latest destination touting its unusual growth compared to the region, based on a radically different marketing approach which is almost entirely digital, becoming aware of how people are travelling and how people are finding you [as a destination].”
Get on the boat
Mr. Doumeng advised that if destinations were not spending time in all the relatively new digital platforms out there they were “missing the boat”.
“It is amazing to me how many business owners feel comfortable doing business in much the same [traditional] ways that they always have. My hat is off to them if it works. But that is not always the case. The digitalisation [of the industry and] social media presence and so on is vital. Some of it is overstated; Twitter may not be the real answer to booking vacations. But go where the customer is.
“Every hotel association should be working with their members on consumer websites that drive people to their island, social media, it is all there and so much of this is free,” Mr. Doumeng said.
The onus, he counselled, was on the private sector to move quickly in trying to reach customers rather than awaiting legislation or central assistance.
“The private sector does not wait for the government; there is something of a ‘heal thyself’ that comes in play,” he said. “Go out and find business yourself, do not wait for government to send it to you.”