It may be the proverbial slow season in the tourist industry, but both Sandals Barbados and the upscale Sandals Royal resorts are enjoying high levels of occupancy, attributed in part to its promotional efforts in major international markets over the past year.
“Today we are at 81 per cent occupancy for both resorts, and those figures rarely drop; in fact, last week we were at 100 per cent,” General Manager Ferry Zievinger told journalists, as the Sandals Royal resort entertained hosts drawn from 19 radio stations from key markets in the United States this morning.
“These radio shows are investments for next year, and what we did last year shows in our occupancy so far this year,” Zievinger said.
While he could not give any specific numbers, Zievinger said Sandals was very specific in terms of the audience it was trying to reach. “We use a lot of influencers on the main social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and our communications teams do background checks on the radio stations to ensure we are reaching our desired target markets.
“When the representatives from the radio stations arrive here, they do live broadcasts, including short interviews with our department heads and team members who highlight the features of our resorts, as well as talk about Barbados itself, and those stations offer giveaways like free trips to their listeners.”
Tthe broadcasts this week are expected to reach some 12.2 million people in the US overall, and the 19 stations here come from Miami, Baltimore, Tampa, Detroit, Lexington and Chicago, said Veronica Vilaro, the promotions coordinator for Unique Vacations, a Miami-based company that represents Sandals in the United States.
“Last week we had 25 stations here, and this is done in every market in which Sandals operates,” Vilaro said.
The United States market was Sandals’ primary focus since “Barbados is not a super well-known destination in the US”, the general manager said, adding that he was willing to get local radio stations on board to promote the Sandals properties as well.
“For the next one we want to invite local radio stations, because we want to get more people interested in Barbados, and they can link up and create synergies with their overseas counterparts,” Zievinger said.
Beyond that, it would give Barbadians an opportunity to learn more about the properties and recognise that they are not completely off-limits, said the Sandals’ executive.
Sandals offers a CARICOM rate for all Caribbean nationals on presentation of a visitor’s passport, the general manager.
KMarie, a host from Spanish-speaking TV949 FM, based in Miami, said she was enjoying her first visit to Barbados.
“Rihanna has put Barbados’ name on the map in the US but a lot of people think of other islands first. Since we came here, we had a kayaking trip, went diving at one of the shipwrecks, and swam with the turtles – that was incredible, it was unreal and it was beautiful. I want to become a Bajan now!” she quipped.