Bahamas ‘catching up’ in Dorian’s wake

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas’ major tourism promotion board saw website conversions jump ten percent during 2020’s first week as it anticipates “record numbers” from post-Dorian marketing efforts.

Fred Lounsberry, president of the Nassau/Paradise Island Promotion Board, told Tribune Business that it “feels good” about the increase given that it was up against strong comparatives from 2019.

“Our last week was kind of our first week where we were ramping up digital,” he said. “This week we are having a significant television roll-out and additional digital media roll-out. Last week we had 25,000 visitors to the website and about ten percent of those were conversions.

“We ended off 2019 with 7.9m visitors to the website in total. But last week, and we felt good about this, our website visits were up 35 percent over the prior year and conversions for us were up from ten percent from last year. Conversions, for us, is that you come to our website and they connect to one of our member hotels. So that’s a big up year-over-year because we were doing real well last year.

“That ten percent conversion rate is good, even though it doesn’t sound like a lot versus last year, because we had a pretty darn good quarter last year. So I think, knock on wood, we are kind of getting back close to where we were and hopefully we can surge past that,” Mr Lounsberry continued.

“We had the largest website visit days historically that we have ever had last week, so I assume we are going to have record numbers as far as response to the marketing over the past several weeks. Actually we had the highest day we have ever had in the month of January, so I think that just tells me we have good momentum going. It is continuing. January and February are such critical planning months and booking months. I think it’s a very good sign we are catching up.”

Suggesting the data indicates what the entire 2020 first quarter heading into the Easter and Spring Break period would look like, Mr Lounsberry said: “What we do now really is for the whole Spring period. What’s happening now is people are coming, and they are looking and they are booking.

“They aren’t necessarily booking for next week. Some are. There are some closed-end bookings. But these numbers really gives us a clue for the Spring Break period of March and into the entire Spring Break period.

“Those numbers I gave you are more indicative of where people are planning and looking forward. But everyone I have spoken to seems to feel their booking trends are getting back to normal and they are very happy about them. They are feeling good about them.” 

Mr Lounsberry added: “Don’t forget people plan six months in advance, so when you look at the website visits we have now, those are people stating to shop for summer and spring, so we just have to be out at all times.

“When we look at the website and we dive into versus last year, and what we have been running for weeks, it is all due to the fact we have dialled up the marketing since last fall. So I think people are responding. Caribbean Marketplace will be a big plus having that here.” 

The Bahamas will be hosting the Caribbean Travel Marketplace (CTM) 2020 between January 21-23 at Baha Mar’s Grand Hyatt convention centre. As the leading travel and tourism event for the Caribbean, it brings together hotel and destination representatives; wholesalers and tour operators; online travel agencies; meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) planners; and members of the media for several days.