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Turning Data into ‘Intelligence’

When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books. You will be reading meanings.
~ W.E.B. Du Bois

In today’s metrics-driven environment, tourism industry stakeholders can be inundated with data. The challenge is to discern what data you can use and how to use it. How does it fit into your marketing strategies? How are you benchmarking your own performance against others?   Are you using the tools which are available to you?

CHTA has a growing number of partners whose research and insights are available to members. Through our events, like this June’s Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF), Caribbean Travel Marketplace, which just announced its’ return to The Bahamas at Baha Mar for 2020, our online resources, webinars and reports which are hosted in our Knowledge Center – CHTA offers members a vast variety in tools that showcase data, insights and more, allowing our members access to timely and relevant information to aid them in furthering their business’ growth.

The following are highlights from recent reports showing industry performance and trends.

Nine Buckets of Data….

  1. Bragging Rights Influencing Travel Buying Decisions

The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is increasingly coming into play when making travel buying decisions. According to Travelzoo‘s recent travel trends survey:

  • 53% of U.S. travelers feel pressure to book unique destinations
  • 40% of U.S. travelers feel pressure to book adventurous vacations.
  1. International Travel Continues to Rise…Led by Chinese, Canadians, Americans

As consumer discretionary income and the middle-class grows, so too does the travel bug.

  • Over 140 million trips abroad were made by Chinese in 2018 according to the China Tourism Academy.
  • More than 200 million Chinese are expected to travel overseas by the end of 2020 according to the UNWTO.
  • By 2021, Chinese visitors will spend $429 billion abroad (according to CLSA).
  • A grand total of 4 million Americans were issued a US passport in 2017, the highest number ever recorded. In 1997, only 6.3 million US passports were issued.
  • The share of the US population with a passport has increased to 42% in 2017, up from 27% ten years earlier.
  • The share of US passport holders still lags far behind other developed countries. In 2016, 66% of Canadians had a passpor In the UK, 76% of the population has one.
  • Travel by Americans to the Caribbean increased by 6% in 2017 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce National Travel and Tourism but slowed to 0.2% thru July, 2018, primarily due to the impact of hurricanes Irma and Maria.
  • CTO data shows rebound of US travelers with a 28% rise in arrivals in Q4 2018, reflecting the strong turnaround during this period as 2017 hurricane impacted destinations recover.
  1. Caribbean Surpasses 2018 Visitor Arrival Projections, Forecasts Strong 2019

According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), 2018 visitor arrivals exceeded expectations and 2019 is shaping up to be a banner year for arrivals.

  • 9 million regional stopover visitors in 2018, second highest on record
  • 4% decline attributed to 2017 hurricanes impact better than forecasted 3-4% decline
  • 2018 9.8% September to December arrivals growth points to accelerated recovery by 2017 hurricane impacted destinations
  • CTO projects 6-7% stopover visitor arrivals growth in 2019
  1. Who’s Spending What?

CHTA partners with MasterCard Advisors, which tracks consumer spending patterns. Their 2018 report looks at travel-related cross spending by categories as percentage of their overall travel expenses from top origination markets to the Caribbean.

  • 17% of US travelers’ spending is on accommodations while visitors from the Netherlands spend 12% on hotel stays. Travelers from Chile lead the pack, spending 37% on accommodations, followed by Germany at 29%. Canadian and UK travelers peg at 26%.
  • Travelers from the Netherlands and UK spend most in restaurants, 22.4% and 20.2% respectively. US and Canadian restaurant spending is estimated at 14.7% and 13.5% respectively.
  • Travelers from Chile lead in retail spending at 22%, followed by French at 17.4% and Americans at 13.6%.   Swiss and Germans spend least on shopping, 10.7% and 11.1% respectively.
  1. Video Content Stimulates Travel

Content is King. According to Travelzoo’s recent survey of US consumer members:

  • 60% use social video to narrow down choices
  • 47% would book a Caribbean hotel if they saw a great video. Videos they want to see would feature beaches, hotel rooms, dining, and experiences
  1. Get Ready for Super-Tech

Artificial intelligence, robotic servers, virtual reality sales, voice recognition servicing, etc. are rapidly changing the industry. Technology is ever-evolving and quickly changing the travel experience at a frightening pace, with consumer demand and interests leading the way. The Caribbean is woefully behind… but it’s not too late to catch on. Here are some industry trends shared with CHTA members by ADARA at a briefing in Jamaica:

  • Robot Concierge Services, Front Desk Attendants, Housekeepers, Servers
  • Voice Recognition – for reservations, room service, reservations
  • Wristband Access/ Keyless room entry
  • App developments – interactive apps allow guest from restaurant reservation to massage scheduling, tour pick-ups and increasing check-out time
  • Digital Tour Guides
  1. Social, Review and Influencer Coverage Still Carries Sway?

CHTA member, ARA sourced some interesting data for us from a December, 2018 report by Brightlocal. The power of consumer comments, reviews, referrals, and influencers is not waning according to the following statistics:

  • Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
  • 40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past two weeks
  • 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars
  • 80% of 18-34 year olds have written online reviews – compared to just 41% of consumers over 55
  • 89% of consumers read business’ responses to reviews
  1. Rooms, Rates, Revenue: Performance and Outlook

SmithTravelResearch (STR) data points to small improvements in Caribbean hotels’ 2018 performance and forecasts much of the same for this year, with a healthy bump in room supply.

  • Occupancy dips slightly by 1.1% in 2018 to 65.2%
  • ADR increases by 1.7% to $208
  • RevPar up .6% a $136
  • Over 22,000 rooms and 97 new hotels in active pipeline, with most planned for the Dominican Republic, followed by St. Lucia, Aruba, Puerto Rico and Barbados.
  • STR projects9% increase in room supply for 2019, and 3.1% rise in demand. Occupancy forecasted to drop slightly by .8% with modest increase of 1.1% in ADR and .3% in RevPar.
  1. CHTA Member Hotels Upbeat About 2019 Following 2018 Positive Performance

The results of CHTA’s fourth annual Industry Performance and Outlook Study point to continued positive growth overall with cautious optimism for 2019. A summary of the results shows:

  • A strong 2018 global economy, new and upgraded accommodations, airlift, and greater marketing investments fueled continued growth
  • Optimism about 2019 but increasing concerns about global economic uncertainty
  • Increased capital investments reported by 61% of Hotels
  • Three years of rising CapEx and new hotels coming on stream contributed to increased ADR
  • 47% of hotels reported new hires while 44% maintained existing levels
  • 76% report increased revenue with 29% indicating it was significant
  • More hotels report 2018 net profit; 80% vs. 20% expecting net loss
  • Residual impact of 2017 hurricanes still affecting several destinations

The results indicate that four consecutive years of capital improvements are showing results. This reinforces industry’s position that strong tourism performance sparks growth in employment, government revenue, and a healthy investment and reinvestment climate as more hotels are reporting a net profit. CapEx investments and fresh product are key to growth in ADR. An unprecedented growth in airlift for 2019 is cause for continued optimism, as is the accelerated path of hotel openings in the 2017 hurricane impacted destinations. While optimism continues into 2019…caution was underscored by growing global economic uncertainty, Brexit, and other external factors such as environmental and climactic occurrences.


Responding to Sargassum
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