September 19, 2016
Each year the Caribbean Tourism Organization holds a State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) where influencers, policy makers, strategic partners and industry members gather to discuss latest trends, offer solutions and address market shifts.
Barbados played host to the conference this year under the theme of “Honouring our Legacy: Defining our Future.” Topics such as “Defining Luxury” and “Capturing Multicultural Emerging Markets” were headed by tourism pioneers and experts. However each speaker distinctly emphasized that change in the industry was inevitable as competition is stiff and complacency was no longer acceptable by any means.
Adam Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Sandals Resort, in his keynote address highlighted the need for new and inventive ideas. He called on Caribbean Tourism officials to be mindful that selling vacations under the umbrella of “sun, sea and sand” was no longer strong enough to stand alone, that there was more to be offered. Stewart stated additionally that it was time that we presented authentic tangible experiences, allowing visitors the chance to become immersed in a culture they would not see inside the walls of a hotel or villa alone.
Another presentation was made by Jazz Poulin of Luxury Retreats. His main thesis was that offering clients the experience and authenticity they demand always starts with service. Luxury Retreats, one of the largest villa rental companies in the world, with a vast inventory, prides itself on its complete offering. Poulin stated it was important to ensure that all levels of service from a private chef to diving lessons were provided. For guests from specific cultural groups however, a full range of services is not as important as the accommodation of different religious requirements for example Kosher and Halal. Nabeel Shariff, the founder and director of UK based Serendipity Tailormade, a group devoted to providing Muslims with an all encompassing vacation, stated in his address the incredible importance for countries, hotels as well as villas to be open and prepared to host guests of different religious standings. For the Caribbean especially this specialized market cannot be overlooked.
What Does This Mean For Caribound?
We came away from the conference convinced that the Tourism product in the Caribbean was in a challenging yet exciting phase of development. Many of the discussions and presentations reinforced our own strategic goals of continuing to expand our offering of both affordable luxury as well as supreme luxury. The idea is to tap into uncharted territories creating a portfolio of unique gems, each presenting a different take on their island home. It is also essential for us to continue to develop unique services to further incite our guests on any budget. To create experiences for any culture or guest requirement that would demand a second or third visit. Therefore for us, we believe that through continued innovation and willingness to expand and think beyond the confines of the Caribbean that we can become a key market player.