Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 1st 2013 Contents AUGUST 2013 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
Competition, developments in technology and an
overall slowdown in the sector are but a few chal-
lenges which stakeholders in the tourism sector
are facing. Stakeholders who spoke to Business
Guardian agree having unique products enable
them to withstand competition.
General manager of the Chancellor Hotel in St Ann's, Lisa
Shandilya, says competition has become more intense among
local hotels and it seems as though the smaller hotels are being
pushed aside by the bigger ones.
For instance, accommodation has dropped severely, "this
past two quarters we are about 40 per cent in terms of our
RevPAR' which is not at all in a position to maintain our busi-
RevPAR, or revenue per available room, is a performance
metric in the hotel industry.
Asked what led to the decrease in arrivals at her hotel, she
said it was due to a slowdown in the energy sector as expatriates
were not coming in as regularly. Shandilya said the governments
past and present do not understand the industry.
It's time to re-focus, re-engineer the total sector for the
long-term since distributing funds to hotels would not do
much to improve the industry.
She suggested that a long-term plan is needed in order to
sustain the tourism industry, instead of distributing funds to
stakeholders which would eventually deplete. The bigger hotels
have absorbed the business/conference market which means
that smaller hotels have to find a niche market to earn their
revenue, she said.
"We (The Chancellor hotel) have now changed our strategy
to focus on group stays, not even the business stays. A business
person is looking for very cheap accommodation. They are
not on extended time as before. They stay one or two days
so I would not consider a business person an integral part of
our business. What is making sense to us now (for lucrative
business) are sporting groups, families and church groups.
That is where we are now sustaining our side of the business,"
But the sporting, families and church groups do not attract
revenue which is sufficient to operate her establishment properly
as there are also overheads and maintenance costs.
"I don't see however any support from the Government to
date, in terms of supporting the independent brands, (the
smaller hotels which are not attached to a chain of international
hotels)" she said.
The bigger hotels have become the competitors to the smaller
hotels and the competition has become fierce. Shandilya wants
independent properties to be recognised in the tourism sector,
since the independent properties assist in driving the gross
Holiday Inn Express
A spokesperson for Holiday Inn Express---located at Trincity
near the Piarco International Airport ---said in order to compete
effectively hotels must update the technology available in their
lobbies and hotel rooms. Guests come to hotel with their
tablets, iPhones and other devices. Having brand strength has
helped this establishment to boost its occupancy rate.
"In our case, we have a new competitor on the market who
has just opened with an average of 14 rooms. When a competitor
is new it can bite into your market."
Occupancy rate for Holiday Inn has not dwindled.
"Within the last quarter our occupancy has been averaging
anywhere between 65 to 75 per cent upward. We have two
things that work for us: one, is the brand and the priority club
loyalty programme also works for us. If the competition does
not have those two factors, it may not necessarily work for
Regarding independent hotels, she said these hotels would
need to work harder to maintain their share of the market and
therefore they should receive incentives from government.
Head of the T&T Hotels Restaurants and Tourism Asso-
Executive director, Trinidad Hotels Restaurants and Tourism
Association (THRTA), Louanna Chai-Alves said the overall
occupancy rate in T&T is lower this year than last.
"Hotel occupancy has been slightly below what it has been
in the past. Last year the hotel occupancy started to increase
just a little bit, the occupancy was about 58 per cent for
Occupancy for 2013, is slightly to what was seen last year,
Business tourism still dominates as the main revenue earner
for hotels. Chai-Alves said there are also a number of incentives
in place for hoteliers to take advantage of. Chai-Alves said
though the bigger hotels get a chunk of the meetings and con-
ference business, when those hotels are filled, the business
trickles down to the smaller hotels.
Head of the Travel Agents Association:
The president of the Travel Agents Association of T&T,
Wayne Rodriguez, said travel agents have said business was
slow but there has been some pick up for July and August.
New York, Toronto and London continue to be high in
demand by locals looking to travel, while in the Caribbean
Curacao, Barbados and St Lucia are in demand. "Overall, the
industry has been relatively slow this year compared to other
years. I think it looks like a 40 per cent drop at the moment,"
Tourists are also demanding all-in-one bookings, which
means they are looking for packages which includes airfare,
hotels and other items.
State-owned carrier, Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL), is also
feeling the heat from its competitors as it predicts "further
downward pressure on fares from a number of competitors
into the region and the likelihood of a continued tightening
of disposable income on the part of international markets."
"The airline continues to align operations and product
toward offering better over-all value while operating at decreas-
ing costs to seek revenues to support our sustainable oper-
In its e-mailed responses, CAL said there has increased
demand for flights from Toronto, New York and South Florida,
year-on-year. The airline has also partnered with the Caribbean
Tourism Organisation, the Tourism Development Company
in Toronto and T&T as well as the Honorary Consuls in Guyana,
Toronto and South Florida to ensure the needs of the travelling
public are met.
Tourism stakeholders speak
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