Belize's Room Supply, Quality and Market Demand
As discussed in my last article, the issue of low occupancy leading to low national averages is of utmost importance to the industry. Generally speaking most properties achieve high occupancy levels during a four to five month high season and then much lower occupancy through the remaining months.
This in realty occurs because our primary market are Americans which make up well over 65% of our tourism, and do not generally travel outside the US in the summer months, or so we think.
I say this because while Americans generally do not travel outside the US there is a large enough group that do, for example the family market is a good potential market to tap into, and our dive market should be promoted as a year round activity. It is a proven fact that if the proper activities are created people will come, this is usually the best way to fill rooms in low months. There are two events which stand out, being the Costa Maya Festival, formally the International Sea & Air Festival and the annual Macal River Race held in the Cayo District. I like to refer to this as event marketing and Belize has great potential for this market, particular with outdoor activities. But properties do not have to rely solely on events or special marketing efforts by their local tourism entities, they can successfully market and create their own in house activities.
The creation of the internet has certainly revolutionize the way business is being done and at very little cost. Some years ago a lecturer in a tourism course said " if your business do not have a fax machine , then you do not belong in business" how true. I will now tell you almost the same " if your business do not own a computer you should not be in business." For the critics I hope that they will understand that while many businesses might not be to small to own such equipment initially, they should have access to it.
Today the world communicates by computers, and as small as Belize is, we are in fact selling our product to in an international market.
Many property owners prefer to wait for tourist to come to them, I am afraid that those days are over. Property owners must unify themselves and be more involved in the industry. Property owners also need to be aware of the changes in the marketplace and most of all understand the principal concepts of marketing. This is the key in filling your rooms and will tell you how and where to solicit clients to you establishment. Understanding the marketing concept will keep you in business or break you.
How do you do that ? The first step is do not be afraid to seek advice. This can be done through reading., the internet , attending courses or speaking with friends. The accommodation sector, particular small properties need to realize this because very little of their business comes from international tour operators. Overall our property sizes do not blend well with even medium size tour companies since they cannot operate in Belize because of a lack of room space for block bookings. In my next issue I will discuss tourism and taxes. Until then ... Tourism we make it happen!!
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