Latin American Visitor’s Spending Tempered by Language Barrier
Customer data confirms it and industry attendees at the Latin American Market
Roundtable session held this week by BHA and the Ministry of Tourism agreed that much more must be done by the destination in order to realize the tremendous potential which the Latin American market presents to The Bahamas.
Surveys of guests travelling on COPA Airlines reveal that while overall customer satisfaction is high, breaking down the language and cultural barriers needs more attention and these barriers (many which can easily be addressed) are resulting in lost sales in hotel and independent restaurants, shops, and with tours and attractions.
Shena Newton, Manager, Foreign Languages, also shared information with attendees about initiatives which businesses can undertake to create a more Latin-American market-friendly environment in a Powerpoint presentation.
These included: the placement of materials in Spanish in businesses and hotel rooms (including the General Manager Welcome Letter); multi-lingual menus, and adding several Latin-American favorites to the menu…..
These ideas and other cultural differences (i.e. a desire for later dining and shopping hours, desire for live entertainment, Bahamian cultural experiences, more family-oriented activities)were discussed in a session led by hotel consultant Gerardo Barrios and BHA EVP Frank Comito.
Attendees were reminded of the new Spanish edition of the July 2011 What To Do Guide to Nassau & Paradise Island produced by Dupuch Publications as a valuable tool for information and helping to promote visitor spending.
To help boost fundamental service-oriented Spanish-speaking skills in our employees, the MOTA and BHA will soon be launching a Webinar with Livemocha, an award-winning online course which allows employees to learn at their own pace. Livemocha is the world’s largest language learning community. Course outlines are attached. This complements the Spanish for Hospitality courses presently being offered by the College of The Bahamas in cooperation with BHA and MOTA. Several hundred industry employees have participated in these courses since they were launched last April. For additional information contact BHA.
Ms. Newton also encouraged employers to consider exchange programs with hotels in Latin America. Systemizing and encouraging these types of opportunities is being explored by the MOTA and BHA. Attendees commented on the challenges of finding employees with Spanish-speaking skills. Attached is a listing of potential employment candidates fluent in Spanish who recently participated in the Ministry’s Language Cadet Program.
BHA, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, and the Nassau Airport Development Company are planning another roundtable session with airport stakeholders – airline, security personnel, airport shops and vendors, Customs and Immigration officials, in November to help improve the arrival and departure aspect of the guests’ experience.
Despite the challenges presented by guests, COPA Airlines is bullish on The Bahamas. Aircraft load factors have been strong since their inaugural flight nearly six months ago. The aircraft size will be increased next month. Our challenge, is to continue to improve our capacity to meet the needs of this emerging market.