The results of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association’s 2013 Industry Performance and 2014 Outlook Survey confirm that 2013 was a year of mixed performance for the hotel industry while a higher level of business confidence exists for 2014.
· 2013 Showed Mixed Performance Over 2012; Performance Indicators Still Below 2007-8 Benchmark Years
· Profitability Picture Weakens, as More Hotels Report a Net Loss in 2013 than in Previous Two Years
· High Utility Costs, Capital Spending and Constraints on Price Increases Retard Profitability
· 2014 Industry Outlook Improves with 97% Expressing Fair to Positive Outlook - Highest Confidence Level Since 2007
“…creating value through people interactions is our competitive advantage, and our business goals should reflect this focus. Nothing drives business like word of mouth marketing and more recently social media referrals.” Stuart Bowe, BHTA President commenting on how focus on ‘service excellence’ can improve industry performance.
Hotels were divided in their responses in gauging revenue and occupancy levels for 2013. In general, Family Island and Grand Bahama hotels reported marginal revenue and occupancy improvements while Nassau-Paradise Island hotels saw small declines in performance.
While the hotel industry’s 2013 occupancy and rate data compiled by the Ministry of Tourism has not been finalized, preliminary results indicate a year-over-year decline Bahamas-wide of 3.5% in room occupancy and a 4.7% increase in the average room rate.
Industry confidence in 2014 is at its highest level since 2007. Despite this, profitability remains a concern as 47 percent of the responding hotels reported a net loss in 2013, up from 33% in 2012. Businesses cited high utility costs, investments in capital improvements and constraints on price increases as key factors affecting profits.
BHTA President Stuart Bowe reported that “the results mirror the industry’s hotel performance and overall visitor arrivals data for 2013. This tells us that more needs to be done to increase visitor stopover numbers. Stopover visitor expenditure is valued at 20 times more than the cruise guest. The multiplier effect of stopover visitor expenditure is crucial to all stakeholders in our economy”.
Bowe pointed to the positive outlook for 2014 as an indication of growing confidence in the future. “There is a high level of confidence in the future; however, we hear repeated concern about additional and more affordable airlift, recent and impending tax programs, high utility costs, and competition from lower-cost destinations. These are real issues for our industry. They are being addressed through collaboration between the public and private sectors and must continue to receive our urgent and collective attention.
Despite the challenges, the survey highlights that hoteliers have a 97% confidence level for 2014. This is due to an improving global economy, national infrastructural improvements, property upgrades, and new foreign direct investment.
At the national and industry level is the continuing need to improve the visitor customer service experience by developing and using measurement tools for everything that impacts our tourists. “The measurement starts from booking a vacation and every encounter in between until check-out. “Service excellence” can be the only goal in this global tourism economy full of competitive sun, sand, and sea product offerings. As a high cost destination, creating value through people interactions is our competitive advantage, and our business goals should reflect this focus. Nothing drives business like word of mouth marketing and more recently social media referrals” Bowe stressed.
BHTA’s tenth annual survey was conducted during the month of January. A representative group of 31 hotels at all size levels and from throughout The Bahamas participated. Specific results, benchmarked against previous years, are summarized in the attached report.