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The effects of bad weather

All attention during the next few days will now shift to the New Year’s Eve “Old Years’ night” celebrations.

As hotels and entertainment spots go through their last minute preparation for changing over from one year to the other, there is a possibility that some people are unlikely to make it at all. This situation is being exacerbated by the extreme weather being experienced in various parts of the United States.

Weather patterns over the last couple days have caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled, resulting in thousands of passengers being dislocated. Although we have not seen any such cancellations of flights to Barbados, our challenges come from the fact that some persons who have to make connections from behind the main gateway are caught in the flight delays and face a high possibility of not making their connection.

This makes for a very tricky situation as persons who get trapped by the weather do not have any control over the situation. On the other hand, as a hotelier it is difficult to lose business because of a situation over which I have no control either.

This is a situation that hoteliers are faced with year after year as extreme weather sets it. On one hand, the cold weather is good for travel as visitors want to come to Barbados and enjoy the warmth, but on the other hand when it becomes too cold getting here is sometimes very difficult.

In general when the temperature in our source markets gets this cold it can lead to last minute bookings. This situation leads to a very complex situation, if the flight is fully booked airlines may not have the ability to take advantage of the last minute booking situation and that will affect our strategy of making the best out of the situation as well.

On the other hand, if passengers are unable to make their connecting flight the airline will be left with empty seats and hoteliers with empty rooms.

What happens invariably is that somewhere along the line someone decides to take a chance and oversell in anticipation that the situation will work itself out and those seats that are not taken up by those affected by the extreme weather will be taken up by others and these rooms which are not occupied because people could not make it to the island will be taken by others as well.

This strategy works for the most part, however the difficulty comes when everyone makes it on time and there are no more seats or hotel rooms. This situation can lead to extreme disappointment either with the airline or the hotel and the consumer expects answers and sometimes nothing short of what they booked will do.

As we bring the curtain down on 2012 and welcome 2013, let me take this opportunity to wish all of my readers the very best and lots of prosperity in the New Year.

* Tourism is our business, let’s play our part.

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