Odle complains about undercutting by ‘big’ operators
A veteran hotelier is accusing some of the “big boys” on the west coast of setting their summer rates so low that it is putting added pressure on smaller hotels to compete.
The complaint came Wednesday from chairman of the Mango Bay group of companies, Peter Odle, who also pointed to selfishness and a lack of cooperation among small hoteliers which, he said, could be stifling the growth of their businesses.
Odle, who owns a number of hotel properties in Barbados, including the Island Inn and Mango Bay Hotel, was sharing his experiences in the tourism industry over the past three decades.
“It is still difficult even now with us. We still have issues, especially when you go and spend money renovating properties . . . and the problem now that you have, for example, is that because of the situation with let’s say the summer with marketing, the big boys are putting so much pressure . . .,” he said in his address to the annual general meeting of the Intimate Hotels of Barbados (IHB) group at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
“I don’t know how many of you go and look at the rates being charged today by hotels in Barbados, and not only in Barbados but around the Caribbean, and you look and see what you are competing against. It is unbelievable,” Odle went on.
“So when you have a property like Island Inn, for example, which is an all-inclusive property and has 24 rooms, and you come in at a rate at let’s say $250 all-inclusive, which is still a very good rate, and you get hotels, big hotels on this island charging $160 for the same thing, trust me, your back is up against it . . . without a paddle.
“But you have to fight on. You can’t throw your hands in the air. You have to be creative and find ways in which we are going to get around it.”
Responding to questions from the audience, Odle added: “What is happening right now, there is nobody out there
[who] can tell me that they could anticipate that hotels on the west coast of Barbados would sell hotel rooms for US$80 per person per night and US$75. I can tell you that is what’s happening.”
He urged small hoteliers to form strategic partnerships with tour operators, saying it could be a good way to help them drive business.
“That has been one of the things that has sustained our business . . ., that allowed us to get the cash flow that was required to make sure that Mango Bay became successful,” said the veteran hotelier.
Odle said he would love to see hotel owners who are operating similar properties “come together and form a small marketing link” to drive more business to the island.
“I am not pointing any fingers but I know sometimes there seems to be a selfishness and sometimes it seems to be this lack of wanting to share information,” said Odle.
“There are times we have had overbooking situations. You know what I am appalled at? The number of places I would pick up the phone and ring to ask people to help, and fellows would break it off in you. I have hoteliers now who would call me when they have overbookings . . . because that is what it is about, trying to help one another but unfortunately I find that this seems to be lacking.”
Odle also called on officials in the industry to make the business more attractive in order to attract more young talent.