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Caribbean Beauty

My Caribbean Bookings Have Collapsed, Again

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Comrades

Some of you may recall that my internet hotel bookings business (serving Caribbean hotels' websites on various islands with booking engines, from which we make small fees on bookings made) dropped to around 10% of our best ever sales figures in late 2008, after the Lehman shocker siezed everything up for a while.

Sales then tripled last year (2009 through to around autumn 2010), not close to peak sales but at least they were respectable once more - the cold winter of 2009/10 and signs of recovery led folks in the americas and europe to travel again.

This year I was expecting another flee-winter ice refugee exodus to the warm windies, but it did not materialise. In fact our first quarter 2011 sales are a whopping 55% down on first quarter 2010.

Since the majority of our bookings are from Brits and some europeans, with around a quarter from the americas, I am guessing it is the cuts, cost of living rises and fear of job losses which has caused the sudden cessation of UK sales. I am not the first person to point this out so apologise for that, but thought some of you might wish to hear it from a member.

Happy days ahead....I only hope my systems provider manages to stay in business, since they have lost clients - owing fees - and sales around the world are way down (no names, no pack drill).

Edited by Caribbean Beauty

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Comrades

Some of you may recall that my internet hotel bookings business (serving Caribbean hotels' websites on various islands with booking engines, from which we make small fees on bookings made) dropped to around 10% of our best ever sales figures in late 2008, after the Lehman shocker siezed everything up for a while.

Sales then tripled last year (2009 through to around autumn 2010), not close to peak sales but at least they were respectable once more - the cold winter of 2009/10 and signs of recovery led folks in the americas and europe to travel again.

This year I was expecting another flee-winter ice refugee exodus to the warm windies, but it did not materialise. In fact our first quarter 2011 sales are a whopping 55% down on first quarter 2010.

Since the majority of our bookings are from Brits and some europeans, with around a quarter from the americas, I am guessing it is the cuts, cost of living rises and fear of job losses which has caused the sudden cessation of UK sales. I am not the first person to point this out so apologise for that, but thought some of you might wish to hear it from a member.

Happy days ahead....I only hope my systems provider manages to stay in business, since they have lost clients - owing fees - and sales around the world are way down (no names, no pack drill).

.....never mind all that, how's your taxi business etc. going? According to profitofdoom things aren't so good in Narfolk...

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goodie :) I got a fantastic deal/holiday the last time your made the announcement. in Antigua, hotel was deserted, I cant see how they would have even covered costs at that price/customer levels (std room rate is $670 a night, but we got 10 days all inclusive including flights for 2 for under 2k GBP! ). Listened to the local radio stations when we were out there, they were very scared, hotels were 50% down... I wonder if it is partly down to oil prices/cost of the flights?

Edited by AteMoose

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Comrades

Some of you may recall that my internet hotel bookings business (serving Caribbean hotels' websites on various islands with booking engines, from which we make small fees on bookings made) dropped to around 10% of our best ever sales figures in late 2008, after the Lehman shocker siezed everything up for a while.

Sales then tripled last year (2009 through to around autumn 2010), not close to peak sales but at least they were respectable once more - the cold winter of 2009/10 and signs of recovery led folks in the americas and europe to travel again.

This year I was expecting another flee-winter ice refugee exodus to the warm windies, but it did not materialise. In fact our first quarter 2011 sales are a whopping 55% down on first quarter 2010.

Since the majority of our bookings are from Brits and some europeans, with around a quarter from the americas, I am guessing it is the cuts, cost of living rises and fear of job losses which has caused the sudden cessation of UK sales. I am not the first person to point this out so apologise for that, but thought some of you might wish to hear it from a member.

Happy days ahead....I only hope my systems provider manages to stay in business, since they have lost clients - owing fees - and sales around the world are way down (no names, no pack drill).

Thanks for taking the time to post this. The plural of anecdote is evidence in my opinion.

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One more possible cause. Several people commented to me, just after seeing the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, that they never intended to leave Blighty again.

Didn't the Isle-of-Wight submerge and re-surface some years ago?

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goodie :) I got a fantastic deal/holiday the last time your made the announcement. in Antigua, hotel was deserted, I cant see how they would have even covered costs at that price/customer levels (std room rate is $670 a night, but we got 10 days all inclusive including flights for 2 for under 2k GBP! ). Listened to the local radio stations when we were out there, they were very scared, hotels were 50% down... I wonder if it is partly down to oil prices/cost of the flights?

Yes, partly the higher costs (even the price of the fuel and parking to get to the airport puts many off as it can be a sizable chunk of the holiday cost). However, islands like Antigua and some others have been particularly badly hit by a second whammy - crimes against tourists, including murders, armed robberies, rape etc.

These are rare, but due to the interweb and the media shock-value of something terrible happening during a holiday to "paradise" or honeymoon, they cause lots and lots of adverse PR - leading folks to ask themselves if they should take the risk at all.

But in one of my islands I can report that some hotels at xmas just gone were down to 14% occupancy levels - in other words hotels that were 100% fully booked and rejecting guests just 5 years ago are now hosting fewer numbers of guests than staff employed. In that same island, the banks are refusing to foreclose - they appear to have correctly calculated that if they foreclose (american for repossess) a failing hotel which is a massively depreciating asset, closure would only incur even bigger losses of the capital depreciation PLUS the costs of boarding up, depreciation of the buildings' structures and the contractor costs of hiring security guards to keep away looters and squatters. Therefore the banks have effectively given the hotels mortgage holidays, leaving them in a permanent state of zombie operations where the owners try to keep running them, while spending little or nothing on repairs and employing skeletal staff levels, closing some bars and restaurants etc. Lord knows where this is headed as there seems little hope of recovery in the short term, of the main market for many ex British empire islands (ie Brits).

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The fact that your bookings are so variable, down to 10% then tripling, etc shows that your volumes are way to low to be of any significance.

Even a change in the google search result rankings will make a much bigger difference for your business than the economic situation.

Two couples I know both just went for a holiday in the caribbean and both hadn't been for many years, so according to my personal experience caribbean holidays from the UK must be booming.

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.....never mind all that, how's your taxi business etc. going? According to profitofdoom things aren't so good in Narfolk...

Yes, apart from the food production sector (low paid and mainly eastern europeans doing those jobs) the rest of Norfolk's "industries" are in decline, especially public sector and charity jobs.

I gave up the taxi venture a year ago when I could see fuel prices rising, council fees were going up while fares were fixed at 2004 levels (to avoid scaring off the last of the dwindling band of taxi users). Lord knows how they are making any money now, I see more and more drivers on the ranks with new vehicles (redundancy money purchases?), all as bright eyed and hopeful as I was, heading for certain depression when they start to calculate their net profits and realise they are making as much as 150 quid net for their 90 hour weeks at all hours, with vomiting teens at the weekend and non-tipping old fogies...

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Comrades

Some of you may recall that my internet hotel bookings business (serving Caribbean hotels' websites on various islands with booking engines, from which we make small fees on bookings made) dropped to around 10% of our best ever sales figures in late 2008, after the Lehman shocker siezed everything up for a while.

Sales then tripled last year (2009 through to around autumn 2010), not close to peak sales but at least they were respectable once more - the cold winter of 2009/10 and signs of recovery led folks in the americas and europe to travel again.

This year I was expecting another flee-winter ice refugee exodus to the warm windies, but it did not materialise. In fact our first quarter 2011 sales are a whopping 55% down on first quarter 2010.

Since the majority of our bookings are from Brits and some europeans, with around a quarter from the americas, I am guessing it is the cuts, cost of living rises and fear of job losses which has caused the sudden cessation of UK sales. I am not the first person to point this out so apologise for that, but thought some of you might wish to hear it from a member.

Happy days ahead....I only hope my systems provider manages to stay in business, since they have lost clients - owing fees - and sales around the world are way down (no names, no pack drill).

Thanks for posting this. How do prices compare to 2008?

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Thanks for this. Interesting.

I think it is probably a mix of all the reasons mentioned. I would add that those who suffered BA strikes last year or who were overseas when their travel firm or airline went bust, probably have vowed not to do it again this year.

I imagine that many tour companies and airlines will be going bust in 2011.

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The fact that your bookings are so variable, down to 10% then tripling, etc shows that your volumes are way to low to be of any significance.

Even a change in the google search result rankings will make a much bigger difference for your business than the economic situation.

Two couples I know both just went for a holiday in the caribbean and both hadn't been for many years, so according to my personal experience caribbean holidays from the UK must be booming.

Not so, you misunderstood - my business is not a travel portal or agency, nor am I a tour operator. Rather I build, install and manage hotel booking engines on their own hotel websites. So my figures cannot be affected by a change of website page rankings unless every hotel I service on all the islands have all freakily slipped down the rankings at the same time.

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Thanks for posting this. How do prices compare to 2008?

At my client hotels rates are almost all down - but direct-booking independent travellers have to pay much, much more for their flights and other costs, especially with the crazy UK APD taxes twisting the knife

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Not so, you misunderstood - my business is not a travel portal or agency, nor am I a tour operator. Rather I build, install and manage hotel booking engines on their own hotel websites. So my figures cannot be affected by a change of website page rankings unless every hotel I service on all the islands have all freakily slipped down the rankings at the same time.

Ok I see, that makes it more significant. May I ask how many hotels are you servicing?

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I too, although grateful for your input and feel there may be significance there, might be suspicious of the data reliability. Although looking from only one hotel I know we have wide swings in method of booking preferred/most popular. Laterooms for us is way ahead of Booking.com at moment for example, despite our commision mark up being 3X on the former.

Edited by man o' the year

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What do you mean by your systems provider?

ie the parent company, the software owner (I am area franchisee for the caribbean, we split fee revenues 50/50, but luckily if they cease operations I lose nothing except my monthly income, ie I had no capital outlay and pay no minimums).

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I too, although grateful for your input and feel there may be significance there, might be suspicious of the data reliability. Although looking from only one hotel I know we have wide swings in method of booking preferred/most popular. Laterooms for us is way ahead of Booking.com at moment for example, despite our commision mark up being 3X on the former.

You are correct - which is why I used the words "MY Caribbean bookings" in the title. The anecdotal is for my business only, of independent travellers booking directly with hotels and no middle men (middle men often eat into their margins to undercut hotels' own rates so in tough times one might expect fewer folks to pay rack rates for instance, which might be a factor afflicting my model too).

That said, what I read in the travel trade for the large TOs is also about drops in sales and profits warnings, albeit not anywhere close to 55% YOY as per my drop.

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Know someone who works for Thomas Cook:

THIS FINANCIAL YEAR HAS SEEN THE LOWEST LEVEL OF HOLIDAY BOOKINGS IN THE COMPANY'S HISTORY.

There will be a bloodbath in the holiday industry soon. Shortly to be followed by the rest of the economy.

Edited by General Congreve

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Not heard many horror stories lately re. Antigua. I was there a year before that tourist was murdered and saw nothing scary. Made a point about getting around the island on bicycles with the wife away from the irritating package holiday lot including Bev (black as the ace of spades who kept telling everyone of her st kitts heritage with a really broad dudley accent lol), met some great characters and went out for a few beers with a couple of taxi drivers Francois and Cevyln :D hope they are alright! They made my holiday less tedious than spending it entirely on the grand pineapple resort.

Edited by tomposh101

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I imagine that many tour companies and airlines will be going bust in 2011.

I might suggest people have to try a different target audience and/or destination.

The recent troubles have wiped off a lot of familiar tourist spots from the map. Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt . . . and that is without all the shark problems that closed hotels at Sharm El Sheik. So there should be a market somewhere for all these tourists with nowhere to go.

The growing numbers of tourists are from Russia . . . who will happily go to places where a visas are not a problem.

Montenegro is booming, for example.

Maybe CB should not be pitching his business at cash-strapped Brits??

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Imo atm there are two camps when it comes to holiday bookings. Those people who are genuinely cash strapped so aren't booking a holiday least of all an expensive foreign holiday and those people who are not cash strapped so could book a holiday and even an expensive foreign holiday but for fear of offending or isolating friends/family who might be in the first group they're holding back.

Who wants to look like they're living it up when people around you are under the kosh?

Don'f forget we're in this together even if for some that means in spirit alone.

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