If there is one word that sums up the Caribbean, it’s resilient. Over the past few years, much of the Caribbean has been rebuilding following storms or educating and reassuring potential visitors that they are open for business. Two thousand eighteen, in particular, was a year of restoration and renewal. In this context, their recent successes are even more impressive. We took a moment to acknowledge the impressive achievements of this region at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) annual Marketplace event in late January.
Destination success stories
At the CHTA Marketplace event, Jamaica’s tourism minister, Hon Edmund Bartlett, shared the good news: Jamaica experienced 8.6% YOY increase in tourism revenue in 2018 and wrapped up its second year in a row with more than 4.3 million annual visitors1.
Caribbean destinations also achieved significant increases in package demand during the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. San Juan, Puerto Rico recorded an increase of over 360 percent in package demand1, a notable jump as the country was recovering from the devastating hurricanes of 2017. The Jamaican destinations of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios recorded a growth of nearly forty percent and nearly nine percent in package demand, respectively1. Other Caribbean destinations such as Punta Cana, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Aruba recorded double digit growth in package demand1.
The road to recovery
Because destinations are extremely vulnerable to public perceptions of health and safety, they are frequently placed at the center of the storm when disaster strikes. Events, such as hurricanes and wildfires, can have huge negative economic consequences, as tourism is especially vulnerable to disasters – and, being a fragmented industry, can be subject to miscommunication. We believe that our place in the travel ecosystem includes helping destinations recover from disasters. And, as an organization with access and scale, we are in a position to help destinations rebrand, build awareness, and rebuild their tourism economies.
One obvious but impactful way that we help destinations rebound is to help them increase awareness – either once they are ready for the spotlight or in the case that they were never actually impacted by a nearby disaster. Without awareness-building, potential travelers might not have realized that a full seventy percent of the Caribbean was untouched by the 2017 storm season. We’ve worked with many hotel groups, tourism boards, and others to help build awareness of and drive travelers to the Caribbean. Most recently we’ve worked with the Jamaica Tourism Board to increase wintertime business, with the Bahamas Tourist Office to increase package bookings, and various hotels within the Dominican Republic to run a successful, bookings-focused co-op campaign.
Another way that we can give destinations an advantage is by helping them understand which regions travelers are considering alongside theirs. Destination marketers are often surprised to learn that their competitive landscape includes distant destinations with a wide variety of characteristics. Using our first-party data, which comprises more than 144 million unique monthly visitors and over two billion page views, we can provide marketers with insights into what travelers are searching for and what they ultimately book. We can also help tourism organizations gain visibility into what types of activities, accommodations, and destination characteristics their would-be visitors are seeking. Once destinations understand their competitive set and what their potential visitors are looking for, they can build campaigns accordingly.
And, at the end of the day, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Expedia Group can help connect destinations with those travelers. Significantly, travelers who book via OTA have been found to stay eight percent longer than non-OTA travelers and spend, on average, nearly eighteen percent more on their trip overall2.
Our team is passionate about helping destination marketing organizations like the CHTA. Kudos to the entire region for their growth in tourism over the last year. We are delighted to continue working with our partners in the Caribbean to help them drive awareness and bookings.
Want to learn more about how we collaborate with destination marketing organizations?