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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, April 27, 2015
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Dash to Deadline
with Eli Tajanlangit

Our hotels need help

Just in case you haven't noticed it yet, many of our hotels have been launching one promotion after another, usually bringing their rates down in the hope that even the locals would be enticed to, perhaps, also patronize them and help perk up their occupancy rates.

The promo blitzes have reached a point where some of them have introduced what is basically a “short-time” rate, good for three hours stay, bringing them to the level of motels.

I am sure these promotional gimmicks are being done to address the unique marketing problems of each hotel. But I think it also means one thing: our hotels now need help to bring in guests and keep the industry not just floating, but profitable as well. Which means, it is time to take a look at what we have been doing to bring in the guests who will occupy our hotel rooms, the tourists.

We can talk all we can about the “success” of our tourism promotion efforts but if we cannot fill up our hotel rooms, something's lacking somewhere. There is no better gauge yet as to the impact of tourism promotion program than the occupancy rates of our hotels. When we cannot fill up our hotel rooms regularly, something more has to be done

Come to think of it: do we really know the kind of tourists we are trying to entice to come to our town or city? We have all these programs supposedly to bring them in, but exactly who are we trying to attract? All these years, we have been preparing and preparing for tourists, but we have never really decided yet on this first and most basic of questions: which of the tourism markets are we really trying to hit?

It's a simple enough matter. We need to know our markets because we need to know who we are talking to when it comes to tourism promotion. The slogan “Sugar and More” for example: does it reach the very people who could understand it and appreciate it to the point that they'll come to our province?

Unless we define who we want to come, unless indeed, we identify our target markets, we shall continue to run around in circles, even spend a fortune, and still not fill up our hotel rooms. It's as simple as that.

But why do we need to help our hotels? Why do we need to come to their assistance? After all, they are private businesses that ought to operate on their own. Maybe so. But filling up those hotel rooms does not just mean business for the hotels. It means business for the entire community – for the farmers who grow the food these tourists will eat, for entrepreneurs whose wares these tourists will bring home for pasalubong; for the drivers who will bring these tourists from point to point; for the restaurant owners who will have them as diners – the list is endless.

The hotel owners and operators can launch their marketing promos, as they are already doing. But they have to go for the big league, not just for the local market of people who flee brown-outs in their homes or do three-hour “rests”. For this, they need someone, or some institution, to orchestrate things and lead. They need for example, a clearer direction as to what tourism markets they are trying to attract.

That should really be the work of our local tourism offices. Sadly, some people in these offices themselves need to undergo paradigm shift; some of them have this notion that as tourism employees their job is to travel and be tourists instead of working to bring in the tourists.*


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