Tourism: Invite Advertising Agencies to Bid

January 13, 2011

simons-cole[Written by Cole Simons, Shadow Minister for Tourism] Bermuda’s tourism advertising account should be put out to tender as one way to re-boot the Island’s image and presence in the marketplace.

Inviting advertising agencies to bid to win the blue chip contract can help generate ideas and energy in the promotion of Bermuda to the travelling public.

This call stems from our grave concerns that the Bermuda brand has virtually disappeared from key markets that long sustained the Island’s tourism, industry.

It is our observation that potential customers in these traditional markets no longer think of Bermuda as a vacation destination. We need Bermuda positioned so that people know who we are, where we are, what we stand for and that we’re open for business.

A new advertising campaign properly targeted can rebuild our image and presence and lead to increased numbers of visitor arrivals. We need energy in the marketplace. It is our view that we don’t have that now.

We recognize that restoring tourism is a complex challenge, involving many parts and players, but there is no avoiding the fact that we must have a stronger presence in core markets. There is enough evidence to indicate it can be stronger, much stronger, and that it should reflect our special attributes – culture, location, history and natural splendors.

We are not calling for an increased tourism budget. Relative to our competitors we have more than enough money. We just have to get smart and stay disciplined to make our budget work better for us.

In conclusion, we urge the new Minister and her board to step up, recognize that we can do a much better job selling the island that we all love and make decisions that can achieve that.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Triangle Drifter says:

    At this point any agency but Global Hue. Given the way various agencys have been treated by the PLP & Minister Brown over the past decade, how many of the top agencys are even interested in the Bermuda account anymore?

    Our tourism product is nowhere near what it used to be.

  2. Call as it is says:

    Tourism Dept???
    we have a Tourism Dept?

    I never knew that!

  3. Ellen Brown says:

    It was better run then than it is now! Government is not accountable for how monies is spent, and tourism is at its worst point ever. Instead of putting it out to tender with various advertising agencies, ask Bermudians, who are the real deal. Talk to taxi drivers,bus drivers etc who deal directly with tourists on an everday basis plus it won’t cost a cent to have the imput of the locals and be far cheaper for the tax payer in the long run. Government must be conservative in how in monies is being spent, so creativity is the name of the game. I think the story about Mia Chambray and her mother, Jennifer Page, is excellent example of what Bermuda needs to do, to go back to what we know best, and what we were famous for years ago, our generousity, our willing to make them feel welcomed and appreciated. Actions speak volumns over words. I remember as a young person, if we saw somone lost we stop and help them with directions.

  4. Terry says:

    Good points Ellen.

    Government is lost. Please stop and give them directions.


  5. Timothy Hickey says:

    Greetings friends from a member of what I consider myself to be a “Member of your extended family”! If any of you know me by the post I did about the death of my brother “Bermuda Bill” back in late December, you will realize that we, as well as my family and friends LOVE your Island!!! For my brother to ask as his final wishes to have some of his ashes spread in the waters of Jobson’s Cove, should highlight what I try to explain here. There are MANY of us out there that have either cruised to your Island, or have flown and stayed there. We remember Bermuda for what it was, not long ago but not what it is today! I have an idea for your tourism board, track down people like me, past visitors to Bermuda, people that have been to your lovely Island more than one time, and do a television commercial with them giving their impression of just WHY we love Bermuda so much! There are many things that we (the tourists) see that are on a more positive note than what you Bermudians experience on a daily basis. The difference is you live on the Island. There is much you don’t see that we do. For us to be able to leave our hurried lives in other countries and be able to wind down on Bermuda is the best therapy for staying civil!! WE see Bermuda for the beauty that it is, as many of you do, but we may see more than you, like your people. Welcoming, sincere and honest. Don’t give up on yourselves, Bermuda is STILL, “The Hawaii Of The Atlantic”!! Let your Extended Family tell of your WONDERFUL Island! May god bless you ALL!! :)
    -Tim Hickey
    Deltona, FL. USA.

    • cheddar says:

      Excellent idea Tim. I hope the right people heard/will hear you.

  6. Triangle Drifter says:

    So true Timothy. Very few Bermudians get to see the Island through a visitors eyes. Contact is fleeting at best. Front desk at the hotel. A few comments with a waiter or sales staff at a store. A short cab ride from the airport. Not much chance for interaction in any of these situations.

    Very few of us get real quality time to get to know visitors & hear their praises or complaints. A taxi driver has the chance if doing a tour. A tourboat operator if operating a small boat chartering has an excellent chance to get to know his clients & pass praises or complaints on.

    The beaurocrats driving desks in the DOT never get to see a visitor never mind talk to one. The majority of others living on the Island never come into contact with a visitor either & so are in no position to judge what the customer wants.

    It is way past time to talk to people who directly serve the visitors. It is way past time to get back to the exit surveys at the airport to see what people are thinking.

    • Timothy Hickey says:

      Exactly Triangle. My thought is, Bernews posts links occasionally to youtube videos that were shot by local Bermudian groups. Videos like a ship that was used for housing prior to the construction of the prison etc. Why not have a group, even a High School video group, go around the Island during peak tourist season and interview people. They can even interview the local shop owners that DO interact with visitors. The group can interview passengers arriving at the cruise ports in Kings Warf, St. Georges & Hamilton, the airports and even attain permission to interview guests at the local hotels, pubs and clubs! After the video is done, show it to the DOT!! When all is said and done, The group or High School that shot the video will get the accolades for shooting a video that will continue to allow the wonderful Island to prosper. I have done some Marketing in the past. The best person to hear any review from is the “Regular Joe”! Not some hot-shot actor making 7 or 8 digits more than the person thinking of a vacation in Bermuda.

  7. Curious George says:

    How many hotels and hotel rooms do we have again….? Oooooh thats right most are under construction or renovation all at the same time right? So even if we get tourists wishing to come where are they going to stay? Just asking.

    • Timothy Hickey says:

      Keep in mind George…Visitors to Bermuda don’t ONLY fly there!! You have a strong flow of cruise ships to the Island. Granted, they do not stay at the local hotels BUT they DO spend money at the local shops and pubs. I remember many a time arriving on a ship at Kings Warf, having a scooter pre-rented and waiting at the pier and riding to Hamilton, stopping along the way at pubs for lunch and to cool off, the beaches along the way for a quick dip and shopping in Hamilton & St. Georges before riding back to Kings Warf!! This is why I say there is much your tourists do and enjoy that most Bermudians aren’t aware of!!

  8. RED says:

    I remember being in the audience at a lecture at Seneca College in Ontario while a travel expert and tour agent spoke to a roomful of students studying tourism and travel about The Caribbean, Bermuda and Mexico. She said some very positive things about Bermuda but I’ll never forget her closing comment. She said, if a client has to ask how much it will cost them to go to Bermuda on vacation….they can’t afford to go!

    Throughout the next three years we had many visits from tourism board members from all over the Caribbean, Mexica, Europe…all giving lectures and presentations about their respective countries directly to the people that have the greatest influence on the travelling public …future travel agents!!! Not once in three years did I ever see a representative of the Bermuda Ddepartment of Tourism. As Bermudians we should be ashamed….I have travelled throughout the Caribbean, South America, Mexico and I still believe we have one of the best products available. Ive stayed at some nice resorts in Jamaica, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico but while I was in these countries I wasnt really “visiting” these countries. I wasnt visiting “Jamaica” when I was there. I was obviously there …but what I mean is I certaily wasnt free to take a walk into town o jump on a bus. Ive always been confined to the luxurious resort within the walls surrounding the property and advised not to leave unless on a a tour. Most keep you busy, and entertained …because they have to! Its sad that we cant keep our visitors entertained and busy becuase we want to. I love having friends and family from overseas visit and they have a great time at the beaches but when night comes it is frustrating and embarrassing that there isnt anything to do…no Jimmie Keys, Strollers, Follies, Pirate Party….absolutely nothing. We’ve spent millions each year on concerts to “bring guests here”. How many people did they really think that were living in (for example) New York would pay thousands to fly and stay in Bermuda just to see Beonce or UB40 when the could see here in Madison Square Gardens for $100. That money could have helped fund 10 or so good entertainers or groups all season long so that locals and visitors alike would have something to do all season long.

    Another thing….. lets stop wasting money on departure lounge visitor surveys. The visitor has told you the same thing for 15 years now. Too expensive, and nothing to do. Still we change nothing, ask the same questions and expect different answers.

  9. RED says:

    How about instead of focusing adverts on someone on a moped over and over again…try focusing advertisement on all things Bermudian…play Golf on REAL Bermuda Grass, Eat traditional Bermuda with juicy Bermuda Onions in Bermuda. Bermuda shorts in Bermuda, Fly a Bermuda Kite…in Bermmuda. Drink one of the worlds finest Rums Black Seal in a Bermuda Rum Swizzle in Bermua. Or Drink Bermuda Gold in Bermuda. If your brave enough fly or sail over the Bermuda Triangle. Make a Honeymood wish under a Bermuda Moongate. Taste a yummy Bermuda Rum Cake in Bermuda. Im sure we could come up with a longer better list with a little more time and effort. If we create ads that show the potentional customer nothing but a beach and a moped we really cant blame the client when they compare prices between Bda , Jamaica, Mexico etc…. To most …a beach, is a beach, is a beach, is a beach! We need to show what seperates us fropm the competition and makes us unique.

    • Timothy Hickey says:

      BINGO Red!!! You made me laugh about the Onion…You know, I NEVER knew that Onions weren’t supposed to be spicy until I came to Bermuda?? I learned that if an onion is spicy, it’s OLD!!!

      • Timothy Hickey says:

        BTW Red, A beach is NOT a beach!! I’ve been to many beaches in the south eastern carib and Mexico that are tourist beaches. There is NO WAY you can compare those beaches to say your Jobsons Cove and the other little hide-away coves that ONLY an experienced tourist would know about. I live in a town called Deltona, FLorida….it’s about 30 minutes from Daytona Beach. We have tourists here too. But during peak tourist season (usually March – October) even as a local, I am lucky to find a place on the beach. The water is a murky greenish-blue…where your ocean waters are turquoise and CLEAN!!


  11. Triangle Drifter says:

    nothing much happens without a good dynamic tourism Minister. Right now we have a person with what kind of personality? What kind of business background? What kind of public speaker?.

    The talent pool is very shallow in the PLP estate but there is one person who is very enthusiastic about Bermuda when he is not selling his books or codfish cakes. We need another Jim Woolridge or Shorty Trimingham as Minister.

    I stood at the back of the room one time when Jim Woolridge was giving a presentation to travel agents. A master at his craft. The man could sell ice to eskimos. No cheat notes. No stumbling along. No used car salesman presence about him like Brown. A genuine man who believed in what he was selling, because he really did have the product at the time, & believed in Bermuda.

    • Tony says:

      How about dusting off the Monitor Group led Bermuda Alliance for Tourism report ( cost approx 800k ). Read it and see the way forward. It is the most comprehensive plan ever written on and for Bda tourism. The participants included all relevant stakeholders and as mentioned above, it was facilitated by a group of super smart MIT / Harvard grads who know a little something about change management.

      We need to stop playing at this with Tourism Boards and place it in the hands of experts. It simply needs to be taken out of the hands of politicians that have no clue how to handle this vital industry. See NYC and how they have turned their product/ image around. It was a collective to include pressuring City Hall to control crime etc, etc, etc.

    • Tony says:

      Jim and Shorty succeeded despite the very poor business plan that they followed. A fact. Gone are the days when a smiling face and a smooth tongue fills hotel beds..

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        I don’t know what that business plan was back then. I do know that those were the days when our now major competition sent people to Bermuda to see how the magic of success was performed.

        Seen anyone from anywhere in the last 25 years or so?

        Yes Jim & Shorty were gifted talkers. They were genuine too. They were totally different from the carpet bagger we had for the past 6 years or so. Professionals can see right through that type of smooth talking.

        • Red says:

          That. Ship has sailed. There were very few flights to the islands and the rest of the world was less accessible.
          You need a plan today and it has been written. I have red it and I invite others to the same..heck you paid for it..

  12. Timothy Hickey says:

    Another idea, if I may, is more webcams on the island that can be accessed on the internet. They can be placed at restaurants, hotels, ship piers just about anywhere. People (tourists) love to be able to see the sights before AND after their vacation to Bermuda. They used to have a great one that was controllable that showed the sites around St.Georges. But that one is gone.

  13. One Love says:

    Cole.. seriously my brother, I do have some time for you, I like you as a person, but you need to stop spinning this garbage.
    If you or anyone else believe that another advertising campaign is the panacea then heaven help you and us.Under this government alone we have had at least 5 different ad campaigns ( I may be off by one or two). If we don’t have the right product, no amount of advertising spin will put heads in hotel beds. At what point will we stop with this senseless banter. The problem is much deeper than advertising. We keep doing this rather silly dance when we all know that advertising without a real product = poor tourism figures. Don’t believe me than I ask all of you to conduct a very basic exercise:
    1. Revisit every Tourism Ministers rhetoric when they assume office (Allen, Webbe, Brown and now Minors
    2. Look at their strategic plan (sorry only Allen created one) the B.A.T., Plan, which he never implemented because he was forced to comply with this initiative by the than Premiere, but that’s as far as he/the PLP and ultimately Bermuda went with it
    3. All Ministers seemed to believe that the answer would be found via advertising and they all got a little dizzy with the creative pics and clever words. None of which has moved the needle in a positive direction–NONE!!!
    Here’s the reality:
    1. You won’t find a civil servant that truly understands Tourism. Ok, maybe one or two, BUT I THINK THEY HAVE LONG LEFT THE INDUSTRY.
    2. You won’t find a Minister that understands tourism–Ok maybe you will , but under this government we haven’t as yet!!! I know, scratch your heads but if you’re honest you’ll agree they don’t exist and No, writing articles about a destination does not count.
    3. But every year we as a nation sit on the sidelines quietly accepting the same old circus, one that includes some of the BS that I have been reading in Cole’s article and most of the responses. Simultaneously we go about the business of wasting approximately $32 million dollars a year.
    This stuff is truly debilitating!!! NOTE–we have spent over $ 400 million ( $400,000,000 )on tourism INITIATIVES VIA THE BDOT…since THE PLP TOOK OFFICE.