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Booking company points to growth in hotel revenue

Published:Wednesday | October 1, 2014 | 10:00 AM

Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer

A leading online agency, Expedia, has said its Average Daily Rate for bookings through its site, which is up by seven per cent, has led to increase in revenues of 36 per cent for Jamaican hoteliers.

This comes as the agency reports that the room nights generated for the destination has increased by 26 per cent.

The travel company generated more than 215,000 room nights to Jamaica from January to August, and said it will finish the year with more than 300,000.

"We carry the largest supply of lodging products in Jamaica, and we added 57 new products this year. We are committed to growing," Expedia's director of market management for the Caribbean, Demetrius Canton, told Wednesday Business during the two-day trade show, Jamaica Product Exchange, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last month.

"If the Jamaican hoteliers are able to grow occupancy and grow rates at the same time, it's a great equation for them," said Canton.

Making reference to competitive destinations, Canton said for years, Jamaica has lacked new products.

But: "With the influx of new investors and existing hotels stepping up their game, this has done well for Jamaica," he said.

Investment in the island's hotels has continued, both by local and international investors, to a value of approximately $54 billion from 2012 to 2014, Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill stated, naming the major international and local investors in hotels, Sagicor, Riu, Blue Diamond, Melia, Palace Resorts, Hyatt, and Karisma.

"This has also brought new brands to the island's product offering, including Sensatori, Melia, Royalton, and Marriott, while several properties which have been undergoing renovation work will soon be brought back on stream, such as the former Ritz-Carlton, which should reopen in November as the Hyatt Ziva and the Hyatt Zilara," he said.

Expedia's Canton described the thrust as fantastic, cautioning at the same time that it was important to add new lift.

"It doesn't make sense to put in all these new rooms without lift", he said.

Expressing his company's commitment to Jamaica, Canton revealed that, for the first time, Expedia has hired a new associate market manager, who will be based in Jamaica.

The company has hired Adrian Harrison, a former marketing officer at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

"We are the only online company that will have an employee based in the destination, that will help us build stronger relationships with our partners and help us acquire more products faster. His role will include training hotels on how to leverage all of the Expedia tools that are available to help grow their revenue," said Canton.

Jamaica's new director of tourism, Paul Pennicook, welcomed the news.

"Earnings are increasing, that speaks well for the destination," he said.

Pennicook said stopover arrivals for January to August has seen a 2.6 per cent increase over the same period last year.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com