The organisational structure of the Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) and the ladies and gentlemen who make it work are truly valuable assets in the effort to revitalise Bermuda’s economy. The country has an organisation that is transparent, cost efficient, professionally staffed and focused on growing the tourism economy. In fact, the strength and talent of the staff, which is 90% Bermudian, has played a significant role in the organisation’s progress to date, and these individuals represent a very promising future.
This is particularly true among the five chiefs leading the BTA. Each of them was hired during 2014, three before the 1 April inception date, and two in the summer. No matter their start date though, every member of the C-Suite had an immediate positive impact on the organisation and continues to lead effectively: Bill Hanbury, Chief Executive Officer; Karla Lacey, Chief Operations Officer; Victoria Isley, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer; Pat Phillip-Fairn, Chief Products & Experiences Officer and Roland Andy Burrows, Chief Investment Officer.
The bottom line objective of this executive group and the entire BTA team is to grow the tourism economy by increasing air arrivals, increasing visitor spending and creating jobs and entrepreneurial opportunity. In almost every action, public statement and strategy decision these objectives are central to our focus. The pressing necessity of their success cannot be overstated because tourism is the area of our economy best positioned for growth.
The National Tourism Plan (NTP) of 2012 directed us to reduce seasonality and you will have noted in 2014 the BTA’s track record of focusing the Product & Experiences team toward this goal. Our Tourism Experiences investments were weighted strategically toward events that take place between November and March and we backed new experiences that can thrive in our lower demand period. The “Uncover the Arts” calendar, scheduled between November and March, was heavy on culture and culinary because those are experiences not overly dependent on the weather and have the capacity to draw visitors.
Overall, the BTA has brought a fresh approach to Bermuda’s products and experiences and it is inspiring local entrepreneurs to harness their creativity to align with the BTA’s strategy. This is an important pathway to the creation of new jobs.
Another chief objective of the plan that has been accomplished is positioning Bermuda as unique and different from our competitors in the Caribbean. This was a recommendation of the authors of the NTP and we’ve worked hard to weave this into our messaging – capitalising on the marketing advantage that our northeast customers can achieve a truly island-inspired experience in the North Atlantic with half the travel time. Bermuda is the best of British charm and island soul and we have been articulating this to travellers in our core markets.
To this end, rolling out the BTA’s new marketing strategy was a critical milestone in the fourth quarter of 2014. The NTP revealed that our target travellers didn’t understand our product and we’re well on our way to conquering this branding challenge. We have made substantive progress with a fresh approach to marketing that is being delivered by our new social media, public relations and representation firms.
We’re also working to improve national pride in Bermuda tourism and enhance the customer’s perceived value of the Bermuda experience. In 2014, the groundwork was laid for the rollout of the National Service Standard Programme which will create hundreds of certified tourism ambassadors who will be equipped with the knowledge necessary to enhance the experience of our visitors. This is how we begin to increase tourism value. Meantime, the #LoveMyBermuda campaign instilled a sense of local pride rarely seen on our shores.
This progress, within the first nine months, could only have been achieved with a focused team in place. Building a brand new operation from the ground up, that is well structured, well managed and well positioned for success is no easy feat. We have been guided operationally by an adherence to “best practices” in our pursuit of achieving Destination Marketing Organisation Accreditation in conjunction with Destination Marketing Association International. Bermuda is in the final stages of this prestigious accreditation which should be awarded to us later this spring. The eight-member Board of Directors and 37-member Tourism Authority team we have recruited are united in this critical mission to improve tourism in Bermuda. The country is well-served by a staff that is driven by a performance-incentive compensation programme that is consistent with high performing private-sector entities.
The Board of Directors has provided valuable time, expertise and counsel to the BTA mission. The Board met formally ten times in 2014 and I believe has been a solid resource for the CEO and staff. There are three active Board committees that are also meeting on a frequent basis: Audit and Risk, Compensation and New Revenue Committees.
With inspiration from the NTP, the BTA Board and staff have transformed that document into an Annual Growth Plan. We will review our most important target numbers on an annual basis to track our progress and to further adjust if market conditions demand it. As a result of our review in 2014, the NTP goals are now more achievable, more realistic – yet they still show a vision of growth and opportunity for the local tourism industry.
Tourism continues to be our country’s best pathway for economic growth: 2014 confirms it and in 2015 we plan to prove it! I’m inspired by the work being accomplished by the BTA for the country and honoured to be serving as the organisation’s first Chairman.
Chairman of the Board
Tourism continues to be our country’s best pathway for economic growth: 2014 confirms it and in 2015 we plan to prove it!