Guests want to book their holidays with the resort; resort wants guests to book directly with them.
But resorts give discounted wholesale rate to tour operators but not to individual guests despite wanting them as direct booked guests. What cooks?
Here is the everyday situation in resorts that shouldn’t have been in the first place. After seeing a gorgeous picture (something like the picture below) of the perfect blue sky and an even perfect white beach, the would be guest hurriedly tries to book a romantic getaway to Maldives with a life partner. Searching through google brings the guest tons of ads almost all leading them to a booking site. The booking site happily lets the would be guest click through a few times on the webpage and sends confirmation email with travel itinerary and a welcome email for holiday package worth sometimes a little over 5k$ for a week’s stay in one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The customer is indeed set back that many dollars from his net worth for this effortless business created by a third-party booking site. The hotel gets a slice of the pie as well as the booking site and sometimes a few other partners all enjoy a slice of the pie. This is standard proven business model right?
Actually this maybe the wrong model but the one working model customer has no option but to comply with. Tour operation is effortless big business which should belong to history. At least that’s what it should be considering Maldives is one of the safest destinations in the world, together with good internet coverage and this being 2017; in theory a customer shall be able to deal directly with hotel to book his stay without intermediaries. But why are guests still paying the (evil) middle man? The answer is actually funny and kind of depressing. Resorts give discounted wholesale rates to tour operators with the assurance that tour operators will do the marketing work and send guests to the resort in off-season. Its outsourcing their most important department (marketing) and doing business the effortless way.
Marketing in most resorts in Maldives is less about marketing than dealing with outsourced marketing firms and tour operators. Tour operation is so widespread that there are tour agencies who do not market at all, but sell packages to other tour operators from discounted packages they get from resorts. What all this does is add bloat to the customer’s holiday package from which only a small portion is received at the resort. This is one reason vacation packages in Maldives are pricy compared to some similar destinations. On the other side it’s also important to keep prices artificially high to appeal to the wealthy customers for “exclusivity effect”. This is also mostly true of big brand resorts while average resorts are happy with their island being self- marketed by natural beauty and word of mouth type marketing.
What has to happen is much… and they better happen all at the same time.
Lets start enumerating them.
1) Resort owners or managements have to come to a collective understanding that staff are as much an asset to their business as are other contributing factors which constitutes to their success story. Currently to the many resort managements and resort owners (Especially the local ones) this does not appear to be their understanding according to our unfinished survey. Those resorts that do appear to acknowledge this fact is clearly in their own class of resorts and clearly is making more money if money is the objective (which it is.. and always was)
2) The resort workers has to do a crash course in many work related subjects such as striking, petitioning, lobbying and demanding rights in the light of new labor laws and the country signing up to International labor Office. Most of these involve lots of legal mumbo jumbo the average resort worker has to become familiar with and do so in a very short period of time.
3) Those resorts which still cling to the idea of running their own tropical empires from their resorts has to come out of a long slumber and face 21st century reality. Change has swept through America (Obama said that) as well as Maldives. More and more resort workers are coming to a broader understanding of their rights and issues are becoming more vocal in their assertions and demands. It shall be noted that for the most part whatever is raised as issues by resort workers are clearly well defined rights and where there is clash of conflicts for the most part is one of virtue against vice.
4) The economic slowdown of the world is still in a declining slope and the earliest foretasted growth is 2 years to this date as such much is there to be done to adjust to the survival of the fittest game. Catering only for the richest people of the world has its own disadvantages one of which being that the economic woes affect them more than others. Prominent tour operators in Maldives has been raising this issue through the years many times that we have too many 5 star and 6 star properties and too few for the mass market. Now is a good time to do the long overdue soul searching and come up with better schemes for better times to come.
5) With the end of the Sri Lankan civil war the tourist to this region would have a one more choice of a destination which might affect the tourism of Maldives to some extent if the worst case scenarios are to be believed. However it has to be understood that the products on offer in Sri Lanka and Maldives are quite different and will be complementing rather than competing.
6) Time it seems is running out for everyone… and more so for us here in Maldives. Atleast that’s the picture coming out from the world media. The sequences were like these.. The Russians hoisted a flag somewhere in Arctic seabed using submarines claiming sovereignty over a no-man’s land followed by the Norwegians, Swedes Americans, British as well as Canadians. All these countries are expecting the ice to melt over the poles of the world in a few years from now and to monopolize the gas and oil fields supposedly hidden under the the ice. The melting ice becomes water and our country being the shallowest place on earth maybe the first to be submerged if we follow this logic. However this is an over oversimplification of a long sequence of maybe’s and might be’s and yet still what is unknown about this whole episode is more worrying than what is known… Hence the time.