Atlantis Bookings Up


After two tumultuous years amid the backdrop of a global economic meltdown, things are looking up for the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, said Atlantis Managing Director George Markantonis over the weekend.

Markantonis said through concerted effort with the government and the Nassau Paradise Island Tourism Promotion Board, the company's leisure bookings have spiked.

"Versus last year, we're running about 35 percent ahead of where our pace was last year," said Markantonis.

"The issue is probably more on the fact that we haven't seen that same uptick in the groups and conventions. That business remains flat... and we are trying everything possible to stimulate that demand. But if leisure bookings are an indication of what's in store for the future, then I think there's a light at the end of the tunnel and we're very pleased."

Markantonis said 2010 has gone well for the company and the next quarter should see further growth for the country's largest private employer.

"Our occupancies have met our expectations so far this year. We were looking at about 67 percent occupancy for the year. I'll tell you that we were disappointed with April because last year April had two weeks of serious business.

"You had the Easter week and then you had the Passover week. This year they were at the same time," he said. "May has been average. We're very pleased with what we've seen for June, July and August. The summer looks very, very good. I don't expect any falloff on that. I think it's very encouraging...we're very confident that summer is going to be good.

"Looking further than that, it's too soon because who knows what's going to happen in the world three months from now it seems like these days. If it's not a volcano exploding somewhere, it's an oil slick. If it's not an oil slick - we've become a world of calamity and crisis reaction."

One of the reasons room night bookings have gone so well for the company, according to Markantonis, is the free companion airfare that has been spearheaded by the Ministry of Tourism.

"[It's] truly been one of the most successful promotions that we've had here," he said. "We have seen a serious uptick in our bookings from that. And I think a lot of that is because people see the value. You know, there's a lot of places that can do a fourth night free (but) there's not too many places that can do a companion airfare. And that's probably because in many countries and many destinations there isn't that kind of collaboration between government and the private sector to be able to put something like that forward.

"That is working very well and I hope that we'll be able to continue it further, even after the funds are used. And we'll see how that works out."

However, Markantonis said he is skeptical that the traditionally slow autumn months will see any improvement over last year. He added that Atlantis is working to remedy that.

"We just don't feel that we can sit back every September, October, November and throw our hands in the air and say 'this is hurricane season and no one's [going to] come anyway'. Well we can't take that attitude. I mean otherwise we're working on a nine-month calendar year," he said.

Markantonis said other popular destinations like Las Vegas have changed that trend with regard to the summer months over the last decade.

"It's way too hot (and) there was absolutely no reason to go there," he said. "They changed it, they created more value, they made it more interesting. And now all that happens is that you have pretty much the same occupancies in Las Vegas in summer as any other time. But at considerably lower rates and a lot more value thrown in.

"Not to say that we can do exactly that, but we've got some focus and we're going to continue to experiment with how to change the fall into a peak period for us too. We should be announcing our new fall promotion in about two weeks. We're still working through it but I think we've got something pretty exciting that we're looking at to try and separate ourselves from the noise out there as we call it. And the 'noise' being other destinations all imitating whatever we do."

One very important thing that the economic downturn has achieved for the company, said Markantonis, is a boost in customer service levels at the property.

This year, he said, the property is breaking records in that regard.

"Our guest scores so far - every single month, including the month of May - this year, are new records; every single month. And not only new records as an overall property, but by tower.

He credits the high scores to the dedication of the staff at the property and the company's commitment to continuing training so that the property would be primed for the customer influx that is expected when the recession ends.

"You'll recall that last year we spent a lot of time training because we realize that we have to have a service edge. And that's not just Atlantis; that's the community," he said. "The community has to have a service edge, not just the people working in hotels. The taxi drivers, the people working at the airport, customs officers, immigration, there are so many people that can impact a persons' perception. So the customer scores are through the roof and we hope to continue it that way with all of our training."


Source: The Nassau Guardian