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This discussion explores, from a Caribbean perspective, the nature of the relationships and the sources of bargaining power between British tour operators and Barbados hoteliers. The paper aims to illuminate sources of power asymmetries that exist within the tourism/hospitality context and, in turn, assists Barbados hoteliers with improving their bargaining power status with British tour operators. Contractual agreements between hotels and tour operators can work unfavourably for hotels and resorts of the Caribbean since it restricts their profitability, performance, competitiveness, and long-term financial sustainability as tour operators demand lower net rates. The paper addresses two research questions: (1) What leverage tool (s) could be used by Barbadian hoteliers to neutralize the power of British tour operators in the negotiations process? (2) How could a dialogical (Poon, 1994) environment be created to facilitate real cooperation between the two stakeholders? An eclectic qualitative approach to information gathering involving mystery shopping, personal professional experience, literature reviews and elite interviews with hotel managers who are members of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association was undertaken. The results suggest that a penta hexa model of stakeholder collaboration is necessary in order for Barbadian hotels to become more competitive and less dependent on British tour operators.
Keywords: Crisis management, distribution channels, tour operators, tourism marketing, tourism management
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