BTN spotlight: Brett Callaghan, TotallyBarbados

Brett Callaghan is the brains behind TotallyBarbados.com - the number one website for everything related to the beautiful Caribbean island. BTN caught up with the former professional jockey turned web entrepreneur to find out how a site that started small has grown big by tapping into local knowledge.

Brett, 35, grew up in Barbados, where he spent his childhood learning to ride horses, and gained his jockey licence aged just 14. He went on to win 34 races in Barbados and a further 27 across the Caribbean before moving to Canada in 1993 to further his career. He rode 174 winners in 1,200 races before a serious knee injury ended his horse-racing career aged just 25.

But Brett dusted himself down and retrained as a Microsoft engineer, and worked as a Technical Analyst at a Canadian bluechip before returning home to Barbados to create his vision – a website covering every aspect of anything anyone would want to know about Barbados.

Four years on, and the website has grown from a one-man band into the recognized one-stop shop for everything Barbados. Brett’s effort were recognized when TotallyBarbados scooped “World’s Leading Destination Information Website 2008” at the World Travel Awards Grand Final in Turks & Caicos.

BTN: What was the inspiration behind launching Totally Barbados?
BC: Totally Barbados is a comprehensive guide to Barbados, developed locally and maintained on the island. It offers information about living, visiting, working, investing, owning real estate and doing business in and with Barbados. We are proud to be 100% Bajan!

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BTN: What are you up to at the moment with Totally Barbados?
BC: We are continuing to add more information about the island and its tourism-related businesses while aiming to update all of the information by the end of the year to provide current information.

BTN: How do you see the site evolving?
BC: The site has evolved so much so in the four years since launch, and we hope to continue leading the way in features and added benefits to Barbadian tourism, related businesses, as well as web visitors from around the world.

(Left: Heron Bay)

BTN: And how do these plans fit in with how you see the internet developing?
BC: We have the technology and skills required to be the leader in providing current and relevant information about Barbados in the fastest possible way to web visitors.

BTN: What is Totally Barbados’s role in the development of tourism on the island?
BC: Our role is to work with all businesses both in Barbados and overseas related to the island, while also showcasing to all people just how beautiful Barbados is and all that there is to experience here.

(Right: Beach Cricket)

BTN: How does your role promoting the island of Barbados differ from that of the government?
BC: We aim for a more personal approach to the articles and coverage on Totally Barbados. We try to do things faster, better and cheaper!

I believe through my computer knowledge and experience and from being born in Barbados, and having lived in Canada for 12 years, that I can showcase to visitors and friends all that there is to experience in and about Barbados.

BTN: What’s your internet marketing strategy do you use to promote Totally Barbados?
BC: Search engine optimization (SEO) - we rank highly in the search engines, the website attracts more and more visitors and once we have many visitors coming to the website, they will know where to return for information in the future.

BTN: Which aspects of the brand are you most proud of and why?
BC: First and foremost the name: Totally Barbados – it says it all and is easy to remember. Owning TotallyCountry.com domains to 40 other countries allows me to build a strategic marketing plan to cover the Caribbean and other locations in coming years.

BTN: How has your role at MD of Totally Barbados changed since you launched?
BC: I’ve gotten busier and busier, starting from zero VIP clients to now over 100. It takes a lot of time and effort to stay on top of business, both managing my team and updating the website (which I do entirely myself) as well as ensure the development of the website and business for my clients and web visitors from around the world.

(Right: The Fisherman’s Pub)

BTN: You won World’s Leading Travel Destination Website at the 2008 WTA. Why do you think you won?
BC: By carefully planning the structure and layout of the site, all information is easily accessible, quick to download and easy to navigate. TotallyBarbados.com complies and conforms to the W3C’s (World Wide Web Consortium) recommendations and other standards in website design, thereby ensuring 99% cross browser platform compliance unlike our competitors who do not comply with these standards.

BTN: How do you incorporate the award in your marketing strategy?
BC: I have the awards displayed at the top of our homepage and all emails – this helps in providing brand recognition and increasing value to my VIP members and web visitors.

(Left: Brett wins “World’s Leading Travel Destination Website” at the 2008 World Travel Awards)

BTN: What motivates you?
BC: I am very competitive by nature so I see what everyone else is doing and go out to do better and more in the most efficient way possible.

BTN: What is your biggest thrill as an entrepreneur?
BC: Having won those awards is a big rush but as each day passes it brings joy to see visitors making bookings on my website for the products and services of all of my VIP members. If I can make sure they succeed, I will as well.