Category: Tourism marketing

Trends, ideas and case studies on tourism marketing

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesTourism marketing

Storytelling marketing for the Santiago Way’s pilgrimage

One of the worldwide famous life-changing experience destination is the Santiago Way, a pilgrimage route that revived two decades ago from the middle age. It was first developed through the local Government’s investment in hospitality facilities and promotion, and from then on through word of mouth and high-profile storytelling, including many films.

Even if the experience concept is apparently simple –mostly considering that most pilgrims do not have religious motivations-, it turns to be a memorable social experience where you meet people from all walks of life, from all nationalities and ages, but in all cases everybody has an open mind and a noble heart, unlike most of us are used to in our daily lives. Unlike most other holiday concepts, this one is essentially a social experience which is totally flexible in the way that you can start and finish when and where you prefer to, and you can improvise your journey every day.

The intense conviviality along the whole journey when walking and once arrived in the destination hostel sets the stage for multiple kinds of stories about friendship, self-discovery and awareness, transferring wisdom, and love, among many others that you can imagine.

Such a life-changing experience scenario has inspired many celebrities in writing books and making films. Such is the case of Paulo Coelho –Brazilian bestseller author- with his book “El Peregrino de Compostela”, which brought a considerable flow of Brazilian pilgrims; or Hape Kerkeling –German Showman- with his book and film “I’m off then” which also brought large flows of German visitors. Other cases are Shirley Maclaine with her book “The Way” or Charlie Sheen in a film with the same name. This is a benchmark case study to illustrate how life-changing experiences inspire stories up to high-profile storytelling.

Nowadays, the local DMO do not need to invest in promotion anymore. The storytelling machine works itself and The Way has revived many areas which were literally abandoned. Beyond the main route, where all these media stories take place, many other Santiago Ways have been developed taking advantage of The Way’s enthusiasts boom, thus reviving the other historical pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela coming from different points of the Iberian Peninsula.

Do you know of other similar cases?

Business model innovationCo-creationCollaborative business modelsInnovationMarketing 3.0

Case study: Trip4real. Tourism experience collaborative business model

Trip4real is a paradigmatic example of how the collaborative economy flourishes in new business models for the tourism industry. Founded in Barcelona by Gloria Molins, it connects local experience developers with tourists eager to discover the destination through tailored experiences for them. Trip4real is a collaborative platform where any local may market a tourism experience to help the tourist discover the destination from a particular point of view or live special interest experiences.

The platform acts like a marketplace and also as an intermediary, so the payment is controlled by the platform and it gets a commission out of it. After the payment is done, the supplier and the client are connected to meet and live the experience. The motivation behind this business model is the will of the tourists for discovering the destination off the beaten track, where the locals go, and the hidden secrets that cannot be found in the Guides, as well as the authenticity brought by the interactivity with locals, who facilitate a deeper understanding about the local culture.

The first platform was developed for Barcelona, but other platforms have been developed in Madrid, Lisbon, London, Paris, Rome, Dublin, Berlin, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and a handful of Spanish destinations.

As has happened with Uber, do you think that these business models may be treated as unfair competitors to the local “official” tour guides and incoming agencies? Do you think there should be any kind of restrictions to letting it legally compete with standard tourism service suppliers?
You may check further details at www.trip4real.com

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Controlling service quality through customer reviews

The Spanish Online Travel & Entertainment Broker “ATRAPALO” has opened a blog to let their customers express their opinions on their lived experiences with Atrapalo’s products. According to Atrapalo’s executives, one of the main key success factors of the company is the great deal of feedback they have from their customers, who always have the chance to comment on their experiences with hotels, flights, restaurants or shows. They do not have a Quality control department, but their clients give them feedback on what products and suppliers are worth dealing with.

In the case of the most purchased products which also have a high percentage of reviews, this is for sure a reliable source of information to assess the product’s quality. However, so long as the review is free and not mandatory, the average result of the reviews may not be the same as that of survey carried out on a representative sample chosen at random. Here it is important to assess if there is a typical bias from the result obtained through the free reviews to the one obtained following the quantitative research techniques, so as to assess appropriately the value of these results.

This technique leaves however many questions unanswered: how many reviews do you consider necessary to have a valid assessment on a product, in relation to the product sales? How do you assess the least sold –least tried- products’ quality which have very few or no reviews? Do you consider the case of corrupted practices in which some “product dealer friends” would write exaggerated reviews on the experience, pretending it was much better than it really was?

Furthermore, beyond reviews on product quality, why do you think that operators do not encourage clients to bring in ideas on how to make their products better or ideas about new products?

Co-creationInnovationMarketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Co-creating experiences in cooperation with Airbnb

Airbnb is partnering with iconic brands all over the world to promote its services. The news is that they partner with all sorts of brands, regardless of their relationship with the tourism and hospitality business. For instance, in Australia they partnered with Ikea to allow a group of customers to sleep in its Sidney store. This has not been the only case of such partnerships. During last year, some Airbnb guests have been able to rest on a KLM plane or at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. There’s a future chance to spend the night at the Holmenkollen ski jump skiing in Oslo (Norway).

More recently, Chicago Bulls and Airbnb partnered on a promotion to allow one fan and a guest to sleep in the United Center following a game. The Bulls redesigned the owner’s suite equipped with a bed, dining room table, and TV (although guests could chose a movie to be shown on the team’s giant video screen). The Bulls even hired a cook to make a very special breakfast in the morning.

For a hospitality brand as Airbnb with not a single room among owned assets, it’s being a very clever and successful promotion to show how they can offer what no hotel chain can offer: unique experiences in accommodations all around the world. A promotion hard to imagine if not thanks to a collaboration between two brands with a win/win outcome, a co-creation process concerning a global brand wanting to be known in every possible local market and another local brand interested in being exposed to the world.

So we were really glad when we knew Casa Batlló in Barcelona and Airbnb agreed to a similar partnership giving two guests the chance to spend the night in one of the most mythical and iconic landmarks in the city. First of all, because this modernist architect Gaudi masterpiece building is owned by a Co-Society fellow (consider this a disclaimer). But also, because in this case, besides the partnership between two companies, the initiative also included some other elements of co-creation and co-innovation.

The contest to win this unique experience was not a mere lottery. It was created to tie in with Mobile World Congress, which took place in Barcelona during those same days, and linked to the “Entrepreneur hosts Entrepreneur” program in which entrepreneurs who travel to Barcelona to attend the event could sleep in the homes of other local entrepreneurs. Casa Batlló wanted Gaudí to be one of these local entrepreneurs and invite home not any tourist but somebody who could show the same out of the box thinking that made the host unique. To qualify for the award, the applicants must “Write to host” and propose an original idea of how to leverage mobile technology in the building, built between 1904 and 1906.

See the original post at www.co-society.com/airbnb-casa-batllo-mi-casa-es-su-casa-gaudi-said/

What kind of partnerships do you envision for collaborative platforms like Airbnb?

StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Clustering benefits for marketing

So long as every type of environment is more or less adequate for certain types of activities, the correct matching between the location and the activities developed is a key factor for competitiveness and also for effective marketing, as it helps to build a cluster’s consistent identity, enhancing the character of the experience and also helping the tourists to envision what kind of feelings they are likely to experience.

Closely related to competitiveness and productivity, business concentration may also accelerate innovation in product development and process efficiency. Having a pool of competitors in the same geographical area facilitates benchmarking and stimulates innovation, so long as proximity leads to constant comparison and competition.

Furthermore, attractions concentration in a cluster makes it possible to design more attractive packages in the travel market, as well as to attract more transport operators –namely flights and bus regular lines-, which eventually open new markets. Competitive clusters attract also internationally branded operators –like reputable hotel chains-, which eventually contribute to the reputation and attractiveness of the cluster.

Other marketing benefits may come from the cooperation in marketing activities by the cluster’s operators. This includes market intelligence collection and management through a local “Tourism Observatory”, but also from sharing efforts and information for the cluster’s marketing planning, and operational marketing activities.

Through cluster based collaboration, all these benefits can be enhanced, due to the multiplier effects of more productivity, innovation and business growth in a cluster influences many other industries within the region.

Do you think of other clustering benefits for marketing?

StrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainabilityTourism marketingTourism trends

A theoretical approach to cluster development

As introduced in the first point, tourism clusters are created to leverage the unique resources of a location or in some cases to gather artificial resources in the same location. In both cases, they improve the value of the location to end up making the location a key strategic factor.

To make a cluster competitive there are many key success factors that should be considered by the cluster members:

  • Transport infrastructure within, and to access the cluster from the target markets
  • Solidarity and cooperation spirit among players
  • Cooperation between the Government and the private players
  • Creating a welcoming atmosphere to attract international talent
  • Foresee space for attracting new businesses and expanding the cluster

A very specific key success factor is the existence of a governance structure to promote collaboration and joint projects, fostering innovation and promoting the cluster internationally. This governance body should be also responsible for:

  • Attracting new businesses
  • Performance monitoring
  • Intelligence research
  • Identifying needs for improvement and training
  • Representing the cluster players internationally
  • Organizing networking events and conferences
  • Coordinating players to design and implement the cluster development strategy

As mentioned before, there may be many types of players within a cluster, and so the types of cooperation between them may also be different. There are at least two types of cooperation:

  • Value chain cooperation: between players from different sections of the value chain, to gain efficiency or to add new value.
  • Coopetition: competitors sharing resources and costs that are not afordable for each one alone.

Research has shown that tourism development is a venue in which cooperation is often more important than competition (Inman et al. 1998). A cluster based development should try to build the value chain within each cluster in the region. A cluster strategy places all public and private stakeholders in the position of being producers and suppliers to one another, and seeks for constructive ways to define and carry out mutually beneficial action. The value chain is central to the tourism cluster concept, as it demonstrates how tourism can generate benefits to the economy beyond the tourism sector through linked industries (Gollub et al. 2002).

Do you think of other key success factors to make a cluster competitive?

StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Product competitiveness programs

Beyond the aforementioned recommendations for specific products or sites, these competitiveness programs should also be taken into account, as they apply to the whole product category:

Product clubs are voluntary associations of stakeholders related to the product category, working like a forum or think tank, and led by the DMO Product Manager responsible for the product category, with the following goals and functions:

  • Carrying out market intelligence research
  • Analyzing competitiveness gaps, marketing KPIs and weaknesses to overcome
  • Planning, funding and coordinating the marketing activities
  • Developing new products and improving product competitiveness
  • Monitoring the result of the marketing activities and product operations
  • Lobbying to solve problems affecting the product business
  • Training the local operators in marketing and management

Product Quality labels facilitate the identification of key attributes by the tourists to help them prioritize their visits. Obtaining a label entails complying with certain quality requirements that eventually encourage operators to improve product competitiveness. For instance, there could be labels such as “Gourmet restaurant”, “Charming village”, “Historical site”, “Boutique hotel”, etc.

The method to develop the Product Quality labels should be the following:

  1. Selecting the special labels to create
  2. Defining the requirements in cooperation with the Product Clubs
  3. Labels graphic designing
  4. Carry out communication campaign targeting local operators to adhere to the label
  5. Assessing interested operators on the requirement compliance
  6. Introducing the Product Quality Labels in the marketing materials

Benchmarking trips are organized by the Product Club for the destination product operators with three main goals oriented to improve product competitiveness:

  • Learn best practices from the best performing destinations and operators
  • Learn about the destination model key success factors and competitive advantages
  • Inspire operators with ideas on developing products, providing more value with less efforts

The benchmarking trip organization should consider the following steps:

  1. Identifying possible benchmarks: destinations and operators
  2. Studying every benchmark to figure out what can be learn from each one
  3. Choosing the benchmarks with the most applicable know-how to the destination

Which other product competitiveness programs would you consider?

StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Product competitiveness strategy: marketing & management

The product or site improvement program may regard some standard strategies to leverage its potential, increase the tourism flows and generate new revenue streams, such as:

Connection with other sites: arranging public transportation and sightseeing services to connect sites between them helps the visitor to have time to see more attractions.

Venue for events: some sites may be offered to hold special events such as weddings, concerts, cultural performances, exhibitions, etc. bringing in an extra source of revenue.

Accommodation: some sites offer an excellent condition to operate accommodation services, adapting an old building as a boutique hotel, for instance, to obtain a new source of revenue.

Price: depending on the improvements made, the price may be revised accordingly. It is also convenient to make a deal with the aforementioned smart card, discounts for groups, etc.

The priority need for one or another improvement is to be assessed by the consultants, though a survey to the tourists about their satisfaction on many issues and the suggested improvement needs is highly recommended.

What other type of generic marketing strategies would you consider to make it more profitable?

StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Product competitiveness strategy: resources & experiences

Beyond the development programs to create new products, there are also programs to improve the current products’ competitiveness. In this point, however, it is also necessary to talk about product competitiveness strategy, as the programs are in fact a concrete idea as a result of the product improvement strategy.

The product improvement strategy follows the same methodology of the cluster improvement strategy: creating more value and reducing efforts, which ultimately means creating more resources, experiences and feelings to add value, and developing or improving infrastructures and services to reduce discomforts and risks. Furthermore, when assessing every product individually, it is also convenient to make management and marketing recommendations to attract more visitors and/or to increase their expenditure, reduce congestion problems, increase safety, and other practices to reduce risks and discomforts.

The following examples may better illustrate the product improvement strategy concerning resources and experiences:

Restaurants: adapting charming buildings’ spaces, gardens or terraces as a restaurant may be a very profitable way to create new experiences and revenue streams.

Souvenir shops: when the tourist is satisfied with the site experience, he/she often looks for some kind of object to remember that experience, or to have more information about it.

Creative activities: it is well known that many tourists are willing to take an active role in their tourist experience. Creative tourism is a new trend adaptable to many cases.

Animation: improving the atmosphere feelings may be achieved by integrating performing artists such as musicians or painters, adequate music and illumination, shifting from sightseeing to life-seeing.

Guided visits: either through audio-guides or tour guides, providing interesting information and stories about the site always enhances the value of the experience.

Decoration: the details make the difference between an outstanding experience and a normal one. All decoration elements should be carefully regarded to create an excellent atmosphere.

What kind of generic resources and experiences would you consider to improve a tourist attraction?

InnovationStrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Product development programs

There are certain types of products that may be developed in many destinations:

  • Events calendar: there should be an Events committee in charge of designing an attractive calendar of events, both to cover seasonality gaps and to strengthen the value during the high season, when there is the toughest rivalry among destinations.
  • Theme routes: leveraging both material and immaterial natural or cultural heritage may be achieved by creating theme routes. These may consist of visiting places related to a story or a historical character, or just linking related resources.
  • Shopping streets: streets with a sufficient number of attractive stores could be marketed as shopping streets creating a brand, attracting new ones, and enhancing the stores service competitiveness to guarantee a premium shopping experience.
  • Attraction of DMC to the destination offering special interest experiences that are being developed in other destinations to broaden the product portfolio. Some DMCs know-how may be highly appreciated and even have a market prestige that attracts visitors themselves.
  • Souvenir product line: all destination brands may be leveraged through the creation of a merchandise product line, encompassing typical branded products (t-shirts, caps, etc.) and also genuinely local souvenirs related to the unique destination assets.
  • Destination smart card: specially conceived for city destinations, the smart card encompasses public transport allowance, free entrance to many sites and discounts for many other sites, along with some vouchers for restaurants and other services.

Which other product development programs would you consider?