Category: Tourism marketing

Trends, ideas and case studies on tourism marketing

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?

 

Co-creationCollaborative business modelsInnovationMarketing 3.0Open innovation

Product development through co-creation

Beyond customization right before or during the experience, co-creation may take place in many different ways:

  • Co-creation workshops, organized as a creative and educational activity open to all stakeholders, which in turn may provide valuable ideas to develop products.
  • Product development contests, organized to promote contribution to the open innovation system providing elaborated ideas on how to develop new life-changing experiences.
  • Ideation bank contributions, permanently accessible as a section of the open innovation system, where innovation needs are posted, and solutions are submitted and voted.
  • Product Manager’s creation based on inputs from creative reviews and new stories, permanently inspiring and nurturing the marketers’ creativity.
  • Local service supplier creation based on own creativity, inputs from reviews and stories, and the technical support of the Product Manager.

The Product co-creation workshops play a critical role as both educational and productive events. There, Product Managers explain the product development process and the key success factors for creating life-changing experiences according to the destination’s mission. The workshops educate the attendants in the art of ideation and team working to generate and refine ideas leveraging all group members’ creativity.

Attendance should be mandatory for local DMC like the micro-entrepreneurs from the base of the pyramid, but also the participation of all other community stakeholders should be encouraged. Other interesting targets could be school students as part of their education, members of mission driven organizations such as NGO, etc.

Do you think of other ways to develop products through co-creation?

Business model innovationCo-creationInnovationMarketing 3.0Strategy

How to develop new products

Beyond the cluster’s and cross-destination conditions, product competitiveness is no doubt a key factor to consider in the overall assessment and strategy. Product competitiveness strategies entail sometimes developing new products and others just improving the current ones. In this regard, this section explains the key product development strategies and methods, some product development programs that are used in most destinations, and also the product competitiveness strategy and most common programs.

Developing new products is not an easy challenge. Once the product portfolio strategy is defined, the product categories to develop are established. Then, from the product category to the marketable product is where creativity and product development mastery make the difference. The main steps of the product development are the following:

  1. Conceptualization
  2. Business model design & test
  3. Feasibility study and assessment of social and environmental impacts of the product
  4. Business Plan
  5. Launch
  6. Monitoring performance & improvement

Even if the Product Manager is solely responsible for the product development, in Tourism 3.0, the co-creation and the ideas coming from the open innovation bring support in the steps 1, 2 and 6. Steps #1 and #2 are supported by the contribution of the co-creation workshops and the Open Innovation System through various types of contributions: professional and non-professional; whereas the step #6 is supported by the visitor’s creative reviews after their experience with the product.

The case of the life-changing experiences is where co-creation and open innovation play the most decisive role, due to their complex nature, as they have to provoke some kind of personal transformation in the visitor, far beyond the usual tourism experiences. Their development process is therefore more complex as well. The development of life-changing experiences entails the following steps:

  1. Starting from the mission as an inspirational mantra, and listening to related stories to better understand the life-changing idea, define the experience concept based on its life-changing goals (effects or impacts), the constituents of the positive change (those who benefit from the activity), and the activity behind the experience.
  2. Try to include storytelling training as a part of the experience, to generate new stories
  3. Business model design & test
  4. Feasibility study and assessment of social and environmental impacts of the product
  5. Business plan
  6. Launch
  7. Monitoring performance & improvement

In this case, the Product Manager has to supervise the adequacy of the ideas being developed through the open innovation, the product development contests and the co-creation workshops, to help improve & refine them, and to invigorate contribution. The Product Manager is also in charge of selecting and managing channel partners, organizing the aforementioned events, benchmarking and managing customer feedback.

Once the life-changing experience product has been launched, the performance is monitored and creative reviews are encouraged, along with the creation of stories about the experience. These two are the most inspirational sources for product improvement and new products development. The capacity of the product to be customized for every tourist makes it more productive in terms of stories created and creative reviews.

Would you consider other steps in the product development process?

InnovationStrategyTourism marketing

Developing destination’s emotional value: feelings

There are also many kinds of feelings that the destination atmosphere may create in the visitor. Such sensations can be created through adding several kinds of features or extras that provide feelings of life, authenticity & harmony, magic atmosphere, variety, fun, etc. Such extras may be, for every kind of feeling:

  • Harmony & authenticity: urban aesthetics, people /employees dressing in traditional costumes, architectural style, souvenirs, cultural monuments & sculptures, natural smells, open kitchen in a restaurant, religious ceremonies, artisans handcrafting products, etc. Charming destinations are famous for their identity reflected in their architectural style.
  • Life: wildlife (birds, butterflies, squirrels on trees, flying fish, ducks and swans on water canals or lakes, etc.), artists performing outdoors (human sculptures, musicians, painters, acrobats, etc.), street markets, water springs, liveliness of local population, plants and flowers on balconies, people performing traditional arts (dancing, Tai chi, etc.), and everything else that turns sightseeing into life-seeing and feeling.
  • Magic feelings: Night illumination with different colors, attractive smells, fireworks, inspiring music, dancing springs, permanent nice surprises, sophisticated street performances, etc. and the synchronicity between all these elements.
  • Variety: different kinds of shops in shopping streets, broad range of courses in a menu, facades of different colors, markets with wide variety of products, gardens with many types of plants and flowers, options for amusement, architecture, etc.
  • Hospitality: cleanliness, proper indoor temperature, kindness of the local population, proper condition of the cultural and natural heritage, interior design and materials, service customization, etc.
  • Relax: birds singing, water flowing, relaxation music, green areas, silence, etc.
  • Safety: cleanliness and good conservation of the urban landscape, kindness and honesty of the local population, peaceful atmosphere, lack of beggars in the streets, illumination at night, police in the streets, smooth traffic, good functioning of public services, etc.

Besides, there are some feelings closely related to Tourism 3.0:

  • Customization: making the tourist feel as a unique person, being called by one’s name by service suppliers, being able to tailor the service experiences, small personalized gifts, etc.
  • Contribution: letting people know how their contribution in the open innovation or content marketing system is useful for the destination, letting people visualize the result of their contribution, letting visitors provide ideas and opinions on as many issues as possible, etc.
  • Growth: learning new skills, opening one’s mind, gaining personal and social awareness, acquiring new good habits, and all that results from the life-changing experiences.
  • Recognition & reward: being mentioned in a public place or document for your contribution, receiving an award, receiving a tangible reward, etc. for your contributions.

Do you think of other ways to create positive feelings for the visitors?

InnovationMarketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Developing emotional value: experiences

The value created by the experiences and feelings in relation to the discomforts and risks lived by the tourists during their holiday in the destination is referred to as emotional value. In this point, there are many types of experiences, feelings, discomforts and risks to talk about, for each of these four factors is explained through the development of many categories.

When classifying experiences, there are many possible criteria that can be used. According to the relationship established between the tourist and the destination:

  • Edutainment: to learn while entertaining in an active relationship that keeps the tourist mentally absorbed.
  • Entertainment: to see, listen, smell, touch in a rather passive relationship that keeps the tourist mentally absorbed.
  • Escapism: to do some kind of sporting or physical activity that keeps the tourist active and physically immersed in the destination.
  • Esthetic: to be there, rather sightseeing entailing a passive relationship that keeps the tourist physically immersed in the destination.

Furthermore, the life-changing experiences leading the development of tourism 3.0 could also be classified in many categories depending on the type of transformation or change experienced by the tourist:

  • Personal awareness & discovery, and spiritual development
  • Social awareness and cross-cultural understanding
  • Environmental consciousness and education
  • Skill development in arts, communication and leadership
  • Transfer of values and wisdom
  • Personal transformation by discovering the fulfillment of contributing to the greater good

Finally, the experiences may also be classified according to the product or service they are generated by. In this classification, we distinguish many kinds of experiences:

  • Restaurants: food-street markets, panoramic restaurants, underwater restaurant, show cooking, boutique restaurant in a special location like a boat, self-cooking, terrace with view, cave restaurant, restaurant with live music & performance, etc.
  • Sightseeing with original & charming transport systems: gondolas, old fashioned tramway, rickshaw, seaplane, tourist train, dogsledding, snowmobile, camel/horse/elephant ride, hot balloon, helicopter, cable-car, transparent bottom boat, charming old boat, etc.
  • Accommodation: huts in trees, Ice hotel, monastery, boutique hotel, boat hotel, huts in the jungle, transparent ceiling igloo, cave hotel, castle, underwater hotel, etc.
  • Shopping: street markets, theme markets, shopping villages, artisans show-crafting, educational shopping –explaining how the product is done, or/and its benefits-, etc.
  • Culture & entertainment: Imax/3D cinema, charming villages & old towns, botanical garden, zoo, aquarium, wildlife watching, storytelling performance, museum, religious ceremony in a temple, visiting a Palace or a castle, theater, opera, music festivals, music & fireworks & springs, street theater, acrobatics show, etc.
  • Fun: adventure park & zip lines, roller coaster, party boat, water park, amusement park, etc.
  • Iconic experiences: these take place in an iconic building and may consist of many different types of activities such as sightseeing from a privileged position, attending events, museums, accommodation, etc. The iconic buildings may be a telecom tower, big wheel, Congress Center, Opera House, Wellness & Spa center, Sporting events venue, Imax Cinema, bridge, hotel, museum of science, national theater, temple, stadium, etc.
  • Special interest: cycling, hiking, learning to cook, bird watching, climbing, diving, snorkeling, sailing, learning languages, marathon, Sport events, learning about art, Cultural events, pilgrimages, wildlife discovery, skydiving, etc.

Do you think of other types of memorable experiences?