The prospects of the effectiveness of marketing methods to promote tourism destinations could spell a huge difference, if done with careful planning and research. Tourism demand evolved rapidly in the 1990s altering conventional wisdom and changing a whole range of factors influencing tourism planning and management. Attempting to interpret tourism phenomena and forecast the future of international activity is similar to reading the ‘crystal ball’ (Buhalis 1994, p. 70).
Tourism has grown enormously in the last half century and become the world’s largest ‘industry’.
It has also developed a multidimensional and multidisciplinary character making the analysis of both demand and supply a complex task. The globalization experienced alters the competitiveness of destination regions and provokes a whole range of new activities and requirements from the demand side. Increasingly people are becoming more aware of their limited time and are looking for both their value for time and value for money.
Predicting international demand trends is therefore a very challenging task, as the dynamic nature of these developments clearly demonstrates that the only constant in tourism is continuous change.
Nevertheless, successful tourism management and planning will increasingly need to identify the factors changing demand trends. The industry should therefore offer meaningful tourism products and also provide strategic and operational tools, which can delight consumers and enhance the competitiveness of destinations and enterprises within the global market.
O’Brien (1996) explains that “the West European leisure travel market is undergoing structural and cultural changes. These changes are critical to the future demand for, and supply of, leisure products both to consumers and to intermediaries who distribute travel products.” The European market has experienced a certain level of maturity as the vast majority of North Europeans take annual holidays abroad. In contrast the majority of South European tourists as well as people in North America have traditionally consumed domestic tourism products for a variety of reasons.
In promoting tourism destinations, advertising comes in with significance. Advertising is a powerful social and cultural force in American society (Jhally, 1995). Advertising has been attributed as being both a mirror of societal values and a molder of our beliefs and norms (Holbrook, 1987). In fact, many would argue that, with the current level of media and technology available, advertising and the mass media have become more powerful than other institutions such as education, religion, and even the family (Pollay, 1986).
With advertising’s ability to yield both economic and cultural power, it is important for advertisers and consumer researchers to understand how it is by and influences individuals in society. This point is particularly true in light of the major demographic shifts occurring in the United States. For example, people over 50 years of age will soon makeup the largest age group in the United States, and ethnic minorities are predicted to account for close to 50% of the population by 2050 (U. S. Census, 2000). Information on how individual characteristics affect the sending, receiving, and processing of communication is crucial for marketers to communicate and serve tomorrow’s consumers in an increasingly diverse marketplace.
Tourism: Industry on the Rise
The structure of the travel and tourism industry is complex because it is made up of a wide variety of interrelated commercial and noncommercial organizations. Thus, before venturing to advertising and marketing, the need to know on how these organizations work together and how the main components that make up the travel and tourism industry interact to provide the tourist experience. The components of the industry include:
- tourist attractions (for example natural, built)
- accommodation and catering (for example serviced/self-catering)
- tourism development and promotion (for example tourist boards, tourist information, guiding services)
- transportation (for example land, sea, air)
- travel agents in terms of multiples, independents and functions and products
- tour operations in terms of mass market, specialist, domestic and incoming.
The World Tourism Organization (WTO) reported that after three years of stagnant growth, international tourism experienced a spectacular rebound in 2004 with the great majority of destinations reporting positive results and many breaking records. World tourism was above all marked by the strong rebound of Asia and the Pacific after the SARS-induced setbacks suffered in 2003, and by the return of the Americas to positive results.
The recovery of the world economy, and in particular of the economies of major American and European generating markets, together with the strength of the Asian economies, strongly contributed to the extraordinary results of tourism in 2004. Fears of the impact of the oil prices faded as time went by, as the price increases were being absorbed by the economy, and were not affecting consumer confidence.
With regards to tourist preferences, a large proportion of these holidays are spent on international trips, especially during the summer season, when people from northern climates traditionally visit southern resorts in order to enjoy the warm weather and waters. These leisure products are widely referred to as the ‘4Ss’, which are the Sun, Sea, Sand and Sex (Lowry 1993, p. 183).
Leisure 4Ss products are packaged together and consumers purchase a combination of transportation, accommodation and activities packaged together by tour operators. In addition, several other types of demand emerge, especially for short-break holidays, which tend to concentrate on sports and educational activity, hobbies and visiting cultural attractions. This kind of tourism is generally domestic and often takes advantage of resources located in urban environments (such as theatres, cultural centers) or rural areas (e.g. agriculture or heritage) in close proximity to the main residence of consumers.
In recent years, however, tourism demand started changing towards a new type of activity where the individuality and independence of travelers are placed at the heart of the leisure activities. An environmental awareness is evident and consumers are actively selecting destinations which manage their environmental resources properly (Middleton and Hawkins 1998). Moreover, “a return to nature and its pace, the search for a measure of isolation, the concern for hygiene and health, the taste for do-it-yourself, home handicrafts and sport” can be observed along with an increasing interest in cultural issues. In this sense ‘people prefer to live their holidays rather than to spend them’ (WTO 1985, p. 9).
As a result, Goodall (1988, p. 34) suggested that ‘the days of 4S’s holidays are numbered’. Buhalis (1994, p. 261) proposed that the traditional 4S’s for tourism (sea, sun, sand and sex) be transformed in “specialization-sophistication-segmentation-satisfaction”. This process started in the late 1980s and it is expected to dominate the transformation of tourism demand as well as the re-engineering of the industry during the next century.
By the year 2010, about 1 billion tourists will undertake international tourism activity, spending almost 9 billion nights away and almost $1 trillion at 1995 prices. This illustrates that long-haul travel will be increasing at a higher rate and as a result traditional destinations will be challenged, losing their market share in the future (Edwards and Graham 1997). As a result, both tourism destinations and enterprises will need to appreciate demand trends as well as the factor that affect them in order to predict the needs and wants of their travelers and develop satisfactory tourism products and services.
Setting Tourism Marketing Objectives
Putting your marketing objectives into written form helps you to focus on how, what, and when you can realistically expect your marketing program to succeed. Marketing objectives provide a basis for selecting promotion and advertising approaches that address the potential customers selected, and provide some guidance for spending your limited marketing funds. Finally, the objectives must reflect your need for later evaluations and judging the effectiveness of each promotion and advertising approach to your potential customers.
Marketing objectives should be stated in measurable and quantitative terms, and specify a time frame and the customer market. For example: To increase average weekly occupancy by 10 percent with urban area anglers who are trout fishing in April by promoting special introductory rates in specialized angling newsletters/newspapers. One or more objectives should be written for each potential customer group you have selected. Update these objectives whenever you have completed an evaluation of your promotion and advertising successes or failures to date.
The marketing strategy is the package of products and services offered methods of promotion and advertising, your location, and how each customer group is communicated with about your products and services. A marketing strategy has four components: 1) product/service, 2) price, 3) place/location, and 4) communication/promotion.
Since tourism is primarily a service based industry, the principal products provided by recreation/tourism businesses are recreational experiences and hospitality. These are intangible products and more difficult to market than tangible products such as automobiles. The intangible nature of services makes quality control difficult but crucial. It also makes it more difficult for potential customers to evaluate and compare service offerings. In addition, instead of moving the product to the customer, the customer must travel to the product. Travel is a significant portion of the time and money spent in association with recreational and tourism experiences and is a major factor in people’s decisions on whether or not to visit your business or community.
As an industry, tourism has many components comprising the overall “travel experience.” Along with transportation, it includes such things as accommodations, food and beverage services, shops, entertainment, aesthetics and special events. It is rare for one business to provide the variety of activities or facilities tourists need or desire. This adds to the difficulty of maintaining and controlling the quality of the experience. To overcome this hurdle, tourism related businesses, agencies, and organizations need to work together to package and promote tourism opportunities in their areas and align their efforts to assure consistency in product quality.
As we already know, people increasingly live in a multi-cultural environment. A great labor mobility as well as immigration effectively means that societies are often composed of a multi-ethic population. Different cultural backgrounds often entail different customs and values which create dissimilar if not conflicting tourism needs and wants. Multi-culture is also promoted by the emerging global television channels, such as CNN, MTV, etc. which on the one hand broadcast global images and social behavior paradigms, and on the other hand generate interest and curiosity for the ‘global village’.
As a consequence, consumers become more aware of other places, their political situations and special conditions. In addition, the exposure of consumers to many cultures through previous traveling experiences provides plenty of examples for comparisons and a wealthy basis for building expectations. Globalization effectively implies that increasingly tourists and the industry need to interact in a culturally diverse environment and to learn how to manage, negotiate and compromise with people from different cultural backgrounds and experiences (Guirdham, 1999).
Targeting Potential Tourists
It is necessary that to know the “target audience” these marketing strategies are aimed at, their specific needs and wants, and the appropriate message to communicate to them. The process of selecting potential customers involves: 1.) Categorizing your existing or potential customers into groups with similar characteristics and needs (market segments), 2.) Evaluating these potential customer groups and choosing one or more to focus your business on target markets, and 3.) Developing a marketing strategy that addresses the needs of your selected target markets (Morrison, 1989).
Identifying your customers requires that you know your existing or potential customers and can describe them by characteristics and needs. For example, customers could be categorized by:
- Geographic descriptions: local, in-state, out-of-state, travel distance in miles or hours, etc.
- Social and demographic descriptions: age, family life stage, sex, income, education, occupation, ethnic background, etc.
- Behavioral descriptions: recreational equipment ownership and use (cross-country skis, sailboat, fishing equipment), concerns or needs for lodging facilities (size, price, quality, safety, accessibility), lifestyle characteristics (opinions, interests, activities)
As you identify potential customers, try to estimate the size of the group to determine if it warrants your marketing efforts and expenses. Small to modest groups of customers not being adequately served, or those without extensive competition from other lodging businesses, may offer the best potential. Consideration should be given to your method of communicating with potential customers. Can you design a marketing or promotional approach that allows you to address the needs and characteristics of those customers? Can you inexpensively advertise to those customers, or will it require a special marketing approach such as direct mail promotions or special introductory discount offers?
The customers you select to reach by advertising and promotional efforts should provide you with your best opportunity to profitably cultivate them as customers. The present and future potential of these customers must be evaluated for your lodging business, along with the present and future strength of competition for those same type of customers. Selecting one or more small or modest-size markets that your business can successfully serve should reflect an estimate of the cost of promoting your business to them.
There are a lot of methods in doing advertising. It could go through a variety of mediums like television, radio or in print. But recently, the internet has brought a tremendous prospect in doing advertising for tourist destinations. Price & Starkov (2002) noted that email marketing is a crucial component of the hotel marketing and online distribution strategy.
The shift toward online purchasing suggests that the website is becoming a key point of entry to establish interactive relationship with your customers and capture client email profiles. Over 192 million North Americans are active Internet users and 37 million of them have already purchased travel online. The Internet offers a vast, interactive, content-rich media and most importantly, a growing distribution channel for the hospitality market. It is estimated that 8% to 10% of all hotel bookings will originate on the Internet in 2002. In fact, some hotels already generate 20% to 30% of their total bookings from the Internet.
We send email to friends, family, and clients. Furthermore, almost everybody has at one time or another actively signed up to receive travel related information from a travel supplier or third-party collection service. Travel is a sought after product and a top information category chosen by most Internet users. The Aberdeen Group indicates that email marketing has grown more than 270% from 1999 to 2000 and rapid growth is expected to continue well into the future. An estimated 30 billion permission-based email messages were sent in 2001; a number that will grow to 150 billion in 2005 (Price & Starkov, 2002).
By category, travel related email marketing retains a loyal audience, especially if it offers the recipient value, accurate communication, relevance, and familiarity. Forrester Research points out that on average, only 5 percent of recipients have ever unsubscribed from any travel related list. Indeed, some travel-related email campaigns report response rates as high as 25%. Let’s face it; consumers want to learn about travel specials and promotions. Even travel agents serve as a viable audience as they too seek bookable opportunities.
Because “people shop on the basis of their identities, or on the basis of the inclusion in an identifiable social group” (Chasin, 2000, p. 32), advertising becomes an important tool for legitimizing and publicizing the existence of the “target groups”. This is also an applicable concept in doing tourism advertising. Advertising influences identity formation and identity enhancement in two important ways. First, advertising acknowledges individuals by rendering them identifiable and intelligible in the mass media. Second, advertising recognizes consumers as members of a discernible social group, with which they identify. Therefore, advertising may function to bring the marginalized population groups into public being. Whether this practice is desirable or beneficial requires further investigation (Lee & Callcott, 1994).
Diversity in Advertising for Potential Tourists
Some of these impacts of diversity in tourism development are planned, while others are unplanned. In travel and tourism industry, the need to understand that the impacts of knowing the visitor profiles could be beneficial in coming up with the ‘must-see’ attraction in a particular tourist destinations. Tourism professionals target different audiences for the long-term benefit of the destinations, their communities and the travel and tourism industry through the use of advertising.
Traditionally, tourism marketers have been using geographic and demographic criteria in order to describe their markets, probably because these categories offer objective tangible and measurable variables. However, as a number of phenomena could not be explained and interpreted, additional segmentation categories and methods have been added. Consequently, psychographics and behavioral criteria are used nowadays, in tourist segmentation, in order to provide detailed customer profiles, identify tourist motivations, needs and determinants, and offer an appropriate tourist product mix.
Thus, life-style segmentation has gained ground in modern tourism marketing (Mazanec, 1995). “Lifestyle is a way of living, characterized by the manner in which people spend their time (activities), what things they consider important (interests) and how they feel about themselves and the world around them (opinions)” (Morrison, 1989). Although life-style segmentation is probably the most difficult and subjective method, it provides the best prediction and understanding of tourist activities.
Through the use of content analysis, an extensive stream of studies has been focused on examining diversity representation in advertising. The underlying assumption is twofold. First, representative or inclusive advertising is likely to produce positive attitudes among minority populations and therefore is more effective.
The in-group bias theory (Wilder & Shapiro, 1991) suggests that a member of any group should have a more favorable response to another member of the same group in an advertisement. In other words, Whites should respond more favorably to ads with other Whites, gays or lesbians should respond more favorably to ads with other gays or lesbians, and elderly persons should do likewise. Second, representative or inclusive advertising is thought to help promote positive self-esteem among minority populations and is therefore socially desirable.
On the issue of whether inclusive advertising contributes to social good, reaction to gay advertising may serve as the most recent example. For many participants of the gay community, the expanding gay market and increasing gay images in advertising are signs of progress, if not success. This optimistic perspective argues that advertising to the gay community serves to legitimize members of this group as individuals and members of an intelligible sub culture in the United States. However, the excitement of being noticed by marketers has grown into a more skeptical and critical attitude as the gay market grows (Burnett, 2000).
Many have voiced their concerns about the possible negative consequences of stereotypes of gay men and lesbians in the mass media. Moreover, they have critiqued the presentation of certain eccentric gay images, such as drag queens and the paucity of lesbians or gay people of color in advertising. Thus, gay advertising reflects the ambivalence of legitimacy and vulnerability of assimilation and confrontation. The study of stereotyping and the effects of stereotypical images in advertising may help shed some light on this issue and a lot more research on their profiles has to be done.
It is important to note that the number of potential tourists who require accessible attractions is increasing internationally. Many countries have been working on improving tourism amenities to satisfy the needs of the disabled community or the elderly. That aspect of tourism needs to be enhanced. Also, family tourists come in groups that’s why they are the usual targets of many tourism advertisers.
With this, we could deem the importance of market segmentation and product differentiation. These concepts are also common practices under imperfect competition. Product differentiation can take the form of vertical differentiation between different quality products so that, for example, some tour operators attempt to specialize in providing luxury holidays in expensive locations.
It may also involve horizontal differentiation via the supply of a range of product types, such as the provision of holidays for mass market demand as well as for the upper segment of the market, young people, elderly people and a wide range of special interest groups. The strategy of branding aims to raise consumer awareness of and demand for particular product types and advertising performs a similar function, especially in advertising for tourism destinations.
In the highly competitive travel and tourism industry, there are many organizations providing similar products or services and it is often the quality of customer service that distinguishes one from another. Customers expect the highest standards and it is important that all staff are aware of the part they play in giving customers what they need.
Giving excellent customer service plays an important part in helping organizations keep existing customers and attract new ones and is critical to commercial success. In this unit you will find out why customer service is so important in travel and tourism. You will learn about the part that personal presentation and communication skills play in dealing successfully with customers. You will appreciate that customers are not all the same. Different customers have very different needs. You will learn to handle complaints, an essential part of customer service. You will also measure, monitor and evaluate customer service procedures and practices.
Their travel may result from a variety of sources: a pleasure vacation, business and convention purposes, friends and relatives, special events and festivals, sport recreation, historic sites, specific attractions, or when people pass through headed for another destination. The cash register doesn’t sort out travel purchases this way, and in reality it is impractical to separate tourists from travelers.
All visitors are important to the travel and tourism industry. The impact of travel and tourism on the local economy goes beyond first level expenditures at food, lodging, gas, entertainment, and retail establishments. Travel spending brings in outside dollars that “turn over” in the community. Even if you do not have direct contact with travelers, the money filters through the entire economy as residents re-spend travel dollars. But the increased interest in tourism translates to fierce competition in the marketplace.
Key to gaining the attention of potential tourists is development of a community marketing, not a selling approach. Advertising and marketing are continuous, coordinated set of activities associated with efficiently distributing products to high potential markets. It involves making decisions about product, price, promotion, and distribution.
Marketing focuses on providing customer benefits and satisfying needs better than the competition. It is based on the principle that consumer buying resistance will be overcome if the product satisfies buyer needs. Thus, in the context of globalization, tourism is an industry that needs to be encouraged to promote not only cultural understanding, but also help in economic growth of nations.
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