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Marketing Tourism Destinations Objective: Introducing the meaning, applications and approaches in the marketing of tourism destinations.
Marketing Tourism Destinations This chapter is about the marketing role of national tourism organizations, boards or offices commonly known as NTOs which is used to describe the organization assigned by the state with responsibility for tourism matters at the national level. n It may be a full ministry or a directorate of general or a department or board. In NTOs, government support in funding and official recognition is normal in cases where the NTO is not part of the state. n
Principal Marketing Role of NTOs n n The principal functions of NTOs include; 1. formulating and developing the tourist product or products of the destination 2. promoting them in appropriate markets The role of NTO is to create and communicate appealing destination images and messages to prospective visitors, mainly through advertising, PR and print.
For example, in Britain, there are four bodies which meets the definition of NTOs. They are the British Tourist Authority, the English Tourist Authority, the Scottish Tourist Board, and the Wales Tourist Board. n British Tourist Authority is responsible form the marketing Britain overseas. The tourist boards for England, Scotland, and Wales are each responsible for the development and promotion of tourism in their areas. n
In the USA, at federal level, the NTO is the United States Travel and Tourism Administration which is responsible mainly for the promotion of tourism into the USA. n In addition, most of the US state governments have their own tourist offices, which mainly does the promotion of US domestic tourism into their areas. n All these national and state NTOs act as policy advisers for their governments. All have established formal and informal links for consultation and joint action with the tourism industry in their countries or regions. n
Around the world there are some 200 NTOs of different sizes and organizational patterns. n Nearly all of them are engaged in one or more aspects of destination promotion. Most of the promotional effort organized by these NTOs is aimed at international markets. n Research showed that larger branch netwrorks of NTOs such as those supported by Britain, France or Greece, have over 30 offices in the main countries form which they receive their visitors. n
The yearly expenditure on marketing international tourism of the NTOs is between 1 million Euros and 1 -10 million Euros. The average marketing budget of NTOs is around 0. 003% of their international tourism receipts. n Destinations with smallest budget include island states, small South American and former East European countries; medium range include larger South American, larger former Eastern European countries and smaller western developed countries; OECD countries and major world tourism countries have the largest budget. n
Strategies Applied by NTOs n Basically, in marketing a country as a destination, the role of NTOs are; 1. to reach prospective visitors with the help of 2. the promotional mix by increasing awareness and influencing their attitudes and purchasing behavior - promotional strategy, to facilitate the marketing activities of mainly private sector operators of the tourism industry in the promotion of their own products - facilitation strategy.
A promotional strategy The strategy an NTO adopts in practice should change according to the stage of the development a country’s tourism. n Where destinations are largely unknown in the markets they seek to promote, where existing tourism flows are small, and where the tourism industry within the country is mainly weak, the NTO has to take the leading role in playing a major role in promoting its destination’s products. n
To be effective, the promotional campaigns must be of sufficient weight and impact to create the necessary numbers of potential buyers. But if budgets are not adequate for the task, expenditure on an image-creating strategy may in practice be waste of money. Generally, the available budgets is not adequate to engage effectively in image campaigns in several markets. n The marketing support of international operators such as airlines, hotel chains and tour operators is essential for success. n
n For better-known, well-established destinations such as Britain and the USA, the NTO should focus more of its expenditure on the strategy of support and facilitation and less on buying media space for general advertising.
A facilitation strategy n This strategy creates marketing bridges between an NTO and the individual operators in the travel and tourism industry. Under this strategy, the basic functions of NTOs are; Establishing promotional priorities for specific markets and segments. n Coordinating the elements of tourism products. n Providing support for new or growth products. n
n n Creating cooperative marketing campaigns accessible especially for the hundreds of small businesses, that would otherwise be unable to participate in marketing on a national or international scale. These strategies bring the NTO and its commercial sector together in joint operations.
Forms of facilitation by NTOs n Some of the most important facilitation processes used by NTOs are as follows; n Flow of research data; by providing a regular, userfriendly flow of research data to the tourism industry (e. g. short reports on market trends), an NTO may make valuable inputs to the marketing planning processes of individual businesses in all sectors. These research surveys is more cost effective.
Representations in markets of origin; by establishing a network of offices in foreign countries, an NTO can create and maintain vital travel trade contacts, and act as a point of distribution for the destination’s products. n Organization of workshops and trade shows; NTOs make arrangements where suppliers of tourist products may meet with prospective buyers at relatively low cost. Either in the market of origin or at the destination, individual hoteliers, attractions, suppliers of conference facilities may be able to make contact and discuss business in one or two days of intensive meetings which on an individual basis could take weeks to organize. n
Familiarization trips; by arranging visits for the selected foreign travel agents, journalists and tour operators to the destination, NTOs can increase the business between the travel trade in markets of origin and destination products. They are also a method of improving the information available to customers at key retail outlets and gaining better display space at point of sale. The trips also serve an important PR role and offer many opportunities for communicating key messages to influence people. n Travel trade manuals; it is customary for NTOs to produce one or more trade manuals which serve as references and guides for use by the travel trade. A manual lists the details of all operators and their facilities, and prices. These manuals provide access to foreign markets at low cost. n
Support with literature production and distribution; because printed materials are so important in tourism marketing, some NTOs produce “shells” for use by small businesses. These are normally full color leaflets that contain photographs and empty spaces that may be overprinted by an operator’s logo and product messages. n Many NTOs sell advertising space in their range of brochures which they distribute overseas. These brochures are very cost effective advertising media which small and medium sized businesses can reach international markets. n
Information and reservation systems; by using new computerized information technology, NTOs may assist sectors of their tourism industry by establishing central reservation systems in support of the brochures. Travel agents and other distributors who can access products rapidly through one central reservation operation are likely to find this the only way to deal cost-effectively with small businesses. n Support for new products; NTO can help new products to emerge and establish themselves in their markets in the initial 2 to 3 years after their launch. Smaller businesses are usually unable to afford the start-up costs of national and international marketing. n
n Consumer assistance and protection; the marketing task does not end with the sale of a product. It extends into concern for customer satisfaction with the service delivery. NTO can define product quality standards in consultation with operators in tourism industry. These may include minimum levels of equipment to be provided in accommodation, and codes of good practice, e. g. in giving buyers full information in brochures. These are done in order to ensure consumer satisfaction and protection.
Destination Positioning Themes, Branding, Images and Concepts n Whatever is the main strategy, promotion or facilitation, for marketing destinations, NTOs need to choose the single-minded comunication propositions (messages and symbols) that identify and position or brand their countries in the minds of prospective visitors to differentiate them from the others.
Amazing Thailand, Incredible India, Turkey: Mediterranean and more, Croatia: The Mediterranean as it once was; Greece: Live your myth in Greece are examples designed to identify destinations with unique propositions. n To be successful, such propositions must be; n Based on genuine product values and attributes that can be delivered and experienced and that visitors recognize as authentic, not fake. n Readily understood by customers at the point of purchase. n
Involve at least the leading players in the commercial sector. n Incorporated into the promotional efforts of a country’s regions and resorts. n Sustained over several years if they are to overcome the communication inertia and barriers. n Systematically exploited in a co-ordinated range of sales-promotion and customer-servicing techniques designed to reach visitors on arrival at the destination as well as prospective visitors in countries of origin. n
Sources n n Kotler, P. ; Bowen, J. and Makens, J. (1999). Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism (2 nd ed. ). Prentice Hall: NJ. Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2006) Principles of Marketing (11 th ed. ). Prentice Hall: NJ. Middleton, V. T. C. (2004) Marketing in Travel and Tourism (3 rd ed). Elsevier: Oxford. Middleton, V. T. C. ; Fyall, A. ; Morgan, M. And Ranchhod A. (2009). Marketing in Travel and Tourism (4 th ed). Butterworth-Heinemann: Oxford.