Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Brief introduction to Destination Marketing

fig 1: tourism campaign of the  Israeli government (source: nigelparry.com)                                          

In the past few months the author has written extensively on “Business tourism”. Today he will attempt to write on another important part of tourism sector namely “Destination Marketing”, considered as the essence of any form of tourism industry. Destination Marketing is all about enhancing the image of a tourist destination which will result into increase in number of visitors and revenue. In today’s world tourism is one of the biggest industries all across the globe, both in terms of employment generation as well as output. Hence almost all the 250 nations across the globe are fighting strong with each other for getting the higher share of the pie. Hence in order to be successful it is essential that the destination must be having a strong as well unique positioning. Destination marketing is an integrated and long term approach dealing with the marketing and brand building of an individual tourist destination. There are various kinds of tourism such as, leisure, sports, life style, cultural, business etc and a wide range of products offered under any kind, but in order to make them successful it is very essential that the destination itself should be holding a strong brand perception among the various tourist communities. The brand image of the destination is the focal point of the “tourism industry”. In the recent time places like, Shanghai, Dubai, Barcelona, Auckland etc are considered as Destination Marketing success stories. (Julie Vardhan, 2008)




There are five main reference points in destination marketing (Julie Vardhan, 2008)



Tourists: - tourists are the fundamental element of any destination marketing plan. The tourist factor basically includes the desires of tourists such as fun, excitement, comfort, safety, self actualization etc and needs such as safety , comfort etc.

Tourist destination: - includes all the, excitements, events, avenues and places a tourist destination offers. Consists of both unique as well as complementary services offered by a destination.

Tourism service providers- There is a wide range of organizations working across the industry that provide various products and services to the tourists. These include hotels, resorts, airline companies, logistic companies, public and private transport, tour planners etc.

Citizen: - Ultimately one very important stakeholder of the overall tourist industry is the citizens. Citizens are the ultimate beneficiary of the economic gains made; similarly they are also the ones which are mostly affected by the side effects of tourism such as ecological imbalance. More over they provide the social factor such as warmth and friendliness  needed for the success of the industry. Tourism programs cannot be made successful until unless the citizens do not work as self appointed champions of the cause.

Public private interest coordinator- There is various kinds of public and private stakeholders involved in the tourism industry. For the success of the overall industry it’s essential that there should be proper coordination between all the stakeholders and at the same time their individual interests should be taken care of. Public private interest coordinators take care of this.



Positioning of a tourist destination

Positioning plays a very important role in Destination Marketing. It attempts to provide a unique image for a tourist destination and helps it differentiate from the rest. Often done after customer segmentation and targeting it is based on a unique brand communication strategy. For exp Dubai is positioned as a destination with grandiose and splendor where as Spain as destination full of fun and excitement. A destination positioning strategy has both tangibles as well intangibles. The wide range of products which a place offers such as, hotels, beaches, mountains, safaris, spas etc are tangibles and are needed to sell a destination, but based on them a destination cannot be marketed. Marketing can be done with the help of the uniqueness of experience which these places can offer, the fun and excitement which is associated with them. These are basically intangibles. (Harsha E. Chacko)

Development of an effective Destination Marketing plan: -

A successful destination marketing plan consists of following four steps: situational analysis, development of strategies, implementation of strategies and finally evaluation of strategies. (Vicki L Olton)

Situational analysis: - is the  understanding of the overall situation of the destination with the help of various strategic frameworks. This step basically includes a wide range of research activities consisting of product, position and prospect analysis. Product analysis includes studying all the offerings which a destination has to offer and what all strengths and weakness are associated with them? It includes analyzing of the overall environment in a destination including, infrastructure, socio-political factors and places to visit. This is followed by positional analysis which includes analyzing the present position of the destination with respect to the competition as well as the way it’s being perceived by the various tourist communities. The next stage is the prospect analysis which includes studying the behavior of various customer segments and based on the situation, selecting the primary target segment. Finally based on the given three analyses, SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats) analysis for the destination is done. To have a better overall analysis of the tourist destination, other strategic frame works such as PESTEL (political, economical, social, technological, environmental and legal) can be used.



Strategy development: - once the target customer is decided, based on its profile a new positioning strategy can be worked out or some modifications can be made in the existing one. This is followed by developing strategies for, right products to satisfy the needs of the target market, right distribution channel such as travel agents, tour operators, web portals, meeting planners etc, and the desired positioning and communication strategy



Implementation of the strategy: Once the strategies have been developed it has to be implemented with efficiency and within the time bounds.



Evaluation: after implementation the final stage is the proper evaluation of the plan, and based on the evaluation making changes, if required.



References:-

1> Julie V, 2008, Conference on tourism in India: challenge ahead,p-247, available at < http://dspace.iimk.ac.in/bitstream/2259/563/1/247-251+Julie+Vardhan.pdf >

2> Julie V, 2008, Conference on tourism in India: challenge ahead, p-249, available at < http://dspace.iimk.ac.in/bitstream/2259/563/1/247-251+Julie+Vardhan.pdf >

3> Harsha E, positioning a tourism destination to gain competitive edge, hotel-online.com, available at <  http://www.hotel-online.com/Trends/AsiaPacificJournal/PositionDestination.html >

4> Vicki L, How to develop an effective destination marketing plan, Kopphra.com, available at < http://www.kropphra.com/article/how-to-develop-an-effective-destination-marketing-plan >

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