Friday, May 13, 2011

Getting It Wrong: Tourism promotion

At the same time as various agencies are criticising the regional government's tourism ministry for pulling the plug on promotion to the Spanish market, the same government is turning out its largely empty pockets to scrape together 50 grand for some different promotion; more of this below.

The failure to promote to the Spanish market for the lower months of the main season is due to a lack of funds. Does this matter?

It is easy to overlook mainland tourism, yet it forms, along with the British and the German markets, one of the three most important markets for Mallorca. It has its own characteristics. It is one that is accused of being the most miserly when it comes to spend and it is, obviously, not a foreign market. For the Spanish, a holiday in Mallorca is a "holistay".

Though Spanish tourists might be more aware, regardless of promotion, of what is available to them in their own country, it doesn't mean they should be ignored. They are also, like their British and German counterparts, subject to what happens in the world, i.e. they go to places like Egypt; or don't, as the case may currently be.

You wonder if behind this lack of promotion (other than the fact that the tourism ministry is all but bust) is the hope that the overseas (and potentially higher-spending) markets are going to be that strong this season that promotion to the home market doesn't indeed matter. But it may matter for different parts of Mallorca.

The distribution of Spanish tourists is heavily loaded towards the south of the island, with Palma a particular attraction. By contrast, in the northern resort of Alcúdia, the volume of Spanish tourism typically accounts for only 8% of total tourism. It's still 8%, nonetheless.

But there is a more fundamental issue, and it is one that gets back to just how effective, or not, any of this promotion and marketing really is. And that's where the 50 grand spend on something else comes in.

The national tourism ministry is putting together a promotion package, to be directed to both the home and foreign market, that will amount to nearly 500,000 euros in total, one tenth of which will come from the Balearics. It's a small amount, but the size is not what matters. It's what this plan is.

It is for the promotion of the estaciones náuticas. In Mallorca, there is one of them. In Alcúdia. Not that you would really know. At the risk of repeating myself, because I have spoken about this before, an estación náutica is not a physical entity, it is a marketing concept. One that is meant to promote a resort's water sports and related activities; water sports and related activities which already exist.

Are you aware of any marketing of this marketing concept? Well, there is some. There is a website, not for Alcúdia's estación náutica specifically, but for the estaciones in general. I didn't know about it until I spoke to a business which is one of the so-called related activities. It is not a big concern, without a huge amount to spend on promoting itself. It is nervous that the 500 euros it has paid to feature on this site is a complete waste of money.

I would be nervous, too. But then I wouldn't have spent 500 euros on a website for a questionable concept that is just an umbrella for all the various estaciones náuticas and which also, at present, does not provide a version in any of the languages its flag icons suggest - English, for instance.

I guess you can say that the marketing concept has been successful insofar as it has persuaded a business, which can ill afford to do so, to part with 500 euros. But what is any of it going to achieve?

The Balearics have five other estaciones - three in Menorca. I have a question. Where is the evidence that they have benefited Menorca? The island has been suffering a decline for some time. Has this marketing concept helped? I would seriously doubt it.

And this is the real point. It doesn't matter in the slightest what is spent. If it's spent badly, if the concept's lousy, then no amount of money makes any difference. I hope that I am proven wrong where the estación náutica idea is concerned, but I fear I might not be.

Any comments to please.

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