Friday, October 04, 2013

Reliving Mallorca's Sea Of Experiences

Being an observer of matters Mallorcan can be potentially damaging to one's psychological well-being. One feels that one is constantly reliving a previous life or several lives. Haven't I, we, been here before? Once, twice or several times? What experiences have we had on the way that now come to be experienced once more? Can it be that we are tossed forever on a sea of experiences, washed ashore momentarily, only to be pulled back into the infinity of the sea and recycled by the waves of unrelenting repetition?

Right, well, enough of this flowery stuff. Let's get to the point. Hands up those of you who remember something called the "Sea of Experiences" (or "Mar de Experiencias" to give it its Spanish title)? You don't remember? Then let me remind you. This sea was launched in June last year. Mallorca's hoteliers were pretty pleased with it, as it was their idea. Along came the odd member of the regional government (though I'm unsure if the tourism minister was able to make it) and mayors from towns with a particular interest in tourism plus of course a whole load of hotel sorts. They all gathered at a golf club, were engrossed by the launch of the sea, had something to eat and then ... went home I suppose.

The "Sea of Experiences" is a document in which all aspects of off-season tourism activities are detailed. And it is a very detailed document, covering the usual suspects of golf, cycling, hiking, gastronomy, etc. At the time that the sea was launched, my reaction was ... "And?". I had rather hoped that the sea would contain some insights as to how it was going to break the vicious cycle of seasonality. It didn't. It was a document bursting with activities, names and addresses, routes for this and routes for that, and we are now being reminded of its existence.

The hoteliers had clearly found this document lurking in a drawer somewhere and thought it might be a good idea to bring it out in order to wave it in front of some other hoteliers and the man from Air Berlin who's now in charge of Spain and Portugal, Paul Verhagen. So, life was relived the other day. The sea of experiences was being experienced once again.

To be strictly accurate, the sea wasn't just sprung on the man from Air Berlin. He did have prior warning. So much so that Air Berlin will be participating in promoting the sea ("Ein Meer von Erfahrungen", one guesses), which is very nice of Air Berlin. It has shedloads of passengers who pore over the contents of its in-flight magazine plus further shedloads who subscribe to its e-magazine in addition to those who follow it on social media. Well over three million people, it would seem, and all of them likely targets for this array of out-of-season experiences in Mallorca.

Air Berlin may have been tinkering with its routes but it does account for some 50% of passenger traffic through Son Sant Joan in winter. It has had a special relationship with Mallorca that goes back to when it was founded in 1978 and it is the only airline which appears to be willing to make a great effort to bring people to Mallorca in winter.

Talking with the hoteliers and embarking on a campaign with them (the "Sea of Experiences") is intended, it is hoped, to address the all-too-familiar chicken and egg of airlines don't fly because hotels aren't open or hotels don't open because airlines don't fly. So the campaign would seem to be a positive step in the right direction, if only for German visitors.

The airlines do hold the key. But if they fly (and there is a wish to get other airlines on-board in a similar way to Air Berlin), they have to know that passengers will be flying to somewhere that is fully prepared to accommodate them.

The campaign sounds good, but are there not some fairly obvious points to be made? Air Berlin has been flying in winter to Mallorca for years. Yes, it has cut some of its winter routes but its flights have been and are numerous and regular. Has Air Berlin not been been promoting Mallorca previously? Where have those passengers who have been flying in winter been staying? In other words, for all the good intentions of the campaign, what will it achieve that Air Berlin hasn't already been achieving? Bring more German tourists is doubtless the answer. More but how many more? I wish them well.

No comments: