Friday, January 12, 2018

Mining For Gold: Tourism Marketing

For my sins, I have in a previous existence been exposed to "marketing". I express this in inverted commas as marketing can cover a multitude of sins, not all of them my own. Occasionally, one hears someone announce they are in "marketing" or they do "marketing", and one has a sneaking suspicion that it involves little more than a passing acquaintance with Photoshop and some form of blurb or slogan. 

The "marketing" of my acquaintance delved into the mysteries of the recipient of marketing. This is the land of segmentation and psychographics, of behaviour, aspirations and lifestyles. It is its own world of profiling allied to, inter alia, the attributes of a brand and the consumer decision. It is a science, only some of which is bunkum.

Over the years this has produced an endless supply of consumer groups, defined by an apparent commonality of beliefs and values, often predicated on age. These groups can slot into the "niche", so beloved of the diviners of tourism products. A great deal is heard about these groups and niches, normally only by people who are talking to each other in this fantastical world of "marketing".

It's light years from where it was. The yuppie and the baby boomer were arguably the first time the general public became aware of this marketing mumbo jumbo, though there had been previous classifications, one of which took some time to be appreciated. In the 1950s, courtesy of Bill Haley and Elvis, the "teenager" truly began to emerge from behind the leather patches and frocks of parental hand-me-downs. A considerable time later there was the "child". The youngest members of the household had acquired the power to guide purchasing decisions. Seen and definitely also heard, when it came to the next holiday: "We want all-inclusive." Parental will buckled. Anything for peace and quiet, which of course they did not get.

Today, everything is micro-marketing-managed. The Canary Islands, highly innovative in understanding and using social media, have hooked up with Facebook in a personalised, customised marketing campaign. It is just one isolated case example of the marketing gold to be mined from Big Data. The technologies drive the marketing. This is a reason why the tourism industry in the Balearics is keen for the university to establish a tourism and technology combined degree. The tourist (and potential tourist) exists in a technological bubble, one often of the tourist's making, so incapable is he or she of switching off from the technology.

It is the data that determines the customising and the ever-reducing scale of the niche. Yet there remains the scope for the broader brush. We now, therefore, have Generation Z, and they are the ones to have inherited the Earth that was discovered circa mid-1950s. They are currently aged between twelve and twenty. The marketing genii are invading their collective consciousness via Snapchat and Instagram, and they - Generation Z - have and will have their own defined attributes and attitudes to mould tourism decision-making, just as the Millennials (Generation Y) and previous classifications had and have. The genii have decreed it thus.

While so much of this can appear to be overhyped, there has to be some merit to it or they wouldn't keep on coming up with classifications and their corresponding marketing approaches. There may be no more to it than - to use a now somewhat disgraced concept - "marginal gains", but if gains are to be extracted, then why not pursue them?

When it comes to tourism, and I'm thinking here of the bread-and-butter tourism of Mallorca and the Balearics, generations may have a tendency to coalesce. There is of course greater technology, sophistication, demand for quality, but aren't tourists ultimately as they have ever been, not least when they look at the cost, whether there's a good beach, whether the sun shines?

In the highly competitive market for the tourism bread and butter it is about emotional appeal as much as it might be price. Emotion is a powerful force in determining tourist loyalty, which Mallorca has had by the bucket and spade full, though is in danger of losing thanks to cack-handed anti-marketing like the tourist tax. If technologies, the customisation and the micro-marketing represent the panacea, then Mallorca needs to adopt them and use them with emotional force. It is failing to do so, and even with what can seem like a hit-or-miss approach of niche marketing, it is also failing.

Gastronomy tourism - you'll have heard of that niche - is its own little panacea for attracting the off-season and high-quality tourist. Want to know something? In a study of the demand for gastronomy tourism, the Balearics are rank bottom of all the regions of Spain.

Is there anyone in "marketing" or doing "marketing"? Maybe there is. Of course there is. They come up with slogans.

1 comment:

Son Fe Mick said...

Morning Andrew
I have been involved in marketing in the eighties until I retired here six years ago. One of my businesses was an early new media company at the beginning of the digital revolution.
When I researched the ideal place to retire I was surprised at the non existent marketing of Mallorca. Fortunately I had previously owned a holiday home in Pollenca so understood some of the delights of Mallorca.
You may remember that we spoke in depth about producing a Web site, I called 'Radical Mallorca', to assist people in understanding the hidden mysteries of the island we love. The size of the task and the potential bureaucratic hurdles persuaded me to focus on the delights of sailing and vine growing instead.
I often think of what we could have achieved with my experience and your knowledge.