Keep on moving – destination marketing in challenging times | The Drum

An excellent post in The Drum by Louise Hodges, head of communications, Europe and global co-ordinator at Travelzoo.  Here she reflects on the issues that destinations have recently felt due to terrorism and keeps the tone positive.

Why the global travel industry needs to keep on moving

In the past six months we have witnessed an unprecedented series of events, creating a significant challenge for the global travel industry.

For the UK, the start of peak summer was rocked by the tragic attack on British tourists holidaying in Tunisia and, as the summer holidays got into full swing, troubles continued with the migrant crisis causing chaos for holidaymakers trying to cross the Channel Tunnel.   Greece’s economic woes rumbled on – however, Greece remained relatively buoyant, with UK bookings to the country actually up year on year across the summer months.

Following the attack in Tunisia, companies Travelzoo works with reported a dent in bookings to nearby countries, and a survey we conducted in September revealed that the safety and security of a country is the second most important consideration – overtaking weather, but still behind price and affordability.S

adly, the troubles this year haven’t stopped and the downing of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 by terrorists has caused chaos for Sharm el Sheikh’s tourism region, which has serious work to do in order to win back the confidence of concerned British tourists. The Foreign Office’s ‘all but essential travel’ warning remains in place for Sharm’s airport, and some UK airlines are now extending their cancellation of flights until late December.

Millions of dollars of revenue from UK tourists is being lost and Egypt’s tourism bodies will have to think long and hard about what message to send out to consumers once the flight ban is lifted.  The ongoing attempt of Isis to create a culture of fear is relentless.

Friday 13 November brought tragedy to the streets and venues of Paris, a destination that is expected to generate almost $17bn in visitor spending in 2015.  Destinations are just like consumer products in that they rise or fall in popularity based on the public’s perception of the brand.   Unlike companies producing consumer products, however, tourism boards have a constant battle to own the ‘message’ about the destination.

Destinations also suffer far more from macro events that are often outside of their control – extreme weather situations, disease, geopolitical unrest, currency fluctuations and risk based on their proximity to other destinations grab media headlines and present a very different image to the one the destination’s marketeers are trying to build. Egypt has long been a favoured destination for tourists from the UK and other parts of Northern Europe for winter sun.

Alternatives include Morocco, the Canaries, the UAE, Turkey and Cyprus (although the latter two cool off in November). Following events in Tunisia, Travelzoo asked 2000 UK adults where they are now most likely to book a winter-sun break and the Canaries was the standout favourite, with further-afield destinations such as the USA and Caribbean rising in popularity. Morocco, Turkey and other North Africa and Middle East destinations fared less well.

However, the reality is the British tourist is resilient and also rather pragmatic when making a choice between plumping for a fantastic deal rather than staying home, scared to travel anywhere. That’s good news for both the travel industry and our ongoing fight against the will of terrorists to scare us into submission.  Looking at the reality – what people are actually buying and clicking on – we can see that our current deals Morocco and Turkey are in fact performing extremely well.

A £199-per-person five-star Marrakesh mini break was last week’s top deal in the Travelzoo Top 20 – generating far more interest than deals to European destinations such as the Algarve. Going back to two weeks ago, a week-long all-inclusive deal to Turkey was another top performer, and continues to sell well.

These destinations may need to put slightly better deals into the market at present than in easier times. However, recent events in Paris demonstrate that to stay closer to home with the notion that it is safer is to ignore the new reality that nowhere is safe, and therefore in some respects everywhere is equally safe.

Holidays keep us sane. They give us the energy to embrace our work, our lives and our futures with more hope and passion. Travel also broadens the mind and exposes us to other cultures and them to us, potentially leading to greater mutual understanding.

We must not allow recent events to create a generation of people too scared to set forth to new and exciting places armed with the knowledge that they will grow a little bit more from the experience.A well-known travel company’s slogan is ‘Travel Yourself Interesting’. Imagine how boring the world will become if we let those that try to scare us win.Louise Hodges is head of communications, Europe and global co-ordinator at Travelzoo

Source: Keep on moving – destination marketing in challenging times | The Drum

New Dublin brand looks beyond city centre for ‘must-visit’ appeal – Independent.ie

Dublin is being re-branded as more than just a “party town” in an effort to secure its long-term future as a tourism destination.

The new brand and logo – ‘Dublin – A breath of Fresh Air’ – were unveiled as key elements in a new tourism marketing campaign.  The €1 million campaign described as “a new expression of a rare auld thing”, seeks to change perceptions of Dublin “from a weak and one-dimensional image to that of a city pulsing with life,” according to Fáilte Ireland.

The logo was inspired by “the old, the new, and one Dublin resident in particular,” the tourism development authority said..   ”This is the first Dublin-dedicated tourism campaign in many years,” said Shaun Quinn, Fáilte Ireland CEO.

“It is necessary as Dublin is in danger of allowing its brand to become a bit stale while our competitor cities overseas have actually been reinventing themselves.”Modern tourists enjoy a huge range of city break options across Europe, with destinations like Amsterdam (“I Amsterdam”), Berlin (“visitBerlin”) and Stockholm (“This is Stockholm”) marketing themselves dynamically in recent years.

Visitor numbers to Dublin have grown by 12% in what could be its busiest ever year, but there is a recognition that the city needs to “future-proof” itself as a destination that will continue to appeal even if external markets or currencies fluctuate.

The ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ tag encourages visitors to look beyond the City Centre, positioning Dublin as a coastal city with mountains and sea on its doorstep.“What we have here in Dublin is unique,” said Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sports, Paschal Donohoe TD, who launched the campaign.

“There is no point, however, in being Europe’s best kept secret, and I very much welcome this new campaign to reposition the city and county and ensure that its unique appeal cuts through in the international marketplace.”

The new Dublin brand, unveiled as part of a new tourism marketing campaign by Fáilte Ireland.  Campaigns will also run in Ireland, as well as in France and Germany, with an emphasis on digital and social media marketing.€1 million has been earmarked for the first phases of the public/private initiative – funding provided by Fáilte Ireland, the four Dublin local authorities and a collection of private-sector partners including city hotels, Brown Thomas, the Guinness Storehouse, Irish Ferries, the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and daa among others.

The campaign was co-ordinated by the ‘Grow Dublin Tourism Alliance’ (GDTA), a group established by Fáilte Ireland to develop the plans set out in Destination Dublin – A Collective Strategy for Growth to 2020.  It aims to grow visitors numbers to the city to 6.2 million by 2020, and to grow tourism spend from a base of €1.4 billion to €2.5 billion in the same period.

“All of us around the table – tourism businesses, retailers, representative associations and State agencies – feel that this new brand captures the essence of what makes Dublin different,” said Michael Carey, Chairman of the GDTA.

Other differentiating factors include the vibrancy of Dublin’s population, its “ever evolving culture and curiosity” and “a spontaneous openness”, Fáilte Ireland says.“Tourists aren’t aware of what Dublin has to offer and what makes it distinct. Compared to other European cities, Dublin is seen as ‘dusty’ and old-fashioned,” Carey added.”To compete with other cities, we need to reposition Dublin to encapsulate its dynamic and bustling personality,” he said.The GTDA today also published its Grow Dublin Tourism Alliance Progress and Action Plan, which identifies access and transport, accommodation and food and the cruise passenger experience as “core parts” of the Dublin visitor experience for prioritisation.

Source: New Dublin brand looks beyond city centre for ‘must-visit’ appeal – Independent.ie

New City Destination Ranking Released by Euromonitor International

EuromonitorMarket Research Company Euromonitor International released today a new ranking of the top 100 city destinations in terms of international tourist arrivals for 2013.

The top three cities on the list remained unchanged from 2012: Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. These Asian mega-cities benefited from their locations in heavily populated areas, large economies and proximity to China.

While outbound travel from China is heavily influential for many of the cities listed, inbound tourism to China remains sluggish. China does remain the leading country for the number of cities featured in the top 100 with a total of eight. However, with the exceptions of Suzhou and Guilin, these cities experienced a decline in arrivals for 2013 due to an uncertain economic outlook, pollution concerns and tensions with Japan—a key source market.

Looking forward, city destinations may want to turn to the US market, the second largest source for outbound travel in 2013. The US has been a relatively mature market with outbound travel peaking in 2007, followed by yearly declines until recovery began in 2012. But a better economic environment, a stronger dollar and lower gas prices will likely boost outbound travel from the US.

“Cities in neighbouring countries to the US such as Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean will most likely see growth in US travellers,” according to Euromonitor’s Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner. “Western European cities will likely benefit too, thanks to strong cultural positioning and historical ties to the US.”

Top Five Cities Destination Rankings Listed Below:

  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong (25,587.3 arrivals)
  • Singapore, Singapore (22,455.4 arrivals)
  • Bangkok, Thailand (17,467.8 arrivals)
  • London, United Kingdom (16,784.1 arrivals)
  • Paris, France (15,200.0 arrivals)

via New City Destination Ranking Released by Euromonitor International.

Asian cities account for a third of the most visited cities

Over a third of all destinations are located in the Asian Pacific region, illustrating strong regional travel trends within Asia, as well as the growing connections throughout the region. Within the top 10, six of the leading cities are from Asia, with the top three remaining unchanged from last year – Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. These three Asian mega-cities serve as some of the top destinations for Chinese travellers as well as being air network hubs. Bangkok showed the strongest growth among the top 10 cities, up 10.4% from 2012 to reach 17.4 million arrivals, despite political unrest breaking out at the end of the year. Chinese visitors are key to Thailand’s booming arrivals, with close links between the countries as well as efficient and short transport connections. A new Asian arrival on the list is the South Korean city of Jeju with 1.77 million visitors, growing 46.3% in 2013.

Chinese visitors replaced Japanese arrivals as the most important source market for South Korea in 2013. About 70% of international visitors to Jeju Island are Chinese, aided by the no-visa policy as well as improved cruise facilities, direct flights from the Chinese mainland, and a plethora of duty-free shopping opportunities. While outbound Chinese tourism is hugely influential in many of the cities listed, inbound tourism remains sluggish. China does remain the leading country for the number of cities featured in the top 100, with a total of eight cities. However, with the exceptions of Suzhou and Guilin, all these cities experienced a decline in arrivals for 2013. Beijing in particular continues to be affected by the slowdown in the Chinese economy as well as pollution.

India’s leading cities, Delhi and Mumbai, though, experienced growth of 27% and 22%, respectively, in 2013, with both of them receiving around 3.6 million visitors.  The depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar made it much cheaper to travel to India in comparison to previous years, aiding inbound tourism.

GCC countries are the shining stars of the Middle East

The GCC counties are well represented by four countries, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all having cities in the top 100. The latter is home to Dubai, the region’s starTweet-This city for arrivals with a total of 10.5 million visitors, up 7% on the previous year. The United Arab Emirates government has worked hard in recent years promoting the country as a safe family tourism destination, which has benefitted Dubai, and also neighbouring emirates Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, which also feature in the top 100. These cities have also picked up a lot of arrivals who previously would have opted for destinations such as Egypt before its recent instability.

Saudi Arabia features three cities in the top 100: Mecca, East Province and Riyadh. 2013 was a strong year for inbound tourists visiting Mecca for religious pilgrimage, with arrivals reaching 7.5 million due to massive expansions at the holy mosques as well as a growing number of hotels. This is in spite of concerns about the MERS virus, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Doha, in Qatar, was the Middle Eastern city showing the best growth in 2013, reaching 3.8 million arrivals, up by 21.2%. Business tourism is the mainstay of arrivals, due to Qatar’s substantial oil and gas industry, but leisure tourism is growing slowly with the country focusing largely on cultural and sporting attractions to entice visitors.

Europe courting Russian and Chinese visitors

London and Paris remain Western Europe’s leading cities for arrivals with 16.8 million and 15.2 million, respectively, in 2013. Turkey features strongly in the list, with Antalya, Istanbul and Artvin all showing good growth for the year. Russian arrivals were key to this growth, with Antalya hosting 75% of all visitors from Russia to Turkey. Visas are not required for Russians staying less than 60 days in Turkey, and Antalya provides beach locations such as Kemer, Alanya, Belek, Kas, and Side, which are popular with Russian tourists. Zurich in Switzerland has one of the highest growth rates for arrivals in Europe, at 23.6%, and it welcomed 2.26 million arrivals in 2013. Increasing numbers of tourists from China and Russia are visiting the city, aided by the fact that Switzerland is within the Schengen visa zone, and offers excellent transportation links and air connections.

A reshuffling of future source markets

The long-heralded rise of the Chinese outbound traveller is set to continue with China overtaking Germany as the number one source of outbound international travel in 2017. Nearby Asian cities, especially those located in countries with relaxed or no visa requirements, will benefit immensely. However, Chinese travellers are becoming more adventurous – travelling farther afield and exploring on their own as opposed to in a tour group. It is important for cities to understand the changing Chinese travellers’ desires and build a strong marketing message to court them.

The outlook for Russian travellers was equally bright just a year ago, but the deteriorating economic situation and the rapid decline of the rouble now call into question how strong a source market Russia will be, especially for city destinations in important sun destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Thailand.

However, city destinations may want to turn their eyes to the US market, which was the second largest source market in 2013. The US has been a relatively mature market, with outbound travel peaking in 2007, followed by yearly declines until a recovery began in 2012. But a better economic environment, a stronger dollar and lower gas prices will likely boost outbound travel from the US. According to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, outbound travel from the US was up by Tweet-This9.6% year-to-date in October 2014 – a significant increase for a mature market. The benefit, though, may mostly accrue in cities in neighbouring countries in Central America (including Mexico) and the Caribbean, but Western European cities will likely benefit too thanks to strong cultural positioning and historical ties.

Uncertainty is the only certainty

The shift towards a more connected world is both a positive and a negative for international travel. The opportunities to attract visitors from new source markets are vast, but can quickly turn into challenges, whether it is due to geopolitical unrest, economic decline or natural disasters. It is important for city destinations to be prepared to quickly respond to the constantly evolving global landscape to have their tourism industries thrive.

 

17 European Countries Band Together to Create Meetings-Themed Marketing Organization – Skift

This fall, 17 European convention bureaus across the continent announced the formation of a new alliance, designed to pool resources and share best practices to protect market share in the global meetings and convention arena.

This initiative—presently positioned as the European National Convention Bureaux—parallels the leisure consumer-facing Visit Europe consortia of 33 tourism bureaus, operated by the European Travel Commission. The launch date for an official website has not yet been announced.

U.S. bookings for meetings, conventions and incentive travel are coming back strong throughout Europe, as they are in many other long-haul destinations that were also deemed prohibitively expensive during the recession.

“We’re increasing our group sales staff 20% in Europe for 2015,” says Christopher Koleros, area director of sales/marketing, Europe, InterContinental Hotels. “There’s a lot of pent up demand for Europe right now, including secondary markets like Prague and Budapest, because so many groups curtailed their European programs after 2009.”

Therefore, the motivation behind the launch of the new European meetings destination marketing organization (DMO) is two-fold. One is to maintain top-of-mind positioning for Europe as a primary meetings location. With so many emerging destinations from Brazil to New Zealand rising on planners’ radars, it’s paramount for European countries to proactively ensure they remain competitive.

via 17 European Countries Band Together to Create Meetings-Themed Marketing Organization – Skift.