Bahamas Urged To Widen Marketing Strategy
The Bahamas' marketing strategy must target the growing interest among Americans for family vacations and weekend getaways, marketing expert Dr. Peter Yesawich told the first National Tourism Conference.
Contrary to international reports, 9/11 has hardly dissuaded Americans from traveling, whether by air or sea. In fact, travel has increased by more than 40 per cent in 2003 compared to 2002, he said.
"A vacation is a birthright. Those Americans are still going to take their vacations regardless of what is going on in the economy and regardless of the turmoil that takes place in the world," Dr. Yesawich said on Wednesday at the Wyndham Nassau Resort.
Illustrating with slides, Dr. Yesawich showed that Disney World's website is designed to accommodate "multi-household groups" by allowing them to plan vacations for up to 12 people.
There is also a high demand for weekend getaways," he said. The Bahamas must therefore widen its target range to accommodate both the weekday and weekend vacationers, he urged.
"You are going to see 'togethering' emerge in destinations like The Bahamas. It's a whole new way of thinking about pricing and promoting for these couples and families who are looking for more time together," said Dr. Yesawich.
The Ministry of Tourism launched the forum, which looked at ways to strengthen the sector. In November, the ministry introduced a new promotional campaign and revamped its website. The website was flooded with visitors who made hotel and airline reservations.
While citing that The Bahamas has "a good marketing strategy," Dr. Yesawich said according to a recent poll, "68 per cent of American Internet users said they have difficulty finding what they are looking for and 76 per cent of consumers now tell that they find the amount of advertising online to be a nuisance."
With this in mind, he suggested that "personalisation" be a part of the website. From personalising shampoo and airline tickets, one can choose items based on questions they answer online. This limits the amount of wasted time web surfers spend looking for items and lets the website do all the work.
"What this means in the travel business is that we will enter a whole new era in the way we sell a travel package," Dr. Yesawich said. "Finding what you want with the exact details is now entirely possible, far more so today through the magic of personalising with the utilizing of the Internet."
The Bahamas, he added, must also find what differentiates itself from other popular destinations, like the Christmas festival, Junkanoo, which he said should be, in some way, incorporated on the website.
In 2003, 27 per cent of Americans said they would spend spare time at home, either because of financial restraints or because they felt travel arrangements were a hassle.
"People do not want to over pay for a travel experience in an environment they know very much as a buyers market," Dr. Yesawich said, noting that retailers like Wal-Mart and K-Mart see the most consumers in the industry. "People want to buy the brands, but they don't want to pay the brand prices."
"The people are looking to purchase experiences. You are in the experience selling business and that's what people today want to buy," said Dr. Yesawich. "Fifty per cent of Americans are also looking for a place they've never experienced before."
This, he added, could present advantages and disadvantages for a travel destination, but that is based on how it responds. Dr. Yesawich explained that a visitor could rave about their stay on Paradise Island, but decide to never return. It is not because something was missing, but because vacationers are always looking for something different. Therefore, "you have to keep the product fresh."
Khashan Poitier, The Nassau Guardian