Tourism and Marketing

Since my late teens I have known what industries I enjoy and so have always known where I’d want to work, at least I a had a ball park to play in. Marketing fascinated me in high school, I read all the journals religiously.

I was also very lucky to do some exotic travelling with my parents around this time too. Growing up I travelled quite a bit of Europe which was great and I enjoyed it immensely. However a few trips to the Caribbean opened my eyes to a whole new exciting world. I was hooked on travel and tourism.

My in was through my passion for diving. That got me to Grand Cayman and kept me in the tourism game long enough to learn a little something here and there.

When I first went to Grand Cayman and worked there in the mid to late 90’s it was sliding down the coat tails of it’s hay day. Now I am not saying it’s over but the product and market has certainly changed. Cayman is no longer a travelers paradise. It is no longer somewhere people have not heard of and people just go to. Its been in the movies and then of course there is the internet. The internet enables a lot of people to travel to place without going there. It is also less remote today than it used to be.
When I first moved to Cayman you turned up and found yourself a job if you wanted and then they would apply for a permit. Well not only are people applying for the jobs online now, but tourists are finding everything out about our islands before they visit using the internet. This has a couple of effects. People are deciding what they want to do and where to eat before they arrive at the same time as booking accomodation. It also means they know what to expect they will research the product and read about others experiences. They have become educated travellers (Yes I am ignoring about 60% of cruise visitors) .

All of this information available has also got to have a massive impact on a destinations ability to pull guests in. I mean does marketing still have an affect? Well of course it does. Especially if it is effective marketing. However you must remember to keep an eye on all that information out there as well because it does have an effect.

So where did this rant come from. Well I am sat in the British Airways flight from Cayman through the Bahamas to England. As per usual the flight is full from Nassau with maybe 25% starting in Grand Cayman. The question is why are these travelers geting off in the Bahamas and not Cayman. I go to Nassau regularly. I know I wouldn’t chose to if I didn’t have to. So why do people go there on vacation.

I think there are a couple of factors. The slightly shorter flight in my mind is the smallest effect. I don’t think people flying transatlantic care about an extra 1.5 hours. So it has to be the destinations.
Dissecting the destinations is a huge topic and taking away my biases I still think Nassau is a dump compared to Cayman. But are most of these peoole visiting the out island?  I doubt it but I don’t have the stats. I would guess 80% or more stay in Nassau.
The question is are people visiting the Bahamas from the UK over Cayman due to price? In my experience the prices are about the same so it is unlikely a determining factor.

The only thing I can think of as a big persuading factor is marketing. The Bahamas have been pumping put great campaigns for years. The Cayman Islands haven’t really done this for a decade or more. Certainly Europe is no longer getting the marketing. I would guess the direct flights from BA could bring in 1200 people a month easily which is almost 15,000 a year which is $1. 2 million dollars for eac day they visit which has to be a week average minimum. So between 8 and 10 million dollars revenue for businesses per year on island. Not mentioning for the govt from airport taxes etc.

How can this market be left to its own devices, why isn’t it being encouraged through marketing, which why are we letting the Bahamas have everyone. This isn’t even raking into consideration other airlines flying through the USA from Europe such as Virgin.

The amount of money thrown at cruise tourism compared to stay over fly in tourism is crazy. Crazy because it is unsustainable. Unsustainable as the cruiseljnes are big companies who go where they want and don’t care what we as a destinations want. This is irregardless of a new port dock or our marketing.
The infrastructure is great for stay over guests. It’s not for cruise guests. We are ready for stay over guests.. Why aren’t we concentrating on this part of the market? Or even more scarily are we and it just isn’t working?