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3 trends and 3 questions that Caribbean tour operators need to answer

Posted by Nicole Kow on Oct 22, 2015

It’s now a little quiet along the beaches of the Caribbean compared to the craziness that’s due to begin in December. But this is not the time for you to put your feet up and enjoy the sun, it is time for you to create and execute your marketing strategy to speak to customers all over the world.

Resonance, a Vancouver based consultancy that specialises in strategic marketing and the development of tourism brands all around the globe, put together the Caribbean Tourism Quality Index focusing on the ever-changing desires of tourists and what each island has been doing to satisfy them.

We have gone through the report to bring you the key trends for this coming season and a few ideas to help your tours make the most of these insights.

 

Trend 1 - Growth in experiential tourism 

More and more tourists are looking for a unique experience that extends beyond the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean islands. There has been an increase in culinary tourism and cultural tourism in Puerto Rico and Jamaica, fuelled by innovative programmes such as “Meet the People” launched by the Jamaican Tourist Board where visitors are paired with locals of the same profession, interest or hobby.

In Puerto Rico, Resonance found that it’s eco-friendly approach to tourism paired with its outstanding reputation as the best place to wine and dine in the Caribbean makes it a top destination for a great culinary experience.

 

Trend 2 - Increasing number of tourists from Russia and Eastern Europe

Resonance reported that more than 50% of visitors to the Dominican Republic come from North America and Canada. However, there has also been a steady year on year increase in the number of visitors from Russia thanks to the daily flights that now leave Moscow and St Petersburg.

In Jamaica, the government has relaxed visa requirements for residences from selected Eastern European countries while simultaneously increasing the number of flights that take off from the same region, hoping to attract more tourists from a total of 40 new markets.

 

Trend 3 - Increasing investments and initiatives by local governments

In the Dominican Republic, the local government has provided tax exemptions for renovating and developing tourism-related products, partnered with Carnival Cruise Line to build the Amber Cove Cruise Centre and developed infrastructure to improve road access such as the Santiago bypass.

In Jamaica, funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund, the Tourism Product Development Company offers language programmes to those in the hospitality sector who wish to learn conversational Russian and Spanish.

Show off your island

What does this mean for your company? How can we make sure that these trends feed your  business and help it grow? Here are a few questions to get you started.

 

1. Are your tours and actives being seen by the right people?

Tourists from all over the world are pouring into the Caribbean and are looking for exciting things to do. Whilst you may have a whole inventory of fantastic tours and activities for those wishing to explore your beautiful island, is it being seen by the right people?

Get onto various marketplace platforms like Lonely Planet, Viator or TrekkMarket where people are most likely to be searching for things to do.

There’s also good ol’ TripAdvisor, the site that has become increasingly important for both tourists and tour and activity operators. Read more to find out how you can boost your company’s ranking on TripAdvisor.

Don’t forget to also create a Google + Local Listing Page to make it easier for tourists to find your location specific tours online and when they arrive at the destination.

 

2. Are you engaging with your audience online?

In this day and age, more and more people are going on social media to find a company, often leaving comments or dropping you messages on your Facebook page, Instagram account or Twitter. Do not leave these unanswered.

It is a great way for you to speak to your customers (even better if you can speak in their language) and a excellent way for potential customers to get a better idea of how you interact. It signals to customers the quality of service they would get should they book a tour or activity with you.

Read more about how to sell better with Facebook here.

A funny tweet attracts attention

Another way to engage with your audience is to provide them with useful content. This could come in the form of a short video showing off the tours you run, a blog post about the best places to eat in town, or a cheeky tweet teaching tourists to say “You have beautiful eyes” in Spanish. Don’t forget that your tour guides are your best assets.

Apart from providing a great experience to your customers, they are also your best photographers who are always right in the middle of all the action. Run a simple workshop to get them familiar with the different social media tools you use and turn them into your company’s social media army by having them post beautiful pictures from their tours.

 

3. Is your website easy to use?

So you’ve got the attention of the right people, they’re checking out your website for the best tours and want to book it now. Don’t waste their time by making them search for that tiny “book now” button. Why would you do this to your customer? It is the equivalent of having one checkout counter in an obscure corner of a giant supermarket.

Let’s try not to exasperate your customers. Make the booking process simple and easy to use.

We need to remember that when a customer is searching for tours, they’re looking at multiple companies at any one time. This gives you a short window of opportunity as online customers have a very short attention span. Read more to find out what else you can do to make sure your website doesn’t drive your customers mad.

 

Do you have any other ideas to make the most of these trends?

 

Want to find out how an online booking engine can impact your tour or activity company?

  Request your free TrekkSoft demo

 
Nicole Kow

Written by Nicole Kow

Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.

Topics: Tourism trends

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