Monthly Archives: September 2011

If you build it… Will they come?

One of my favourite movies of all time is the 1989 Kevin Costner classic, “Field of Dreams”.  If you are unfamiliar with the storyline, Ray Kinsella (Costner) is a struggling corn farmer in Iowa with a wife and daughter to support from their modest family farm.  That is, until he hears a voice one night telling him, “if you build it, he will come”.

Through this experience, Ray is steadfast on plowing over his corn field to convert their only source of income into… of all things, a baseball field!  Not exactly something that is going to put food on his table!  You can imagine what Ray’s friends and family thought of this idea…  They thought he was losing his mind… not only from hearing a voice in the field, but for also being crazy enough to follow through on the action as well.

So how does this relate to tourism development you may ask?  Recently I was thinking about some of our great clients here at BC Hughes, and the recommendations we give them to develop great tourism products.  In many instances, we are the “voice” in the clients head, telling them to do something… “Do this.” “Do “that.” “If you do, they WILL come.”

From the client’s perspective, this requires a significant amount of trust that what we are telling them will work.  This speaks to the importance of hiring a consulting company that your business or organization feels comfortable with at the end of the day.  At BC Hughes, we pride ourselves on providing our clients with recommendations that are both realistic and obtainable, and nothing makes us happier than seeing our recommendations become reality.

Sometimes success is not a sure thing, and this creates uneasiness for all involved.   Often times, this is the greatest challenge in creating a new, unique tourism product.  Unique tourism products are the most successful, and exist because someone was willing to try something different.  It is important “think outside the suitcase” and trust that “voice” and not be afraid of  trying something new… Just like Ray!

On a side note, for all Field of Dreams lovers, the farm where the movie was filmed in Dyersville, Iowa has become a very popular tourist attraction itself.  And if you are interested, the farm house, and the baseball field were recently put up for sale!  Check it out here!

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I “LIKE” Pepto Bismol

No one likely admits they actually do… but why then do 131,000 people Like them publically on Facebook?  I find it really fascinating why so many people proclaim their love for that pink chalky substance you have to swallow when you have an upset stomach.  It is the ultimate in brand loyalty.

Every TV or print ad you see today now includes the iconic Facebook and Twitter logos with the proverbial ‘follow us’ or ‘like us’ included in the copy.  The creative team at Pepto Bismol has been extremely effective at getting noticed and pushing the brand into mainstream social media and getting people the ‘Like’ them.

So how does this relate to tourism?

Since travel is all about memories and emotive experiences, visitors are dying to share them and social media provides the perfect vehicle.  This suddenly becomes a significant channel for tourism brands to engage and talk directly to an opted in audience just like Pepto Bismol.  Significant destinations such as Las Vegas, where ironically you are not allowed to share Vegas stories once you get home (‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas), has a massive online fan base, 317,000 to be exact.  This is a very powerful audience to communicate to and let them talk to each other.

Even the smallest destinations now have a social media presence where they are playing the “Like” game to see how many they can get.  What’s important here is to not be as concerned with the overall number, but to look at the quality with respect to your destination or attraction.  Success is determined by the amount of quality interaction and engagement from you and your “Likers”.  In a best case scenario and capturing the true essence of social media, is that your space becomes self -moderating and the fans do all the talking and sharing.  This happens with very strong brands/products/destinations and discussion occurs naturally both positive and negative.  Again from a destination perspective it is your job to provide only quality content that spurs discussion, and sharing about people’s adventures, favourite restaurants and best trails etc.  The more honest and genuine you are with them the more they will pay attention to you.

Remember, if a company that sells a product to relieve nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, and diarrhea can do it,  you can too!

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100 Mile Tourism

Security concerns, fuel prices, lack of time or money, having kids or growing old.  There are a variety of reasons why people are travelling closer to home these days.  As tourism operators, it is important to recognize the importance of attracting not only to the visitors of your community, but local residents as well.

So much time, effort and resources are put into attracting tourists to come to a tourism region, but what is being done to cater to people who live there all the time?

I have now lived in three cities, and one thing I have heard residents say in each of them is that there is nothing to do.   The fact is, all three of these cities are tourism friendly destinations that people travel significant distances to visit… so clearly there are things to do in each of them!

Catering to local residents has many advantages.  Let’s briefly outline a few of them.

  1. Keep money in local economy. If you attract 100 tourists to your destination through marketing efforts, and 100 local residents travel somewhere else, what is the net impact?  By keeping local residents in your community, they are likely to spend money at attractions, events, and restaurants that would have gone to benefit another community.   This helps keep people and money close to home!
  1. Expose residents to their own gems. I spoke earlier of how people can live in a community and yet still say there is nothing to do there.  More often then not, this is simply because they do not know of the great attractions and assets that are close by.  By attracting local residents, they will have more pride in their community and support tourism development in the future.
  1. Word of mouth.  Isn’t it great advertising to have local residents telling friends and family that there is nothing to do in their own community?  By attracting local residents to your tourism products, they will become ambassadors to outsiders, and more likely to recommend these attractions to visiting friends, families, and even strangers!
  1. Repeat customers. The great thing about local tourists is that they are close to home.  With no travel time, if you provide a great experience, they will be more likely to visit again.  With no travel expenses, they may even spend more money too!
  1. Resiliency.  If your tourism assets are heavily dependent upon external markets for visitors and revenue, they are susceptible to economic influences outside of your control.  Case and point, when family budgets tighten, they stay closer to home.  By maintaining a connection with local visitors, tourism operators will be less impacted by a shrinking external tourism market.

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Filed under Destination Marketing, Tourism Management, Tourism Marketing