But if BTA advertised on TV, would their current customers come from a TV watching crowd?
‘We don’t advertise on television because our market intelligence tells us that our consumers do not watch much television. It is also a very expensive medium to invest in, so unless you have the money to be consistent it makes no sense to do it. Every advertising expert we have consulted has told us the same thing’.
This is a verbatim quote from one of our leading tourism policymakers and it got me thinking about the merits of these views. ‘Very expensive medium’ and ‘so unless you have the money’. You cannot really argue with either of those statements. But is that the point?
I then went onto YouTube and typed in ‘tourism tv commercials’ and started trying to tally the number of destinations and tourism brands that have produced and aired ‘ads’ within the last two years. I lost count after one hundred, so do these national marketing agencies, hotel groupings, tour operators etc., employ different advertising experts, or simply ensure their expenditure is cost effective.
Sandals Resorts for instance, recently launched a series of 45 second commercials on British television and the century old travel giant, Thomas Cook, presently have a major tv campaign to boost January holiday bookings.
So do their clients not watch ‘much television’, or is it more about where and when their ‘experts’ decide to air the ‘ads’?
Of course you could argue that many of the destinations and travel companies have bigger promotional budgets and can afford this type of medium – but in a multitude of cases, that simply isn’t true.
Outstanding Newfoundland and Labrador: 21 percent increase in tourism revenues over five years!
One outstanding example is Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism. Their annual budget has been doubled during the last six years, but is still only CAD$13 million (about BDS$26 million). During their current series of TV ‘ads’, tourism spending has risen 21 per cent for the period 2005-2010, and non-resident visitors have increased by 7.3 per cent alone in 2010 to 518,500, despite any negative effects of the recession.
According to the twin province, Director of Marketing, Carmela Murphy, ‘our industry operators are seeing more business and that allows them to invest in new accommodation and increased capacity’. 2011 passenger traffic at the provinces airports broke the 2 million mark, an increase over 2010 of 8.2 per cent.
What also is so refreshing, is that this series of multi-award winning (and hugely successful) commercials were not made by one of the big name global advertising agency giants, but by a small company based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, called Target Marketing and Communications.
Surely, its not unreasonable to ask, if we (Barbados) were able to increase tourism revenue by 21 per cent over a five year period, what would be net gain to Government in increased taxes and reduced unemployment benefit.
So is this the real question: How can we spend the already massive budget allocated the BTA, more cost effectively?
And would this be the best route to return viability to our tourism industry, allowing the numerous players to renew and upgrade, what in many cases is a rapidly deteriorating and uncompetitive product?