The Indian traveler is in demand! No longer is she treated with contempt reserved for low spending, noisy tourists. No longer is he looked at a trouble making nuisance. No longer are we treated as pariahs in the world of tourism!
How has this changed over the last few years? If the number of burgeoning destinations and destination marketing companies vying for the Indian tourism rupee is an indication, India is surely the place to attract new travellers - travellers who stay longer and spend more. Travellers who have the appetite for luxury products. Travellers who are looking for that "unique" experience. They are there to be wooed.
But "how" is the question. How do you, as a tourism marketer attract this emerging band of new travellers? Let us take a look at some of the options.
This is the most important part of your strategy. Since the Indian consumer is inundated with choice of a wide range of destinations, it is absolutely critical for your product to stand out. This can be done in several ways. Here are some ideas:
- Does your destination offer anything which is unique and “experiential”? Look at the way New Zealand has successfully promoted Queenstown as the “Adventure Capital of the World” or the Nordic countries promoting the land of the “Midnight Sun”. Highlight this unique feature in your marketing and promotional activities. You can go a step further in identifying a set of “to do” things associated with this uniqueness- how about a “Midnight Cruise in Broad Daylight”?
- Are there any mega events happening in your country or state? Highlight it. It could be a major sporting event such as the Cricket World Cup or a major Regatta. Build these as focus of your marketing and advertising campaign.
- Is your destination famous for any culinary experience or wines or whisky for that matter? Look at the success of Scotland promoting their Scotch trails.
- What are the changes or value adds that you would need to bring in order to make your destination “Indian traveler friendly”? A clear example is access to Indian/ vegetarian food in your key tourist spots.
- How good is the connectivity to your destination from key Indian metros? This would play a significant role in your success.
Solid understanding of the Indian market place and creativity in reaching out to the various target groups is the key here. A few points to ponder:
- Have you done a market survey or research to determine target audiences for your product?
- Have you formed a “think tank” or an advisory board from amongst leading outbound tour specialists?
- Have you determined potential target groups to focus your marketing and promotion? If you are a wedding destination, have your reached out to the growing number of wedding planners in the country?
- Have you made a list of the top 20 tour operators and destination specialists who sell your kind of destinations?
Here is the opportunity for you to be quite creative and cover unchartered ground. While you would have to do all the basic stuff right, the more creative you are, greater the chance of success. Some ideas:
- Partnerships: Unleash the power of co-operative marketing by partnering with medium and large, but focused tourism partners. Give them special deals and promotions for a fixed period in exchange for access to their high spending customer base.
- Airline promotions: Offer airline customers free or subsidized “Stopover” packages to your destination. Get the airline to promote this internally on their in flight magazines and website.
- Play Host: Bid and win a large and popular event like the IIFA Award, thereby attracting large number of tourists along with event participants. Very often, event organizers will go out of their way to promote your destination as they have a vested interest in their own success!
- Sponsor a Contest: Contests have proven to be very popular in attracting participation and thereby increasing Try a “Geography Contest” amongst high end schools.
- Select Trade Shows: Trade shows are dime a dozen these days, so it pays to be selective in your trade show participation. Focus on shows which attract a good mix of end customers and trade. Add excitement by getting your industry partners from home to come on board with prozes and special packages for these events.
- MICE Fams: A focused MICE Famil for key decision makers of large MICE clients would be a great way to show case the MICE potential of your destination.
- Targeted Blogs: Get some industry experts and travel journalists to highlight your destination in their blogs.
- Get the industry specialist more training: The more trained in your specialists are the better the chances they will recommend your destination. “KIWI” and “Aussie” Specialist programs are some good examples. Promote and encourage these specialists by giving them opportunity to experience your destination first hand. Take them through a TTT (Train The Trainer) program and let them spread the word.
- Online and Social Media: You have to be absolutely on top of your social media plans. There are several initiatives one can do in this vase area. A starting point would be a smart, India focused site in multiple Indian languages, a destination App and of course a very active FB and Twitter presence.
- Indian movies: Showcase your destination to Bollywood and other language movie makers. The success that Spain achieved with ZIndagi Na Mile Dobara (ZNMD) has been well documented.
Collaborate with your industry partners to bring some attractive pricing to popularise your destination. As pricing is a complex subject, this would have to tackled by respective stake holders.
Above all, listen to the Indian consumer and trade on a regular, proactive basis. Ours is a complex sub continent with a wide range of travel tastes and preferences. But this also a great opportunity. Reap it!
Gopi Nair,Country Head - India at Lushescapes and author of this article, is a Travel and Tourism veteran - a domain consultant, MICE and Leisure entrepreneur, trainer and mentor. He is passionate about helping people by sharing knowledge and enabling skill enhancement in the Travel, Tourism and Hospitality industry. He will be happy to help those interested in entering the wonderful world of Travel and Tourism.
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