When entering the international marketplace, there are several things to consider and prepare for. Here’s our quick reference of Dos and Don’ts.
Things to Do
Define Your Objectives. What exactly is it you expect to achieve? Publicity? Trade contacts? Inclusion in Tour Operator catalogs? Special interest travel? Business and convention visitors?
Analyze Your Tourism Product. How accessible is your destination? What airline services are available? Do you offer a shuttle service from the airport? What is the capacity of your accommodations industry? Rental cars? Commercial or public attractions? Scenic places? Historical landmarks? Sports and Entertainment? Climate? Culture and Folklore? Special Events? And most important: Would someone really travel 5,000 miles to see it or experience it?
Identify Your Main Selling Points. Why should an international visitor come to your destination or deal with your company? What makes you unique? Quality of services? Language resources? Prices? Destination expertise? Uncrowded? Lively? Great shopping?
Establish Your Rates. This is becoming the weakest link in the region, evident by the fact that Tour Operators are hungry for our kind of products and want to include them in their brochures. But if your product is priced either “rack rate” or with a simple 10% travel agent rate, the Tour Operator will have absolutely no financial incentive to use up valuable brochure space to promote your product for free.
Target Your Markets. Use State and RMI research data. Analyze prevailing patterns of tourism, both domestic and international. Decide on the method of segmentation. By country? By market segment? Or in combination? Many don’t realize that the single biggest market in the world is not Japan, or Taiwan, or Korea. It’s the European Community.
Ask and Listen. Ask the Tour Operator and overseas rep whether they think there is a demand for your product. Listen to what they say about the market and how you might promote your product. Don’t do all the talking during your appointment. Ask what the Tour Operator needs.
Things to Avoid
Don’t Enter Foreign Markets Without A Long-Term Commitment. Tour wholesalers and operators need time to develop new products and introduce them to their clients. And they need to know that you are someone who will be there next year.
Don’t Be Adamant About What You Consider Your Best Feature To Be. The view from Frankfurt and London is different from the view from the sagebrush. What may be popular domestically may be a complete bust in foreign markets. Sometimes what you don’t have, like a large population base and resort amenities, can work in your favor. Sometimes western history doesn’t excite someone who lives in a 250 year old house and is used to seeing historical buildings that are over 800 years old.
Don’t Push A Product That Won’t Sell. Trust the Tour Operator and wholesaler to know his clients. You are both in it together, and nobody makes any money on something that doesn’t get sold. Be prepared to accept alternative suggestions, but don’t compromise your product or your integrity.
Don’t Panic If Nothing Happens In The First Two Years. Any new product has its introductory phase. That is when it needs support and patience. Plan for the long haul. Remember that it might take a year to interest a Tour Operator in your product. When he/she agrees to sell it, it will still take a year to market it in a brochure properly. And if the product is purchased by a consumer, it is likely to be six to eight months before they take the trip! Be patient.