The quirky Bolivian town of Rurrenabaque is the ideal starting point for visitors wishing to experience some of the rich biodiversity, gorgeous landscapes, native cultures and friendly locals that make the Amazon so special. Whether tourists want to discover the ancient survival skills of the Amazon, visit the wildlife of the pampas, explore daily life on a Bolivian ranch, take a multi-day jungle adventure, go craft shopping, or just relax by a swimming pool in the tropical sunshine, Rurrenabaque has it all!
Nationally, Rurrenabaque has been admired for its Green Action Program, which showcases Rurrenabaque’s commitment to responsible business practices and the conservation of cultural and environmental resources. Solimar and its partners started the Green Action Program to help local tour operators develop and participate in more responsible business practices that emphasize community improvement and cultural and environmental preservation. Currently, the Green Action Program represents eight local tour operators.
Through the Undiscovered Travel Collection, Solimar is committed to help strengthen the marketing of Green Action members. In the travel industry, Internet marketing is one of he most powerfultools for an enterprise. In order to establish a sophisticated Internet presence, businesses must take into account several different marketing tools including websites, blogging, Facebook, twitter, youtube, to name just a few! The Undiscovered Travel Collection created a training program that would help these eight Rurrenabaque enterprises become more savvy in their Internet marketing. Solimar consultant Gianmarco Fiori conducted the six-part training course, which included the following topics:
1. E-marketing Introduction: The Basic Strategy behind Internet Marketing
2. Website Design, Maintenance and SEO
3. CRM and Sales
4. Facebook Basics: How to use your Facebook page for marketing and CRM
5. Trip Advisor and Travel Forums: How to use your forums & trip advisor page for marketing and CRM
6. Flickr and YouTube: Using Content sharing sites to complement other social media outlets and improve your marketing initiatives
Each of the six lessons lasted two hours and consisted of a PowerPoint presentation and at least one in-class activity. At the end of the course, each participant received a handout of screen shots detailing what they had learned. Lectures were composed of presenting students with important definitions, concepts, tips and tricks, and most importantly detailed step-by-step slides illustrating how to implement these marketing actives.
It's no secret that we are passionate about sustainable tourism. We could talk about it all day long, and we love sharing that passion with other people. By hitting the open road (or open air, rather) and participating in two conferences this week, our Vice President of Marketing Services, Erika Harms has the chance to do just that (dont' worry, she won't talk about it all day).
First up is the Geopark Sustainable Tourism Conference in The Burren & Cliffs of Moher Geopark in Ireland. This conference aims to explore the delicate balance between conservation and tourism and identify the environments and partnerships in Ireland and throughout Europe where sustainable destinations can flourish. Erika will speak on one of our favorite topics, the transformative power of sustainable tourism.
In the Thousand Islands Region of the St. Lawrence River, Ontario, Canada, The International Summit on Sustainable Tourism will take place later this week. This conference aims to help attendees overcome the most crucial step of sustainable tourism - moving from concept to profitable application. Experts with applied knowledge of the opportunities and challenges of sustainable tourism will teach attendees how to access new tourism markets, reduce operation costs, and make destinations more competitive. Erika will address building credible businesses and destinations that can thrive in a sustainable environment.
Because education and training is such an important component of successful sustainable tourism development, we're always excited to share our experiences and insights with other tourism stakeholders. Check out some of great tourism resources on our website, or feel free to connect with us if you want more information on our involvement in advancing the sustainable tourism dialogue.
Has your destination just completed a marketing training exercise? Or maybe you’ve just begun creating a new marketing campaign? Or perhaps you are even in the weeds of implementing a marketing plan. No matter where you are in the process, it’s important to make sure you aren’t leaving out the final key step of marketing planning: measuring & evaluating.
There are four basic questions you should ask while creating and implementing a marketing plan. During the planning stage, the strategy is concerned with “Where are we now?” and “Where could we be?”. These questions help determine the direction your marketing plan should pursue. “How do we get there?” focuses on the practical steps and objectives that will help you reach your marketing goals and move the firm towards the desired direction.
The final question, although sometimes overlooked, is perhaps the most important, “Are we getting there?” This last step is concerned with measuring and evaluating results and progress, and it is crucial for the following 3 reasons:
1) Regular Accountability of Marketing Activity
The tools to measure & evaluate marketing efforts are very necessary. Having metric systems in place allows a firm to track all of its marketing activity and growth. This information is vital as it helps a firm conduct analysis on the performance of various marketing channels and campaigns, and see if they’ve materialized in sales. A metric system can be as simple as an excel spreadsheet recording all of the marketing activity. For example, see a sample social media tracking spreadsheet below:
2) Overall Performance Indication
The marketing activity can be analyzed using KPIs – Key Performance/Progress Indicators. The Key Performance/Progress Indicators are designed alongside tactics in the planning stages to understand how the success will be measured. Gathering marketing activity allows a firm to compare the real time data with the targets they set out to achieve. An example of the key performance indicators is as following:
3) It informs new strategic direction and tactics
Upon comparison a firm can identify which marketing tactics are working and which are not. The metrics also allow a firm to evaluate the factors that led to the growth of sales and those that deterred it. This information allows the firm to change it’s strategic course if required, change tactics and/or implement new ones, and lastly, allows a firm to improve it’s opportunity pipeline.
Solimar International provides an array of services, including comprehensive marketing training for our clients. As part of our marketing training, we help design key indicators to measure & evaluate the success of a firm’s marketing efforts. Learn more about how we can be at your service at the following here.
Tourism marketing is an exciting activity. Us folks at Solimar surely think so! We also know that marketing can be a stressful activity, especially when asked to prove the worth of marketing activities or to justify the budget & spending by the CEO. More so, someone anonymous has famously said, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure”. So do not worry; we’ve got you covered.
In the simplest definition, marketing is concerned with conveying the value of a product or a service offered by a firm through a variety of activities to a potential customer. This in turn, generates a demand, ending in a sale for that product or service. In a nutshell, marketing triggers demand, and demand triggers sales. Marketing, just like other business activities should be planned, and a planning cycle usually follows these following four stages:
The first stage is concerned with the current situation, and the second stage is concerned with the desired positioning for the firm or it’s products. The strategy emerges out of the gap between the first two stages and informs a strategic direction. The third stage, “How do we get there?”, simplifies the strategy into attainable goals, and sets objectives and targets to measure marketing activities to reach the desired positioning. The fourth stage, “Are we getting there?”, measures the marketing activities in relation to the goals and analyzes if the planned activities are helping accomplish the strategic vision. This analysis helps create the new “current situation”, and the planning cycle repeats itself. It is crucial to continuously pursue marketing activities in this planning framework as it helps a firm to be innovative and remain competitive in the marketplace. The importance of planning for marketing is indisputable. However, it is equally crucial that the baseline created to measure your new marketing results is suitable for your firm or it’s offerings due to the uniqueness of each entity. The three steps to measuring your success are: a) Define success: KPIs, b) Track your performance, and c) Measure your performance against the KPIs. They are discussed more in detail below:
1. Define success: the key performance indicators
Since the marketing strategy and activities will vary from business to business, it is essential for a business to define what “success” means to them in practical terms and how it will be measured. This means, that a firm should design key performance indicators and set relevant targets for each. A key performance indicator (KPI) evaluates success of a particular activity. Therefore, depending upon your Marketing initiatives, key performance indicators should be designed tailored to your needs. To design a KPI, one should ask two questions: what is our strategic or operational objective by pursuing this activity, and how do we know that we are meeting that objective. For example: If the operational objective of a business is to reach 25-30 year old market for sales to a theatre dinner via Facebook ad, the KPIs will be “The number of 25-30 year old consumers reached via Facebook ad”, and “the number of tickets sold to consumers in the age category of 25-30”.
2. Track your performance
Upon defining success, one should ensure that proper metrics are in place to track your performance overtime. Once again, the metrics will vary activity by activity, and they will need to be customized in accordance to your KPIs. For example, your sales system can generate a report on the 25-30 year old market to see how you performed and Facebook metrics can inform how vast your reach was. Another example is an excel spreadsheet to track your social media reach. See example below:
However, depending on the KPIs, new tools and methods of data collection will be required to track your performance.
3. Measure your performance against the KPIs
Once you input the data into the tracking system, you can compare it against your KPIs to see the progress and/or if the marketing efforts have materialized. This step is the moment of truth as it informs the new “current situation”, and takes you back to the stage 1 of the continuous planning cycle. This step allows you to understand which activities worked and which ones did not, you can uncover trends & patterns, see if the strategy you set out to achieve is feasible and working, or if the firm needs to rethink the targets or the key performance indicators. The results from the analysis inform new choices for the firm, which are vital for maintaining competitiveness in the market.
In summary, a firm needs to define "success", design KPIs, track their performance as needed, and measure it to see the impact of the marketing efforts. Solimar International provides an array of services, including comprehensive marketing training for our clients. As part of our marketing training, we work with businesses, governments, and destinations to design key indicators to measure & evaluate the success of a firm’s marketing efforts. Learn more about how we can be at your service by clicking here.
In sustainable tourism development, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council maintains that an enterprise is considered sustainable if it impacts the local economy by employing capable local people. Sustainable enterprise development requires tourism services training in order to equip staff with the capacity to manage and operate the enterprises and organizations.
The challenge in developing countries, however, is finding local people with all the skills needed to run a successful tourism enterprise. As such, high quality tourism services trainings are key in developing local employees to be more qualified.
The first step in tourism services training is to assess the needs of your workforce. Creating an education module to address the identified. There are several types of training modules that you can provide your staff depending on the skills they need.
The following is a selection of the possible tourism services training modules you can offer for workforce development in sustainable tourism development. These are based on Solimar's experience working in partnership with local businesses and organizations throughout the years.
If you are a new tourism organization or business seeking to develop a destination, then you might need to conduct a tourism assessment to determine what products or services you offer about your destination.
You can train your local staff on how to conduct a tourism assessment and teach them why it's important. This will encourage them to be creative in developing other products that could be linked to your core business. For example, if you are a tour operator, locals who know about tourism assessment can recommend new possible tourist routes you can offer.
Sustainable tourism development requires sound business planning skills including being able to find a strategy that balances economic, environmental, and sociocultural development. Local managers need to know how to protect their natural resources while at the same time gain a profit.
Training your local management staff on sustainable business planning will help them develop these strategies rooted in their own knowledge of the destination and their local culture.
Customer Service & Guide Training
The heart of the tourism industry is good customer service at all levels. Whether you are a business in the food, accommodation, tours, or airline industry, training your staff on how to offer good customer service is essential to success.
Look at your competitors and read about the best customer services practices in your field to have a sense of what you want your staff to achieve.
For businesses that offer tours, training locals how to be good tour guides will be vital. This not only ensures proper and meaningful interpretation of the sights that will be visited but also improves customer service to match the needs and expectations of the visitors.
One of the challenges facing sustainable tourism development and local social enterprises is being able to effectively market a product or destination to the right market segments. Most of the time, they have the product, but are not aware of strategies to connect and reach out to potential customers. You may have a very sustainable tourism product, but if the market does not know about it or cannot access it, then your efforts will go to waste.
Providing your staff with marketing training helps them understand the importance of looking at what the market needs, what the consumer behavior patterns are, where the potential customers are, how to reach these potential customers, and how to convince the target market to visit a destination, join a tour, purchase a product, or stay in your lodge.
If you feel that you need all of these services but are not sure if you can afford all of them for your staff, prioritize the most urgent and significant needs and begin there. Solimar can also help you in developing your own tourism services training module.
Download the Tourism Workforce Development toolkit to guide you in assessing and designing your own programs.
Following the first training Solimar launched in Ethiopia, Matthew Humke delivered two individual 23-day Integrated Destination Planning and Management courses as part of Solimar’s Short Term Sustainable Tourism Training Program.
Each course covered seven modules, including Destination Typology, Tourism Assessment Techniques and Tools, Tourism and Resource Conservation, Tourism Product Development, Destination Marketing, Managing the Visitor Experience, and Destination Management Planning. The purpose of the course was to offer Ethiopia tourism professionals a thorough overview of the types of destinations and the different modalities for their management so they can effectively incorporate these concepts into their work.
There were a total of 68 participants in the two courses – 33 in the first course and 35 in the second. Participants included representatives from the Ethiopian government, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Regional Culture and Tourism Bureaus, Ethiopia’s national parks as well as cultural and historical sites. Within both courses, participants showed consistent interest and enthusiasm and were eager to learn the course content.
To ensure our content as relevant and applicable to the professional careers of the participants as possible, each module was structured in three sections. First, the instructor Matthew Humke introduced the course material with an emphasis on how it relates to Ethiopia as well as the professional context of the participants. Second, participants formed the 4-6 person “destination working groups” and picked an actual tourism destination in Ethiopia – ranging from national parks to cultural and historical sites – to which they applied many of the planning and management concepts during their practice and production activities. Finally, participants shared their discussion results with the class. Throughout the course, the destination working groups developed various aspects of an actual destination management plan step by step including tourism supply and demand, existing and potential market segments, and priorities at their destinations in tourism development, management and marketing.
The course also included a series of weekly field trips designed to highlight some aspect of the content being taught during the course that week. For example, during the Tourism and Resource Conservation module, a field trip took place to Awash National Park where participants met with park management and staff to discuss the conservation objectives and challenges that park faces. During the Managing the Visitor Experience module, the participants traveled to Melka Kunture to see how that site interpreted its historical aspects and cultural heritage.
On the final day of the course, destination working groups presented their final project by taking all of their analysis and put it into a condensed destination management plans that identified strategic objectives for their sites as well as 1-5 year action plans.
Participants walked away the course not only with their certificates, but also materials from each of the seven modules, containing PowerPoint presentations, tools like worksheets, templates, publications, reports, videos and other complimentary materials related to the content provided in each module as well as photos and videos taken by the instructor during the course of field trips, participant presentations, etc.
Solimar marketing expert Natasha Martin will be the instructor of our two individual courses on Tourism Marketing and Branding course starting on March 16th and April 17th. For more information on the available courses, please visit http://www.ethiopiasustainabletourismtraining.com
Solimar International is conducting a study on behalf of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) to analyze information and communication technology (ICT) tools used in tourism marketing by SMEs in member countries of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
As online marketing is considered a crucial tool for destinations and tourism businesses to use and reach and influence travelers, OIC member governments will use the study in creating policies to support such businesses, especially regarding improving Internet technology and online marketing practices.
COMCEC has been working to enhance economic and commercial cooperation among the OIC's 57 members and tourism represents a significant driving force for the socio-economic development of OIC member countries.
The performance of tourism SMEs can be greatly enhanced by the Internet as it offers businesses the potential to make information and booking facilities available to large numbers of tourists relatively inexpensively. Appropriate ICT tools can help improve tourism SMEs by enabling them to communicate faster with their customers and distribute their services more efficiently online. In addition, ICTs will also assume a more significant role for tourism SMEs as roughly 68% of hoteliers will shift their budgets from offline to online marketing services
Challenges to Overcome
However, not all tourism businesses have been able to utilize ICT efficiently as many SMEs lack the capital for purchasing hardware and software as well as having insufficient marketing and technology training and understanding.
Most of the OIC members are developing countries, thus representing a significant challenge for COMCEC and OIC as the ICT infrastructure is lacking.
Thus, in order to gather information about current ICT practices and position Solimar to provide recommendations on how to make tourism marketing practices more ICT-friendly, David Brown sent out surveys to hotels and tour operators in the 27 OIC member countries registered to the COMCEC Tourism Working Group for the project.
Titled Effective Marketing Strategies: ICT-based solutions for the OIC Member Countries, the report will also feature eight case studies from OIC members - three of which include visits to Mozambique, Oman and Malaysia - that illustrate successes by tourism SMEs or a country's policy implementation. Furthermore, a section addressing general challenges faced within all three OIC regions, along with recommendations to ensure best practice, will appear in the study.
Findings from the study will be presented at the 6th meeting of the COMCEC Tourism Working Group on September 3, 2015.
The document will include policy recommendations on how governments can improve the operating environment for tourism businesses. In addition, the study will feature approaches undertaken by tourism SMEs.
To obtain more information on Solimar's tourism marketing services, click here.
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