By D. Markie Spring
Turks and Caicos Islands
The digital revolution has created an entire new set of capabilities for customers and businesses, notwithstanding countries that want to become market leaders, and to competitively and aggressively gain market share in the tourism industry.
The author of a number of published works, D. Markie Spring was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines and now resides in Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He has an MBA from the University of Leicester, England, and a BA from Saint Mary's University, Canada
Ideally, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has been struggling for some time now and failed to acquire a significant piece of the tourism pie. Coupled with this and unlike other top Caribbean destinations, SVG refused to utilize the old adage of investing huge sums in mass advertising, commissioning expensive marketing research and a large marketing department.
If SVG does not have enough resources (money, time, expertise/ know-how), the marketing department should employ different strategies that fit its capabilities and competencies. Hence, it is recommended that SVG (private and public sectors) pursue strategies successfully implemented by companies like Boston Beer, Harley Davidson and Virgin Atlantic, where they stay in close contact with their customers and provide satisfying customer solutions. Therefore, SVG is encouraged to utilize creative public relations, build networks, and focus on solid customer service while simultaneously capturing lasting customer relationships and loyalty, and spending less.
Furthermore, to complement this, another marketing strategy in this networking economy is a strategic marketing alliance. First, in SVG the private sector and the tourism ministry should partner; hence, focusing on a strategic fit, which allows SVG to define and assess its core competencies then find partnering companies that would complement them in areas, such as geographic positions and business lines.
Thereafter, they should form alliances with international corporations -- corporations such as cruise companies, travel agents, advertising media and airlines that complement or leverage SVG’s resources and capabilities. In this sense, SVG could well benefit from the already Star Alliance that amalgamates fifteen different international airline companies around the world that connects travelers to more than 700 global destinations.
Henceforth, without this strategic alliance SVG could face enormous trade barriers and high costs in applying and acquiring licenses, advertisements, form joint ventures with local firms, developing marketing strategies and marketing segmentations strategies, and research and Development (R&D). Hitherto, developing global strategic networks would eliminate those barriers and costs and SVG could ultimately overcome legal and trade barriers, achieve economies of scale, reduce risk and entry cost in new markets, decrease exit cost relative to divesting operations and capacity gaps in present markets and technology.
Similarly, this new global economy allows marketing alliances to be derived from strategic alliances – in this capacity, promotional alliances, pricing collaborations, services alliances and logistic alliances can be acquired from such global networking strategy.
In this sense, SVG would have to estimate its costs by assessing its formulated marketing programs. To derive this criterion, the tourism sector could apply Activity Based Costing (ABC) to specific marketing programs to determine feasible outcomes to justify its costs.
Moreover, empirical evidence indicates that, for instance, established airline companies like American Airlines (AA) and JetBlue; coupled with cruise companies often promote their destinations in an effort to make awareness and increase travel. Ideally, SVG can profit and gain from these initiatives; allowing its strategic partners to take on that parts of the total costs.
Conversely, SVG would have to invest in infrastructure at home to ensure that its facilities are intact to deal with the influx of tourists and their demands: roads, healthcare, education, tour guides, customer service, restaurants, security and safety and the like.
However, knowing what the authorities in SVG had pursued in the past, it less likely that they would even listen to these recommendations. To back this up, a few months ago Cable News Network (CNN) conducted travel destination surveys and found that SVG was one of the world’s leading tourist destinations; yet, SVG did nothing to take advantage of this free, but important data that was given to them..
This network economy is paramount to SVG’s economic development; hence, we should adapt these innovative strategies to make our country the top destination in the region; strategies that cost less, but mean more.
If we are going to accomplished this and gain market shares both the private and public sectors must collaborate and compromise – it is possible!