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This Week® Wales

29th September 1997

MARKETING

MARKETING IN TRAVEL AND TOURISM

Towards a More Accurate Perspective

Definition of Marketing
Marketing is a familiar word in everyday use. Yet popular notions of marketing are more of a hindrance
than a help, dealing only with those elements of marketing activity involving the process of persuasion and
inducement to buy particular products. Marketing, as understood by marketers, is an approach to the con-
duct of business which ranges across product and market research, product development, product promo-
tion, product delivery (incorporating training) and product evaluation. The full concept of marketing deals
with... ‘determining the needs and wants of target markets and delivering the desired satisfactions more
effectively and efficiently than competitors.’ (Kotler: 1984).

In the first place, marketing demands an holistic view and integrated approach to develop a proper strate-
gy. Then come the actions, tactical in nature, which produces the commercial outputs. The first might con-
cern the justification for and then the building of a theatre and the types of productions envisaged. The
second would be almost wholly concerned with getting the public throughput and achieving the outputs
required to maintain the theatre’s upkeep. The second would also concern itself with the nature of produc-
tions insofar as these would need to respond to changing public tastes. It is here where the crossover lies
between actions which are strategic and and those which are tactical.

Tactical marketing is of immense importance in travel and tourism where the the nature of products avail-
able make them perishable in the extreme (see Elements of Marketing below).

Elements of Marketing

To make life easy for marketers who occasionally run into difficulty at dinner parties in explaining what
they do for a living, there is something of a mnemonic called The Four Ps of Marketing. This is often
referred to as the marketing mix. But then to make life difficult again, a further three P’s need to be
brought into play to cover the service industry of which travel and tourism forms a part. Then to these an
eighth and a ninth should be added:

1. Product
2. Pricing
3. Promotion
4. Place
5. Personnel
6. Physical evidence
7. Procedures
8. Perishability
9. Passion

1. Product

It is this element to which all the other elements relate but without which it would be inaccessible or have
little meaning. ‘People do not buy products, they buy the expectation of benefits. It is the benefits that are

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the product.’ (Levitt: 1969). The fact that a product exists is therefore only part of the story. What product is
offered by British Telecom? It is certainly much more than the cables and telephone handsets which they
provide. It is communication, reassurance when you call an elderly relative, happiness when you receive a
call from someone you love, excitement when you hear good news and sadness when you hear bad.
Similarly, a hotel is much more than a place to sleep and eat. For different people it could be a surrogate
home for a company director while away on business, a haven of refuge for a salesman when stranded or
a prison for a tourist if caught up in a war zone. It may be a place to relax, to work, to entertain or be
entertained, to confer or just to lie around in the sun. For an operators to decide what business they are in,
or what their product are, is one of the key issues of marketing and to decide, information is needed from
customers.

2. Promotion

Promotion is about telling people what’s on offer. It is not entirely separate from the product because what
is said and how it is said influences how the product is seen. It’s ‘the sizzle not the sausages’ that is sold,
or it’s Coke with all the images of sun, youth, vitality, and world-wide harmony. It’s certainly not ‘carbonat-
ed water with vegetable extracts’.

Promotion includes advertising (dealt with under its own heading below) but also includes direct mail, pub-
lic relations, printed brochures, presence at travel trade shows, and participation in joint marketing schemes.
Promotion can be very expensive and it is often difficult to decide whether or not it is successful.

3. Price

Price is the one element in the marketing mix which produces revenue. Most of the others involve cost,
which may explain why marketing is less popular than it might be. Price is often determined by the cost,
with a margin being added to yield a profit or return on the investment. Marketing, however, would recom-
mend using price tactically to help to achieve the goals of the business, varying the price according to the
level of demand and the willingness of the market to pay the price. Marketing is about giving each product
or business its own ‘unique selling proposition’, so that it is different from all competing products and can
command a premium price.

Price is also an indicator of quality, particularly for the first-time buyer, and while it remains so, subsequent
purchases are much more concerned with judgement of value for money.

4. Place

Place really means distribution. A packet of tissues can be bought almost anywhere but the places where
tourism can be bought are relatively few. Nor is tourism very well packaged in the domestic market: it is
much easier to buy an all-inclusive holiday abroad than to buy one in the UK. Tourism is different from
many other products in that we travel to the product, whereas most of the other goods we buy, from cars
to tomato sauce, travel to us, or at least to the nearest garage or shop. But to enjoy a weekend in Capel
Curig one must first travel to get there.

Most marketing relates to products where there is something tangible, something you can hold in your
hand. You can hold a can of beans or a bottle of Whisky whereas tourism is a service, mainly intangible at
the point of sales and often cannot be inspected. Many service products like travel and tourism are ‘ideas’ in
the minds of prospective buyers. They cannot easily be measured, touched or evaluated at the point of sale
prior to performance, and in travel and tourism the point of sale is, more often than not, remote from the
product. The role of third party product evaluation and reporting is vital here. You cannot hold an experience,
and the familiar ‘wish you were here’ which is written on postcards by holiday-makers demonstrates a
wish to share the experience because there is no way it can be packaged and brought home. The role of
holiday snaps is interesting as they are an attempt to capture the experience so that it can be shared and
relived. In much the same way third party product evaluation and reporting is vital as part of promotion in
the form of recommendations and testimonials.

5. Personnel

Personnel are crucial in tourism where a pleasant manner and appearance can turn a disaster into an

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acceptable experience, and an acceptable experience into a memorable one. This is marketing at the sharp
end and the importance of people in delivering the tourism product underlines the need for careful selec-
tion of staff, their proper training and motivation, and the provision of the right tools and information to
make their jobs easier and more effective.

6. Procedures

Procedures help to ensure proper delivery of the product by routinising the way it is delivered. Whether it
is the carefully controlled queuing at Disney World, the cleanliness of MacDonalds or the bedtime choco-
late in the Plaza in Kuala Lumpur. All these suggest that visitors are valued and thought is being given to
their welfare and enjoyment.

7. Physical environment

The physical environment is very important in services. Imagine a dental surgery with blood on the floor:
very unpleasant. A dirty plate in a restaurant would put anyone off and make it difficult for the service to
be experienced as was intended.

8. Perishability

Products, as generally thought of, are manufactured and held in stock at a warehouse or on shelves in
shops waiting to be bought. Services, however, are performed and are better understood as a ‘capacity to
produce’. Capacity can only be utilised when customers are present on the producers’ premises. In travel
and tourism the plane, train, bus or ferry only leaves once at a given moment in time and bedspaces are
only available once on a given night or series of nights. If they are not taken up before time they perish.
This is clearly felt by consumers missing the last train or finding no room left at the inn. Conversely, trans-
port operators and accommodation providers left with empty seats and empty rooms experience perisha-
bility as the opportunity for selling them passes. There’s no second chance to fill them. It is here where
tactical marketing comes into its own.

9. Passion

Perhaps best explained as the kind of limitless enthusiasm for the job that drives a person on to achieve
things that payment alone for the job would not necessarily guarantee, often producing results beyond
expectation.

What does all this mean? It means that marketing is about both thinking and doing. It is about care, activity
and enthusiasm. It is about discovering customers wants and providing them profitably.

Market Research
Market research is the way those involved in marketing find out about their customers needs and wants.
One advantage of being in the tourism business is that operators come face-to-face with their customers
and can discover directly what they like and what they dislike. This is much more difficult for the manufac-
turer of fish fingers: who may never meet any of his customers. However, there is more to obtaining
answers than asking questions.

Gathering information from customers needs care; care in asking the right questions, care in asking the
right customers. It is all to easy to either take too much notice of a complaint – because it is forcibly put –
or to take little notice because the operator is just too busy and the customer is a nuisance. It is doubtful
whether much useful information ever comes of the questionnaires that are encountered in hotel bed-
rooms. They are a useful public relations exercise but probably only completed when guests either have
something very good, or probably very bad, to say. What is needed is a clear and concise questionnaire
and a carefully selected sample of respondents. With these, accurate data can be obtained.

To be of real use, market research needs to be repeated regularly. This is because consumers change.
The 1980’s recession had a negative impact on domestic tourism as well as hitting the overseas holiday
market in the UK. The Gulf crisis and the consequent impact on world oil prices caused substantial

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changes in the tourism of the 1990s. Patterns of holiday-taking are changing, more and shorter holidays
are being taken, the move away from seaside resort holidays is expected to continue – all of these factors
have an impact on the business of tourism.

As well as keeping an eye on these large shifts in the market which are well documented by published
research, it is necessary for operators to look at all the changes affecting their businesses. Are they get-
ting enough repeat visits, how satisfied are their customers with what’s on offer, how effective was the
advertising? To do this operators must talk to their customers and listen to what they say and do this with
care and attention.

Advertising

The prime purpose of advertising is to create awareness. The ultimate purpose of advertising (and PR) is to
influence human behaviour, to motivate and to manipulate demand. ‘Advertising has added importance
where it is used in a supportive role to complement other campaign elements, such as promotional print,
tactical price cuts, and sales promotion. Advertising and, to a lesser extent, PR are often required to make
prospective customers aware of the existence of other campaign elements’. (Middleton: 1988).

Advertising is defined by the American Marketing Association as ‘any paid form of non-personal presenta-
tion and promotion of ideas, goods or services, by an identified sponsor.’ Initial segmentation and targeting
always precedes effective advertising.

Principle objectives:

• Create awareness/Remind.
• Project images or ‘positions’.
• Impart specific sales messages.
• Produce connections.
• Reassure.
• Alter perceptions.
• Stimulate desires.
• Generate action/response.

The two most important considerations in effective advertising are the medium, which provides the reach,
and the message, which provides the communication. In travel and tourism, the special role of sales litera-
ture, which is partly advertising, partly sales promotion and partly distribution, must also be included in
marketing communications.

Whilst the choice of promotional techniques are important to motivate and move consumers they will not
bear results if facilitation techniques have not been employed to make it easy for motivated people to
achieve purchases.

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