In our last piece we delved briefly into the uniquely broad nature of a tourism product and just how much an understanding of it played into developing a successful tourism enterprise. A major point that stood out overall was the intangible and psychological nature of such things and the importance of leaving lasting impressions both for attracting newcomers as well as building a reputation. Today we’ll continue our analysis along this path, being mindful of the importance of conservation and longevity. After all, the Caribbean experience is heavily dependent on the tropical climate and its native flora and fauna even if other factors such as cuisine and culture serve as a draw for tourists. Thus, this has to be preserved if we’re to expect long term gains.
The 8 P’s
With that in mind let’s look at the 8 P’s of tourism. These are: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, People, Planning, Programming and Physical Evidence. In the case of a product, we must consider the entire package, particularly lodging such as hotel rooms and the amenities that are offered to ensure a strong draw. These must be modern, comfortable and have perks ranging from much expected services like Wi-Fi to free breakfast and even entertainment. The pricing must always seem fair and entice a customer by making them feel as though they got a vast array of benefits for a steal making charismatic, skillful marketing a must in the area of promotion. Place, people and planning refer to the manner in which the product is sold, the necessity of trained and professional personnel behind the wheels and careful planning in order to ensure the most fulfilling customer experience. In the case of programming one needs to consider offering specialized packages, for example the inclusion of something like an experience in Agri-Tourism, a topic we’ll touch on more later. The concept of Physical Evidence is self-explanatory, referring to keepsakes, souvenirs and other physical items that ingrains a memory of the experience for the customer.
Putting Them to Heart
With the 8 P’s explained, let’s bring them into the Caribbean context. Consider for example that many, if not most holiday packages are booked and organized online. We need to ask ourselves how well we market and sell our tourism in the digital world. Make it easy and accessible to use a credit card or PayPal account to book a full package or lodgings at resorts and hotels. Additionally, social media should be utilized heavily in order to not just pitch the product but also as a springboard for shaping the psychological experience. Let people know about what’s on offer and why their exposure to it will leave them rested, relaxed and mentally fulfilled after their trip. Photos, videos and captures of the experience of others on social media could easily paint an enticing picture in the minds of potential customers, particularly if done as part of an aggressive marketing strategy.
Furthermore, let’s be blunt here. The world has no shortage of tropical tourist traps, especially in the Caribbean region. How does one stand out then? Mixing things up and adding some well executing ‘Programming’ as mentioned earlier may help. For example, besides sun, sea and sand tourism consider Agri-Tourism. How would this fit into a place like Trinidad and Tobago you might ask? Well, weren’t we once named the location of the world’s hottest pepper? We should build on that and other aspects unique to our mixed, multi-ethnic society. As part of their experience tourists can come see our vast array of spices, peppers and attempt to brave the heated foods they produce.
Indeed, a successful tourism setup may come from incorporating numerous forms of tourism into a single package or at the very least the entire array of adventures to be had. This point also ties in to the ‘P’ of Physical Evidence as tourists should leave wanting more after their trip. However ideas for creating a tantalizing experience are all well and good in theory but the actual practice of it may prove far more difficult. In the case of TT, Tobago already has successful tourism based commerce to its name however this is largely based in the sun, sea and sand paradigm. Trinidad on the other hand could diversify and offer something else such as the above mentioned agri-tourism and even ecotourism in addition to the seasonal Carnival attraction it already offers.
Capturing New Markets
With that in mind, we should not forget another important facet of the modern tourist economy. We’re talking about cruise ship tourism here and it’s a big business right now in the overall tourism sector. Caribbean countries should all endeavor to capture a slice of this pie in addition to conventional forms of tourism and its other branches. The reason for this is obvious given that a holistic, well rounded approach to any economic activity is always a more secure and logical one. In this regard, states and private investors should attempt to negotiate with cruise ship companies whilst also ensuring the necessary infrastructure is in place whether that’s proper docking for ships or other required facilities.
Thus, we’ve seen from the characteristics of tourism as well as the 8 P’s that attempting to successfully venture into the tourism industry is no easy task. It requires planning, commitment, professionalism, creativity and skillful implementation if it even remotely hopes to be successful. With these things in mind it’s up to the private and public sector to jointly build on that knowledge and aspire towards a well refined, attractive and enticing tourism product.