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					Product differentiation by creating and packaging sustainable experiences

Guatemala Ciudad 10 septiembre, 2009 Presentación de Marie-Andrée Delisle, M.Sc.
Consultora en desarrollo turistico

Clarifying definitions
• Ecotourism (or Green Travel/Green Tourism) – Environmental, ecological, social issues; interpretation and education activities – Eco-friendly: not harmful to the environment (nature and culture) – What about nature and adventure tourism? • Responsible tourism Having a responsible behavior and business practice, being sociallyconscious (tourism businesses, service providers and visitors, local communities, partners and employees) • Community-based tourism Collective responsibility and ability to make decisions from a community standpoint

Clarifying definitions
• Sustainable tourism
Being aware and active in neutralizing and reducing actual and potential economic, environmental and cultural impacts of tourism In other words, it means we should look forward to a sustainable environment, to sustainable management and operations and to sustainable products and services 4

Sustainable tourism
• Based on three dimensions for long-term development: – Environmental : flora, fauna, ecosystems, etc. = observation, protection, conservation, carrying capacity + waste and energy management – Social/cultural : traditions, ways of life, heritage sites, etc. = protection, conservation, education – Economical : benefits the local population = improving life conditions; benefits the local businesses = revenues from the tourism activities • With the next generations in mind

Sustainable tourism aspects
• A product differentiation that represents : – A competitive advantage if it includes truly sustainable aspects – An excellent quality-price ratio – The ability to create memorable experiences and to educate the local population and the visitor – An awareness and tangible actions taken about: • The climate change (carbon emissions, offsets, carbon neutral) • The protection of land and culture • Best management practices and social responsibility6

• • • • Price and quality vs environmental friendliness Many ecolabels = confusing Ethical marketing vs ‘greenwashing’ Sustainable practices must be integrated to the operations of a business : Energy efficiency, recycling, water conservation, waste management, carbon offsets, social practices, building/construction practices and purchasing policy

Some tools
• Sustainable Tourism Criteria – Demonstrate effective sustainable management – Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts – Maximize benefits to cultural heritage and minimize negative impacts – Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts Refer to : • Sustainable Tourism Self-Assessment Tool Refer to :


Why bother to create an experience?
• Innovation • Product differentiation :
– being different from the competition instead of a ‘me too’ product – integrating distinct characteristics

• • • •

Value-added Exclusivity Trend Travelers with common interests / affinity


Any advantages in creating a sustainable experience?

• • • • • • • •

Booking easiness : one-stop shop Access to more information Accessibility to culture and nature Security Attracting Retaining Partnering Word-of-mouth


• Travelers are aware and preoccupied by their impacts while traveling but … • Travelers want authenticity and comfort • They look for security, safety and quality • They like to mix culture and nature • They want to interact with people, learn and play, taste local cuisine, try new activities • There are more and more short, multiple, closer to home, last minute reservations


• The long-haul trips have more to do with personal interests regardless of age • The market segments are becoming more and more sophisticated • Family and friends travel to share memorable moments • The travelers use technology for researching, planning and booking


Who should create a sustainable tourism experience ?
It is a joint effort: • Creating: hotelier, attraction or activity, local tour operator, community (ex. Lago
Atitlan, Peten, Chichi…)

• Commercializing: local travel agency, local/national/foreign tour operator • Promoting: local tourist board, national tourist board


Creating an experience
• From where to where? When? • Based on what? – Culture, arts, food, heritage, people – Experiential itinerary / touring routes – Ecological and sustainable activities – Nature / Adventure • With or without partners? • Should it be packaged? Elements to consider: transfers, transportation, lodging, food, attractions, activities + WOW

What is considered a package?
• More than one item but at one price (A hotel with a meal plan is usually not considered a package but a good deal) • A package versus a tour • Could be for hours or days • Dynamic packaging and modular trips • Deal or no deal ? • 5 key elements: 15 WHY - WHAT - FOR WHOM - HOW - WITH WHOM

• What do you want to accomplish ? What is your objective ? • Is it based on research, on market analysis in order to identify your target market ? – Clients surveys; tourist board surveys – Trends; the competition – Tour operators’ requests or inquiries – Reports, statistics, destination marketing plan – Destination strategy, branding, etc.

WHAT - Example of packages from…
A museum: Museum and Cruise Package – One day Combines visit of Pirates, Privateers and Freebooters’ Exhibition with AML’s Cruise excursion (a tour of the city on the River aboard the Cavalier Maxim). An attraction: Tulum Archeological Ruins with Xel-Ha Natural Wonder Park – one-day package. Comfortable transportation from hotel zones included. A national park: Canoe Downriver Rapids Initiation Package One day – Includes a professional guide service, canoe, life jacket and paddles, map of the river, shuttle (return trip), dry bag for personal belongings 17

Other examples
A lodging property: Discover Copan Package 3 days/2
nights - Includes transfers, some meals, entrance to park with guide + choice of 2 activities (coffee tour, Bird Park, canopy tour, horseback riding, yoga, spa)

A travel agency/tour operator:

Birding Package 7 days/6 nights - Includes some meals, transfers, accommodation, private bus, local flight, guided tour.

A community: Community life Package 7 days/6 nights Includes accomodatoinvisits plus one night homestay, meals and participating in community activities 18

• What is your target market ?
– Where are they coming from ? Is it far? Close? – Have you identified their interests and expectations?

• What segments are you after ?
– By profile: young travelers, mature travelers, women travelers, multi-generation, boomers – By theme: adventure, culture, nature and eco19 tourists, romance, education, business, etc.

Develop the experience with the package components: • Choose the activity, the visit, the content of the theme: Ex. hiking to the Laguna Chicabal + a visit to the Abaj Takalik archeological site • Select the partners that will supply parts of the content: Ex. guide to be hired, park or site entrance fee, transportation, transfers from the hotel to the sites, etc. • Decide on the lodging number of nights: Ex. each activity will take one day, the package should be based on a 2 night/3 day accommodation • Integrate meals: Ex. breakfast and dinner at hotel; lunches provided by another partner • Sketch a schedule from the arrival to the departure time

• Build an inventory of potential partners: – Cultural, archeological, heritage expert/site/guide – Arts expert, artist(s) – Ecological, environmental expert/site/guide – Flora and fauna expert; birding expert/site/guide – Sports / adventure expert/site/guide – Community expert/site/guide – Food, cuisine expert (chef, producer, …), etc. – Others: restaurants, transportation companies, etc. • The guide is a key element


• Look for partners with similar quality and service standards, to enrich content and share promotional costs • Inform and train your staff accordingly • Establish written agreements with your partners (reservations, vouchers, package inventory, price guarantee, communications, payments, cancellations, refunds, etc.) • Evaluate the promotional budget with your partners

• The pricing should always include an element that the consumer cannot evaluate • The pricing should include all the components costs • The retail price should always be on a per person basis, and on a double occupancy basis • The profit margin should be reduced whenever there is volume offered by the tour operator • The best net rate should be given to local/national tour operators; it should always be better than the one for foreign tour operators

Pricing structure…
TOTAL COSTS : + Profit margin (flexible*): $ + $

NET RATE ** to sales intermediates*** : + Commission or rebate to sales intermediates (between 10 and 30 %)
CONSUMER / RETAIL PRICE or rack rate :

+ $ $

* Depending on the volume of sales given by the intermediate ** Net rate = confidential, without tax or commission) *** Travel agents, tour operators

…Pricing structure
Local level 0% Service provider* (cost + profit margin) Direct marketing Internet sales Intermediate 1: Regional tour operator/travel agency Intermediate 2: N. American tour operator Regional level 10% Service provider (cost + profit margin) North Americ. level 10-20 % Service provider (cost + profit margin) European level 20-30% Service provider (cost + profit margin) Sales intermediate 1: Regional tour operator Sales intermediate 2: European tour operator

Sales intermediate 3: European travel agency Consumer $ Consumer $ Consumer $ Consumer $ * The supplier: Hotelier, park, attraction, museum, activity, community experience, etc. N.B. The Consumer price must be the same regardless of the intermediates. 25


• Evaluating the creative experience packaged before it is promoted: – With customers – With tour operators • Evaluating the customer satisfaction once it is experienced • Customer satisfaction = difference between the expectation beforehand and the perception of the value once the product is experienced

Evaluating results
• • • • • • On a three-year span Costs versus revenues Customer survey Partnerships evaluation Budgeted promotion Results following the promotion, etc.

Preguntas ?
The next presentation will cover the marketing of sustainable packages.

Muchas gracias por su generosa atención!

Useful websites: Networks and associations: • The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) - Uniting Conservation, Communities and Sustainable Travel • For info and membership: • Your Travel Choice Blog: • Ad of Service Summit event on TIES website • Rainforest Alliance: • + Monthly updates newsletters: • + Sustainable Trips for a Better Future : • UN World Tourism Organisation on Sustainable Tourism: • Comiturs: • Guatemala Green:


• • • • • • • • • • USTOA (United States Tour Operators Ass.): Tour Operators Initiative (TOI) or Responsible Tourism: REDTURS : Red de Turismo Communitario de America Latina: Asociacion panamena de turismo sostenible: National Geographic Centre for Sustainable Destinations: Boletin Turistico: The International Centre for Responsible Tourism: Green Maps: The Nature Conservancy: Voluntary Initiatives for Sustainable Tourism (VISIT): 30

Listings : • Accommodation listings on Trip Advisor: • Listings on the Eco-Index Sustainable Tourism website: Tools: • Eco certification Self-assessment tool – Sustainable Travel International: certification_howtoapply.html • Global Tourism Criteria - Sustainable Travel International : ask=view&id=58&Itemid=188 • Rainforest Alliance: Guide for sustainable tourism best practices: • Tour Operators Good Practices: • Certification for Sustainable Tourism: • The Virtual Marketing Service for Sustainable Tourism: + Criteria for tour operators: 31 ttp://

Green lists: • Green Travel: • • – Global Journal of Practical Ecotourism • VISION on Sustainable Tourism [] Various examples: • Example of Basic package + extensions : • Example from a hotel: Discover Copan Ruins • GORP Travel – Itineraries and choice of theme • Example of Adventure Package: • Example of Port Moresby River Adventure: R%20ADVENTURE.htm

• •

Example from a tour operator: Eco-Circuitos Panama =106&Itemid=38 Canadian tour operator GAP Adventures Packages in Central America: Example of an eco-sustainable lodge in Ecuador: Example of a lodge involving the community: The InterContinental hotels and National Geographic Geotourism initiatives: …. US TRAVEL & AMERICAN EXPRESS website: Co-branding examples: Responsible travel holidays website : – see menu on left side Philanthropy tourism: Carbon offsets website: Volunteer tourism, EcoResorts, Extreme Adventure, Active Boomers – see 33 top menu:

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• GO Green Traveler / Travel Tips for the Eco-Conscious Traveler: • Rosalie Community Ecolodge: • Community Tours: Packages: • 8 day/7 night Package with itinerary: • Hotel Package, minimum 3 nights: • One-day Mayan Encounter Package: • La Victorine Inn – choice of packages: • Packaged tours to Guatemala: • Packages for women: