Strategic business planning, can help hospitality-related businesses invent new ways to engage with their customers, expand reach, and boost market share
Summertime in the Cayman Islands signifies many things – from the long-awaited summer holidays, to enjoying a succulent mango while the juices drip down your chin, and outdoor adventures with family and friends. It also signifies a crucial time when many hospitality businesses and service providers wind down the season and begin to tactically prepare for their busiest time of year -all over again.
Small businesses dominate the hospitality and tourism industry worldwide and are of critical importance for the competitiveness of destinations such as the Cayman Islands. A key to success for businesses and to ultimately remain a competitive destination in the region is understanding and strategically planning for current hospitality trends- such as, the systemic trend of experiential travel, a form of tourism in which travelers focus on experiencing a country, region or place by actively and meaningfully engaging with its history, people, culture, food and environment. In other words, they want to sit and hear stories from our historians, learn to make cassava cakes, and take part in purposeful activities to help the community as they often gain a much deeper understanding of, and empathy for, the places travelled when making more personal connections to local issues.
In the world of hospitality and tourism, consumer attitudes are changing, and as an industry we must adjust with them. Shifts away from a “value-in-exchange” approach to purchasing goods and services, to a “value-in-experience” approach has given rise to travelers purchasing more than just a meal - just a tour - just a hotel room, but an overall transformative, life-changing experience.
While making plans for next season, businesses would do well to explore and plan for new innovative ways to elevate current offerings beyond the traditional notions of hospitality – and hone in on creating more authentic, meaningfully engaging, and sustainable visitor experiences that are locally focused, - to keep locals and travelers alike coming back for more.
The idea or concept of the “tourist” is itself becoming outmoded. The experiential trend is moving towards, and already uses, the idea of the “traveler” rather than the “tourist”. For example, by going on an experiential tour the traveler can see something from a completely novel and fresh perspective, experiencing regions through living the lives of locals. This provides the traveler with much more than simple click photographs, but with memories of a great, new, once in a lifetime experience. Once in a lifetime and cultural experiences is also leading the travel trend in 2019.
At the end the day, providing unique and personal experiences are one of the most effective ways to foster one-on-one connections with target consumers. A truly immersive experience will engage consumers’ sense of touch, smell, sight, sound, and sometimes even taste. When it’s done well, consumers will treasure the experience for life – and they will talk about it when they return home. According to data from the Event Marketing Institute, 72% of consumers say they view brands that provide quality experiences more positively, and nearly three-quarters noted that when they can engage with a brand’s experience, they’re more likely to invest in its products or services.
As businesses strategize their business and marketing plans for the year ahead –– taking experiential travel trends and potential offerings into consideration will help ensure the mark is hit for a profitable season.
Brooke Meyer is the managing partner of Caymera International, a Grand Cayman-based hospitality and tourism consulting and advisory firm and has an unwavering commitment to mastering the dynamics of the hospitality industry – and sharing that wisdom with her peers, clients, and stakeholders.