So what distinguishes tourism marketing from other industries? Its tourism marketing mix!
There are at least 4 Ps and at most 7 Ps of marketing mix. Initially, there were 4 Ps – product, price, place, promotion and then expanded to include the other 3 Ps – people, packing (physical evidence), and process. We’ll discuss the Ps here.
In marketing, the first P is product. The product in tourism marketing is frequently a service rather than a tangible good. Tourism services are not comparable to tangible goods. A product for example, a cellphone, car, or bread needs innovation to thrive and survive. Imagine if you are still using the prototype of the first cellular phone or using the first car ever made. Somewhere along the way before these products as we see them today went through innovation. Services, on the other hand, thrive on relevance, uniqueness, consistency, and individuality at the very least.
For example, you have heard people in the hotel industry or restaurant industry or airline industry saying that what sets them apart from their competitor is their service. It’s the service they sell because customers equate good service to a brand promise. That’s why we hear people say, “luma na yung hotel pero binabalikan ko kasi maganda ang service” or “gusto ko yung airline na ito kasi maganda ang services ng mga cabin crew” or “maganda ang service ng restaurant na ito.” Hence, if the customer received the kind of service they expect, then, the brand promise is effective. Otherwise, no amount of marketing can work to an unsatisfied customer.
Let’s give another example. Machines produce goods while people provide service. The manufacturer of goods say for instance needs to hire the best engineers, researchers, and developers in order to produce a quality product within a prescribed standard and they do this to maintain the right quality. Here, automation standardizes quality and it’s simple because the machines are generally custom-built to do what it has to do at six sigma level. While maintaining consistency with product is generally simple, doing so with services is far more difficult because there is human engagement at every touch point. Because of this, service providers must prioritize continuous staff training to guarantee the highest quality of service the brand is expected to deliver. Any enterprise that exists in the tourism industry needs to make its people a top priority because its product is its workforce. Yes, the workforce is a tourism product.
Every tourist has a different expectation of a destination which is another difficult facet of the tourism industry. For example tourists would like to visit Sagada – one tourist next door seeks excitement and adventure, the other traveller is seeking tranquillity and serenity, the other traveller is longing to see the mountains and the local tribe, the other visitors wanted to experience local food and farm life while others are on honeymoon, etc. Here, each tourist desires the impression that everything is being done specifically for them in the destination. This expectation isn’t always present with products. The same destination can be marketed under numerous personas. This what makes tourism product difficult. Every tourist wanted to experience relevance, uniqueness, consistency and individuality when they travel even to the same destination over and over again.
Because of this, human resources and tourism marketing mix are inseparable. The same values that a brand espouses should be communicated to all staff in the production line. Remember that in tourism, production and consumption happen at the same time. All customers should be able to expect the same level of professionalism from staff members if a brand makes that guarantee. If a friendly stay is promised, all personnel need to be adaptable and friendly all the time to all customers. Remember the case of one resort in Cebu where the manager (one of the owners) yelled at a child because he’s noisy (playing) in the breakfast area? Remember the resort in Koh Chang who sued a guest for posting on TripAdvisor a negative review? If a brand fails in its promise, no amount of advertising or promotions can boost their reputation back easily.
When it comes to pricing methods, tourism marketing specialists are not particularly thrilled. There isn’t a price list or a one-price display similar to IKEA’s. The majority of companies in the sector either use a time-based pricing approach or a price discrimination strategy, both of which are never fixed. Because of this, the market is quite active and a pricing war is constantly going on. From the standpoint of the consumer, that might be pretty annoying.
A price discrimination strategy is setting a different price for the same product based on the buyer’s position in the market. For instance, a hotel or travel company might charge a local resident, a senior citizen, or a student less for the same service than a foreign visitor; a business traveler might be assessed a higher fee than a leisure traveller; or rates on Fridays and Saturdays are more expensive than on weekdays.
On the other hand, a time-based pricing strategy is employed by companies with seasonal or last-minute product or service purchases. Of course, airlines serve as an excellent example of this – booking a flight during the holiday season will cost more money than doing so during the off-season. Additionally, the price of the ticket will increase the nearer the departure date is. Here, companies need a system in place to track the variables at play and modify prices in order for time-based pricing to be effective, especially if customers may make purchases online.
Additionally, a company may use a skimming pricing strategy in which it charges a higher price while providing additional perks. An example of this is when an airline charges more for business class than for economy class; when local travel agencies started creating more affordable packages for young travelers which became a global trend with Gen Y and Z explorers; or when a concert organizers charge higher ticket price for those in the front row than those at the bleachers. , tourism marketers recently employed a value-based pricing strategy. Above everything else, the tourism sector faces intense pricing competition.
Tourism marketers are kept busy trying to keep up with all the different pricing tactics because of these diverse elements. Based on a variety of factors that are active at once, they must continually adapt and attempt new things. As a result, one must maintain a careful eye on what the rivals are doing, the passage of time, each individual consumer, and emerging pricing patterns.
Lastly, there is no suggested price for tourism products or services. You can not go to DTI and complain about the pricing strategy a tourism enterprise follows because the price of a brand service is relative. Two 5-star hotels can charge differently even when they are located in the same destination. One may charge 50USD/room/night while the other may charge 1000USD/room/night and that is a matter of pricing strategy.
Place refers to the locations and methods of selling goods and services. For traditional items, a robust distribution network is necessary to boost product availability and obtain a competitive advantage over rivals. For example, supermarkets, groceries, or convenience stores are physical stores where products are traded. Further, digital places have recently evolved into an integral component of place. This digital domain encompasses all websites, mobile apps, and marketplaces where customers can buy certain products. Examples include Amazon, Lazada, and other web browsers.
Place varies significantly for tourism marketing based on the company. For instance, Agoda.com, Booking.com and Airbnb only operate online. While this is going on, some hotels expand their “place” strategy by enabling customers to make reservations on their own websites, through affiliated travel agents, or even over the phone. One must carefully consider the client journey or sales funnel in order to put up the appropriate place-based approach for tourism marketing. Meaning, where do clients finalize their purchases of tourism products or services.
Lastly, the most important aspect of place in tourism marketing mix is where to provide access to potential customers. The rapid automation and digitalization in the tourism industry now makes it easier for customers to book and pay online and if a tourism enterprise doesn’t have this facility, they are losing so many opportunities.
Promotion is the fourth P in tourism marketing. Public relations, advertising, and promotional strategy are all types of promotion. The purpose of service promotion is to explain to prospective customers why they require the service and why they should pay a particular price for it. In the post-COVID-19 era, the issues facing tourism communication are much greater. Because consumers are price sensitive, the tourism industry is competitive and fragile and there are numerous things tourist are seeking for including value for money, a distinctive and unforgettable experience, and safety and hygiene among several others.
It’s not easy to design promotional strategies in the tourism industry. The following questions can guide a marketer when making one:
- What messages are you trying to get across?
- What is the positioning of your brand?
- Who exactly do you want to reach?
- Where will you target your audience with marketing messages?
- How does your rival’s company market its goods? Does that affect the way you promote yourself?
- When should promotions be made?
To get the greatest answers, one must constantly experiment with these business questions by adjusting the responses and maximizing for improvement. These aren’t queries one responds to once and then go on. Rather, they come in cycles. Promotion determines whether a business succeeds or fails. The four Ps are also more linked than you may have realized, as a result of this.
Hence, we can say that tourism marketing mix refers to a collection of marketing tools, steps, actions, or tactics a tourism enterprise or a government agency use to market and sell its tourism products and services.. They serve as guides that enable marketers to thoroughly cover all aspects of brand reach. The components of these Ps combine to form a useful framework for the development of an entire destination marketing strategy.
Lastly, there are as many types of tourism marketing mixes as there are functioning businesses in the tourism spectrum. We can talk about product mix, service mix, product progression and life cycle mix, positioning mix, promotional mix, channel mix, and global marketing mix among other mixes.
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