Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tale of Two Cities

I’ve always been intrigued about how two destination communities, comparable in population, number of commercial lodging guest rooms and in number and type of destination assets twenty years ago could have grown so differently 20 years later?

While lodging is only one of six or seven industries in the tourism sector (tourism is not itself an industry) it is a good measure because guest rooms are always built in response to (following) increased demand (more visitors.)   Of course, experts note “build it and they will come” is a always a very risky strategy for any sector or industry but particularly with commercial lodging.

While one of these destinations, lets call it “A” was more established with more marketing resources, two decades ago as destination “B” first launched destination marketing, the two were a mere 200 guest rooms apart.

Twenty years later, Destination “B” has generated sufficient new visitation to warrant a growth of more than 94% “net” guest rooms (net because some rooms closed,) more than three times the 28.6% growth in Destination “A.”

  Rooms 1989 Rooms 1999 Rooms 2009 % Variance
Destination A 3700 4995 4758 28.6%
Destination B 3909 6714 7594 94.3%

Analysis of destination marketing strategies during the two decades reveals that Destination A continued a very traditional path of putting nearly all of its effort into conventions and meetings which represent only 10% of all visitor potential.

But Destination B leapfrogged its more established peer, deploying market research, benchmarking and technology to not only grow more quickly but diversify its visitation.  While sustaining marketing share for conventions, meetings and other business travel, Destination B’s marketing has also successfully generated much more growth in types of leisure and personal travel.  The two destinations kept pace in population.

On paper Destination A still has a very impressive overall visitor product and good potential.  But Destination B by taking a then-unorthodox approach, has tripled Destination A’s growth over the past 20 years.

Using these new strategies, Destination B also eclipsed two other similar sized destinations, overtaking a traditional leisure destination with a 1100 guest room advantage and growing 2.4 times more quickly and closing on a much larger destination by growing 1.6 times faster.  Destination B has also surged over the 20 years to outpace another high-growth destination competitor by generating 12 more guest rooms per 1,000 residents.

No wonder, some destinations are beginning to mimic the strategies of Destination B.  But they won’t find the same success, unless they apply them based on good sound data, specific to their condition.

No comments: