Social media and mobile marketing were hot topics at the annual ATME Travel Marketing Forecast that was held this week in New York.
Hugh Riley, Secretary General and CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organization discussed the power of social media and how it will drive marketing plans for the Caribbean brand.
Some interesting points to note:
- The Caribbean broke a visitor record last year with 23 million visitors. But numbers can be deceiving – the deep discounting in the market reduced the region’s tourism revenue to 2004 levels.
- Riley: “We have no choice but to be involved in social media” – The CTO is planning a new campaign this year which will be centered on social media called Whispers from Locals. The campaign will be geared to travelers that want to learn and experience what the islands have to offer. (as opposed to the fly and flop crowd) The idea behind the campaign is to embrace the local “secrets” in each island (as told by the locals through user generated content) and to inspire travelers to come to the Caribbean to seek out the secrets.
- “If we are the most tourism dependent region then we have to care more.” – Hugh also announced a new initiative called TVS (Total Visitor Satisfaction) which will be a set of criteria that will put the power in the traveler’s hands to determine what rating a destination gets (similar to Zagat for restaurant ratings). Social media will be heavily featured in this initiative.