Brand USA Re-Calibrates International Marketing Strategy
Like just about everyone else in the US inbound international tourism industry, Brand USA has been buffeted in the past several years by the winds of a perfect economic storm—weak currencies in the key source markets of Europe, the UK, Canada and Mexico; a once-in-a-lifetime economic recession in the top South American market of Brazil; and a negative attitude abroad toward the USA due to the policies and pronouncements of President Donald Trump. Also, attempts by some factions in Congress or among those critical of any federal governmental role in tourism promotion to shut down the agency has certainly done nothing to shore up the self-confidence of those for or with Brand USA.
Add to the above the wobbly foundation of the marketing organization’s own marketing department—it went through three chief market officers in less than five years—and it’s a wonder, sometimes, that the organization has a signature it can call its own.
But, as we observed the measured, one-step-at-a-time pace of last week’s Brand USA Marketing Committee meeting, we detected a sense of quiet confidence exuded at the session as senior staff put forth and explained the agency’s marketing budget for Fiscal Year 2018, which begins Oct. 1st.
Part of this confidence is because of Chief Marketing Officer Tom Garzilli, who took over the post last year from David Whitaker, who came from Tourism Toronto to take the job in May 2015, and held it for just a year before he left to become president and CEO of Choose Chicago. Garzilli, who joined Brand USA in March 2013—serving as senior vice president, global partner marketing—was formally appointed CMO in June 2016. Now with the organization for four-and-a-half years, Garzilli actually has what passes as a history for someone at Brand USA.
The $137 million FY ’18 marketing budget for Brand USA is the first prepared in whole under Garzilli. And it seems to have his signature—one refined after a professional lifetime in private sector marketing.
“We can describe our approach as doing more with the assets we have,” he said, “which means getting closer to the market telling more stories and creating more product.” The budget’s planned expenditures focus “less on fees and production … and more on content.”
The organization is now looking to decrease its hard spend, he added, and would be achieving savings through non-discretionary spending this comes as a result of creating better content … less fees to agencies.
At the same time, Garzilli noted, that even though Brand USA is a global organization, it has worked at getting closer to the trade and to its partners in key individual markets. Look for Brand USA’s message to become less global and more country market-focused.
Expanding on this notion, Anne Madison, Brand USA’s chief strategy and communications officer, told the marketing committee meeting that it is “getting to a point where we have identified the center of gravity from a media perspective in each market so this ‘one size fits all approach really is going to be put to rest’ … we’ll have market specific messaging … we’ll no longer be treating Canada and India the same.”
A More Focused Budget—Key Market by Key Market: Garzilli said the Brand USA’s marketing campaign will be focused on 14 markets spread across four tiers, “so we try to prioritize our spending.”
The 14 markets are: Tier One—China and India; Tier Two—South Korea, Mexico and Brazil; Tier Three—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and UK; and Tier 4—Chile, Colombia and Sweden.
Following are graphic explanations for each of the four tiers.
Tier One: China
Tier One: India
Tier Two: South Korea
Tier Two: Mexico
Tier Two: Brazil
Tier Three: Australia, Canada, France, German, Japan, UK
Tier Four: Sweden, Colombia, Chile
The final review of the Fiscal Year 2018 Brand USA marketing program, as well as the organization’s overall budget for FY ’18, was scheduled to take place at a Sept. 20 meeting of the organization’s board of directors
The Tipsy Trail?Beginning next year, visitors to the expanding Kentucky Bourbon Trail will have an official starting and welcome point. The Frazier History Museum and the Kentucky Distillers’ Association have finalized a partnership to mutually develop a Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center & Exhibit that will be located at the Frazier History Museum along Louisville’s famed Whiskey Row. The center will be touted as the official starting point of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail experiences when it opens in August 2018, showcasing the members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and its Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, featuring the state’s micro-distilleries. The interactive experience will include Kentucky Bourbon-related historical exhibits and educate visitors on why Kentucky has the perfect mix of water, climate, corn and natural conditions that make it the perfect spot to make bourbon. (There are 11 distillery experiences open, under construction or in the planning stages in Louisville.) For more information, visit: www.fraziermuseum.org.
Grammy Museum to Open in New Jersey: The wait will soon be over for music lovers who visit New Jersey: The Grammy Museum Experience at Newark’s Prudential Center is slated to open on Oct. 20. First announced in February, the 8,200-square-foot showcase will have an exhibit centered on the rich musical history of New Jersey, from its influential jazz to Frank Sinatra to Whitney Houston to Bruce Springsteen and everything in between. The museum will also display fashion items, including pieces worn by Michael Jackson and Jennifer Lopez. A hands-on section of the museum will allow visitors to play instruments. The privately-funded museum is located on the first floor of the Prudential Center, near the Mulberry Commons development that has been central to Newark’s revitalization efforts. For more information, visit: https://www.grammymuseumexp.org/ (There are three other Grammy Museums in the U.S.—in Los Angeles, Nashville and Cleveland, Mississippi.)
UK OPERATOR NOTES
Travel Network Group Tests Idea of “Concierge” Fee for Customers: The Travel Network Group says it has found a way of countering the effect of new laws relating to card fees by introducing a “paid-for” concierge service for its customers. The group reports that it has been conducting a trial run for the new Concierge Service at its owned Worldchoice stores and says, if it is successful, it will be rolled out to members before the end of the year. The company’s research found that although customers reacted negatively to the idea of a “booking fee,” the vast majority were open to the idea of a small charge for extra help with their booking. The latter would include the printing of boarding passes, an online cruise personalizer, help with visa applications, no in-house amendment fees on any bookings, and a 24-hour customer support service pre- and post-holiday and in resort. The Travel Network Group says the concept would help agents mitigate the costs of not being able to pass on credit and debit card fees from January 2018. If formally launched, the new service, and fee, would be added to the total cost of a holiday purchase.
Thomas Cook’s Website to be powered by Expedia Hotel Inventory. The agreement, made possible by Expedia Global Partner Solutions, the partnership arm of Brand Expedia, will over time provide Thomas Cook consumers with access to thousands more hotels for the company’s city and domestic holiday businesses. Also as part of the new alliance, Thomas Cook’s primary websites, contact centers, stores and distribution to affiliated travel agents will eventually be powered by Expedia’s market-leading platform for various types of travel bookings. “The combination of Expedia’s portfolio of hotels and best-in-class online technology will transform Thomas Cook’s city breaks and hotel-only offer for customers while helping the business take an important step forward in delivering our strategy for profitable growth,” said Peter Fankhauser, Thomas Cook’s CEO.
Will Forest Holidays Sale have an Impact on Center Parcs Plan for USA? Center Parcs, which operates five outdoor resorts across the UK, was reported by Sky News to be among a number of suitors for Forest Holidays, which has been put up for sale by its private equity owner. Forest Holidays is jointly owned by the Forestry Commission and LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, and trades from nine sites across the UK. Two years ago, when U.S. private equity firm Blackstone sold Center Parcs UK to Brookfield Property Partners, a Canadian property group, it was widely reported that the move signaled that an expansion into the USA was likely. The company pointed out at the time, however, that its first agenda item was a new facility in Ireland. Center Parcs is already pursuing an expansion plan that includes the opening of a resort in Ireland, while the wider domestic holidays sector has seen significant corporate activity with the £1 billion ($1.36 billion) merger of Park Resorts and Parkdean Holidays. According to published reports, Parkdean Resorts, is also expected to submit a bid for Forest Holidays. Center Parcs was founded in 1967, under the original name of Sporthuis Centrum Recreatie, by Piet Derksen, a Dutch leisure entrepreneur. It opened its first British village, in Sherwood Forest in 1987, but the UK and continental businesses became separate companies in 2001.
Fewer Japanese Kids Prefer Overseas Vacations
Japanese youth from elementary through junior high school age—they play a large role in influencing a family’s vacation destination—no longer want to go overseas on holiday. Rather, they prefer to stay in Japan for their vacations.
This is one of the key results of a report by the Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living, in which the organization assembled a decade-by-decade trend survey focusing on Japanese kids from the 4th grade of elementary school to the 2nd grade of junior high school.
The survey results show that the ratio of kids preferring family trips in Japan hits a record-high 60 percent, 18.7 points higher than 20 years ago, while the ratio of those preferring overseas destinations hits a record-low 30.5 percent, 13.7 points lower than 20 years ago.
Source: Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living
More from the survey results:
- Asked whether they should think first about Japan or the world, 54 percent of the children answered “Japan”—much more than the 45.9 percent for the world; a first time reversal.
- Asked what they want most, the children mainly answered their “own smart phone” (44.9 percent) then their “own television” (28.9 percent) and their “own PC” (26.3 percent).
- Asked whether stories on Internet are true, only 29 percent of the children said yes, well below the 40 percent of the last survey 10 years ago; asked the same about TV, a record-high 71.3 percent of the children said yes.
- The survey was conducted earlier this year with the participation of 800 kids living in the Tokyo Metropolitan area.
Brand USA’s New Big Screen Film Focuses on American Music
Trailer of New Brand USA Big Screen Film to debut next week in Chicago: Buoyed by the ongoing success of its National Parks Adventure giant screen film, Brand USA is on schedule to for a February 2018 world premiere of a new film that will highlight musical and cultural treasurers of the United States.
Tom Garzilli, chief marketing officer for Brand USA, explained at last week’s meeting of the Brand USA board’s marketing committee, that the film’s producer, MacGillivray Freeman, will show a trailer of the work-in-progress at the Giant Screen Cinema Association International Conference and Trade Show Sept. 26-29 in Chicago. The same trade show served as the venue for the preview of the trailer of the National Parks Adventure, which debuted in February 2016 in Washington, DC.
To date, Garzilli said, the audience of National Parks Adventure is 4 million. Total global trailers views have exceeded 60 million, and the film is currently showing in 46 cities abroad. Also Youku (one of China’s biggest video sites) streaming views are just under 840,000.
While the National Parks film featured the USA’s great outdoors, MacGillivray Freeman Films President Shaun MacGillivray says the new film follows singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc as he explores some of America’s iconic cultural cities and traces jazz legend Louis Armstrong’s footsteps through the locales where America’s music was born. Viewers will be immersed in the sights and sounds of New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Nashville, Miami Beach and more. They will see visionaries, artists, music makers and innovators who are shaping America’s culture today.
Thus far, crews have done filming in New York City, Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit and Seattle. Locations still scheduled for filming include Nashville, Memphis, Los Angeles, Austin, St. Louis, Charleston, Oklahoma City, Colorado and Albuquerque.
Readers can learn more about the film by visiting www.AmericasMusicalJourney.com
Receptive Tour Operator of the Week: City Tours USA
City Tours USA is a premier inbound receptive tour operator for the United States that provides a complete line of products for Individual travelers, groups and incentives including Fly-and-Drives and scheduled motorcoach departures throughout the USA and Canada. City Tours USA is currently one of the nation’s largest wholesalers. In business since 1978, the company has offices in New York, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal and New England. It has its own incentive division and is able to free-form any ad hoc or incentive a client might have.
The new TourOperatorLand.com website by the NAJ Group (it also publishes the Inbound Report, has introduced both receptive tour operators, U.S. tour operators and international tour operators to travel product and services of U.S. travel suppliers and DMOs. Visitors to the website can use its exclusive Receptive Finder™ to find the right RTO. It is designed to help both the travel trade and travel suppliers find the right U.S. based receptive tour operator to sell their products on the international travel market place.
The receptive operators, who are vetted and qualified by the NAJ Group also take part in at least one of NAJ’s RTO Summits series. The Summits take place annually in Orlando (Sept. 19-20, 2017), Los Angeles (Feb. 21-22, 2018) and New York City (April 17-18).
National Day 2017—China’s Overseas Travelers Seeking out New Destinations
China’s Upcoming National Day Golden Week—it begins Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 8—has become a barometer for measuring the destination preferences and habits of the country’s international travelers.
From China Daily, there are these notes:
- Ctrip.com predicted in a recent report that 650 million Chinese will travel in the eight-day Golden Week holiday; about 6 million will choose to go abroad, setting a record.
- Jiang Yiyi, director of the International Tourism Research Institute with the China Tourism Academy, said, “Chinese tourists no longer only select traditional hot journey places such as Thailand, the United States and Japan to spend their holidays. Countries such as Kenya, Morocco, New Zealand and Peru have all become a new attraction.”
- Shi Yuduan, chief marketing officer of Ctrip‘s vacation business department said the company has seen a 300 percent rise in the number of tourists going to Croatia year-on-year. The country is the setting for the popular “Game of Thrones” TV series. She added, “There is also a strong growth in Czech Republic, Iceland, Spain and Northern Ireland, too, where the HBO TV series was filmed.”
- Yudain also said packages featuring cruises, diving, camping, plastic surgery, shooting, casinos, safaris and other sports are all popular options for Chinese consumers as they have diversified the ways they conduct holiday activities.
- China also is the biggest source of rental service users among all the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China.
- Most Ctrip users choose to travel for four to six days, while a growing number of tourists prefer to travel longer.
- A quarter of Ctrip customers chose to travel between seven and 10 days, up 140 percent year-on-year.
- Thirteen percent prefer more than 10 days, up 300 percent from a year earlier.
- Domestic destinations are also getting more popular. According to the China National Tourism Administration, 593 million tourists traveled during this period in 2016, up 12.8 percent year-on-year. It generated 482.2 billion yuan ($73.9 billion) in revenue in all areas, up 14.4 percent year-on
At a Glance: Dutchess County in the Hudson Valley
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HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
In Brazil, Agaxtur has appointed Israel Dantas as sales director for the country’s Midwest region. A 20-year veteran of the tour and travel industry, Dantas has worked for companies such as the Visual Tourism, Grupo Confiança and CVC.
In Germany, the adventure travel company G Adventures has appointed Jeanette Buller as sales director Central Europe, where she is to drive the sales activities of G Adventures across the German-speaking market and further expand the brand’s brand awareness. Buller, who brings 26 years of experience in tourism to the new position most recently headed the sales and marketing department at JT Touristik in Berlin for seven years.
Mario Bass has been named vice president of sales and services at Visit San Antonio. He starts his new position on Oct. 11. Bass comes to the organization from the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, where he serves as director of sales & marketing. Previously, he was director of sales and marketing at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center.
Monarch Holidays has appointed Jodie Stuart as a national account manager. She will report into Simon Garrido, head of trade sales and will work with recently appointed field-based business development executives to develop relationships and increase sales. Stuart previously worked for Saga and Cruise & Maritime Voyages as a field sales rep.
Ken Slattery has joined Team San Jose as vice president of sales and destination services. Previously, he spent more than 14 years with Omni Hotels and Resorts. He was also national sales manager at the Washington, D.C. Convention and Tourism Corporation.
French online tour operator Mister Fly has named Olivier Roche as marketing manager. Previously, Roche spent six years as digital director of the TUI Group and nine years as e-commerce director of the Marmara Group. Roche also helped with the launch of two startups: Travel Price.com and PromoVacances.com.