It may be uncomfortable to acknowledge, but tourism destinations’ competitiveness will depend increasingly upon the choice they make to cater to either the luxury or the economy market. Remaining open to every budget will become increasingly difficult to meet the expectations of both ends of the market as income inequality enlarges the divide between classes. The higher end of the market expects more exclusiveness and distinction while the lower end of the market requires accessibility and affordability. While the concept is hardly new as the hospitality industry has always separated economic and social classes through distinct properties, what is new is the propagation to airlines and terminal facilities which are becoming increasingly segregated along the same economic divide as driven by market demand. The FSC (Full Service Carriers) are moving up market as the LCC (Low Cost Carriers) focus almost exclusively on the economy segment. Terminals and even entire airports are now built or reconfigured to serve either the economy or the luxury class exclusively.
Along with the (not so) “easy way” in social media covered in last week’s article, there is also the quest for magic words to get people to stop and look at your message. Being that everyone wants attention, everyone tends to use the same ones, the words they see most often on tweets and Facebook posts, which of course defeats the purpose of being different and being noticed. Rather than searching for catchy and far too often superlative words, how about being engaging and descriptive so that the audience that may be interested in you pauses for a second and clicks to discover what you may have of interest to them. It is then up to you to offer something that is indeed useful or interesting to them. But first, you have to entice them to click you!
So you decided it was about time to get serious about promoting your hotel or other tourism business through social media. You already had a page in Facebook, a Twitter account and maybe even a Google+ profile because you so happen to use to use Gmail. Needless to say the sixty some likes on Facebook and the hundred or so followers on Twitter have done absolutely nothing for you, probably worse, they made you look like you are asleep or that you don’t really care, although you probably did not yet understood the downside of looking asleep on social media. So, you follow the popular and easy way that everyone seems to be using (no, they are not!): you spend some money to buy a bunch of likes and followers to make you look popular. Your Facebook page now has 10000 Likes while your Twitter followers have mushroomed to a few thousands … and still nothing happens. Ah! … content! You sign-up on some web site to feed content to your Facebook page and rack up the tweets to look busy and active … and still … nothing happens. By then, you probably realized that you bought dummies, and that the content is only remotely relevant to your business and out of synch with whatever else you are doing to promote your business.
Air traffic has doubled every 15 years and it is expected to continue at the same exponential rate of growth over the next decade. However in economy class over the last 10 years, the legacy carriers have inexorably lost market share in the short-haul market to the LCC (Low Cost Carriers) who are now taking on the legacy carriers on the long-haul market as well. On the other hand, upper classes have largely remained the realm of the legacy carriers with most of them earning over half their revenue from upper class customers while the economy class with 75% to 80% of the seats and about half the space capacity generates less than half, in some cases as little as a third of the revenue. It is also reasonable to assume that, given the market conditions and the marginal profitability of legacy carriers, the economy class is sustained by the more profitable upper class.
Conflicts and crises severely affect tourism destinations. With increasing frequency since the turn of the century, even major destinations lost their entire tourism industry. While much has been written about their misfortune, rarely does the question comes up as to where are the lost tourists going to instead? Egypt, for example, once the most popular destination in the Middle East, has lost more than 5 million tourists from its peak in 2010 to 2013. To put this number in perspective, it is more tourists than the Philippines received in 2013 or nearly as much as Brazil. As the vast majority of tourists do not cancel their vacations but instead make alternate choices, which destinations benefits from the misfortunes of the others?