Supporting Global Development through Sustainable Tourism

Wednesday, 12 November 2014 21:07

Characteristics of a Successful Online Marketing Campaign

Written by Jeff Yerxa

Being flexible and current are two important characteristics to a successful online marketing campaign. The social media landscape is constantly evolving—whether it is the changing of an algorithm, a new feature, new trend, or even the inception of an entirely new social media platform. To run a successful online marketing campaign you must be knowledgeable of these alterations and have the ability to adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Adapting to Changing Rules

To understand what a change in “social rules” looks like and how it could be a game-changer in your online marketing campaign, take a look at this recent example. Just a week ago Facebook instituted a change which disallowed requiring someone to “like” your page before entering your contest, promotion or giveaway. This feature, coined “like-gate”, has been a significant factor in online marketing campaigns. In many cases, the main purpose of offering a contest or giveaway is to enhance a company’s social media presence.

Flow Chart

In fact, many online marketing campaigns use “likes” as a metric for success. Does your contest now serve a purpose if it isn’t generating “likes”? If not, how can you modify your strategy to accommodate for this?

These are crucial questions in ensuring your online marketing campaign meets its objectives.

Finding Solutions

In 2013, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi partnered with National Geographic and Solimar to promote Geotourism development and contribute to the region’s competitiveness as a tourism destination. Solimar pushed forward an online marketing campaign focusing on the Geotourism MapGuide, which promoted the US Gulf Coast States (USGCS) through an online interactive map, mobile application, and print map. USGCS’s first marketing campaign was called “Hidden Treasures” and was designed to demonstrate the MapGuide’s utility as a resource for lesser-known attractions in the region. The mechanism behind this campaign was a giveaway in which participants could win a trip to one of three weekend getaways in Vicksburg, MS; Lake Charles, LA; or Miramar Beach, FL.

In early 2014, radical shifts in the brand page design and user feed algorithm on Facebook forced a shift in how the platform could be used for marketing and engagement. Facebook applications, on which the “Hidden Treasures” campaign was largely built, were sidelined. This meant that apps were no longer a central component in a page’s interaction with a user. As a result, driving traffic to the application was more difficult, entries into the contest were low, and the campaign did not achieve its intended result. This algorithmic change was largely focused to drive advertisers to pay for sponsored or boosted content. To adjust for this, Solimar rolled out a second campaign, “Summer in the South” which was adapted to better thrive in this environment by utilizing Facebook’s pay-for-play services. The adjustment proved successful, driving over 12,000 visits to the USGCS Geotourism website—nearly a third of the website’s 5 month total traffic in two weeks’ time.

Integrating New Platforms

In other instances, an entirely new social media platform may start trending. In 2012, while working on the North American Destination Marketing Campaign (NADM) for Namibia, Pinterest emerged onto the social media scene. Solimar’s online marketing team recognized the captive audience that Pinterest was garnering, joined the network, and adapted their content calendar accordingly. Solimar had to quickly learn the ways people used the platform and then generate content aligned with what was trending. Specific content focusing on recipes and weddings, for example a board for “Weddings in Namibia”, were created.  By staying current and on top of trends, a completely new audience was reached. 

These are just a few examples of how Solimar keeps a close eye on changes in “social rules” and trends when running online destination and tourism marketing campaigns.  Being able to quickly shift to enhance clients’ performance is key to success. To achieve this, a campaign needs to be flexible. Flexibility may be reached through diversification, as seen in the USGCS example. If the USGCS online marketing campaign solely relied on the “Hidden Treasures” campaign, the entire project would have failed. Being current is also extremely important. The NADM’s campaign would not have been as successful had it not been adapted to the social environment and utilize Pinterest. In an environment that is constantly changing, effectively running an online marketing campaign that is both flexible and current will help ensure that your campaign reaches its objectives.

For more information on inbound marketing for the travel and tourism industry, download our free E-book. 

CTA-13

Published in General
Friday, 06 February 2015 19:05

Four Ways to Become the Hottest Destination of 2025

Written by Clinton Tedja

With the tourism industry booming, competition amongst destinations is fierce. Hundreds of variables and thousands of runners in this race means that by 2025, anything could happen. But the good news is that with the right preparation today, any underdog has a shot at being the winning destination. Here are some tips to help you out.

Morocco City Sunset
Sunset in Morocco

1. Conserve Your Resources

We all know that climate change has the potential to drastically change the tourism game. Without intervention, many of our sunny beaches will be eroded and our crisp mountain air replaced by pollution. Temperature-wise, nobody really wants to be the “hottest destination”. This is why sustainable tourism development is so important. 

Every location, including yours, has something intrinsically unique to offer the world. But the challenge is, can you conserve it? Whether your destination is home to a rare breed of lion, the best coffee beans in the world or an unparalleled kayaking experience, you’ll want to be able to flaunt it like a peacock forever (or flaunt your actual peacocks). Strategies like the ones we implement to conserve these resources will make you stand a head above the rest.

Solimar proudly works with Namibia, the first African country to incorporate conservation into its constitution. Today, 42% of the country’s land is preserved by communal conservancies- and Namibia has simultaneously earned its place as a must-see destination.

2. Tourism Services Training

When your visitors are greeted by the smiling faces of your well-trained staff, they will not only love your destination, they will brag about you to all their friends. Too many local tourism services in the past have left visitors feeling either disappointed, lost in translation or downright scammed. By 2025, travelers will be more globally aware and will be tired of subpar services, making this component of your travel marketing wildly attractive. 

We at Solimar International have identified that guide services, as well as food, lodging, transportation and craft services are key areas to work on. Investing in your workforce’s development creates a positive cycle that will last to 2030 and beyond. Visitors to your destination will be happier with your product, leading to satisfied feedback and widespread positive reviews producing economic benefits for you and your employees, simultaneously enriching the work experience and the tourism product for visitors. But in order to be ahead in the future, sustainable tourism development and training needs to start today.

Boquillas del Carmen Mexico Canoe River
Canoeing in Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico

3. Create Tourism Partnerships

The new generation is searching for authentic experiences and real connections. The quickest way to flush authenticity down the drain is to stamp all over local culture, make them feel marginalized or to drown out the traditions with external influence. 

Public-private partnership (PPP) between stakeholders such as tourist operators, local governments, farmers and communities is integral to creating an incredibly appealing destination, particularly for destination marketing purposes. 

PPP encourages action and communication among all stakeholders in a project, so that no voice is left unheard and unrepresented in the finished tourism product. It creates positive economic outcomes and conserves authenticity, and also ensures that there is stability in the social environment in addition to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance. 

4. Create a Tourism Marketing Strategy

Unfortunately, without solid destination marketing, your nation’s “best kept secret” will stay exactly that: a secret. Marketing means more than just sticking up a billboard on the highway, especially in this constantly evolving world of technology and social media. It will mean creating relevant and creative strategies intended for targeted audiences, which tackle everything from strategic planning and branding to website development, as well as travel trade marketing, social media marketing, and integrated marketing programs. These strategies can have people everywhere scrambling to put your irresistible destination on their bucket list.

After years of experience in travel marketing, we have seen the powerful effect of good marketing proven over and over again with our various projects in over 40 countries. Even more exciting is the pride of marketing a destination which has flourished by following these tips, conserving resources, training tourism services and creating harmonious partnerships. 

A lot can happen over the next ten years. But just like in any other race, being prepared with the right resources and strategies can mean all the difference between winning and losing. So play your cards right and start equipping your running belt with these strategies today. Who knows, your destination could win the race and be the hottest destination of not only 2025, but of the entire century.

To see how your destination or tourism business is doing- check out Solimar’s Self-Assessment!

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

facebook-96  twitter-96  instagram-96

Published in General
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 16:34

Solimar Conducts Workshops in Malawi to Develop Five-Year Tourism Strategy Plan

Written by Mallika Saini
Malawi Girl
Malawian girl carries fresh fish to local village

Solimar International has partnered with Via Via Tourism Academy, at the request of the Ministry of Information, to develop a five-year tourism development strategy for Malawi. From February 1-8, two workshops were conducted with over 100 individuals from the private, public, non-profit, and donor sectors to identify the country’s unique tourism assets and create a shared story of Malawi’s tourism future. Participants were very enthusiastic and the presentation was very well-received. The information presented at the workshops was based on a year’s worth of research and conversation with the local industry. Through facilitation, Solimar was able to lay the ground work for several initiatives like the creation of a new public-private partnership destination marketing organization and a network of regional tourism management committees.

The “Malawi 2020 Tourism Development Strategy” is currently being finalized. The plan will document Malawi’s vision forward based on the outcome of the workshops, and will include a brand profile and marketing strategy. Representatives from both the public and private sector will work together to implement the actions in "Malawi 2020” starting June 2015. In addition to working with the Destination Management Organization (DMO) and the local tourism committees, there are a number of issues, like handing the required infrastructure, education, and taxes, that will also start being addressed through ongoing cross-sectorial dialogue and ministerial task forces.

Solimar is very excited about this new relationship with Malawi and looks forward to helping it grow as one of Africa’s up-and-coming destinations. With its numerous wildlife reserves, unique varying landscapes, and friendly people, Malawi is sure to amaze its travelers. Workshop instructor, David Brown, describes Malawi’s charm and beauty,

“Visiting Malawi is always an uplifting experience. It’s called ‘the warm heart of Africa’ and that’s not just some empty advertising. Malawians are incredibly friendly and happy. You’re hard pressed to go anywhere without hearing laughter. The landscapes are immense but still humble. On the drive from Lilongwe, the capital, to Blantyre, the commercial hub, it’s easy to get lost in the big open spaces pierced with solitary mountains. Big plateaus full of zebra dominate areas in the North and the South and when you look around can feel like you’re surrounded by sky. Anyone coming to Malawi will surely be headed to the “inland ocean” of Lake Malawi which runs almost the entire length of the country. When you arrive and see the big blue expanse and the golden sand, you feel like you’re David Livingstone discovering something truly incredible for the first time. There’s something very tropical and peaceful about being there, especially when the sunset turns everything pink and the only thing you can see on the horizon are local fishermen bringing their boats to shore and the children splashing around.”

Lake Malawi
Sunset at Lake Malawi

Interested in learning more about tourism destination management? Check out one of our toolkits.

CTA-5

And don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

facebook-32  twitter-32  instagram-32

Published in General
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 18:51

Amplify Your Roar: Leverage Social Media to Market Your Destination

Written by Clinton Tedja

In this generation, social media is more important than ever, especially for tourism marketing. People are spending over four times more time on Facebook than Google - today there are about 1.3 billion people on Facebook. Is Facebook really useful for businesses? Let this number convince you - 52% of businesses have acquired customers through Facebook. That’s a lot of potential for the tourism industry.

Needless to say, social media can be your destination’s magic megaphone. But do you know how to use it well? Here are some questions to ask yourself as you endeavor to amplify your roar.

Are You Connecting With People? No, Really Connecting?

A billboard does not listen. People listen. This is where social media differs from traditional marketing- as you can (and should) be interacting with your audience directly. Ask questions. Make it interactive. Reply to comments. 

Another exciting thing about social media marketing is the way in which even one individual’s Likes, Shares, Comments, Tweets, Friends, or Tags are able to increase your visibility, diverting more and more eyes to you.

Are You Developing the Right Content?

60% of the sales process is over before a prospective buyer ever talks to a salesman or begins the process. What does that mean? It means that almost every single visitor will make a majority of their decision through online research before anything else. You want to create content that supports them in that online research phase. 

So be sure to evaluate your content. Have you thought about keywords? How is the quality of your images? Are you providing a diverse enough array of multimedia content? What are you offering and are you communicating it in an appealing way? These are important thoughts to take into consideration.

Are You On the Right Platform?

It is also important to know where to roar.  Find out who your target audience is, and where they spend their time in the online world. They could be on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, or maybe even all of the above. There is more to social media than Facebook and one of the best ways to amplify your roar is to increase your reach through these different, targeted social media platforms.

Are You Showcasing Personality?

Social media also offers you a unique opportunity to be human. Nobody wants to talk to a salesman who is constantly pitching; they want to build relationships with real people. The same principle applies when it comes to creating brand loyalty, trust and eventually sales. Don’t be afraid to show a little bit of humor and personality in your social media marketing strategy. Be relevant, not robotic. If visitors to your social media site are having fun, they will want to have fun at your actual physical site too.

What Does Your Unique Roar Sound Like?

Every destination, including yours, has something unique to offer. So there’s no need to spend all your time trying to imitate somebody else’s roar.

A destination assessment can go a long way in identifying your hidden gems and how to best conserve them. Many destinations have a diverse array of brilliant tourism products which have been overlooked. You want to be able to spot these with destination assessments and to also tailor social media marketing strategies to showcasing your best colors. Our projects in Rwanda, Namibia and the U.S. Gulf Coast, for example, have been integral in doing that: maximizing an active audience of followers, generating stunning branding content and increasing revenue by presenting destinations at the very peak of their potential. 

With unlimited online space, the opportunities to multiply your untapped audience are limitless. Take the right steps with social media and you could have the loudest roar of all. 

Feel free to learn about more innovative strategies through our free e-book, "Inbound Marketing for the Travel and Tourism Industry".

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

facebook-32 twitter-32 instagram-32

Published in General
Monday, 16 March 2015 13:28

How to Select a Destination Marketing Representative

Written by Chi Hu
Destination marketing representative
Solimar Representing Namibia Tourism Board

It’s getting easier to communicate with travelers around the world, but destinations looking to target specific markets often turn to destination marketing representation firms. 

A destination marketing representative (or “rep”) is your destination’s tourism ambassador within a certain region who can effectively reach local consumers, outbound operators, and local media – all in an effort to drive destinations sales and increase visitation. Marketing representatives come in all shapes and sizes, each with a different set of tactics and know-how.

Here are some key items to consider when trying to find the right representative for your destination:

1. Make an Informed Decision About Which Market You’ll Target

This seems obvious, but many tourism boards skip this step. Select a target country or region that has a large growth potential, is receptive to the your destination’s tourism offer, and is accessible enough for your destination to compete. Carefully weigh the market’s travel volume, your current market share, existing competitors in the market, the demographics and interests of your potential customers, and potential barriers for entry. For example, many destinations that we work with are overly eager to jump into China. They’re excited by the potential of a market of that size, but don’t fully weigh how the time and expense required to make a dent in that crowded marketplace could be used in other areas where there is already a demonstrable interest.

2. Understand What Success Looks Like and How They Measure It

Be clear about what kind of results you expect from this market. Are you looking just for an increase in visitor arrival number or to increase visitor arrivals among a valuable market segment like high-end group travel? Also, consider how your rep can provide intangible results like increased goodwill and increased market awareness. Think carefully about outcome-driven results such as number of new sales partners and number of articles published, rather than easy output activities like press releases or events attended. This will help ensure that your rep is not just busy but effective.

3. Examine Their Experience and Expertise

You want a destination marketing representative that can hit the ground running. This means experience working with the consumer base, travel trade and media outlets that will best service your target market. While years of experience is great, ask if the firm has worked with destinations that offer similar experience and attractions as your destination. This focus makes a representative more suited to understanding the obstacles you face, your destination’s advantages and the mindset of the market you’re trying to attract. Examine how connected the firm is to important industry networks and niche media platforms that will speak directly to your target market. Reading testimonials from their previous clients may give you a different perspective on their work and abilities.

4. Get Good Value for Your Money

Also, importantly, consider what kind of budgets the firm is used to working with. If you’re working with a limited budget – can they make big things happen for small amounts? Scrutinize what they exactly cover, and choose a package that has the best balance between the cost and the services that you need to reach your goals.

Familiarization Trip
Familiarization Trip

Typical representative activities include:

• Establishing a local office (phone line, answer inquiries, day-to-day duties)
• Developing marketing collateral (branding and positioning strategy, brochures, banners, fact sheets)
• Strengthening online presence (website, social media content kit, online ads)
• Establishing trade partnerships (list of tour operators and agents, sales calls, educational webinars, familiarization trips, follow-up surveys and interviews)
• Generating earned media coverage (list of publications and media contacts, media outreach, news updates, press kit, media clips)
• Participating in events (summits, trade shows, networking events)

5. Seek Out a Passion and Dedication

You are putting a lot of trust and resources into a firm. It’s important to feel that they will be the best possible ambassadors for your destination. What’s your first impression of the marketing representative? Do they appear to be easy to work with? Are they responsive? Are they passionate about tourism and your destination beyond any of your competitors? Do you share the same value as you do? After all, there is nothing better than working with a team that is as enthusiastic about your place as you.

A destination marketing representative is a powerful part of your destination marketing arsenal. Choose wisely and you could find yourself reaching new tourism heights.

Solimar Team
Solimar Team

For more information on what Solimar offers for marketing representation, check out our services and previous representation for Rwanda, Namibia, and Myanmar.

Published in General
Friday, 27 March 2015 15:03

How to Tell if Your Marketing Representation is Working

Written by Mallika Saini
African Kids Smiling

So you have successfully selected a marketing representative for your unique destination. You have been working with them for a few months now, but how do you determine if the work they are doing for you is paying off? You want to ensure that they are marketing your location accurately and effectively. In order to evaluate your marketing rep’s performance, you must monitor them on a regular basis. Here’s how:

1. Determine the set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you are looking for.
It is important for your organization to determine what KPIs, or metrics, you would like to measure, and eventually see improve. You want to ensure that these metrics span across all marketing activities, and reflect the success of your organization accurately. Keep in mind that this varies from organization to organization. Most companies typically utilize Return on Investment as a KPI. However, you must ensure that you are calculating the return accurately. Are you carefully estimating how much you’ve gained from your marketing investment? Does this include retaining your customer base, as well as gaining new customer revenue? ROI is an essential KPI to track. Here are some more KPIs your firm can utilize, to ensure that you are recording your marketing performance accurately:

ROI
  • Number of hits to website
  • Performance indicators on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These sites typically have their own performance metric tools that are easily accessible.
  • Number of clicks, click-through rates – found through tracking tools like Google Adwords. This is effective for tracking how well your marketing rep is working on your search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Revenue gained by traditional media marketing and advertisements
  • Number of inquiries you receive for tours/activities you offer
  • Actual travel volume – how many visitors are coming and going from your locale on a weekly/monthly basis? How many visitors are you receiving from your selected target market?

 

2. Find your baseline.
In order to see if your marketing representative has made any improvement to the KPIs you found above, you need to measure where you stand before they begin (or once they start). Make sure to record what level each KPI is at before any marketing campaigns have started. This is so you have a baseline to compare future numbers to and you will be able to track visible improvement.

3. Conduct performance evaluations on a regular basis.
Now that you’ve determined the metrics you want to measure and have established a baseline, it is important to regularly measure these metrics periodically. A good idea is to see how you are doing on a monthly or quarterly basis. Evaluating performance on a regular basis allows you to determine what aspects of your marketing rep’s campaign are succeeding and which are underperforming – allowing you to re-strategize sooner.

4. Analyze the change in performance
While you may be tempted to fire your marketing rep as soon as you see a dip in your ROI, don’t be so quick to make that decision. It’s important to analyze why certain KPIs are underperforming. For example, even though travel volume may not have increased over a few months, you may be seeing greater visitors to your website, which could mean greater awareness of your destination and more visitors in person in the future. However, if you see a consistent lag in the performance of KPIs across the board, it’s probably time to have a discussion with your marketing representative about their strategy and whether they are the best fit for your organization. It may be time to look elsewhere.

It’s important to measure the success of any marketing campaign, whether you’ve been working with your marketing representative for years or you just hired a new one last week. Finding a marketing rep that fits well with your organization is key, but consistent performance monitoring ensures that the door to your destination is open to the travelers you need and ensures that your marketing efforts continue to lead you down the road to success.

For information on the work Solimar has done with marketing representation, check out our representation projects in Rwanda, Namibia, and Myanmar.

Do you have specific questions about the metrics your organization is using to measure your marketing performance? Ask an expert!

CTA-2

Published in General
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 17:43

Why Washington DC Is The Perfect Place For US Marketing Representation

Written by Clinton Tedja
Lincoln Memorial Washington DC
The Lincoln Memorial

In this day and age, tourism’s growth is a force which simply cannot be ignored. This year, the tourism and travel industry will accelerate faster than the global economy, making up 10% of Global GDP and 9.5% of employment worldwide. It’s clear that the decisions affecting tourism will have tremendous impacts on lives everywhere.

Washington, D.C. is at the heart of this change - a vibrant world capital itself, it’s host to diplomatic envoys from all over the world. Seeped in the cultures of hundreds of nations, it is at the forefront of development and growth.

D.C. is home to world travelers, with over 400 international associations, 1,000 internationally owned companies and more than 180 embassies and international culture centers in the Greater Washington region. In all, D.C. is a prime city for introducing a destination to the North American travel market. 

Here are 7 reasons why Washington DC is the perfect place for US marketing representation:

 

1. DC is a Pedestal for International Relations

Washington is where decisions regarding tourism issues are decided upon and/or announced. Being close in a relational and geographical sense to the center of decision-making is integral, because just as in any other industry, knowledge is power. DC offers a world of exactly that, through the endless connections, meetings and conferences held there. For example, just last week, we found ourselves learning secrets about tourism’s future in Bhutan, from the mouth of the Bhutanese Prime Minister himself. This kind of information is priceless for tourism marketing representatives. 

 

2. Partnerships with DC Embassies are Invaluable

The fact of the matter is this: Embassies and US Tourism Marketing Representatives are like our left and right hands. Though they both possess different skills and abilities, they both work towards the same goal and work better together. So collaboration isn’t just smart, it is essential.

In many of our projects, having a close proximity to the plethora of embassies lining the DC streets has not only been convenient, it has been absolutely instrumental in ensuring streamlined and efficient communication. 

 

3. Endless Opportunities for Partnership

National Geographic, the various Smithsonian Institutes, as well as World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are among the many potential partners in DC who are outstanding partners for destinations. Tourism development (especially sustainable tourism development) are priorities for DC groups as well as destinations. If that’s not enough, DC is also home to great travel trade- tour operators and travel agents, essential parts of a compelling sales strategy.

 

4. It is an International Hub

In the past few years, Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport together have amassed over 40,000,000 passengers yearly, and are served by over 42 different airlines. Travel is a DC priority. In 2013, 6,988,903 international passengers arrived at Dulles International Airport.

 

5. Visas

Any North American tourism marketing representative knows the dread and fear caused by the word Visas. Having the Embassies at our fingertips can make all the difference in making things run smoothly, especially when time is tight.

 

6. Mutually Beneficial Public Relations

Little needs to be said about how effective partnering with the forces in DC can be when it comes to attaining stronger public relations and advertising. We’ve seen that when tourism marketing representatives and embassies agree on the image and message they want to present, they are able to work together to create far more effective public relations than they would be able to on their own.

 

7. High Level Officials Representing at Road Shows in DC

There’s no doubt that no other North American city has a larger concentration of high level officials than DC. Almost any global destination automatically has high level officials in the area by nature of diplomatic positioning; a DC-based marketing representative will be able to woo them to tourism events and activities promoting destinations, giving events more prestige and bigger opportunities for PR and marketing.

 

For more advice on marketing representation and sustainable tourism, feel free to try our “ask an expert” page.

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

facebook-32 twitter-32 instagram-32

Published in General
Friday, 10 April 2015 18:30

Opening of Myanmar Tourism Federation Office in DC

Written by Clinton Tedja

Last night, Solimar International had the pleasure of opening the Myanmar Tourism Federation’s (MTF) first North American Office in history. This was a momentous occasion for both Myanmar and Solimar International, with bright expectations and hopes paving the way for a thriving future in this country.

Myanmar Tourism Federation Chris Seek Secretary General
Sec. General Mr. U Kyi Thein Ko, Chris Seek, Dr. Don Hawkins & Ms. Thwe Myo Tut

The turnout at the event was spectacular, with representatives from a wide variety of spheres coming together to celebrate the future of Myanmar Tourism. Special guests included Mr. U Kyi Thein Ko, MTF Secretary General and the Myanmar Ambassador’s daughter, Thwe Myo Tut, who were giving their warmest welcomes.

Among the lively crowd were also representatives from National Geographic, Smithsonian Institute, World Wildlife Fund, Destination Marketing Association International and various Non-Profits, as well as various tour operators, PR and media personnel,  tourism consultants, George Washington tourism professors/students, interested travelers and industry leaders.

Myanmar Tourism Federation Guests Speech
Varied Guests Enjoying the Speeches

Several speeches were given by Solimar International CEO Chris Seek, Mr. U Kyi Thein Ko as well as Ms. Thwe Myo Tut, Dr. Don Hawkins and the Mandelay Tour Operator. These speeches spurred all to imagine the unmeasured depth of Myanmar’s beauty, its incredible diversity and hopeful potential in what sustainable tourism could bring to the people and local livelihoods - as well as the wealth of rich culture it could offer the world.

Chris Seek speech Myanmar
Chris Seek giving a Presentation

Attendees described their enthusiasm all round. “I’ve been to Thailand but now I want to go to Myanmar,” said Devon Sponheimer, from World Resources Institute and Japlanning, “This is a great event, it’s a lovely space.”

Todd Metrokin, from Ogilvy creative marketing, was impressed by the event and described it as “lively, cool, fun. Beautiful pictures and now I’m going to have be sucked in to go to Myanmar!”

Myanmar Tourism Federation Networking
Guests Networking at the Event

These positive impressions are vital in these groundbreaking moments of Myanmar’s history - a country which was once closed to international tourism for over 60 years. As this nation opens its doors to tourism, there is no telling what could happen, with tourist arrivals multiplying at phenomenal speeds in the past few years.

This symbolic opening of the first North American Office is only a sign of things to come - and a sign of increased openings to this breathtaking country.

Published in General
Thursday, 16 April 2015 12:45

Solimar Conducts Research to Help Tourism SMEs Improve Their Marketing Practices

Written by Rashaad Jorden
Training in Mali
Tourism training in Mali, a member of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation

Solimar International is conducting a study on behalf of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC) to analyze information and communication technology (ICT) tools used in tourism marketing by SMEs in member countries of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

As online marketing is considered a crucial tool for destinations and tourism businesses to use and reach and influence travelers, OIC member governments will use the study in creating policies to support such businesses, especially regarding improving Internet technology and online marketing practices.

COMCEC has been working to enhance economic and commercial cooperation among the OIC's 57 members and tourism represents a significant driving force for the socio-economic development of OIC member countries.

The performance of tourism SMEs can be greatly enhanced by the Internet as it offers businesses the potential to make information and booking facilities available to large numbers of tourists relatively inexpensively. Appropriate ICT tools can help improve tourism SMEs by enabling them to communicate faster with their customers and distribute their services more efficiently online. In addition, ICTs will also assume a more significant role for tourism SMEs as roughly 68% of hoteliers will shift their budgets from offline to online marketing services

Uganda accommodation
The study will help governments better promote businesses like this accommodation provider in Uganda

Challenges to Overcome

However, not all tourism businesses have been able to utilize ICT efficiently as many SMEs lack the capital for purchasing hardware and software as well as having insufficient marketing and technology training and understanding.

Most of the OIC members are developing countries, thus representing a significant challenge for COMCEC and OIC as the ICT infrastructure is lacking.

Thus, in order to gather information about current ICT practices and position Solimar to provide recommendations on how to make tourism marketing practices more ICT-friendly, David Brown sent out surveys to hotels and tour operators in the 27 OIC member countries registered to the COMCEC Tourism Working Group for the project.

Report Findings

Titled Effective Marketing Strategies: ICT-based solutions for the OIC Member Countries, the report will also feature eight case studies from OIC members - three of which include visits to Mozambique, Oman and Malaysia - that illustrate successes by tourism SMEs or a country's policy implementation. Furthermore, a section addressing general challenges faced within all three OIC regions, along with recommendations to ensure best practice, will appear in the study.

Findings from the study will be presented at the 6th meeting of the COMCEC Tourism Working Group on September 3, 2015.

The document will include policy recommendations on how governments can improve the operating environment for tourism businesses. In addition, the study will feature approaches undertaken by tourism SMEs.

To obtain more information on Solimar's tourism marketing services, click here

And don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

facebook-32 twitter-32 instagram-32 

 

Published in General
Friday, 15 January 2016 18:45

Pacaya Lodge & Spa Celebrates Successful Soft Opening

Written by Claire van Winkle
Casitas at Pacaya Lodge
Casitas at Pacaya Lodge & Spa

In January, Pacaya Lodge & Spa celebrated a soft opening with a New Year’s party for staff and guests. 

The resort, located 20 minutes from Granada, Nicaragua, overlooks the iconic Laguna de Apoyo and offers stunning views over the canopy to the crater lake below and Granada in the distance. The 26-room luxury resort features exceptional service, an infinity pool, gardens, restaurant, bar, spa, and beachfront access. 

Solimar’s Involvement with Pacaya Lodge & Spa

Solimar began working on sales and marketing for the lodge in January 2015. Our partnership with the lodge began when we were approached by Opportunity International Nicaragua in 2012. The NGO asked us to develop a strategy to leverage tourism to fund a high school operated by the organization. Solimar delivered a feasibility analysis for a luxury resort on the site which became the blueprint for Pacaya Lodge & Spa.

Solimar is thrilled to see years of hard work come to life and we are excited for the next phase. The lodge will celebrate a grand opening in March.

A Lodge with a Social Focus

This beautiful resort has a mission to support the local school. Currently, 240 students attend Escuela Tecnica Emprendedora, where they study either agriculture or tourism, the largest industries in the country. Pacaya Lodge & Spa will serve as a lab for tourism students and will help refine the school’s hospitality and English language curriculum and provide hands on experience through internships in the lodge itself.

Furthermore, Pacaya Lodge will source its produce from the school’s working farm. The goal of the program is to train students to grow produce without the use of pesticides so that when they graduate they will have the knowledge to work on or develop their own organic farms. 

Upon stabilization, Pacaya Lodge has committed to cover 40% of the school’s operating expenses. Pacaya hopes to provide students with the tools they need to succeed in Nicaragua’s rapidly expanding tourism sector and to ensure the sustainability and future of tourism and agriculture in Nicaragua. 

Delivering an Exceptional Nicaraguan Travel Experience

Keeping these objectives in mind, one of our main roles in the Pacaya project was to develop the marketing and branding strategy for the lodge. Our goal was to deliver an exceptional Nicaraguan travel experience that differentiated Pacaya Lodge & Spa from other Latin American resorts.

Poolside at Pacaya Lodge Nicaragua
Poolside at Pacaya Lodge & Spa

 

The solution was simple: grow from within the community. While many upscale resorts in Latin America seek to shield guests from local communities, Pacaya Lodge & Spa embraces its sense of place. The lodge highlights local artists and artisans, offers unique cultural excursions, and promises the opportunity to engage with the community. 

The lodge features furniture, fixtures, and art from 16 local artisans. These artisans live and work in Masaya and Los Pueblos Blancos. Rotating galleries and exhibits on the property feature local artists. Spotlighting these skilled artists and community members strengthens the local economy and creates a guest experience that is authentically Nicaraguan. 

Customized excursions bring guests to nearby cultural and natural attractions, such as nature reserves, volcanos, and cultural sites. In developing these excursions, we wanted to create a one-of-a-kind travel experience and support the development of new tourism destinations. 

Moving Forward

We know that visitors are seeking more meaningful travel experiences with rich stories and authentic experiences. It was important to us to create an genuinely Nicaraguan story in order to present the colorful history and culture of the destination.

Solimar is thrilled to be working with the lodge to develop a strong brand based on the lodge’s unique location, local partnerships, and rich Nicaraguan history. We believe that a successful strategy is designed at the community level. We can’t wait for the grand opening! 

Published in General
Page 1 of 4

Contact Us

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Invalid Input

Enter the code:
Enter the code:
  Invalid Input

Connect With Us

Connect With Us