recently had two separate
conversations with industry leaders that started with the same
question: How are you doing? The answers, from Bill Silvermintz,
vice president of marketing for the Americas with the Barbados
Tourism Authority, and Paolo Mantegazza, president and CEO of
Globus and Cosmos tour operators, are intercut below:
Bill: "We had a great year -- nothing short of a miracle."
Paolo: "The past 12 months -- this was not a good year for
Bill: "We did a textbook marketing operation. Our broad goal was
to come back strong from Sept. 11 by increasing name recognition
among those who don't know us and break the perception that we're
overpriced -- I mean, high-priced -- among those who do know
Paolo: "We took a defensive strategy. We bought into the
arguments made by the financial side of the operation. They said,
'Cut costs to end up with a reasonable year.' "
Bill: "We spent $2.3 million over and above our normal budget to
create top-of-mind awareness. We made wholesalers our partners with
co-op money and training. We went to retailers, through trade shows
and agent receptions. Then we went to the public and drove them to
Paolo: "We cut our sales staff from 16 to eight."
Bill: "Our goal was to create a high-value program. We called it
Best of Barbados. We subsidized air fare to the island, and hotels,
car rental companies and local attractions all pitched in with
Paolo: "The end result was that we lost market share. And, in my
opinion, our wounds were self-inflicted."
Bill: "We introduced Best of Barbados in June. Our numbers were
up more than 20% each month after that. August was up 23%.
September was up 57%, but, of course, that was [compared with]
Sept. 11, 2001, so we went back to 2000 and found we were up 35%.
October is up 45%, or 23% over 2000. We'll have to see if next year
holds up. But I believe that if we do nothing, nothing will
Paolo: "In our planning last year, marketers were subordinate to
the bean counters. In a way, I'm glad we went through it because
ultimately it showed who's the tail and who's the dog. Sometimes
the tail thinks it's the dog. But it's going to be different next
year. We will be the undisputed No. 1 company in our markets. We're
upping our sales force from eight to 36."
Bill: "I'm a marketer -- I don't go in like a bean counter. And
it has paid off. The Harris survey people asked Americans where
they would go on vacation if they could go anywhere, to determine
the top 15 destinations. We made the list for the first time this
year -- we were tied at No. 9 with Jamaica."
Paolo: "What I've learned is: First, position yourself in the
marketplace. You can't look at the financials, and according to
that, find your place in the market. You need to look at the market
and develop your strategies from there. Financials tell you what
impact your marketing is having, but they can't direct your
Bill: "I believe what happened was a direct result of our
marketing. Look at the CTO Web site, look at the numbers. This was not
a Caribbean phenomenon, it was a Barbados phenomenon. We are
Paolo: "You can't sit there and plan for the worst, or you will
get the worst. That's what we did last year. Yes, have contingency
plans, but they shouldn't be your primary plans. Going forward,
we've invested a fair amount of time and money in marketing,
targeted marketing. We're understanding the dynamics of the market
and what drives our customers. We're investing heavily in marketing
the right product to the right market."
Two conversations, seemingly parallel, starting off in opposite
directions, arriving at the same conclusion.