Helping Caribbean countries attract visitors obviously encompasses a lot more than simply promoting the beaches and beauty of the islands.
It is a factor not lost on the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). Hugh Riley, as the CTO's secretary general, knows this all too well, and with his team he has spearheaded a number of initiatives and tweaked others to expand the repertoire of resources available to drive visitors to the organization's 33 member countries.
"These tools are designed to generate data about our visitors and potential visitors," he said. "These resources can fine tune marketing strategies, react to visitor satisfaction levels and capture a more lucrative share of the global tourism market."
He pointed out that the CTO is not a technology company. But, he added, "we are savvy. The image of CTO cannot be a bunch of stodgy guys. We have amazing people that are the hidden image of CTO, and they are the future of this industry, helping us create new and improved programs that utilize industry-leading technology to monitor, analyze and report tourism data."
Among the most innovative is the Guestpitality program, the only one of its kind, according to Riley.
"It allows us to gauge just how a visitor experiences different destinations," he said. "We can measure visitor satisfaction levels while the guests are in the destination in the form of a tightly designed exit survey that targets very specific criteria within seven key sectors: customs and immigration, transport and infrastructure, safety, accommodations, restaurants, attractions and shopping."
Riley said the surveys are conducted twice a year. "While hospitality is all about customer service, Guestpitality encompasses customer satisfaction."
Once the surveys are compiled, the CTO's Survey Analytics System expedites the reporting of data to member countries, eliminating lengthy wait times.
Another tool analyzes detailed reports about the age, gender interests, spending patterns and preferred activities of visitors that, Riley said, will help tourism executives target their marketing programs and promotions to visitors best suited to their country.
"Our hope is that these resources reinforce CTO's policy to supply a well-rounded analysis of tourism developments throughout the region," he said.
In the end, the CTO, and each country, wants to know how and why the visitor chose the destination, what he liked and did not like while there, and will he return."