Category Archives: Countries

Tracks You May Have Missed: Marketing to the International Traveler Online: The BRICs and Mortar

By Laurie Jo Miller Farr

It’s not rocket science.

1024px-Surfaces_brick_wall_with_mortar_closeup_viewIn the balance

In the early 70s, the nation’s first convention and visitors bureau assembled a small delegation to Europe to promote the bold idea of inbound Visit USA tourism. America’s tourism balance of payments was far from balanced at that time. What a novel idea it was back then for New York City to suggest that, as Americans flocked to Europe for the Grand Tour, Europeans might actually find something worthwhile to see in the New World.


Ten years later, Florida and others joined the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau to bring a tiny delegation of one dozen US destination trailblazers exhibiting at the first London World Travel Market. That same year, New York City and Pan American World Airways dipped a toe in the water to test Japan, a market which had not developed any US tour offerings beyond Guam, Hawaii, and a tiny taste of the West Coast for the more adventuresome.

Moving on (line)

Back then, we had to go there to get anywhere at all. We had to press the flesh with tour operators, airline sales reps, trade press. We needed to build group inclusive tours or forget it. In the 80s, USTTA in Tokyo used to advise DMOs that it was all about showing up over and over again, building relationships and trust, exchanging Christmas cards, attending JATA, and sitting down together at the tatami mat with chopsticks in hand.

Our approach has changed, too. Now you can create the relationship to prompt the buy directly with the consumer and you can do it online.

Who got the memo?

Fast forward a few decades, and the balance of payments now tilts the other way. The list of countries we’re wooing has changed according to Jiri Marousek of Brand USA. Canada and Mexico have matured; the memo has been widely distributed. Europe, quite frankly, already got the memo. Japan got the memo has called a time-out. BRIC nations are taking up the slack.

America is the world’s most visited country. Brand USA is focused on eliminating red tape to make us visa-free and easier for more international visitors to get here and spend here. How many? 100 million per year by 2021.




Be greedy

The eTourism Summit ’13 discussion by presenters Jiri Marousek of Brand USA, Laszlo Horvath of ActiveMedia, and Evan Saunders from Attract China suggested what else needs doing by DMOs. “Remember,” they said, “the whole of America is a bigger draw than its parts.” With a target of hosting 100 million international visitors by 2021, we all win some. How much we win against our fair share really is a question of how adroit we are as DMOs in reaching international travel shoppers via online resources as well as convincing foreign and domestic carriers to increase international air service to secondary airports.

 Blast off!

Evan Saunders of Attract China explains: China is a rocket, but not rocket science. With an estimated 1.5 million traveling annually from China to the USA, average length of stay is longer and spending is pegged at $6,000 per person/per trip.

Facebook not spoken here

How to reach the 59% that are independent travelers?  Well for once, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google are not the answer. In China, they’re inaccessible. However, 55% are on Weibo (China’s Twitter) and Baidu is the main search engine.

 “All Aboard!” on Union Pay

The best and the most simple way to: 1) send out a message that your destination is “Chinese friendly” and 2) capture Chinese visitor spend is to get on board with Union Pay.

 Union Pay is the preferred vehicle for monetary transactions. Saunders’ says:

–   Facilitate Union Pay

–   Promote Union Pay as your unique selling point

–   Display the logo on your Chinese landing page

–   Go to to review your website loading experience

 From Austria to Zimbabwe

What works for China works elsewhere when it comes to these universal recommendations from Horvath:

–   Have a local host and domain

–   Use human translators

–   Know where each country is in its buying cycle mindset

–   Know what the hot buttons are for each separate market and act on them

–   Replace ads with experiences

–   Supplement photos with stories

Storytelling is the new black. Do it (accurately) in the local language and add photos. 



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Filed under China Ready, Countries, eTourism Summit San Francisco, SEM

What are the World’s Top 10 Country Brands?

Everyone loves Australia.

Everyone loves Australia.

What are the World’s Top 10 Country Brands?

Australia has emerged as the world’s top country brand for the third consecutive year, according to the 2008 Country Brand Index (CBI), being officially released in London on November 11. Rising from its sixth place ranking last year, Canada is recognized second and the United States rounds out the top three country brands in the 2008 study.

Read the complete story.

Travel industry feeling the squeeze.

As Americans evaluate and pare back their discretionary spending for the remainder of this year, the travel and leisure industries are feeling the squeeze.

Companies throughout the sector — including hotel, cruise ship, theme park and gambling concerns — have all warned in recent weeks that their businesses have slowed or that things could get worse next year.

“The deteriorating outlook for the economy is impacting travel habits and spending, and hotels are expected to experience reduced occupancy levels, and to a lesser degree, some room rate erosion through 2009,” said Scott Berman, principal at consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

For hotels, the picture looks particularly grim.

PwC expects that a key measure of the hotel industry’s health, revenue per available room (RevPAR), to fall 5.8 percent next year, following this year’s estimated 0.8 percent decline. That would be the industry’s first back-to-back decline in the widely watched measure since 2001-2002.

Read the complete story.

US Inbound travel up 9% through August.

The United States experienced a 9 percent increase in international visitors during the first eight months of the year when compared to the same period in 2007. The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that 34.9 million international visitors traveled to the country from January to August, and spent $96.3 billion during the period. The 5.6 million visitors in August alone was an increase of 6 percent when compared to August of 2007, and they spent a record $12.7 billion— an increase of 20 percent.

Read the complete story.

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Filed under Branding, Countries, DMOs, Travel Industry, Travel Statistics