the BUZZ Digital Travel Expo is over. It brought a lot of new contacts and fortunately positive feedback for the two COTRI presentations.
As part of our activities for the Expo I also had the pleasure to conduct an interview with Dr. Rudy Snippe, CEO of Stocastic World and one of the KOLs on Innovation in Europe.
In the conversation, he gave the example for the possibilities of reinventing oneself – a skill urgently needed by many companies in the industry – by simply taking stock of what you have at your disposal without thinking in fixed terms. A public library asked him for help to stem the decrease of users borrowing books. They now offered also eBooks and videogames, but still less and less users wanted to physically visit their premises. Rudy’s immediate answer was: „Organise trips to Japan“.
The librarian started to doubt if they had asked the right person for help. But after taking stock that they had at their disposal some budget, rooms, well-educated and dedicated staff, a huge database of users and a good image as a place of knowledge and entertainment dissemination, the step to understand that they could be a center of civic society activities, with classes, readings, events, matchmaking and yes, bringing together likeminded persons interested in a country, for instance Japan.
By coincidence – or maybe not by coincidence – I could share an almost identical question. Years ago Hard Rock Cafe London in a China tourism workshop raised the question that they saw lots of Chinese visitors in London, but they would not enter the HRC. I asked them to think of their product which was overpriced hamburgers plus the chance to see original musical instruments and autographed posters of famous musicians on the walls plus a famous brand name. If the Chinese visitors were not interested in the food, but in the exhibits, but needed some more explanations than American visitors, what did that make you? A Museum maybe, open during the lull between lunch and dinner for Chinese pre-booked groups? What would that imply? Entrance fee! Guided tour! Chance to touch selected exhibits! Big shopping spree for the merchandise available in the HRC shop!
I must admit I never found out if HRC London took up the idea, probably it was shot down by the headquarter as being too outlandish.
In post-virus times, there is a need to take this step outside of the box and finding new ways to become attractive to the right kind of Chinese customers. The Songshan Airport in Taipeh came up with such an idea by offering flights with all elements – check-in, security control, entering the aircraft, finding your seat, safety announcement, welcome by the captain, refreshment towel, entertainment programme, leaving the aircraft, getting luggage back – minus the actual flight. What a nice way of helping travel-sick persons but also those afraid of flying or too poor to be able to afford a real ticket.
The ETC, I am sorry to say, on the other hand started a Chinese Tourism Market European Recovery Plan, which is giving 20 selected DMOs in Europe 10,000 Euros each to do Social Media marketing. Any new ideas or innovations are not on the list of criteria to be selected, you are just supposed to show to a KOL four of your main attractions. Lack of information is not the main reason for the ongoing loss of market share for Europe in the Chinese outbound market in the last decade. Trust and satisfaction, built on an interest for and an understanding of your Chinese customers, is much more important to attract Chinese visitors in the coming years.
In a nutshell (and I am afraid that will not be the last time you will read this here): Innovation is the answer, not marketing. I am happy to anticipate our cooperation with Dr. Rudy Snippe in the future to help destinations and companies who want to look forward, not backwards to establish a stable and satisfactory business with the Chinese market.
The interview is online, please have a look at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63pORcCbjeM&t=75s
As always, all good wishes from Prof. Dr. Arlt and the COTRI WEEKLY TEAM