This is a theoretical graph of visitor numbers over time as a destination develops. The concept is helpful for communities to understand that tourist destinations don’t start out as thriving economic generators but progress from unique hideaway to chic destination and eventually into decline.
In the early stages of development the destination is visited by people who characterize themselves as travelers as opposed to tourists…known as the drifter. The Drifter Typology is usually associated with backpackers often trying to find undiscovered places. As the destination becomes discovered the Explorer Typology will begin to visit. These travelers are usually willing to spend more to visit a new and ‘unspoiled’ destination…think hippies becoming yuppies. As the destination matures it becomes mainstream and Mass Tourists start to plan their own trips, seeking a more developed destination. Finally, large tour operators see an opportunity to package and sell the destination. As mass tourist visits increase, the early adopters seek out other undiscovered places. At the peak of the curve visits may start to decline because the destination is over capacity, may stabilize at a sustainable level, or the destination may rejuvenate itself and continue to grow again. Over a longer time period, a destination may go through many cycles of rise and decline. Awareness of these cycles can assist destination planners to anticipate and strive to mitigate the declines.
The presentation focused on research into the dynamics of snow school products and business volumes at Whistler Blackcomb. The research included key informant interviews with Sales, Marketing, and Management personnel at the resort to determine the factors that influence demand for snow school lessons.
The following factors were mentioned during interviews with key informants:
- Price – often a constraint
- Geographic Origin – Destination vs. Local
- Ability level – Beginners more likely than advanced
- Gender – Females more likely than males
- Family – families and kids especially
- Familiarity with the resort – less familiar, more likely
- Previous lesson experience – more likely if taken before.
- Socio-economic status – higher incomes more likely
Based on this initial exploration an analysis of transaction records was conducted to determine the statistical relationships between some of these variables and demand for ski and snowboard lessons. Three of these factors have variable that can easily be measured and compared: Pricing, Geographic Origin, and Familiarity with the resort (based on pass type) were modeled.
The understanding and methodology developed as part of the research is now helping with ongoing program forecasting and strategic planning.
A copy of the presentation is available here:
I attended the Hospitality and Tourism Leadership Conference hosted at Royal Roads University and organized by Hospitality Management students from Camosun College. This inaugural event brought together future sector leaders from these two fine institutions and also included visiting students from Vancouver Island University. I was honoured to have the opportunity to make a presentation on Community Champions, Collaboration, and Leveraging Partnerships. In this time of growing global austerity, local stakeholders and community leaders are finding that funding sources from upper levels of government are drying up and are challenged to build local capacity and effectively market their destinations. Building trust with salient stakeholders through strong facilitation and careful planning are the keys to local and regional sustainable tourism management.
The British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training made a couple of noteworthy announcements this week. First (and possibly the most interesting and potentially controversial), is the re-branding and re-launch of Tourism BC as ‘Destination BC’ with a primary focus on destination marketing. Significantly, there was little, if any mention of ‘destination management’ in the release or any of the media coverage. This omission is important to recognize, as you can expend vast quantities on marketing initiatives which may have relatively marginal impact if the products and services you are promoting are not sufficiently developed and managed to meet the needs of a hyper-competitive international marketplace. Second, the Ministry highlighted investments in skills training for the tourism sector…this is an integral piece of the ‘destination management’ pie which should be integral to any destination development strategy. In 2011, I was involved in a BC regional tourism/hospitality skills training, capacity-building project which focused on essential skills and customer service training. In a brief that I recently produced, I have highlighted some of the issues, challenges, and strategies that should be considered for tourism/hospitality employers to attract and retain employees, improve employee morale and productivity , and enhance overall organizational performance.
Watching the impacts of Hurricane Sandy on the Eastern Seaboard got me to thinking about strategies for preparation and the responses to disasters from DMO’s. I dug up an unpublished paper that I wrote prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics on the topic of PR and disaster communications, with examples from mega-events, disasters and other relevant scenarios; including, PR issues, natural disasters, cross-border health crises, and terrorism events. I will watch with interest to see how New York and other communities in the areas affected by this disaster respond…how well prepared were they prior to this event and how will they manage the rebuilding of their destination image? What lessons did they learn from the Sept. 11th 2001 terrorism attacks and how will they apply those lessons to Hurricane Sandy?