Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Presenting a Unified Front

I won’t offer a lesson in branding here, but I would like to share the marketing and branding efforts of one of our clients as an example of presenting a unified front to the world.

The Cree Nation of Nemaska in Northern Quebec asked us to help them with their marketing materials. Specifically, we created a promotional brochure and oversized folder; designed a full colour plastic luggage tag as a ‘novelty’ item; designed a welcome sign for the roads leading into the community; and we’re in the process of designing a new website for them (Spring 2012).

What makes this different from the way other communities promote themselves? Nemaska is presenting a ‘unified front’ to the world, and this is a key element in effective branding.

The main design elements created for Nemaska are included in every one of the marketing pieces – print, sign, and web. So no matter which of these a potential visitor comes into contact with, the message they receive is the same.

The alternative? Half a dozen high quality, well produced marketing tools that look like they belong to half a dozen different businesses or communities.  

The consequences? Your brand is completely lost in the muddle of mixed messages, and you’ve paid a lot of money to create this confusion.

Our advice? 
Find one company that can do all of your branding. Don’t feel like you need to go to a web designer for your website, a print company for your brochures, a sign company for your signage, etc.  A good company that understands marketing and branding will coordinate all of this on your behalf.

Be involved – right from the beginning! This is about your product, your attraction, your community, your region. Your brand needs to reflect who you, are not who the design company thinks you are! A reputable company will help you to uncover your brand, not tell you what it needs to be.

Make sure you own the results. Your contract should stipulate that unless you are using stock photography, images, or text that pre-exist, everything produced for you needs to be owned by you.  You need to have the ability to modify and update your marketing pieces in the future without asking permission!

If you’d like to chat more about branding please send me a note! jason@cesclients.com

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Want a Better Tourism Product? Sweat the Details!

Let me share a story with you about a recent restaurant experience.

Myself and some people from our office went to nearby restaurant for lunch. Sort of a diner-type place; a place where you’d expect decent home style food at a fair price. Nothing fancy, but good food for good value.

So I ordered one of my usual favourites at such a place, and a few minutes later I had my toasted ham and Swiss sandwich. Here’s what I got: you know that really low-end ham you can buy? The kind that appears to be 40% water by volume? The kind that leaves a puddle on your plate? That.

And it was topped by a slice of processed Swiss cheese (which, unless on a burger with sautéed mushrooms shouldn’t be used for anything, and even that’s a stretch).  This was accompanied by a couple of leaves of iceberg lettuce, on white bread, with a couple of swipes of mayonnaise.

You know what it tasted like? Nothing. Watery ham with processed cheese and iceberg lettuce with mayonnaise on white bread toast. It would be hard to make something with less taste.

If it was my restaurant here’s what I would do: get some decent quality ham; maybe some Black Forest or honey ham, or if you’re ambitious bake your own and slice it.  Or at the very least slice that lousy ham thin and throw it on the flat top for a couple of minutes to add some flavour and remove some of that moisture.

Then I’d add a slice of real Swiss cheese.  I’d add some baby Romaine lettuce, or maybe some mesclun. Maybe even a little bit of shredded cabbage or a light coleslaw. I’d make a special mayo with a little bit of horseradish or mustard in it. And I’d offer it on something more interesting than white bread. Maybe some kind of whole grain loaf, or maybe a bagel.

Sounds pretty good eh? And it’s not complicated. I would just sweat the details a little to make sure my guests got something better than ‘ok’.  I mean, who wants ‘ok’?

‘But!’ I hear you saying – ‘that will cost more!’ Yes it will. But if the quality is good and you’re offering good value, your guests won’t mind paying for it.

I think the sandwich I had at that restaurant cost me around $3.95.  Pretty inexpensive, and probably still a decent profit margin for the restaurant. But you know what, I never went back.  None of us ever did.

If you had made the sandwich the way I would, with better ingredients resulting in a better product, you’d probably have to charge maybe $5.95 or even $6.50. That’s still pretty good value for lunch as far as I’m concerned. There might not be quite as much profit for the restaurant. But you know what? I would go back. Often. We all would.

You don’t always have to offer the most extravagant activities, or have the absolute best products – but what you should do is try to objectively measure the value your guests receive from the tourism experiences you provide them.

Are there opportunities to make small changes to what you offer that can really enhance their time with you?  And isn’t it better to make these changes, adjust your pricing a little, and create happy guests who will return and tell others about your business . . . than to leave them less than satisfied with nothing positive to say? Sweat the details.

Oh, that restaurant I was talking about? They went out of business a few months after our lunch.

If you’re interested in talking about the details of your tourism product and how we can help, email me at jason@cesclients.com, or call me toll free at 1-877-444-5550.


A New Way to Plan

We do a lot of planning here at CES; mostly for our clients in the form of business plans, and community and regional strategies.

As we’re getting ready to begin working with another community on a cohesive community tourism plan I wanted to take a minute to express how powerful this type of plan can be.

In a community with a multitude of committees, departments, and special interest groups – lead by a Council or Committee that is made up of individuals who themselves may have different visions and priorities – it becomes increasingly valuable to have a unified tourism plan.

Your plan needs to listen to all voices, and address every element of your community that will create a sustainable platform for your local tourism industry. Without this comprehensive approach your community runs the risk of incongruent initiatives, contradictory development, and wasted time and money in the process.

Create a Tourism Committee made up of representatives from your Tourism Department, Recreation Department, Culture & Heritage Department, School Board, Economic Development Department, Youth Department, Council, etc.  Make them the custodians of your plan; this way, if there is a change in local politics the plan can remain in effect, securely in the hands of the Tourism Committee.

CES’s Pando Terra™ Tourism Master Plan process addresses 7 critical elements of community sustainability, and promotes a cooperative platform for tourism development. And unlike traditional 3 to 5 year plans, Pando Terra™ is designed to be a fluid planning tool, adapting to changing realities and maintaining its functionality years into the future.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach to planning, send me an email at jason@cesclients.com, or call me toll free at 1-877-444-5550.


The India International Hotel, Travel & Tourism Research Conference 2012

I arrived in New Delhi after spending a relaxing week on the beach in Goa and was picked up by Suri, one of the student volunteers for the India International Hotel, Travel & Tourism Research Conference (IIHTTRC). Suri offered me nothing but exceptional service during the conference and always made sure that I was comfortable and enjoyed my stay. 

We stayed at a guesthouse that was on the University campus and upon arrival had a delicious meal brought to our room. There was so much food – 4 different curries, soup, rice, naan bread and dessert. We were spoiled. 

The conference kicked off with an opening ceremony where you were greeted by a group of ladies that gave me a tilak (a ritual mark on the forehead made out of red paste as a sign of a greeting) and tossed flower garlands on me as a mark of respect and honour. That small ritual made me feel welcomed and respected as an international delegate which set the tone for the entire conference.

The food was amazing at the conference, offering a wide variety of local cuisine that was prepared by the students at the Banarsidas Chandiwala Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology. I was even invited into the kitchen to see how the tandoori chicken and naan bread was prepared. 

I quickly found out that I was the only representative from Canada, so the pressure was on to represent CES’s products and services and the tourism industry in Canada. The conference theme was ‘Technology Trends and Innovations’, which was a perfect opportunity for sharing information on how our TechTours product can raise awareness of indigenous peoples’ culture and environment in an engaging format. There were over 250 conference delegates representing industry, academics, researchers and students and selected papers were published in the fourth issue of the Indian Journal of Applied Hospitality and Tourism Research, Special Issue: Technology Trends and Innovations. 

If you would like to hear about more details on the conference or receive a copy of our paper on how indigenous communities can use technology to attract socially conscious travelers you can call me at 1-877-444-5550 or email me at amanda@cesclients.com.

Written by Amanda Huculak