Greener, fairer holidays start with our customers, says Jeremy Ellis, marketing director of Tui UK
During my recent visit to Cape Verde, I was reminded of what a powerful force for good the travel industry can be.
Few places on Earth will have seen the type of economic transformation fuelled by tourism that Cape Verde has experienced. Based on its emerging tourism industry, the country lost its United Nations ‘Least Developed Country’ status in 2007, making it only the second country in Africa to ever do so. Since then, arrivals have continued to increase at a dramatic rate, thanks in no small part to its superb beaches and tropical climate.
While I was there, the positive impact of this economic growth on the local communities was obvious. But if we want tourism to really thrive in Cape Verde – or any other destinations – we need to facilitate greater access to our customers for the local businesses and service providers.
We need to raise customer demand for sustainable tourism. At Tui, I’m uniquely placed to do this with a board remit that covers marketing, customer experience and sustainability. And the overlap is obvious, because if we’re going to get people off their sunbeds and spending more in the local economy, we have to sell them the benefits of getting out and about, and explain how it will enhance their holiday.
Cape Verde is a case in point. As it’s still relatively unknown in the mainstream market, there’s often a misperception that there’s nothing to see or do when you’re there – yet the al fresco cafes, local craft shops and restaurants of Sal’s colourful, cobbled streets all beg to be explored. But if not enough of our customers are enjoying it, that tells me there’s more we could be doing to get our message across.
We’ve made it our mission to inspire our customers to explore all that their destination has to offer, so they have a better holiday and help generate more local economic benefit. We’re under no illusions how difficult this will be, when unwinding in one of our luxury hotels – often on an all-inclusive board basis – provides such a wonderful experience.
At the same time, our research shows how highly customers value learning about a country and its people. It also shows us how all-inclusive guests often return home with spending money unspent, because they were willing but unable to find things they wanted to buy.
Given these insights, we’re focusing on expanding our range of Tui Collection excursions, where customers discover the heart of a destination while supporting the local economy.
We’re also investing heavily in great video and photography content, which we can then promote through our planned digitisation of the retail experience. And we’ll use the incredible passion and know-how of our staff in store, inflight and in resort to provide the personalised recommendations that brings the destination to life.
We’re also working in partnership with the Travel Foundation to share our customer insight with communities to help them better develop or adapt their offering to meet consumers’ demands.
There are lots of ways we can give back to the destinations who are kind enough to share their cultures with us, but providing insight and access to our 30 million customers seems like the perfect place to start.
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