The premise and primary focus of this research is that the ecotourism in Brazil has been underdeveloped and that it could serve as an even greater source of income on both a local level and national level for the Brazilian economy. The nature of this research is such that quantitative results, such as those obtained from questionnaires and surveys, would leave many questions unanswered. There are many factors involved in researching the potential market for a new enterprise, or the potential of expanding an existing enterprise. In order to gain a better picture of the feasibility and current conditions of the ecotourism industry in Brazil one has to rely on many different tools to give a thorough evaluation. For this reason, the conclusions for this research will be drawn from a combination of quantitative market research studies and subjective research on the current state of the ecotourism industry from reliable sources.
As the primary purpose of this research is to explore and identify as many factors as possible that would influence the expansion of the ecotourism industry in Brazil, it was found that quantitative research alone would be inadequate, therefore the questionnaires themselves contain both quantitative and qualitative responses. The quantitative responses were analyzed using descriptive statistical techniques. Subjective answers were analyzed using frequency distribution for the various answer categories that were identified in the final analysis. While these surveys and questionnaires are an important part of market research, they are only a portion of it, and for that reason, a secondary set of research will be discussed that explores the various economic, political, and social factors that will influence the ability of Brazil to expand their ecotourism market. The findings of both the quantitative and qualitative research will follow.
The primary market research consists of a set of three questionnaires that were filled out be various persons involved in the ecotourism industry. Each questionnaire has its own unique sample population. The questionnaires were mailed to the parties with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. In cases that no response was obtained, phone calls were made to obtain the answers to the questionnaires. It was explained to the respondents that their help an participation in this study would increase the market for ecotourism in their country and that they would ultimately benefit by participating in this research. Only two hotel managers refused to participate and the response to the research questionnaires was much greater than expected.
The first set of questionnaires was sent to current owners of ecotourism hotels already in existence. Some of these hotels were true "eco-hotel" that offered ecological programs and were involved in "green practices" such as composting their trash and recycling. However, some of the respondents were traditional hotels that were located near popular eco-tourist sites and enjoyed a degree of business from people wishing to explore the local natural sites. Seven hotels participated in this survey.
Survey questions for this questionnaire were primarily subjective in nature and therefore will be presented according to the frequency distribution of each answer. Complete survey results can be found in Appendix 1 of this report. The results of this research found the primary reason for opening a hotel was for personal income, however, there were two that reported their primary reason for opening a hotel was to educate the public on environmental issues. The majority of customer that frequents these hotels were foreign tourists on vacation. Only a small percent relied on local tourism as their mainstay. Most of the hotels did conduct adequate market research before opening a hotel. The one that did not relied on mentors already in the industry for advice. Only two hired a hotel consultant to assist in the business.
All seven hotels surveyed use advertising through local tourism agencies and travel agencies. Four utilize the marketing resources available through Brazil's national tourism board and three advertise through internationally distributed periodicals. It was found that many of the hotels are now under strict regulation as to the type and frequency of activities that it can pursue in order to assure that there is no ecological damage caused by a high number of tourists to the area. It was found that three of the hotels are considered true "Eco-hotels" and participate in environmentally friendly practices such as composting and recycling. The other four hotels were standard hotels that take advantage of the tourism for the local flora and fauna.
The initial investment amounts for the hotels varied greatly and were primarily dependent on the size of the enterprise and number of rooms in the facility. Five of the hotels received government or bank incentives to open their enterprises. Further research revealed that these incentives came in the form of lower interest rates. All seven of the hotels stated that their business is seasonal. However, this seasonal business was at close to 100% occupancy and was booked months in advance. Local advertising has been the primary tool to gain this seasonal market. Only two of the hotels reported that they engage in international advertising.
Four of the hotels offer scheduled packages of activities and tours for the guests, three do not schedule activities, but have a variety of activities locally available. Six out of seven of the hotels said that their typical customer was looking for leisure activities. One had business conferences as their primary customer base. Most of the hotels used repeat business as their primary instrument for measuring customer satisfaction, whether they were private or corporate customers.
The most widely used tools achieving guest loyalty was competitive pricing. Two hotels used product differentiation through the services offered as their primary marketing tool. Almost all of the hotel managers expected rapid growth in the hospitality industry for the short-term. They all said that the most important advice for new hotel managers was to do your research before embarking on the enterprise. Answers were split almost equally as to whether existing hotel managers were willing to help new entrepreneurs. This may be due to a fear of competition or future market saturation.
The next phase of primary research into this topic involved interviewing 20 corporate consumers in Sao Paulo, Brazil to determine their potential usage of ecotourism hotels. These questions were presented in multiple choice format and will be analyzed using descriptive statistics. Statistics will be used to show general trends and will not be conclusive in themselves in relation to the determination of the feasibility of expanding Brazil's ecotourism industry. The results of this portion of the research will help us to develop a typical profile of the corporate hotel customer in Brazil. Actual data can be found in Appendix II o this report.
From the corporate customer survey, the following generalizations were obtained regarding the typical client, as it relates to the ecotourism industry in Brazil. A discussion of these results will be included. The majority of the respondents were entrepreneurs and the sample population consisted of fewer freelancers and executives. The average age was split between 20 to 30 and 31 to 50. It might be noted that the demographic identified in this study are not reflective of the general Brazilian population and therefore are only valid for the purposes of this study. This study represents only a small sampling of the population and it should be used as a guideline for further study. The results should not be considered conclusive due to the small sample population.
The survey revealed that the respondents attended typically between 1-4 conferences a year. Preferences between city center and countryside hotels were divided almost equally. Differences were not found to be statistically significant on this question. Eighty-four percent stated that they would consider going to an ecotourism hotel. Sixty-eight percent said that they would consider traveling to another region to attend a seminar. The highest number of those that said they would travel preferred the southeast, the remainder of respondents preferred to travel in the south and northeast. Most preferred locations closer to them and would not travel extensive distances.
Eighty percent of the respondents said that they would choose Joao Pessoa for a conference of event. Most would consider climate to be the most important factor in this decision with heritage and leisure and the second most important reason. Only two responded that they would choose the area due to its natural resources. Of the most important features of a facility for hosting an event, it appears that comfort is the most important items, with food closely following. This closely resembles the primary reasons why a person chooses a conventional hotel and does not reflect a difference in the market profile of an eco-tourism hotel. This would lead us to believe that no matter what the type of hotel, comfort and food are still the most important selling features. No significant difference was found as to the type of food style chosen. It appears that there are an equal number that prefer home made, regional and international faire. As with…