Marketing Communications Plan for 5 Star Adventure Tours
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people" (2005, p.3). Ecotourism has become the fastest growing segment of the global tourism industry, the largest sector in the world economy. Because climate is one of the main drivers of international tourism, with the majority of tourists seeking to relax in the sun or snow, climate change is expected to have a significant impact on international tourism, and therefore on ecotourism.
This marketing communication plan details marketing plans for 5 Star Adventure Tours, www.5staradventure.com.au, consistently ranked among the top five tour operators in Australia, and an accredited Advanced Eco Tourism Operator. The marketing plan also discusses the size of the global tourist and ecotourist markets, which have been experiencing record growth during the last decade. Given the occurrence of global warming and climate change, 5 Star, which offers bushwalking and alpine high country tours in the Victoria region of Australia, is uncertain of the impact on its business.
While the growth rate of international tourism is projected to increase over the coming decades, it may slow down later in the century as demand for travel saturates. As tourism expands, emissions of carbon dioxide increase as well. With climate change, it is anticipated that preferred destinations would shift to higher latitudes and altitudes. In general, this shift favors 5 Star, given the likelihood of increased demand for their alpine high country tours. Tourists from temperate climates are projected to spend more holidays in their home countries, another shift which favors 5 Star operations. Because such tourists currently dominate the international tourism market, climate change would decrease worldwide tourism (Hamilton, Maddison and Tol, 2005).
Based on ecotourism market segments that the Australian Office of Tourism identified, 5 Star offers tour packages that focus on accommodating the ecotourist profile. 5 Star's marketing plan takes advantage of its major strength, its reputation. 5 Star marketing strategies focus on the marketing mix to achieve its sales and marketing objectives, growth in ecotourism revenues and market share. Given the optimistic outlook for the ecotourism industry, 5 Star expects to capitalize on its strengths to edge out competitors for a larger share of the regional ecotourist market.
The following data provides information on the size of the global ecotourism market in general:
According to TIES, beginning in the 1990s, ecotourism has been growing at a rate of 20 -- 34% per year.
In 2004, ecotourism/nature tourism was growing globally at a rate three times faster than the tourism industry as a whole.
Nature tourism is growing at 10 -- 12 per cent in the international market.
Sustainable tourism could grow to 25% of the world's travel market within 6 years, making the value of the sector U.S.$473.6 billion per year.
According to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC), in 2007-2008 the tourism industry was estimated to account directly for 3.2%, or $8.6 billion, of the total value of goods and services produced in Victoria. Tourism also accounted for 105,000 jobs or 4% of total Victorian employment (VCEC, 2011).
5 Star Adventure Tours knows the importance of determining the right target audience. Their marketing efforts are shaped by studying the results of research of the ecotourism market. According to Fennell (2008), research by the Australian Office of National Tourism has identified the following three broad ecotourism market segments:
1. Impulse -- This segment is characterized by nature-based day trips away from the main tourist destinations that are mainly booked locally by both domestic as well as international tourists. The activity level on these tours varies significantly.
2. Active -- This segment is characterized by younger and middle-aged professionals who generally book in advance. There is a skew to domestic tourists, although there may well be potential for growth through international marketing, infrastructure, and product development.
3. Personalized -- This segment is made up of essentially older or retired professionals who expect to be well looked after by the operator. This segment is skewed to international tourists who book overnight ecotours before arriving in Australia.
Profile of an Ecotourist
Based on data collected by a survey completed by HLA and ARA consulting firms of North American travel consumers, TIES constructed the following ecotourist market profile.
Age: Typically 35-54 years old, although age varied with activity along with other factors such as cost.
Gender: Surveys reported 50% female and 50% male, although clear differences by activity were found.
Education: Typically 82% were college graduates, with a shift in interest in ecotourism from those who have high levels of education to those with less education, which data indicates an expansion into mainstream markets.
Household composition: There were no major differences found between general tourists and experienced ecotourists.
Party composition: A majority (60%) of experienced ecotourism respondents stated they prefer to travel as a couple, with only 15% stating they preferred to travel with their families, and 13% preferring to travel alone.
Trip duration: The largest group of experienced ecotourists (50%) preferred trips lasting 8-14 days.
Expenditure: Experienced ecotourists were willing to spend more than general tourists, the largest group (26%) stating they were prepared to spend $1,001-$1,500 per trip.
Important elements of trip: The top thee responses of experienced ecotourists were: (1) wilderness setting, (2) wildlife viewing, (3) hiking/trekking.
Motivations for taking next trip: Experienced ecotourists top two responses were (1) enjoy scenery/nature, (2) new experiences/places.
Experienced ecotourists were defined as tourists that had been on at least one "ecotourism" oriented trip. Ecotourism was defined in this study as nature/adventure/culture oriented travel (Nabuur.com, n.d.).
The World Trade organization predicts that 1.6 billion people will travel internationally by 2020. Given the significant growth potential for ecotourism, the industry will remain competitive. 5 Star Adventure Tours competes against not only direct competitors, that is, other operators offering ecotourism experiences, but also against Australian tour operators in general.
There are an estimated 600 ecotourism operators in Australia with approximately 85% of them employing fewer than 20 staff.
5 Star offers a variety of tour packages to appeal to a broad range of adventure travelers:
Bushwalking and camping: Exploring the alpine high country
4 WD alpine high country day tours including gourmet food and wine
Snow sports at resort destinations in North East Victoria
Luxury houseboat tours of the Murray River including gourmet meals and onboard masseuse (5Star Adventure Tours, 2011).
To date, global warming has not altered 5 Star's itineraries due to any unseasonal adverse weather, but they are actively planning ways to mitigate the effects of climate change on their operations.
5 Star strengths that give it a competitive advantage include their accreditation as an Advanced Eco Tourism Operator, as well as its reputation as one of Victoria's top tourism operations, including winning the Alpine Shire 2007 Award in all categories. Weaknesses include vulnerability to increasing competition and reliance on domestic visitors, which account for 90% of all visitor nights in regional Victoria. With the projected increase in domestic visitors based on climate change, this current weakness actually evolves into a future competitive advantage. Opportunities include the continued growth in Victoria's market share in international tourists. Threats include economic conditions in other countries, weather and natural disasters, the strong Australian dollar, changing consumer preferences and increasing consumer choices for discretionary spending (VCEC, 2011). 5 Star does not perceive global warming and climate change to be a threat to its business in the near-term, but is concerned with such environmental issues as were identified at the Ecotourism Australia 11th National Conference in November 2003: climate change, habitat destruction, soil loss, species extinction, air, water and land pollution, and potable water availability (Worboys and DeLacy, 2003).
In addition to threats listed above, there are a number of environmental problems which could pose challenges for 5 Star in the coming years. Climate change, in particular global warming, has substantially developed because of the burning of fossil fuels and increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Australia has experienced a mean temperature increase of approximately 0.7 degrees Celsius since the mid-1800s, much the same as has been observed globally. Judging by world standards, Australians contributed a high per capita level of greenhouse gas emissions, with increases by 16.9% between 1990 and 1998. Total energy use in Australia has doubled over the last 25 years (Worboys and DeLacy, 2003).
With respect to global warming, 1998 was Australia's warmest year on record, and the 1990s was its warmest decade. Globally, the effects of higher temperatures have resulted in a significant reduction in glacial mass. In Australia, snow cover in Kosciuszko National Park has reduced by 30% over a span of 45 years, with the least average snow cover recorded in the last 5 years. Higher than average sea temperatures have led to mass bleaching of coral reefs. Scientists warn that if temperatures climb 2-3 degrees Celsius above their average, corals may not recover…