I love to travel and scouting new places to visit is one of my top priorities which I decided to associate with my work in marketing and business models. Tourism is like any other business, it has to know the market, develop a business plan, invest to keep up to date, reevaluate its activity, etc. So when a French historic attraction contacted us to evaluate their competitiveness locally and worldwide, I was all-in. There was no better way to get to know France, where I live, and all the wonderful sites there are but also to carry out market research from a global perspective.
France has one of the most competitive tourism markets in the world with over 40,000 historic attractions, monuments, archeological sites, etc., one of the densest in Europe and that is not including other attractions like museums, theme parks, music venues, among many more. This makes France one of the most visited countries in the world with around 87 millions visitors a year. It has 2 of the most visited monuments in the world in the Top 10. The Palace of Versaille is the most visited in the country and is located 22 km from Paris. It is not by chance that it is the second most visited monument in the world, given that in France there are between 1,000 to 7,000 castles depending on the definition you may use for “Chateau”. With the Eiffel Tower, on the banks of the Seine river in the center of Paris, in 7th place on the list, Paris is the 6th most visited city in the World.
If we take some time to analyze the number of visitors for some of the monuments in Paris, in particular, here are the most visited sites:
As for France in general, the Palace of Versailles is the most visited attraction of them all.
Even though it is based in France, the company wanted to have a larger scope, therefore we expanded the market research worldwide and at the same time en-globing all types of attractions, of what other tourist sites locally, as well as, internationally are doing. In this particular case, in order to determine how the tourism market is evolving and determining new needs and innovations, the research was going to be based on the customers’ reviews/comments.
We started off setting our objectives for the research which we determined would be:
- A general analysis (overview) of the Tourism industry, national and internationally
- Put together a list of best practices / inspirations worldwide, specialized in tourism, from places with the best ratings in the different social networks, and analyze each one to determine the magic and the differential value it has
- Identify the most important attributes clients’ value according to the reviews made by visitors
- Analyze the dynamics and trends in searches, on google – what customers look for in tourist sites in France and specific historical sites before visiting them, type of place, frequencies, times of year, in order to find interesting patterns or orientation for the creative process
- Analyze the most valued attributes of our client’s direct competitors through reviews
- Come up with a description of the feeling(s) the visitors’ experience in our client’s tourist attraction
- Analyze the competitive environment (strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities)
- Define the current differential level of the tourist site case study
Given the enormous volume of information available on the tourism market, to start off, a large selection of cities, 198 in 150 countries in all 5 continents, were chosen and their major attractions selected. These places included: museums, concert halls, historical locations, architecture, theme parks, music venues, among others. This resulted in over 1,200 sites and over 26 million reviews analyzed in detail.
After an around the world trip through unimaginable places, all the data collected helped narrow down the relevant information to +350 innovative places worldwide. From these attractions, here are a few of the most relevant points:
- The largest amount of the visitor that come to France are Americans, followed close behind by the EU tourists (primarily from United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and Italy)
- Even though the greater number of tourists are American, the French visitors are the ones that spend the most money
- The most outstanding top 3 attributes in all types of attractions turned out to be the characters, followed in equal proportion, by the shows and queues. Must take into account that queues are a negative attribute.
- In the historical attractions, the major attributes were: the characters, the architecture, and the food and service (guides).
A more in-depth analysis of visitors comments online show that there are several business ideas that could be implemented. These could range from satisfying clients’ basic needs to technology. We have to keep in mind that findings are not all applicable to all attractions, they might vary depending on investment capability, infrastructure, type of attraction, etc.
We started off by going back to the basics considering the client’s comfort level / Attraction services. Some improvements in infrastructure can go a long way, for example, including better/healthier food, golf carts, resting areas, accessibility and kid friendly activities, reducing queues to a minimum, among others. Once your client is happy with how his needs being satisfied, we can move on to other mayor points:
- Technological Improvements
It is important to today’s clients for a site to be up-to-date with technology.
As technologies and its users change, companies must adjust making upgrades and/or introduction of new improved ways to supply clients with a more interactive way to enjoy the attraction, for instance: improving website, modifying interior lighting for better Instagram pictures, free wi-fi, virtual tours, etc.
- New and different experiences/information.
Clients are always looking for new thrills, newly discovered objects or places, secret information, etc. Data revealed that some attractions provided innovative experiences like hands-on, more in-depth information, accessibility to new areas, special events during the year, story-telling tours maybe including characters,and many more.
So keep in mind, negative attributes, in our case the queues, as well as lack of certain expected attributes – better food – can result from market analysis and these must be the first to be resolved. Creativity can be boosted by the digital elements but especially the way the customers interact with the attraction improving how we sell to them. We know that investing in creativity and innovation is a financial risk, so research and data can be used to minimize risk and increase the return on investment.
In general, this market analysis provided a wide range of data to help the French historic attraction generate a creative process to enhance the future visitor experience. It contributed ideas to design a site marketing strategy, a new business model, or new business ideas and innovations basing them on a deeper understanding of the market, the competition, and the client/customer and his needs. Information is knowledge and thus wise investment