We all knew a year ago when the votes were tallied and the news about Brexit crossed the ocean that it wouldn’t be a good thing for us here in the Caribbean. The UK was a strong voice for CARICOM in the EU. The pound lost some value, British vacationers cancelled their Caribbean plans, CARIFORUM started to analyze the significant impact it would have on the movement of goods and services to the region as Britain takes it time to renegotiate all of its trade deals (and 12 small English speaking Caribbean nations are probably not the highest on its to-do list) and we all wondered what would happen next.
For those of us with day-to-day Caribbean hospitality businesses, while the effects of Brexit have certainly been felt, there are moves you can makes to reposition yourself in such a way as to mitigate any Brexit-related losses.
It has become ever more important for your hotel, resort, restaurant, or tour operator to find its niche and go for depth instead of breadth. With Caribbean companies no longer spending as much on sales & marketing in the UK, they’re refocusing those dollars on traditional Caribbean markets in the US, however, while that might not mean much to you at first glance, what it really means is that now you have increased competition in your American markets. Entire islands that have traditionally catered to British guests are now entering the American market. Your market share will decrease unless you tend to your tribe.
Now more than ever it’s time for you to really drill down and learn everything you can about your market segments
Get to know your guests beyond the superficial categories like ‘families from Florida’ or ‘east coast eco-conscious’ – go deeper. Read the reviews they leave, highlight things they liked, highlight their opinions, build a profile of your guests and see what commonalities there are amongst your various segments.
For example, those east coast eco-conscious tourists you’ve been marketing to might also appreciate wine and craft beer and have expectations that the food they’re eating is locally sourced and organic. They may enjoy boutique and artisan shopping as opposed to big, branded stores. By figuring out their interests and delving deeper you can distill your true target market segments. By doing your research ‘east coast eco-conscious’ becomes ‘east-coast eco-conscious, college educated, newly married or in a relationship, no kids, foodie-focused wine appreciators who want authentic experiences with touches of luxury.’
Now THAT is a market you can create experiences for and really penetrate because now you understand them.
Conduct the same research for groups, weddings, honeymooners, families, etc. Do it for each of your segments and develop your materials and marketing stories and maybe even refocus your messaging and branding to attract more of them.
By going for depth instead of breadth in each of your market segments, you create an experience and offerings that cannot be easily replicated by your competition and the result will buffer your hospitality business against loosing market share in the US caused by increased competition due to Brexit.
Read more on this topic as it pertains to tourist boards in the Caribbean here.
Image via the American Resort Development Association