No such thing as the General Public
December 17, 2013 1 Comment
Some years ago, I worked on a project that involved making appointments with and interviewing corporate staff at zoos and aquariums around North America. Out of all the interesting conversations I had, the single most memorable line was, if memory serves me correctly, from an aquarium executive.
“There is no such thing as the general public,” he told me, only individuals looking out for opportunities that appeal to their own interests. The goal of marketing was to get the attention of that small slice of the wider population, and get them in the door.
That seems to be the logic behind Manitoba: Canada’s Heart Beats, a new promotional campaign unveiled last week by Travel Manitoba to social media reactions that ranged from lavish praise to harsh criticism.
As noted in a pre-release presentation, the campaign is intended to reach two segments of the traveling public who have the highest probability of visiting Manitoba for a leisure trip. One group, known as “Cultural Explorers“, are interested in hands-on involvement in a culture — think here of people who prefer to stay in small, intimate homestay or bed-and-breakfast accommodations. The other, known as “Authentic Experiencers“, tend to favour camping, hiking, getting close to wildlife and other outdoors activities.
Both groups, which each consist of about one-in-ten travelers in both Canada and the U.S. according to the Canadian Tourism Commission, tend to travel further from home and more often, and to spend more per visit.
And the other four-fifths of the market? This consists of seven other groups, each of which also makes up little more than a fraction of the marketplace.
- Cultural history buffs: These travelers don’t just travel for fun — they travel to learn, or to pursue a hobby. They might come here if they have a hobby or interest that has a Manitoba angle; otherwise not.
- Free spirits: No shady hostels for these folks. They like to be comfortable when they travel — which is as often as possible — and to visit exciting or exotic places. (This is the group I’m most closely aligned with, according to the Canadian Tourism Commission’s online quiz). As they tend to be drawn to top-billed destinations, it’s a challenge to draw them to less prominent markets.
- Gentle explorers: This is a more conservative group in the sense of preferring the tried-and-tested over the brand-new. They’re often looking for package tours and a sense of structure. If Manitoba is already familiar to them, then all the better; but they are more comfortable with their favourite past destinations than with new and unfamiliar ones.
- No-hassle travelers: Like the Gentle Explorers, this group also tends to favour the familiar. They tend to take shorter trips closer to home, and like to spend time with family and friends. Look for these within a few hours’ driving distance.
- Personal history explorers: The name pretty much says it all. These are the sorts of people who go searching for their roots when they travel, whether it be learning more about their ancestors or visiting their great-grandparents homeland. Since Manitoba is a “young” province in the sense that many are the children, grandchildren or great-granchildren of immigrants, relatively few will have deep enough ancestral roots here.
- Rejuvenators: These travelers hit the road to rest up and recharge their batteries, so to speak. They tend to enjoy resorts and casinos, and frequently travel with their families. Las Vegas, Hawai’i and other sun destinations will be a stronger draw than anything domestically.
- Virtual travelers: This group is more the “staycation” type, preferring to stay close to home and more likely to attend family events. More or less a captive market.
Observations, Reservations, Conversations: Manitoba: Canada’s Heart…Beats
A very clever Turkish Airlines ad, in which Argentine-European footballer Lionel Messi and U.S. basketball star Kobe Bryant — evidently both a couple of Free Spirits — try to outdo one another.