Marketing strategies

Destinations respond to changing German travel wishes

Short-haul and long-haul destinations are adapting their marketing strategies in response to changing wishes and needs among German travellers, tourist board chiefs told fvw in a special panel discussion.

August 30, 2017
From left: Romeo Draghiccio (Croatia), Jewgeni Patrouchev (Colombia), Hanna Kleber (KPRN), João Sampaio e Castro (Portugal), Jörg Peter Krebs (Switzerland)
Photo: André Lenthe

Germany is a vital source market for many destinations around the world with some 48 million foreign holidays (of five days or more) in 2016. This was a very high 70% of the 69 million holiday trips taken by Germans in total. The top 10 foreign holiday destinations are Spain, Italy, Turkey, Austria, Greece, Croatia, France, Netherlands, Poland and Denmark.

But their customer profiles are changing. “There is no longer the standard holidaymaker like 20 years ago,” said Hanna Kleber, president of the Corps Touristique association of tourist boards in Germany and whose agency KPRN represents destinations such as South Africa, Chile and Uganda. “Everyone plans according to their needs. A banker who stays in 5-star hotels all year might perhaps want to go on a low-key backpacking trip.” Jewgeni Patrouchev, Central Europe manager for Pro Colombia, said the question in future would be: “What can I experience for my money?”.

The trend to individualisation of holidays will continue, and traditional segments will become obsolete, the destination representatives agreed. “Holidays are being organised more individually. Guests are looking for authentic experiences and something new,” said Romeo Draghiccio, from the Croatian tourist board.

“We don’t talk about winter or family holidays any more. Switzerland has 15 segments, from health to cycling,” commented Jörg Peter Krebs, from Swiss Tourism. “For us, nature and active holidays are more important now than sun & beach,” added Turismo de Portugal’s João Sampaio e Castro. This was why Madeira is now the top destination in Portugal for German holidaymakers.

Even traditional beach holidaymakers are now more interested in getting out of the hotel and away from the beach in order to explore their destination. “Relaxation is important in the first few days of the holiday but then people want to experience something,” said Kleber.

Long-haul trips are a key growth area in the German travel market along with cruises and city trips. They only make up 8% of all trips, but that still amounts to 5.3 million such trips in total. “Germans are hungry for new destinations,” claimed Patrouchev. The challenge for lesser-known long-haul destinations is to position themselves clearly. “A brochure with beaches and palm-trees isn’t enough,” added Kleber.

With frequently low marketing budgets, tourist boards often have to seek partnerships with tour operators and other companies or organisations. “As marketers we have to actively develop good ideas for a destination. Then you can win tour operators despite tight budgets,” Kleber commented.

However, they also benefit from the intensive use of social media by travellers posting pictures or messages about their trips. “Holidaymakers turn into marketers of a region through social media. We tourist boards are increasingly becoming media publishers,” commented Krebs.

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