Re-branding could be costly

The idea that Pirates Week will be a thing of the past after this year’s party is hard to stomach for many in the tourism industry; especially this year when the economy is on a slippery slope.

Downtown business owners have told the Observer on Sunday that this is the worst year for business in more than 30 years.

One would think that Government would be working to preserve an already successful Pirates Week and lure even more tourists to our shores.

What’s at stake here is branding. And many businesses and organisations have spent thousands if not millions of dollars over the years adopting and supporting the Pirates Week Brand.

Any good marketing professional will tell you that before you re-brand a company or a product, you must see what people think of the brand.

And that’s where our concern comes in.

Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush has said he will set up a committee to hold a competition for the name change, but we hope he does more than that.

While marketing research wasn’t as critical in 1978 when Pirates Week was first hatched, it is now.

Government, the Ministry of Tourism, the Department of Tourism and indeed anyone even remotely associated with the tourism industry has to be certain that whatever new name and brand are adopted will work to lure tourists to our shores.

Even in these tough economic times, tourism is still one of the most important industries to the Cayman Islands, second only to the Finance Industry.

Re-branding the Pirates Week festival is going to be costly – logos, websites and marketing materials all have hefty price tags.

It is our hope someone puts pen to paper and crunches some numbers to determine how much money Pirates Week is losing – if it is – and how much re-branding is going to cost.

The Observer on Sunday is by no means suggesting that outside consultants be brought in for this exercise. We have plenty of capable and knowledgeable people already invested in the tourism industry, both private and public, who can do the numbers.

The Cayman Islands Government is already in a financial quandary. We can ill afford to make a change to what is perceived as a successful festival to something that hurts our tourism product.

The Observer on Sunday hopes that this re-branding exercise is taken with the seriousness it deserves.