Cayman Islands Tourism Association members took a good look at how the Department of Tourism spent their advertising dollars last year.
Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott presented a detailed summary of where and how advertising revenue for the 2008-2009 budget year was used during a CITA general meeting.
The department spent a total of $26.9 million; 72 per cent of that entire budget went to marketing and advertising in the United States.
Mr. Scott explained that with 80 per cent of arrivals being from the US it’s important for the Department to make the most of the available advertising resources.
The media plan, which included television, print, and internet advertising, was between $7 and $8 million.
When it comes to buying television air-time the department uses three different techniques to reach their target market.
Spot TV, Plum TV and National Cable each serve a very unique purpose when it comes to promoting the Cayman Islands.
The Spot TV concept is geared around targeting the high profile areas for two to three weeks.
During that time Cayman Islands commercials run heavily in mainstream markets such as Boston, Chicago, Miami New Philadelphia and Washington, DC where there’s a prevalent number of tourists arriving to the islands during both the winter season and throughout the year.
The plum TV approach is used to target tourists, who are actually at events taking place in the US.
Aspen, Colorado would not normally be a market that DoT would purchase advertising time in, but during the Food and Wine Festival those who attend will see commercials for the islands run throughout that week.
‘Plum’ advertising runs for six weeks throughout the year with commercials airing in the Hamptons, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Vail, and others depending on where department research shows their target income and age group can be reached.
For three weeks local advertising promoting the beauty of all three Islands can be seen throughout the United States on the Travel and Weather channels, Headline News, MSNBC, HGTV and National Geographic.
Over the course of the year there were just more than 7,200 television spots that aired in various markets throughout the year for the 08-09 budget.
Radio (150-160 advertising spots a year); internet (920-940 web locations) and news and trade magazine advertising (350-370 print insertions) round out the DoT’s advertising ventures for the budget year.
Going back to the basics
Once Mr. Scott finished his presentation CITA members had the opportunity to offer their opinions or ideas on how to better sell the Islands to potential visitors.
Owner/broker of RE/MAX, Kim Lund, feels there needs to be more direct personal contact between local business owners and travel agents and other professionals brought down to tour the Islands.
‘We need to remember the basics which drove the success of our tourism business and continue to keep this as a key area of focus,’ said Mr. Lund.
Freely admitting that his businesses were being hurt by the global economic crisis and local government budget woes, Mr. Lund said there was a time when all local business owners were given an opportunity to promote their particular sector or profession to visiting travel experts.
Other members ideas on how to increase air arrivals and boost stay over tourism ranged from using part of the advertising budget to promote the islands regionally, and increasing the islands’ website presence so it’s not so hard for web surfers to find.
Mr. Scott was open to all the ideas and said he looks forward to continued work with CITA members to find ways to create new and innovative marketing techniques.