Understanding tourism marketing has become essential in professional scenario of today. As the market is consolidating, the role of marketing as a driving force in a business endeavor is also being recognized. With growing competition, organisations in tourism business have no option but to engage in organised marketing. A professional approach to marketing always helps, whether it is on the tour operators’ end or at destinations. Guides, escorts, restaurants, hotels, transporters, shops etc closely compete and have to out-market one another to stay ahead. A proper tourism marketing strategy at national level needs close cooperation between the government, tourism industry and the local population.
Marketing as a concept has evolved in the last 30 years. Development of marketing and modern business practices has three stages: Production Era, Sales Era and Marketing Era. Marketing era arrived when organizations began to produce what they could sell rather than trying to sell what they produced. While planning and designing a product, consumers’ needs, tastes and satisfaction are considered. Growth of competition prompted organizations to frame new marketing techniques.
Changing tourism trends also demanded a new approach. The emergence of long haul tourist created the need for marketing research which took into account market trends, consumer behavior and ascertained procedure to make products which satisfied the users of tourism products. Gradual social and economic development culminated in segmentation of mass market into specialized target markets. Tackling these markets needed new approach and understanding of tourism marketing.
Selling and Marketing are two different concepts. Selling concentrates on the needs of the seller while marketing concentrates on the requirements of the buyer. A marketing oriented organization focuses on customer needs and earns profits through customer satisfaction. Many organizations in tourism sector are product oriented. They stress on the available services of products but ignore consumers’ needs or attitudes. A marketing oriented tourist organization takes totally different approach.
A marketing oriented business philosophy keeps consumer needs at centre-stage of all activities. An organization could offer quality tourism products but if it lacks supporting infrastructure, it would have no takers. A tourist organization needs to look after the needs like accessibility, accommodation, leisure and entertainment facilities. Tourists have their own needs, preferences and tastes, and these have to be taken into account while developing a product for them.