The slower summer months are problematic in the Caribbean due to heavier, more humid weather, the threat of hurricanes and competition from warm-weather markets in other regions such as Europe. So how does Cayman step up to the mark to attract visitors?
One of the major outcomes of the difficult economic conditions of the past few years has been that travellers are seeking discounts and/or expecting added value from their vacations, something that has kept destinations, accommodation, hospitality and attraction on their toes as they seek to deliver the same standard of service but with squeezed margins.
Shomari Scott, director of Tourism, noted that yearly the industry kicks into action with various programmes to help the tourism sector cope with quieter times. In previous years, this was marketed as Summer Splash, but this year that has changed.
“The annual summer promotion that is designed to stimulate travel from June to September will once again be held and all offers will be grouped under the heading of Only in Cayman,” explained Scott.
“The new name provides the flexibility of being used for any promotion and at any time of year, that can be found Only in Cayman.”
He confirmed that the Department of Tourism would use this promotion to attract travellers by aggressively promoting a fifth night free accommodations offer, which is not necessarily participated in by all accommodations.
“This will be further strengthened with discounting or value-add offers from participating restaurants, retailers, watersports and dive operators, et cetera,” explained Scott.
“There are a myriad of other offers available, from providers such as Atlantis Submarines, Cayman Turtle Farm, Dolphin Discovery, as well as from car rental companies and dive and watersports operators.”
Jane van der Bol of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, which represents the interests of over 250 private sector tourism-related business, said it was all intended to portray ‘a great time to make Cayman your summer destination.’
“[I]t’s part of the larger tourism promotional plan called Only In Cayman,” said the executive director.
“Our summer promotion is therefore called Summer Only In Cayman with vibrant imagery of stingrays, beaches, fine food, history and culture.”
Families are generally targeted during the summer for the simple reason that this is the season during which children are not in school and traditionally people take vacations together. Generally, too, across the region there are often added value trips available and, depending on the island, discounted offers.
The Cayman Islands does not place itself in competition with a mass-market destination such as some of the all-inclusive offers of the likes of Jamaica or Dominican Republic; the target market is one with a little more spending power and a certain expectation of service, infrastructure, higher end restaurants and attractions. Increasingly, also, staycations are a part of the marketing mix as those from the islands themselves may not have the budget to travel abroad, but still are looking for a special holiday experience. This eliminates the cost of air travel.
Scott explained how the initiative would be delivered to the target demographic outside of the Cayman Islands.
“To help create awareness of the promotion and drive consumers to the website to view offers and book travel, the Department of Tourism uses all of its marketing tools such as dedicated advertising – print, online and broadcast – public relations, sales and direct marketing.
“The summer promotion is structured to appeal primarily to family vacationers and this is why many of the offers include activities that cater to children. While families are the primary target, the range of offers will also appeal to couples or groups of adults travelling without children,” said the director.