With the summer season, the batch of press releases has flourished emphasizing the good attendance of tourist destinations, that the sector has regained its good pre-covid figures and even sometimes will sign an increase in attendance surely due to the good advertising work done with thousands of euros to go after Stade 2 on France Télévisions or on CNews before yet another eternal debate on “Should we authorize the carrying of weapons in kindergartens in France” or “for or against the heat wave in summer “. If advertising on television is not enough, there are also the events which in the tourist action plans make a good figure. Because the beginning of summer is marked by the Tour de France and its ability to make an impression with its stopover towns that the public inevitably recognizes years after their one-day media coverage or the possibility of doing like the dozen festivals national and international in scope for the month of July which make certain destinations want to invent music of all kinds in high places to shine in the eyes of the holy archifan public who will inevitably never miss Jean Pierre François’ new tour that the Board of Directors of the Tourist Office validated because one of its members knows him well because his cousin played football with him when they were 15 years old.
But what cynicism will you tell me? Yes, I admit it, but not completely. Wanting to do like his neighbor, how many concerts have been canceled in recent days for lack of finding professionals to set up stages and provide technical services up to the specifications sent by the production houses?
If we hold events, it must have a purpose, the first would be to be the focal point for the development of one or more activities within the territory itself. If we want to develop cycling on the territory, we will look for national competitions such as the National Trophy for Young Vettetists which will structure or highlight the infrastructures of the territory, the routes, the routes accessible all the rest of the year. . If you want to make music, maybe join an annual program that would benefit both visitors and locals to demonstrate the cultural sensitivity that the territory wishes to have with its different audiences.
In short, all this must be part of a development plan that goes further than a simple One-shot that is too often expensive and with at best short-term economic repercussions without imagining the societal impact of its sustainability.
This brings us to the main subject, what is the place of hospitality in a scheme that is a little too focused on the economic development of tourism?
We love to talk about tourist numbers, volume of tourists, sometimes even overtourism, but it always helps in press releases to show that we are the first in volume in height, but that still does not make it a tourist value. This helps in the communication of the destination but it does not make it a brand positioning and even less a key success factor.
Tourism is simple, it is a transverse economy that will shine on most of the components of attractiveness of a territory (activities, shopping, cleanliness, events, leisure, cultural heritage, etc.). It is divided into four structuring elements:
– The landscapes
– Local communities
The attendance rate is not included. On the other hand, the local communities yes. And that changes everything, because when you are a visitor you want to live like a local, find the right restaurants, have the right addresses, practice activities, etc.
And for that we need advice, services that offer them, friendly welcomes that will lead us to transform from a state of consumption to lived experience or even to transformation.
Not to mention experience economy, yet there is a lot to be said for it. In Italy, all information in stations and trains is translated into English, in restaurants it is the same thing. This is part of hospitality, we try to put the tourist in confidence, in any case, that he understands what is happening. Everything starts with transport and they have shown that it is not reserved only for local populations. Speaking the language of the visitor is still a mark of respect for him, even if only approximately.
In Switzerland, a chocolate on the bed of a hotel is part of the hallmark and it is an attention that is worth a lot later in terms of loyalty.
Many examples of work on hospitality exist in France, Fabien Raimbaud discusses some of them in a very good article by MONA in New Aquitaine.
Hospitality is then integrated into the tourist product and its quality service, no longer as an option that complements it.
A visitor will always prefer to have all the information on his place of accommodation rather than to travel for himself to seek his information. It is moreover 66% of the tourist information which is given by the host, this observation is to be worked on and will also make it possible to strengthen the link between the host and the territory on their complementarity.
Our visitor is looking for activity, he is generally given a directory of service providers, the prism is distorted, it is up to us to review the copy for the advice to be enlightened again, an approach to be piloted and animated by institutional actors through their destination marketing platforms or their digital or print information offer, in connection with private players and the offer they can express. Just like the fact that we will not put trainees or new seasonal workers in the place of staff with strong expertise in the area at reception desks in tourist offices, just to show all the capacity of the institutional world to provide a informed and recognized advice. It is a mark of respect for the visitor.
In another area, actions to reduce CO2 consumption in the general economy will be carried out in the months and years to come. In particular, rail traffic is expected to triple by 2050 in a sector which represents 9% of greenhouse gas emissions.
SNCF Italia has already begun its transformation to make train travel more popular by offering a meal service at the table with an elaborate menu, the era of the SNCF sandwich is over. VTC services are available online from major stations, all that remains is to solve the problem of the last mile and the basic transport product is evolving with services that lead to a potential train travel experience.
The next step is more complicated because what differentiates the experience from the service is the following elements:
– Emotional added value
– Memorability (creation of memories)
– Transformation (transition from one state to another)
“Most people who use the term Experience Economy are not talking about memorable events or distinctive experiences. They only talk about good service. That's great, but it rarely touches on the level of memorability.
In summary, showing the visitor that he is welcome and that the local communities are doing everything to give him confidence to optimize his stay is one of the major components of current tourism.
Don’t you find that customer satisfaction is more important than its volume? Won’t it improve the commitment and notoriety of the destination, and therefore impact the brand? Doesn’t it have a better ability to make the destination preferred?
However, I already know that at the end of August, the tourist attendance reports for the territories will flourish without even having an ounce of hope of seeing a rate of satisfaction with the experience or even less CO2 consumption per tourist welcomed…
It is now time to change the situation and talk about satisfaction rather than attendance and to define a common strategy for a French-style welcome that will be much more recognized than a world leader in number of visitors that only practitioners of onanism tourist will boast
I would therefore end by paraphrasing Grégory Pouy, whose book “Insoutenable paradis” I can only advise you to read or listen to the Vlan podcast, “don’t tell me you’re the best, make it live for me.”
The Alps agency accompanies throughout the year a good number of territories in their strategies or their reflections that make the difference. Do you want to know our references? Contact us
You wish to organize a conference on this theme, contact us too, we will analyze your needs together.
You can read all the other articles of the Alps Agency in the Blog section and discover all the services we can offer you.
This article was written by François Veauleger