The Core Concepts of Marketing Applied to London as a Tourist Destination
The paper addresses the main concepts in travel marketing and applies these concepts to the case of the tourism destination marketing (London). London is the cultural and economic capital of the United Kingdom (UK) and a global city that attracts substantial numbers of local and international visitors. It is well known for its iconic sites and images such as the Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, and the Paddington Trail. The city hosts international events and appeals to the business and leisure travelers. With an increasing number of visitors, the city will especially benefit from the marketing research and planning.
The first section of the paper reviews the core concepts of marketing and applies them to the London city brand.
The SWOT and PEST analyses are used to assess the external environment for the tourist destination marketing and determine the basis for market segmentation. The second section of the paper lays out how the marking research and planning are both crucial and relevant for the city’s marketers and travel companies. It is suggested how the companies can cooperate with the government in order to ensure that the tourism activities do not affect the society and environment negatively.
Travel marketing is concerned with the two principal goals: determining the needs of consumers and providing the products and services that satisfy the customers’ needs, while bringing profit or value to the marketer/ tourist manager (Barkat, 2015, p. 228).
The core marketing concepts are as follows:
Tourism Product: consists in the material facilities that exist in the city as well as the intangible services (Barkat, 2015). In the case of London, the products with intangible features comprise the historical buildings (such as the Buckingham Palace) as well as the contemporary sports, entertainment, and public facilities (such as the stadium that hosted the Olympics), which are already the part of the city’s society and economy.
Intangible Benefits: include emotions and experiences, which are an inseparable part of the city. While they have a value, the marketer does not accrue any costs when the tourist receives the benefits and satisfies his or her needs and wants (Barkat, 2015, p. 228). In case of London, intangible benefits comprise the excitement of being in the capital city full of history as well as beautiful art and architecture (Kolb, 2016).
4 Ps of Marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion:
The city as a product is also a subject to the development according to the preferences of tourists. It has attractions and experiences with an adjustable price. The city can be marketed as a place, and its promotion requires the same marketing components as everywhere, mainly the packaging, branding, and the marketing plan (Kalb, 2016, p. 12). London’s attractions can be gathered within the package appealing to the target population. Then, the branding necessitates creating an attractive slogan. Finally, the marketing plan is formulated in order to allow the marketer to stay on the target and implement the successful strategies.
Brief Analysis of the Marketing Environment of London
The marketing (external) environment of London defines the context for doing business here as well as marketing of the city as a tourist destination. Some elements of the PEST analysis are applied in the scanning of the marketing environment.
Regulatory Issues: Currently, the incoming travelers are supported by the UK government. In 2015, the UK government adopted the Five Point Plan designed to make London an attractive destination. The plan promotes the collaboration between the local attractions and tourism companies; persuades the talented professionals to join the sector in order to spur its growth; improves the tourism product offerings for the visitors by simplifying the regulations; and provides a “world-class welcome at the border” (“Government Five Point Plan for Tourism ,” 2015).
Economic Trends: The success of the British economy translates into the profits of tourist attractions and travel companies. One of the recent economic trends is the rise of creative enterprises. The creative economy flourishes here because of the technological innovations and the creative people who produce the content, media, and advertisements. The government invests in the creative industry, and the UK ranks the first in terms of the value of creative goods and services—this amounts to $361 (£248) per capita income (Burn, 2016).
Social Trends: Britain (including London) benefits from an influx of young travelers. Called the Millennials, these young people really like to travel. According to the Hospitality Net, the Millennials make five business trips every year, and they engage in leisure activities. This group travels abroad more often as compared to the older generations (“Millennials Want the Unique Instead of the Usual from Travel Brands,” 2015). The Millennials from the UK and overseas contribute to the record number of tourists visiting London (Prynn, 2015).
The marketing environment impacts the travel to London as well as the image of the city as a travel destination. London is conditioned by the external environment to a substantial extent. Firstly, most visitors stay in the city, where they are connected to the city life and modern technologies. In addition, international travelers find it easy to travel to London, making the city a popular local and global destination.
The marketing environment influences the suitable marketing activities (Nicolau, 2009, p. 204). Digital marketing becomes especially significant in terms of promoting London, because of the increase in the cooperation between diverse organizations and also due to the fact that young people tend to learn the information from online resources.
Factors Affecting the Costumer Motivation and Demand for London
Attractions, culture, people, and food: Different types of travelers to the city (business and leisure travelers) visit London to check out the iconic sites such as the architectural buildings. They are also interested in the overall atmosphere created by the attractions (Smith, 2016, p. 30), which are a substantial part of the material culture of London. Yet, visitors to the city also explore the culture of food, social experiences, and entertainment. Thus, a visitor to London does not want to be an “outsider”, but the same person as the Londoner living in the local community.
Amenities: Both the leisure and business visitors to London prefer to have comfortable amenities. The business visitor will appreciate a VIP welcome at the airport, efficient transportation, and a hotel with all the facilities. The leisure traveler will look for the convenient public transportation and the availability of quality experiences that provide an entertainment, for example night clubs. Visitors are motivated by what London offers. They are considered as the city users or the consumers who share the needs with the cosmopolitan Londoners (Smith, 2016, p. 30).
Reassurance of Benefits: Kolb (2015) claims that visitors must be confident about the benefits (p. 12). Thus, the marketers need to actively promote the benefits and showcase how the product provides the benefit sought by the customer (Kolb, 2015, p.12). The leisure visitors from the UK will seek out historical buildings to feel the national pride. They may also compare the cities’ options to make sure about the advantages of the local entertainment and the quality of art (Kolb, 2015, p. 13).
Market Segmentation Principles for the Marketing Planning of London
In 2015, there were 8.9 million visits to London, with the majority of visitors going to the city for holidays (“Record number of tourists flock to London,” 2015). The current customer who is loyal to the city brand can be found in the variety of market segments. The prospective visitor should be attracted with the proper positioning and the identification of the market segments. After the review of London city as a brand and tourist destination and based on the materials in regard to the market segmentation (Bhatia, 1985, p.259), three main market segments were identified: families with children, young professionals, and the Millennials (see Table 1).
The Importance of Marketing Planning and Research for London
Nowadays the marketing research is facilitated by the information available online. Most travel companies and tourism destinations have their own websites and social media profiles, where the travel statistics is listed. These digital resources may be utilized in the marketing research and planning, in the process of discerning the needs of visitors as well as delivering the tourist product to them (Heeley, 2015).
The marketer should look for the information on the increase in the number of visits to the city in order to make sure that the visitors are positively influenced by the marketing environment. Kolb (2016) states that the marketing research allows to determine the challenges connected with marketing and decide how to connect the provider of the tourist product and the public (p. 156). Moreover, the external environment of London needs to be monitored. Then, the marketing plan should include the respective changes in prices and discounts (Kolb, 2015, p. 156). For example, based on the marketing research, the marketers of the London city brand can adjust the product, namely promote the attractions that are interesting for the target population or find visitors who like the city as it is. Then, the price can be adjusted to appeal to an affluent consumer or promote the special weekend price for families with children. Finally, a successful marketing plan needs to be based on the SWOT analysis and the review of the marketing environment (see Table 2).
The summary of the SWOT analysis is presented in Table 2:
SWOT Analysis of London City Brand
Reasonably priced place, has public facilities, amenities, shopping opportunities
Art and history museums are available
Short travel distance to most of the UK and other counties of the EU
Support of the UK government
Lack of the brand awareness among the target populations from outside London
Competition from other cities
Online promotion and sales
Cooperation with attractions and travel companies
Digital marketing, banner ads online, cross-promoting the London brand
Other city brands have similar tourist products
The newcomers to the markets (other cities and places)
The economic revival of 2014-2015 may slow down and be followed by another crisis
The Relevance of Market Research and Information to Travel and Tourism Sector Managers at the Tourism Companies in London
The London city’s tourism companies capitalize on new opportunities to market their products and services online, where they can be viewed by the current and prospective target populations (as identified in the marketing research). VisitLondon company capitalizes on the destination marketing in its design of the digital tourist information product (“Visit London: Official Visitor Guide,” n.d.). It lists the events and activities that take place in the city. Furthermore, it highlights the iconic sites that are “recognized around the world” (“Destination Marketing,” 2016). In other words, the company appeals to the typical leisure and business visitor.
The web site “Visit London” can implement the promotional tools such as the information on the less-known places in the city. In addition, it can expand its marketing materials to include videos, travel blogs, and articles describing London’s amenities and attractions. Another travel company based in the UK, Visit York, successfully attracted a substantial number of visitors with the help of their promotional campaigns. Visit York targeted the 25-65 year olds who came to the UK for the first time. It placed the 3D screens and the real time conferencing facilities to attract the visitors (Heeley, 2015, p. 57). Following the example of Visit York, the tourism managers should incorporate the information from the market research and implement unique promotional activities.
In the technology-powered marketplace, tourists can provide a vital market information to the destination planner. On the website of Visit London, the online visitors can provide their information so that the company can tailor the trip to London according to their specifications. Moreover, the typical Millennial visitor is concerned with the best price, making the previous marketing research less relevant as compared to the cases when the companies establish the higher price when they wish to appeal to the affluent consumer.
Impact of Marketing on the Society
Travel companies adhere to the ethical tourism guidelines, requiring visitors to protect the cultural and natural heritage. The impact of tourism can be negative, so the travel marketer needs to be aware of possible harms. A responsible travel is already a trend, and some areas are of particular concern for the marketing practitioner. The following areas require a responsible conduct: the pollution (hence the travel actors need to minimize the pollution), the conservation of natural resources (with the need to be efficient in the resource use at the office and in the city), the benefit for the local communities (so the tourism must create social and economic opportunities for the local communities), and respect for the local cultures (Goodwin and Francis, 2003).
The marketers can cooperate with the UK government to establish the most suitable regulations, which will ensure the social and environmental sustainability in London. As the city experiences an influx of visitors, the tourism industry professionals need to cooperate with the city council in order to make sure that the society and the natural environment are not harmed and that the public facilities can bear the impact of tourism.