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Tourism blitzing US east coast markets

A massive marketing blitz is now under way to try to turn around Bermuda's struggling tourism industry.

Tourism Minister Patrice Minors has revealed she is trying to boost visitor numbers with “aggressive sales and marketing efforts to promote tourism”.

The Bermuda Department of Tourism is currently blitzing cities on the East Coast of America, which she calls “the key geographic markets that can drive the most business to Bermuda”.

It means staff are focused on selling Bermuda through big-name publications and websites, which reach audiences of millions. The “warmth and friendliness” of Bermudian voices are also being heard on new radio adverts.

Ms Minors said they were “covering multiple channels” including magazine and newspaper advertising, websites, public relations and the work of the sales team.

In the next six months residents in North America will see 750 30-second TV commercials, plus 1,900 radio spots.

There will also be 26 full-page insertions in consumer magazines, 46 full-colour adverts in national newspapers, and an expected 155 million digital impressions.

Bermuda's visitor numbers for the last three months are down 3.5 percent, with fewer tourists visiting on cruise ships and yachts compared to last year.

Hoteliers were let in on the marketing plans at a recent closed-door meeting, before Ms Minors revealed the details to the public at a press conference.

Jon Crellin was one of 16 hoteliers at the marketing meeting. The former general manager of the Fairmont Hamilton Princess said: “It was a very positive meeting, which was very well received. Hoteliers seem more encouraged than ever by what's going on.

“We are heightening awareness about Bermuda and really are moving in the right direction although time is of the essence and we have to move fast.”

Mr Crellin added: “A lot of open and candid discussions have taken place between the Minister, Permanent Secretary [Michelle Khaldun] and hoteliers.

“It's well known that we can't continue as we are, we have to get visitor numbers up again. We have to do everything possible”.

As part of the marketing strategy hosts from CBS Radio network stations in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC were invited to the Island this month to record the voices of Bermudians. They will be asking residents why they love the Island and why visitors should come to visit.

Each station has also been playing pre-recorded sound bites in which 16 of Bermuda's best-known ambassadors share their own personal experiences.

They include comedian and taxi driver Nadanja Bailey and Rosedon Hotel General Manager Muriel Richardson.

Ms Minors said: “Our relationship with the CBS Radio Group is particularly exciting and it allows us to take advantage of our greatest asset ... the Bermudian people.

“Whenever visitors talk about Bermuda they often speak about the warmth and friendliness that Bermudians exude. We therefore have created a special marketing initiative to capitalise on this distinctive strength.”

Bermuda is also said to currently have a “high-profile presence” with 13 magazine insertions on the market, including Conde Naste Traveler, Departures and the Robb Report, which includes an iPad video ad.

The Department of Tourism is also reaching out to niche markets such as Golf World and Scuba Magazine, as well as a host of titles “to reach the influential meetings and incentive and travel agent trade”.

By the end of this month the Island will have been featured in 16 regional and national newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post. Ms Minors said they were also continuing to “maximise the digital world” with digital campaigns on websites such as Travel+Leisure, Concierge.com and Golf Digest.

She said everything was part of “a carefully planned media strategy” to provide Bermuda with “a strong voice in the North American market”.

“It is our expectation that the collective efforts, along with those of our hotel and tourism industry partners, will help continue the positive momentum … We are going to keep the momentum going with our marketing efforts.”

One of the newest marketing initiatives is the Bermuda Travel & Vacation Guide free app for the iPhone or iPod touch, which was downloaded by more than 1,900 consumers in its first five weeks.

The Department of Tourism also says its new website continues to “be a strong tool for selling the destination”. Traffic to the website has increased 18 percent in the last year, with more than 1.2 million visits to the site.

The in-stadium promotion with the Boston Red Sox is also continuing with starting pitcher Tim Wakefield recently vacationing here.

Ms Minors said they were also continuing to invite North American journalists to Bermuda to “experience it for themselves and go back home to share the good news with their audience”.

The Tourism Minister added: “This opportunity for editorial endorsement is invaluable in building word-of-mouth buzz.”

Sales staff are also taking the tourism message directly to the people with what are being called “combined guerrilla PR and sales efforts”.

A promotional event recently took place at the Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta and similar events are planned for Baltimore.

Useful website: www.gotobermuda.com.

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Published August 05, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 05, 2011 at 9:40 am)

Tourism blitzing US east coast markets

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