Arrival figures boosted by young visitors
A boost in the number of young visitors to Bermuda fuelled increased arrival rates for the first half of the year.
The Bermuda Tourism Authority said the growth was the result of targeted marketing at younger demographics and families, which could bring the island long-term gains.
BTA chairman David Dodwell said: “The really encouraging thing we are seeing is the younger demographics. We have more seats, and that combined with marketing is getting people out of these areas to Bermuda, and these are the adventure seekers.
“These are the people cliff jumping and all the things in our promotions now; they are geared towards the younger customer, but the interesting thing is the statistics show that the older customer is not going away either.
“The increase is mostly coming from the younger customer, who perhaps doesn't spend quite as much money and spends it differently, but they are spending on island — and the best thing is that we are building for the future. These are customers who, as they do better financially, will come back because they have good memories of Bermuda.”
According to figures released by the BTA, the number of visitors aged between 25 and 34 increased by 23.3 per cent year-on-year, while the number of visitors in the 18-to-24 age bracket rose by 21 per cent.
Victoria Isley, sales chief and marketing officer, noted a series of promotional efforts in New York, including the #BermudaSummerFridays campaign, the sponsorship of Daybreaker Dance Parties and a promotion with Uber.
“Increased air lift, a fresh, more youthful brand, targeted marketing and new experiences such as the Bermuda Carnival have all worked together to appeal to younger travellers. And the increased volume — the best since 2008 — has had a positive impact on the wider economy, especially the young demos, which are more likely to explore the entire island, far beyond their hotel.”
Speaking to The Royal Gazette, she explained that the BTA had focused its attention on reaching younger travellers who are looking for experiences more than sun and sand.
“The adventure-seekers that we are talking about, they are looking for new experiences to tell their friends about rather than the same old same,” she said.
“Bermuda certainly delivers if you want your bum on the beach, but there's also this idea that the new definition of luxury is experience, and it really delivers that in a way that is real and authentic, different from other places and many other island destinations.
“The alternative in some places is going to a walled-in resort and not leaving until it's time to depart. Bermuda provides an open-air kind of resort destination where people can explore.
“It means a different way of spending, but what we are aiming for is to distribute where the visitors spend around the island so more areas are benefiting from the visitor market.”
She particularly noted promotions in the New York area, including a campaign in which they partnered with Uber, offering some lucky Uber passengers a free trip to Bermuda — provided they fly the following day.
Ms Isley said the promotion not only targeted 50,000 Uber customers but highlighted how easy it was to take a weekend trip to the island through live updates.
“We had branded cars and Uber cars with Bermuda ambassadors in them. We were able to be in the app and work through that,” she said. “It was such a popular thing that Bermuda Fridays was actually trending in New York City on Twitter.
“We had people who won a trip on Thursday and they were on a trip to Bermuda on Friday. Part of that was to have real-time exposure to how easy it is to escape to Bermuda and what a different experience it is for those travellers.”
Moving forward, Ms Isley said the BTA was working on a retail promotion for Labour Day and promoting the island as more than just a beach destination to help encourage travel during the cooler months.
“A lot of the imaging we have been using has not been just people on the beach,” she said.
“I think that people who live in Bermuda certainly know that it's more than that, but we have been working on differentiating Bermuda from other island experiences so the competitive research isn't just what the temperature is, but what the experience is. That's what we are looking at going into the fall.”
Meanwhile, Mr Dodwell said the BTA would continue to use analytics to take a “rifle approach” to targeting potential visitors instead of a “shotgun approach”, marketing the island to those most likely to come and remaining financially efficient in the process.
“People ask me why they don't see things on TV. Why they don't see full-page ads in magazines,” Mr Dodwell said.
“Those are too scattershot. It's too difficult to measure the kind of response you get, and now with Netflix and all those things you don't know when they are watching or what they are watching.
“When we are targeting, we are doing it in a very specific way. Our approach is very targeted, and when we are on TV it is in a very targeted way.”