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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Executive Summary

Having seen the good and bad of life in Sri Lanka and its neighbours, and what potential each hold it is right to ascertain and believe on the opportunities that this region hold in terms of tourism business, which well harnessed will hold endless flow of tourists into the region and will in turn boost the local economy.

Table of Content

• Executive Summary page 1

• Introduction page 1

• Findings and Analysis page 1-6

o SWOT and PEST analysis    page 2-4

o Market Strategy (Selection, Entry and Barriers) page 5

o STP Markets Mix page 6

• Conclusion page 6

• Reference page 7

Introduction

Founded in 2004, Experience Travel Group, as a tourism company has had many hurdles to cross, with tsunami of 2004 which slowed the company expansion plans but having witnessed such devastation the company is in a better position to offer firsthand knowledge for potential tourists willing to experience something different from the normal tourism packaging.

As tourism business, we should look at what is trending in the tourism sector and ways to tackle the issues arising from competitions within the tourism market. The recent rise in dark tourism has propelled the market to look at various destinations for tourism investment.

Findings and Analysis

With the advent of dark tourism there has been a need for the tourism market to expand and contribute to regional development of various communities it operates within. With the current bases of Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Borneo, Myanmar, Indonesia and part of India, Experience Travel Group need to look at this sector which is rapidly expanding and calls for sober reflection for those making the visitation.

Having operated in this region for a while, the Experience Travel Group are in acceptable position to understanding the local environment and custom, by drawing on it strength of the local market knowledge. Having gained experience from various sector of the industry, the management of the group need to build on it's of strength of local knowledge. This strength is hinged on the know-how brought into the business by the management team. Thus, that is its strength for maintaining its share of the market.

Though Sri Lanka, and other countries mentioned above, have seen some sort of devastation both man-made and natural, still promotes itself as a paradise destination. There are places in the region that would make a person hold their breath due to its been central to tsunami, war that ravaged the some of the areas some years back. This is the type of tourism Experience Group will have to consider as this sector of the tourism market in this region have remained untapped and unpublished. This will be advantageous to the company as it strength lies in this sector. Based on their first-hand experience with tourists, they could ensure that those visiting from European countries could have regular and sustained contacts with the local populations; this would make certain that the company keeps dark tourism of locals by considering places where local narratives portrays loss and pain which might have described the illusive sense of the prevailing paradise as their own experience would have shown (Perera, 2016).

Based on the core business statement, we have to adapt it to SWOT analysis. As identified below, the company's strength lies mostly on feedback it gets from various customers who valued their extraordinary experiences in local heritage and lifestyles. The company's strength lies on its core business statement of

1. We craft truly tailor-made adventures

With its expertise, its tailor-made holidays would not try to ‘'push you off the shelf'' as its clients are the knowledge that they can, at no extra cost have a holiday that is adapted to their needs at no added fees.

2. We're experts on this part of the world

Unlike many travel agents Experience Group prides itself on local knowledge of the countries it operates from as the team has an extensive knowledge based on have lived in these countries or stay there for a long time. For over a time the Company additionally improved and established its acquaintance and knowhow, making it genuine specialists. Thus, it has exceptional relationships with indigenous associates which act as a good basis for its exceptional practices, while working with respective community's interests at heart.

3. There are no hidden extras and you'll know exactly what you're paying for

a. The company prides itself on being transparent with pricing, from entry fee taxes and meals etc., system as there are no hidden fees to pick up unlike other tourism agents.

b. Its itinerary could be changed to suit individual tastes and wants with no extra charges incurred. The company has a policy of continual amendments to travel plans to make customers happy which could impact positively on travel savings (Experiencetravelgroup.com, 2017).

According to Silva 2013, the weakness point to note while venturing into tourism market in afore mentioned countries are:

a. There is still a gap between various tours operators in the regions with the authorities due to numerous bureaucracies set in place that makes it difficult to register a business in the regions; and lack of specialised trained staffs, who are good in local dialect poses a problem too.

b. The lack of proper identity of tourist destinations based on the regional brands to consolidate the markets it cannot be logically observed as a product for the region. This absence of a distinctiveness for these regions are made worse by certain old-style tourists' trips that don't preserve the old importance of cultures, religions and tradition, and the best example, being total disregard for locals' ways of life.

c. The imbalance between tourists and locals could be a weakness in that some region tends to attract more visitors than some based solely on the level development and information publicising, and other factors. This where the creation of awareness on the locals play an important role as they will have to show interest on their region before outsiders could be willing to partake.

d. It should be borne in mind that these areas are mostly poverty ravaged and therefore could fall victim to predatory visitors on the guise of being a tourist, in this light therefore Experience Travel Group must ensure that its clients are truly and genuine tourists.

e. After a travelling for up to 12 hours, fatigue sets in, and another long hour drive, coupled with bad roads, before they could reach their various hotel destinations, tend to put off potential visitor. And there is minimal standard on road usage compared to Europe (Silva, 2013).

Expansion in the tourism market, is the opportunity to consolidate, has shown that as time goes by with emergence of other businesses there tend to be a stiff competition and thus should consolidate their position in the industry by doing what it does best. There are plans to further the company's experiences into other countries as soon those countries are well known to Experience Group. With this in mind, the business needs to expand on its current position into other countries as soon as expertise knowledge is acquired. With return to normalcy in the countries afore mentioned it is imperative to understand the opportunities that are in offer for tourism businesses. These opportunities vary and could be harnessed to suit the business core statement of discovering Asia together.   

The tendency for change is a continuous process and the awareness about Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in the tourism business world is fast increasing as each country opens to the rest of the world. The trust level in these countries are growing among world community, has impacted positive trend in the manner business tourism is conducted, as well as the way cultural tourism is being steered - solid point to note as each destination has grown over the years.

In accordance with all business environments there are always a threat. The main threat faced by the company on the destination it offers refers to socio-cultural locations

• Across the world and especially in Europe, more people have shown less interest travelling due to the slowdown in economies around the world hence having less to spend and when there is less to spend then tourism tends to take a back seat during this period.

• There is tendency of the host community to be experiencing some degree of decrease of patrimony of its cultural heritages and that poses a problem for any tourism business as there will likely be a shortage local knowhow or experts to act as tour guide, to do these locals should be trained and encourage to remain in the locality of operation. Regrettably, some cultures are witnessing less gratification of its history and beliefs, for cultures imported from other countries and unreceptive insolence to the accepted local ideologies.

• Another threat is the continuous changing in the demographic environment, as most of these sites are in the rural areas of each country; and each area are experiencing economic migration from the villages to the urban areas (or abroad) for greener pastures of their younger populations. The implication is that fewer interests are shown by tourists on visiting the sites, thus making second visit less plausible as empty tourist destinations losses its values fast.

• The competitiveness each product being offered in tourism is essential for tourism to thrive, in this case rural against urban tourism (as both have had different appeal). Tourism destination is very essential its development, particularly by preparing the effectual usage of all the available spaces and lands, regulating this growth and determining what infrastructure and services to invest in. By ensuring that this progress is by scale and time suitable is to the desire of the indigenous community and their natural setting, the atmosphere experienced could fuse the long-term economic performances and market positioning of the destination and business. To achieve it will require both auxiliary frameworks to comprise all the concerned stakeholders to form a partnership.

• Another threat is specialised personnel trained but lack the efficiency of a comprehensive idea, or image, about the region. With right training and personnel, the negative perception of previous visitors may likely have changed, and potential tourist will be aware of the value the destination have them and the community (Stancioiu, n.d.).

The trust level in these countries are growing among world community, has impacted positive trend in the manner business tourism is conducted, as well as the way cultural tourism is being steered - solid point to note as each destination has grown over the years. To understand this, according to Das Gupta 2011, we have to use the PEST analysis, and look at different hurdles it poses.

• Political trends in these parts of the Asia are stable, and hence there are some level of security and government policies can impact on the way business operates as well as the socio-polity of the country. And in tourism, visitors ten to visit areas that have some level of security and stability. The political changes in the afore mentioned countries has impacted tourism in that the governments in these regions have accepted and recognised that tourism in good business sector to invest in. Businesses should be wary of conflicts, corruption among government officials; and any state interference.

• Economic – though Experience Travel Group cannot, in its totality, change the economic conditions of the area where it operates in but can make a difference in the lives of the locals to sustain themselves. To sustain itself the GDP, tax rate and purchasing powers in these areas will have to considered, and taken into consideration, as it is crucial for profitability of the company. The success in these regions is dependent on the ability to observe all the key economic figures that are of relevant to the tourism market.

• Socio-cultural development involves the level of awareness of the local population. Such awareness will be able to facilitate the rapid growth and communication between tourists and the locals. Medical facilities and education level in the areas in question contribute to the tourism market. As with all emerging economies prominence is been place on education and healthy population.  

• Technology is another aspect of tourism that is rapidly growing. To sustain itself, tourism industry is constantly dependent on emerging technology especially internet and the ever-increasing ability to do e-booking. That notwithstanding, communications ability and facilities in the host nation plays importance to the market; a good mobile network has a positive impact on the destination country due to the desire for tourists to communicate with loved ones in case of emergencies (Das Gupta, 2011).   

Market opportunity for Dark Tourism: In recent years, tourism school of thought has propagated different paradigm and terminologies based on segmentation of all types of tourisms that could exist depending on individual's taste, and latest these among others is dark tourism.

The main opportunities for destinations in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, are the ones specially denoting to the socio-cultural environment, explicitly based on conflicts these regions have experienced. Thus, it is an opportunity to go into dark tourism marketing. It is effectual to invest in this type of tourism because the distance between these countries are almost marginal, one could stay in one of these countries and have easy access to another as there are cultural similarities.

There is more Europeans interest to experience the orients and what it can offer; there are more understandable drift in Europe to try out good reason the cultural learning of other nations culture perpetuated by Euro-China declaration of 2012 as “The year of the intercultural dialogue” is favourable to these regions, having put in place a policy, and drive to promote towards this purpose. These countries are rich in culture, traditions, natural disasters, and more likely to promote itself (Culture, 2012).

Having had a series of natural and man-made disasters there is the need to develop and invest into some new forms of tourism. In the last years, the market for the dark tourism experienced a histrionic revolution from therapeutic to prevention. If these changes take place across region it will contribute to further expansion of the tourism market to other neighbouring countries change may be supported firstly by the value of the healing natural factors (Mandal and Vong, 2016).

There is predisposition to transform almost all areas of, both natural and man-made, disaster regions into tourism site, as well as a place of tributes (and reminder and solemn reminder). Such place like Auschwitz in Poland (2 million visitors in 2016) and Ground Zero in New York (1.8 million visitors in 2016) have both gone from places of sadness to major tourist centres. In many countries, such tributes were conserved by changing their destination, developing in their precincts small museums, tourism information centres (Hooper and Lennon, 2016).

According to Lytras and Papageorgiou, 2015, dark tourism could be classified in several ways which could help determine the speciality the regions or the tour operators could specialise on. These classifications are:

• Sad Tourism: these are areas of sad or tragic events like the Ground Zero in New York and Auschwitz in Poland

• Disaster Tourism: this involve the movement of people during or after a natural disaster like the scenes that follow some natural disasters as experienced in 2004 in Thailand after the tsunami.

• Tourism of extreme poverty involves tourists visiting areas they believe is of extreme privation like slums of Mumbai in India and Favelas of Rio in Brazil.

• Tourism of impending disaster caters for places of interests that are believed to be facing extinction due to human activities like the melting ice cap in both south and north poles and the coral reef of Australia.

Marketing Strategies: The tendency for change is a continuous process and the awareness about Sri Lanka, and others, in the tourism business world is fast increasing as each country opens to the rest of the world. The barriers to enter the market are features of the industry that makes it difficult for other companies to penetrate the market; the presence of these barriers less competitive; as an essential aspect market monopoly, it could market more expensive. For the purpose of this paper we will look at few of these barriers.

• Economic scales: to have strong hold in the tourism market in this region will be dependent on number of tour operators operating there, but with its current output, experience Travel Group is in advantageous position to compete with other intended tour operators. Visitors' ability to undertake holiday also plays a role as it will depend on the capital available to them to spend.

• Natural and geographical barriers: in tourism geography and natural layout of the region plays importance in the attraction it holds and whether it's worth investing in. the mountainous and jungle terrains of these Asian countries plays a pivotal role in its popularity. But to succeed, a good knowledge of local topography, and how to plan and navigate these areas is an added advantage.

• Knowledge and expertise: the market niche Experience Travel Group has created for itself, in this region, has put it in the forefront of tour operators as many years of operating tourism business has made it an expert in local culture and tradition (to certain level) and has helped to put it ahead of any operators planning to enter the market.

Market Segmentation and Marketing Mix:

According to Coulmas, 2008, in order to understand what type of tourism package to sell, the target audience have to be segmented into different categories in accordance to their expected needs and desires. Without understanding each individual need, business will not be able to strategize properly. This approach lets a business to modify its move toward individually group's requirements economically, and thus advantage over competitors. The segment must match each intended destination. There are many ways to segment the market, but we will be looking at the following four approaches:

• Demographic – By individual qualities such as age, marital status, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, education, or occupation.

• Geographic – By country, region, state, city, or neighbourhood.

• Psychographic – By behaviour, risk aversion, ethics, or routine.

• Behavioural – By how tourists will see the locals and their ways of life, will they remain loyal to your brand, and if your package is what they wanted.

When you have segmented your tourists, the next step is to select the best group to target with your sales pitch, and which of them will bring in more money into Experience Travel Group. These different groups aimed at, will determine the success of the business. The next step is to evaluate potentials benefits of each group and what possibility of growth, of these groups, in the business. Is it adequate to be valued? Is stable progress a probability? And how would it hold against other segments? This is where SWOT and PEST comes into practice.

Positioning is the conclusion in the STP method; with focus on how the public will view services as compared to other competitors, and if it will give your business an edge over others in the market. This basically is dealing with the mind-sets of the clients and not the business. Consequently, client experiences have an enormous effect on the Experience Travel Group's place in the tourism industry. This can be achieved through advertising campaign and good customers' satisfaction. To achieve a clear positioning in the market the message must be clear, credible, consistent and competitive (Coulmas, 2008).

Conclusion

In 2004, when Experience Travel Group was founded, there was a devastating tsunami that ravaged Sri Lanka; and after having first hand knowledge of the suffering in the country and regions surrounding areas, the Group is in best position to lead in tourism – especially Dark tourism. This is a new and fast rising segment of the industry that holds a lot of potential. Security in the countries – Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia – are improving, though not as it is in western Europe

Recommendation

Having analyzed the market for tourism within the regions in question is important to note that there are going to be competitors in the market as the potentials, for tourism, is endless; and there are promises for wide range of adventure for the market. It is therefore recommended that Experience Travel Group should utilize its current market position and apply the changes that are inherent in the findings. Data development is an essential requirement if the Experience Travel Group wants to thrive. This would enable the Group to keep all the information it gathers based on the clientele needs and travel patterns with the aim of achieving greater corporate synergy through the cross fertilization of customer information (Middleton and Clarke, 2012).

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