Essay: Galway tourism

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  • Subject area(s): Hospitality and tourism essays
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  • Published on: March 9, 2018
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1. Executive Summary
Galway has been named the European culture capital 2020. Having beaten off stiff competition across the continent, the challenge is to rise to the occasion with a marketing plan that exceeds all expectations and showcases all that Galway has to offer specifically to culturally curious tourist based in the United States of America.

As we are aware, Galway has huge potential in the tourism market with being awarded this accolade. However, the current strategy can be improved to cast the net out further to capture even more prospective tourists to visit the city. We need to use a wholesome, tailored and effective marketing strategy to ensure a triumphant 2020 in the culture capital of Europe.

Market analysis identified the target market, which is the US Culturally curious tourist and their media usage have been identified. Following on from this, a communications strategy that makes use of these media has been created. The strategy will use PR, Advertising, direct mail. Social media, radio, Print, Outdoor and an App will be the main media. The Creative strategy is designed to emphasize the unique selling points of Galway 2020 and aid in eradicating the target markets objections.

Differentiating the marketing communication plan of Galway 2020, from that of the competition, will assist not only in building the Galway 2020 brand as a whole, but will attract new and returning tourists to Galway for years to come. This will provide the Galway 2020 scheme with an opportunity to leverage its core competencies as regards hosting and retaining tourists in the cultural capital of Europe

2. Overview of Galway 2020

2.1 What is the European Capital of Culture?

Since 1985, every year the EU nominates at least one city as the European Capital of cultural. The chosen cities are required to display a year-long cultural programme that emphasises the diversity of cultures that we have here in Europe. Along with this it aims to celebrate the cultural features that we share as Europeans, while increasing EU citizens sense of bellowing, and fostering the contribution of culture to the evolution, expansion and improvement of cities such as Galway. This will in turn boost tourism, regenerate Galway as a city, and introduce new life into Galway as a city and its culture.

2.2 Galway as the European Capital of Culture 2020.

In 2016 Galway was officially assigned as the European Capital of Culture for 2020. As a city this provides Galway with the opportunity to demonstrate their best cultural experiences that Galway has to offer. They aim to “Make Waves in 2020; waves of creativity, digital waves, disruptive waves, energetic waves and at the heart of Galway 2020 is the next wave of artists, creators, makers and shakers”. Community spirit is the core value that the organisers of Galway 2020 are determined to get across to the people of Europe threw their campaign, and they are committed to building great relationships amongst the various communities across the county of Galway. Since they have been designated this title the city has been working hard to put in place a great programme for Galway 2020. The organisers achieved this by asking the people of Galway what they would like to see and achieve from Galway 2020, and they came back with the following responses;

· An Artist in Every Place

Ø This is a flagship programme that hopes to have an artist in each location around Galway. It aims to create opportunities for new artists to a new and sustainable practice in Galway and across Europe. This programme will have 3 distinct parts. All of which will be interconnected. The programme will work on the assumption that high-quality artists can be based anywhere across the county, from small villages to Galway City itself. It will also work on the principle that networking across borders can occur from anywhere across Europe.

· An Ait Eile

Ø This is a non-profit cultural programme that’s main goal is to take an “autonomous, grassroots approach to arts in the West of Ireland”. The programme is a reply to the need in Galway for a dedicated, multi-cultural space for communities and people, allowing them to come together and portray their artistic ambition. It ensures that all the artists of Galway have access to everything they may need to make their dreams a reality by providing avenue for performing and producing, while also providing a space for peer education and content delivery. The money generated by such activities will go towards sustaining the space and providing it with any new facilities it may need.

· A sustainable Cultural Ecosystem

Ø This aims to create a sustainable cultural ecosystem where people of all ages from children to adults, can get together in various areas to contribute to, and build a better Galway 2020.

· Safe Haven

Ø This hopes to create and provide a safe place for the diverse species of Galway.

· Embrace Irish Language

Ø This programme hopes to embrace the Irish language by involving Gaeltacht’s in the creation of various videos and songs for Galway 2020. This is turn will show the real culture of Ireland to the rest of Europe and promote the Irish language.

· Communal Creative Space

Ø The people of Headford in Co. Galway requested they have a communal space to demonstrate Headford’s talent during Galway 2020.

· Litter Mapping

Ø This aspect of Galway 2020 aims to involve all members of the Galway community in crowd- sourcing various GPS tagged photos of litter around the country, to provide an innovative litter map.

· Galway as a food capital

Ø The objective of this is to continuously promote, support and portray Galway as an emerging food capital in Ireland, and in Europe.

3. The Cultural Tourism Market

3.1 What is Cultural Tourism?

Cultural tourism is the point at which culture and tourism combine to allow travellers, as well as the people of Ireland, to experience and enjoy all the treasures Ireland has to offer. It allows travellers to be immersed in the local cultural and heritage which, in Ireland’s case, generally involves events, festival, artistic performances and activities, museums and gallery viewings. Cultural tourism is part of one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world. Just in the last year, it is estimated that it generated €2 billion for the Irish economy.

Tourism is one of Ireland’s most important economic sectors, therefore, immersing oneself and experiencing the vast amounts of culture that Ireland has to offer is at the core of its tourism strategy. Cultural tourism in Ireland allows travellers to develop and enhance their creative potential in a unique way. There is the chance for arts and cultural organisations to provide courses and learning experiences and allow these travellers to actively participate in them.

Culture and heritage are key drivers of Irish tourism, and visitors always experience high levels of satisfaction with what Ireland has to offer (Failteirelandie, 2017).

3.2 Who is the Cultural Tourist?

A cultural tourist is someone who is interested in the culture of a country or region, and the lifestyle of the people living in these geographical areas. More specifically, a cultural tourist has the desire to learn about the history, the art, various religions and the architecture from these places. Cultural tourists tend to spend more money that standard tourists (Europaeu, 2017).

Every cultural tourist is different, but there are three different types: the motivated cultural tourist, the inspired cultural tourist and the incidental cultural tourist. They all have one thing in common; they are all eager to immerse themselves in the culture of their choice, whether they planned to or not. They seek to be part of new and interesting cultural experiences that allow them to delve deep into the creative process and living culture (Icrtie, 2017).

3.3 The Cultural Tourism Market for Galway 2020

The marketing of cultural tourism for Galway 2020 is heavily reflected in the resources available and the wide range of activities and events Galway has to offer. It is essential for us to be able to use the limited resources we have to target the cultural tourism market of Galway 2020 effectively.

Knowing and understanding our visitors is imperative. We must be able to satisfy the needs of current audiences while also being able to attract new ones. We’re already aware of the fact that cultural tourists travel to Galway for a specific interest or motivation. These interests vary among cultural tourists because this city has so much to offer, from food and music festivals to museums and art galleries.

In order to effectively tap into the cultural tourism market of Galway 2020, there needs to be a balanced range of distinct events and activities throughout the year. This will help to distribute resources evenly during the year 2020, and will also assist in the allocation of marketing priorities. The themes of these events and activities have varied over the years, but as outlined in Galway’s bid book, the themes of Galway 2020 include Migration, Landscape and Language. The decision for these themes to be focused on was made because not only do they significantly resonate in Galway but also throughout Europe.

4. The Target Market

When deciding on the appropriate market to target, we took multiple points into consideration. Upon our research, we discovered that over 64% said that it was Ireland’s rich culture and history were some of the main reasons they chose it as a destination, with nearly 75% of those tourists saying they were satisfied with their experience of Irish culture. A study conducted by Fáilte Ireland found that almost 80% of inbound US holidaymakers are ‘Sight Seekers and Culturally curious’.As well as this vital insight, Fáilte Ireland had released a goal earlier this year to increase American tourists by 9%. This goal is set to generate 1.6 billion additional revenue for the Irish economy. Taking these two points into consideration, along with Galway’s rich heritage, we felt targeting the ‘culturally curious’ tourist from the USA would be the most beneficial market to pursue for Galway 2020.

4.1 Demographic

This holiday maker is mostly over 40 years old with a slight bias towards females. There is also a higher proportion of singles rather than couples. Any holiday makers that are couples, have children who no longer live with them and are at the stage of their lives where they holiday alone. They are affluent, university educated adults, classed in the AB socio economic segment. Therefore they are in higher managerial, administrative or professional occupations. They have a higher disposable income than most holidaymakers. This allows them to fully experience a destination and are willing to travel a considerable distance to experience a holiday that is truly authentic.

4.2 Psychographic

Within this demographic is a very specific mindset, which must be catered to in order to capture this particular tourist.

Culturally curious

These holidaymakers want to experience all that a destination has to offer. It is essential that they feel totally immersed and enjoy the personal touch when on a vacation. They want to give their senses a holiday. Hence, they enjoy going out for meals and trying the local cuisine in a quiet, peaceful environment. The culturally curious are attracted to exploring historical sites, unique festivals and the outdoors. They are three times more likely to do long breaks than the average tourist, as they like to fully immerse themselves in the culture. An important factor to note is , because of this, they are unlikely to return if the destination does not offer a wide range of experiences.

Media Usage

Social Media: The culturally curious tourist’s use of social media is growing. Facebook and YouTube are their main touch points when online, specifically biased towards mobile.

Traditional Media: As expected, they have medium to heavy usage of TV with an importance held on newspaper and radio also.

Other: However, we are now seeing them take the information gathered from these resources, and actively search online. Using Google as a form of research is key for this market as they often prepare and organise schedules prior to arriving at the destination.

4.3 Geographic

The culturally curious tourist that we are focusing on, will be from the US. Having conducted research into this market, we found that over 80% of the US holidaymakers, which is approximately 450,000 tourists, are interested in sight seeking and enjoying the local culture. They have an emotional perception of Ireland which is very strong with images of a beautiful, authentic island. However, their perception of Ireland is that the practical elements of Ireland such a service, variety of food etc is still lacking. This perception, is why we chose to target the US tourist. Our communication plan for Galway 2020 will aim to tackle this perceptiona and put Galway on the map as a superior destination for years to come.

4.4 Target Market Persona

5. SWOT Analysis

This section of the report analysis the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of Galway as a centre for Cultural Tourism for Galway 2020.

Galway has been designated the 2020 European capital of culture. This provides Galway with the opportunity to showcase the best cultural talent we have to offer with the rest of Ireland and the Europe. It also enables Galway to regenerate and raise the international profile of the city. Galway was selected as the European capital of culture for a number of reasons including its abundance of cultural heritage, built heritage and natural heritage.



· Safe

· Infrastructure and Accommodation

· People

· Large festival struggles

· Rich cultural reputation

· Weather

· #4 in Top 10 Irish destinations

· Public Transport

· -European Awards

· European Market Struggles



· Showcase Galway

· Regulations

· Future opportunities for events

· Vandalism

· Improve quality of services

· Increase in demand for cheap accommodation

· Increase tourism in West

· Insufficient visitor flows

5.1 Strengths

Galway has many strengths as a centre for cultural tourism. One of these strengths is that Galway has already been awarded UNESCO city of film and is bidding for the European Region of Gastronomy in 2018 and the European Youth Capital in 2019. This means that Galway is already recognised on a European scale. Galway is also extremely rich in cultural reputation from ongoing festivals such as Galway Arts Festival, Galway Film Fleadh, Galway Races, Galway Food Festival, Clifden Arts festival, and so much more. All of these are well recognised events worldwide and suit the culturally curious tourist.

Another strength of Galway as the centre for cultural tourism is that it is an exceptionally safe city in terms of low levels of crime. Galway is also renowned for it’s people and their unique community spirit, friendliness and general craic.

Galway is also ranked #4 on Trip Advisors top 10 destination in Ireland- The Traveller’s Choice.

5.2 Weaknesses

As well as many strengths, there are also some weaknesses facing Galway as a centre of cultural tourism. Galway 2020 is estimated to bring huge crowds of tourists to the city throughout the year. Being a small city, Galway may face struggles with infrastructure and accommodation for the massive influx of tourists.

Galway has never hosted an event of this size before and so handling a year-long festival may be a struggle. Public transport is also very poor in the city and surrounding areas and so this is a big weakness for Galway.

Galway is known for many wonderful things, it’s climate and weather is not one of them. The average number of wet days a year is approximately 225 days in the West of Ireland and so Galway’s weather is definitely a weakness to the Galway 2020 festival.

Understanding the foreign market with culture as opposed to just an Irish market may be a struggle for the Galway 2020 team.

5.3 Opportunities

Galway 2020 provides a lot of opportunities for the city in the lead up and throughout the year of events. Galway will be able to showcase the cultural talent it has to offer on a global scale. Cultural awareness will be increased both locally and nationally through this massive event.

With a successful campaign, Galway increases its opportunity to host future global events such as the European Region of Gastronomy, etc. It also opens the opportunity for new markets and tourism products in Ireland.

This event also provides Galway with the opportunity to improve the quality of services within Galway and the rest of Ireland.

5.4 Threats

With this fantastic opportunity, comes some possible threats Galway may face as a centre for cultural tourism. Galway may face some insufficient visitor flows caused by external factors such as the weather conditions, as mentioned above, and also more serious threats such as terrorism and potential terrorist attacks with the increase in publicity.

Galway may be threatened with an increase in vandalism, to both infrastructure and the natural environment. This is a common threat that comes with events of this scale.

With the massive crowds travelling to the city throughout the year will mean increase in demand for budget hotels and cheap accommodation.

6. Campaign Objectives

The campaign objectives of Galway 2020 are a significant part of the process, it’s vital that objectives are established prior to execution of the campaign to ensure successful campaign. Therefore, campaign objectives should be: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. This identifies the arguments to communicate to the cultural curious in the USA.

Successful run-up to Galway 2020 and the year itself

Showcase Galway as cultural destination

Strengthen Galway’s connection to US culturally curious and Europe

Increase the consideration of Galway as a travel destination for years to come (global and tourists)

Target market will be excited about Galway 2020 – spread word of mouth/buzz

Communications will encourage US culturally curious to find out more about Galway 2020 – visit the website, research and interact on social media platforms.

Increase Galway’s economic growth – will have a domino effect by also decreasing unemployment

7. Creative Strategy and Communications Mix

7.1 Creative Strategy

The creative strategy of Galway 2020 should aim to deliver an exciting and engaging program that will celebrate Galway and all it has to offer. The tone of voice that we decide to use in our early promotions will define how we move forward with all events, activities and programs in the year 2020 and also leading up to it.

Promoting Galway as one of the leading cities of culture is an easy task (Galway2020ie, 2017), but promoting it in a way that reaches our target market is the difficult part. We need to be able to target the financially secure culturally curious tourist, whose main interest when travelling is completely immersing themselves in the culture they have decided to travel to.

Between events like the Galway International Arts Festival, the Galway Food Festival, the Galway Film Fleadh, and many more, there’s no doubt that we will have no problem creating authentic experiences for our future visitors. These festivals and events that take place in Galway every year tend to tap into your creative side and allow you to immerse yourself in the culture that surrounds you.

Galway, as a county and city, has many unique selling points that should be emphasised in the promotions leading up to and during Galway 2020. One of them being the fact that Galway is situated along the scenic route of the Wild Atlantic Way. From Clifden all the way down to Kinvara, this coastline has some of the most beautiful sites one can see in Ireland. Another USP of Galway is how it has always been extremely culturally orientated. The people of Galway joyfully celebrated the unique cultural heritage this city has to offer and now we have the ability to share it with the masses of visitors Galway is set to welcome.

7.2 Communications Mix

Simply put, travelling to Galway requires an extremely high level of involvement. Whether you’re travelling from Belfast or New York, it takes time and effort to decide to plan one’s route to this quaint city. This level of involvement heavily reflects how personally important it is, and also defines how interested you are in wanting to be a part of Galway 2020.

Public relations is, and will continue to, play a large role in our communications mix. This is because it is a highly credible medium that doesn’t cost too much money. Print media, such as magazines and newspapers, are incredibly important to the culturally curious tourist. Our target market still heavily rely on the information they acquire from national and international newspapers which is why we have decided to use it as one of our main forms of communication.

Through personal selling, we are able to entice the culturally curious tourist by tapping into their interests and motivations. Galway 2020 are already doing this extremely well on the website. On the ‘Visions’ page, there are multiple links that allow everyone visiting the site to see what the people of Galway envision for the project.

There are many way to try and tackle advertising of the Galway 2020 campaign. An incredible amount of work has already been done with this element of the communication mix. Through the goodwill and enthusiasm that exists for Galway 2020, over €500,000 has been secured in sponsorship for advertising campaigns from 2017-2020. And over the last six months, Galway 2020 has been in contact and working with national and international communications agencies in order to build successful, long-lasting partnerships.

Direct marketing is another incredibly important element of the communications mix for Galway 2020. From our understanding of our target market, the culturally curious tourist often uses Google and social media platforms, such as FaceBook, to research the places they are travelling to. For this reason, we will use Google Adwords and FaceBook ads to target our specific audiences. Galway is fast becoming to “Digital Capital of Culture” as a result of building an online community of over 60,000 people which is why we believe that direct digital marketing will be one of our greatest forms of communication.

8. Details of Campaign

8.1 Press Releases

When choosing the campaigns, a variety of factors were taken into consideration. Such as, Galway 2020’s objectives [Section 6.] , Galway 2020’s creative needs [7.], competitors seeking the US ‘Culturally Curious’ and also the budget available [Section 10.].Taking into consideration the reach, frequency and impact of the various media [Section 9.], the following details the press releases for Galway 2020.

Each stage of the press releases have been designed with the stages of buyer readiness in mind, from awareness to liking to an actual purchase. Press releases through the 18 months will create awareness and interest in Galway 2020 and create positive public relations. Effectiveness will be increased when public relations appears in media consumed by the target market such as video, social media and print as discussed [Section 4.]. The events will be marketed in such a way as to initiate some buzz and prepare the target audience for the year ahead and entice the target audience to experience each of the Dreaming, Planning, Booking, Experiencing and Sharing stages. The marketing communications plan uses different varieties of media, with different messages, to attract the ‘Culturally Curious’ throughout different stages of the Consumer Decision Journey.

Advertising will be utilized as one of the most important communication methods. The use of YouTube, Print, Social Media and Radio seems most promising to reach and affect the US ‘Culturally Curious’. The creative strategy will be used to place advertising in our target media as mentioned above, with slightly different messaging to meet the needs of the target audience in their individual media. Advertising will go through different stages to create awareness in the target audience, educate them through our content, create enough interest to actively research the destination / events and then hopefully result in a vacation to Galway in 2020.

The campaign will be a mix of push and pull strategies from the promotional mix, but will be mainly pull dominated. By creating push strategies through aggressive and wide-reaching ads on YouTube and Radio, we hope to make the biggest and most immediate impact on our target audience. This marketing strategy casts a wide net in the hopes of grabbing as many potential customers for Galway 2020 as possible in the early stages. Campaigns through advertising, mass media promotion, word of mouth advocacies, customer relationship management through social media and promoting word of mouth advocacies are all intended to create a pull strategy for our target audience. This method is intended to generate even more demand for Galway 2020 following the push tactics in the early stages of the 18-month plan. Therefore creating a synergy effect by utilising both types of tactics.

8.2 Galway 2020 App

Before creating the app, we wanted to be sure that it would be a success. Even though Galway 2020 is already a massive success, this doesn’t imply that the app will be as popular. We decided to use a similar design to the website whereby visitors can “Pledge” their support to Galway 2020, visitors can log into the app through Facebook or Twitter and they can also read current news articles and view upcoming events. In the final product, we hope to include a reviews page. This will be a place for app users who have visited Galway to review their time spent here. By creating this page, it will allow us to analyse and investigate the post-testing stage of Galway 2020 in a much clearer way. After the app launch, we will aim to focus on user engagement, retention and customer support. We have calculated that to develop the app, it will cost an estimated €750,000 for the 18 months (Savvyappscom, 2017). This includes €120,000 for operational costs for legal, accounting and comparable fees. The further €630,000 breaks down into €35,000 per month for a team of four to develop and maintain the app over the 18 months.

On the following page, we have created a simple mock-up of the Galway 2020 app with the use of, a website that allows you to create fully-interactive high-fidelity prototypes. However, as outlined above, we have included the amount of capital we will need to employ a team of app developers to create the final version of the Galway 2020 app.

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