I always think that if locals would care less about what other locals think about them, we will be living in a better, happier world.
But I guess in tourism, it is important to find out what other people think about us, and that is why yesterday, a small but engaged crowd congregated into a meeting room at the Ritz Carlton to hear the results of a competition research initiated by ATA.
We found out:
What Europeans with a penchant for exotic travel, mostly Florida and Mexico, thought about us BEFORE visiting here.
What they thought about us AFTER experiencing the island first-hand.
Good news. We enjoy wide name-recognition, 99%, immediately after Hawaii and before the Bahamas; Aruba is right up there as far as its appeal for future travel, and most people reported that when considering travel Aruba is #2 on the list after Hawaii, and we scored as the #1 destination for consideration of travel in the NEAR future.
It gets much better with Europeans who have been here, and while they ordinarily value culture and unique experiences when travelling, this is NOT the case for Aruba.
In their perception, Aruba is a good place for adults, a place where they can relax and not stress out, where they can make lasting memories with my family or friends
Why is that important to know?
So we can tweak our message to them. They value a beach vacations above all, and we can give them the best. Marketing shopping, family-vacations, Carnival, casino, or adventure-tours to Europeans is not a great strategy.
So, I feel we are back where we started. Or maybe we never left, we ARE a sea, sand and sun destination, and if you throw in some good food, friendly locals, accommodations that meet their standards and a general happy vibe, they are happy, they love it.
Aruba is not associated with the ease of getting here, and not associated with value-for money.
So we have our work cut out for us: Improving air connections, and marketing to European demographics with deeper pockets.
Once Europeans visit Aruba, their five top findings? It’s a happy place; It’s a destination I would recommend to friends, family and co-workers; the locals are friendly; the weather never gets in the way of a good time, and this is a place one must see at least once, in a lifetime.