St Lucia kick start “INNtimate St. Lucia” marketing strategy

At WTM 2003 the St. Lucia Tourist Board together with The Ministry of Tourism and the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association launched a new marketing strategy coined “INNtimate St. Lucia” to increase the awareness and profitability of the small hotel sector.on the development of the plan and provided strategic content. Small properties currently amount to nearly half of St. Lucia’s accommodation portfolio (49%) but obtain only 27% of tourist arrivals whereas the large hotel sector accounts for 51% of the accommodation stock and obtains 73% of arrivals. The main source of business for all properties interviewed by the board is the United Kingdom at 24.8% of arrivals.  With the key markets of holiday/leisure (65.9%) ranking first followed by eco-tourism (18.2%). Another primary niche market is weddings and honeymoons followed by groups/clubs.For better pricing, packaging and targeting, small hotel accommodation is to be divided (based on the facilities and amenities present at the property) into five categories namely, guest houses, self-catering apartments, limited service hotels, full service hotels and villas. Integral to the success of the marketing programme, is the development of a central reservations system to respond to the increased demand stimulated by the marketing effort.The range of properties all have similar values, offering a combination of personalised St. Lucian hospitality, high standards of accommodation and affordable prices that enable visitors to experience the warm culture in a home-away-from-home setting. “There is a necessity to increase the awareness of the fantastic range of accommodation, activities, sites and attractions on St. Lucia,” explains Peter Hilary Modeste, Director of Tourism. “INNtimate St. Lucia recognises the small hotels sector as an important component of the tourism product and the plan will provide invaluable support to properties that do not have the financial resources to pursue an aggressive, independent marketing plan in an increasingly competitive industry. We are all very excited to be involved in such an ambitious and worthwhile marketing strategy that will benefit St. Lucia enormously.“Ongoing research will play an important role in the project and the strategy will be executed through a number of promotional tools. At present the outline plan includes a comprehensive website, a full colour brochure with information and photography, CD-ROM, flyers targeted at niche market segments including weddings and honeymoons, Point of Sale material for travel agents and trade shows, sales presenters, advertising, interactive media and familiarisation trips.