Tourism Stewardship — What’s Next?

Go Lean Commentary

Let’s learn from history…

The industry of travel agencies did not always exist … in modern times. It emerged as transportation options standardized (rail, steamships, and airplanes) and became more convenient. The transportation companies did not need travel agencies; they only acquiesced to the industry stakeholders as a matter of convenience. According to the short history of travel agency pioneer Thomas Cook in Appendix A

[they] agreed to make a permanent arrangement with him provided he found the passengers.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean calls for the elevation of Caribbean society, to re-focus, re-boot, and optimize all the engines of commerce so as to make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play.  The category of “play” covers the full scope of tourism, which is the primary economic driver for our Caribbean region; the book estimates 80 million visitors among the region. (Since that number includes cruise passengers that may visit multiple Caribbean islands on one itinerary, each port is counted separately; without cruise passengers, a figure of 68 – 69 million is perhaps more accurate).

Stewardship 6This commentary is a consideration of tourism, not travel. Tourism is a subset of the travel eco-system, so any Agent of Change in the world of travel must be carefully considered on tourism, on Caribbean tourism.

The World Tourism Organization defines tourists or tourism as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.[1]

Tourism is now a popular global leisure activity. Tourism can be domestic or international, and international tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country’s balance of payments. Today, tourism is a major source of income for many countries, and affects the economy of both the source and host countries, in some cases being of vital importance.

Tourism suffered as a result of a strong economic slowdown of the late-2000s recession, between the second half of 2008 and the end of 2009, and the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus,[2][3] but slowly recovered. International tourism receipts (the travel item in the balance of payments) grew to US$1.03 trillion in 2011, corresponding to an increase in real terms of 3.8% from 2010.[4] International tourist arrivals surpassed the milestone of 1 billion tourists globally for the first time in 2012,[5] the same year in which China became the largest spender in international tourism globally with US$102 billion, surpassing Germany and United States. China and emerging markets such as Russia and Brazil had significantly increased their spending over the previous decade.[6]

The Go Lean book considers these Agents of Change (Page 57) that have dynamically affected the Caribbean economic eco-systems:

  • Technology
  • Globalization
  • Aging Diaspora
  • Climate Change

This first one, technology, has had a most shocking effect on this travel/tourism industry. We can conclude that the days of Thomas Cook are over. It is no longer convenient for tourism industry stakeholders (transportation lines, resort properties, etc.) to acquiesce to travel agents; they are no longer needed to find passengers-guests-travelers-tourists.

(The industry for travel agents have effectively disappeared).

Technology, the Internet-Communications-Technology (ICT) in particular has furnished alternative and better options for travel enterprises to find passengers-guests-travelers-tourists; see sample website,, in the VIDEO in the Appendix C below. (These websites also provide better options/prices for consumers). Travel agents are now inconsequential.

The same too with politicians leading the Tourism stewardship!

The national stewards of Caribbean tourism must now transform for this Agent of Change. Instead of “schmoozing” travel agents to incentivize bookings, it is necessary to master Search Engine Optimizations (SEO), website design, social media outreach, etc..

The Caribbean member-states do not need “Ministers/Secretaries of Tourism” or Ambassadors of governments, they need Computer Programmers! More exactly, the region needs multi-lingual computer programmers, as the foregoing World Tourism Organization quote relates that much of the growth in tourism numbers are from the emerging markets of China, Russia, Brazil, etc. (In Economics, these countries are grouped B.R.I.C.S. for Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa).

Technology and Globalization! The stewardship of Caribbean tourism must truly adapt, evolve and transform to keep pace.

How is the Caribbean tourism industry doing in this regard? There is the case-in-point of Aruba. See the news article here:

Title: Why Aruba Tourism is Booming — And What’s Next
Sub-title: The Dutch Caribbean’s tourism hub is growing. Quickly.
By: Caribbean Journal staff

Stewardship 1Plainly, tourism in Aruba is booming. The island saw a 16.2 percent increase in stayover visitor arrivals in the first half of 2015, making it the Caribbean’s fastest-growing destination in the first half of 2015, according to data from the Caribbean Tourism Organization. So what’s next for the island? To learn more, CJ caught up with Ronella Ronella Tjin Asjoe, CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority.

What is the outlook for Aruba tourism and the forecast for the high season?

With each passing year, Aruba continues to see an increase in the number of stay-over visitors and visitor on-island spending. After receiving a record number of annual visitors in 2014 (1.07 million), ATA set an aggressive goal for an 11.5 percent increase in 2015, as well as a 4 percent increase in tourism receipts, and is on track to surpass those goals. The overall ADR is projected to grow by 5-10 percent in 2015, and RevPar is projected to grow by a similar rate. With increased airlift, island-wide hotel renovations and new projects in the works, coupled with ATA’s innovative digital marketing strategies, Aruba’s tourism product improves annually — resulting in improved performance results year over year.

What new initiatives are there for Aruba Tourism Authority?

Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) has launched a new interactive experience allowing visitors to share their perfect Aruba vacation before ever stepping foot on our popular Caribbean island. The Happiness Builder is a content-rich planning experience where travelers can explore nearly 100 videos featuring adventure, relaxation, romance and cultural activities in Aruba. This dynamic and fully-immersive planning process — from choosing the video clips to picking an accompanying music track and personal message — results in a customized “Shortcut to Happiness” video that is easily sharable. As Aruba continues to evolve from both a product and marketing perspective, new and innovative tools like the Happiness Builder remain crucial to Aruba’s success as one of the most popular tourist destinations.

What are the largest challenges facing Aruba as a tourist destination?

Stewardship 2The World Tourism Council (WTTC) reports Aruba’s GDP is more reliant on travel and tourism than any other nation, relative to size, in the world. Tourism currently accounts for 88 percent of the nation’s GDP and only continues to increase. As such, Aruba must remain creative and digital-savvy to inspire consumers to visit and fully experience our island. Our target audience visits more than 20 websites before booking their vacation, so it is essential for us to maintain a presence throughout that process with a timely, persuasive message at each stage. By engaging the best strategists and leveraging targeted technologies, we can ensure our marketing dollars are spent effectively against desired consumers in-market for vacation travel.

What sort of new investments are being made in the public sector of Aruba as it relates to tourism?

As part of Aruba’s ongoing, $1 billion+ island revitalization and beautification project, the destination recently invested more than $100 million in significant hotel updates to enhance visitors’ experiences, with an additional $50 million planned for next year. The Aruba Airport Authority also fully renovated the Reina Beatrix International Airport, introducing new amenities and services true to the One happy island brand. This includes an airport wide Wi-Fi upgrade, installation of APC and ABC Kiosks, three new F&B concepts and an additional 150 seats, and an update to the airport arrival hall and VIP lounges. Airport investments between $100-150 million are planned in the upcoming years, as traffic continues to reach new heights

Are there large renovations, new projects or new hotels are on the horizon?

In addition to the island-wide resort renovations, Aruba has new hotels in the works. The city of San Nicolas continues to be a large focus for ATA and the government, as it continues to evolve as a cultural center, with new museums slated in the coming years.

Tell us a little about upcoming Aruba events and festivals. Which of these can you recommend?

Fall is one of Aruba’s most eventful times of year, with countless culinary, cultural and musical festivals. Upcoming events include the Aruba International Film Festival, Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival and highly-anticipated, first annual Restaurant Week, Sept. 28-Oct. 9. Boasting 60 participating restaurants, Aruba is increasingly revered as the “Ultimate Sand Bar Island,” with 25+ bars/restaurants conveniently located on the water. Options range from casual decks overlooking the Caribbean sea to fine dining toes-in-the-sand establishments. Aruba’s new restaurant week offers food critics, wine connoisseurs, foodies and everyone in between the opportunity to explore Aruba’s culinary heritage.
Source: Caribbean Journal – Regional – News Site (Published September 13, 2015) –

According to the foregoing news story/interview, the Tourism stewards in Aruba understand the significance of the technology/digital strategy for elevating this economic engine. Is this the case for the rest of the region? Hardly!

Stewardship 3Even still, it is obvious that the expertise and reach of the officials in Aruba is still limited; see previous blog-commentary here on the State of Aruban society. The book Go Lean…Caribbean and the underlying movement seeks to re-boot the strategies and tactics of tourism marketing for the entire Caribbean region. The book asserts Caribbean member-states must expand and optimize their tourism outreach but that the requisite investment of the resources (time, talent, treasuries) for this goal may be too big for any one Caribbean member-state (like Aruba) alone. Rather, shifting the responsibility to a region-wide, professionally-managed, deputized technocracy will result in greater production and greater accountability. This deputized agency is the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The book thereafter introduces the CU and provides a roadmap for its implementation into a Single Market for the Caribbean economy … and tourism marketing.

The goal of the CU is to bring the proper tools and techniques to the Caribbean region to optimize the stewardship of the economic, security and governing engines.  The book posits that the economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, with technocratic management and stewardship better than the status quo. While the goal of the roadmap is to pursue a diversification strategy, the reality is that tourism will continue to be the primary economic driver in the region for the foreseeable future. The publisher of the book Go Lean…Caribbean convenes the talents and skillsets of movers-and-shakers in electronic commerce so as to forge the best tools and techniques for this new ICT-based marketing.

According to the below Appendix B – Priceline and Appendix C – VIDEO, the world is operating under a different business model than previously familiar in the Caribbean. Truly the region needs programmers not politicians to shepherd tourism in the homeland.

Change has come to the travel industry. Just how do we optimize the marketing and management of our new products and services to elevate our economies?

This book Go Lean… Caribbean provides the needed details. Early in the book, the optimization and best-practices of regional tourism was highlighted as a reason the Caribbean region needed to unite, integrate and confederate. These pronouncements were included in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 11 – 14):

iv.  Whereas the natural formation of the landmass is in a tropical region, the flora and fauna allows for an inherent beauty that is enviable to peoples near and far. The structures must be strenuously guarded to protect and promote sustainable systems of commerce paramount to this reality.

vi.  Whereas the finite nature of the landmass of our lands limits the populations and markets of commerce, by extending the bonds of brotherhood to our geographic neighbors allows for extended opportunities and better execution of the kinetics of our economies through trade. This regional focus must foster and promote diverse economic stimuli.

viii.  Whereas the population size is too small to foster good negotiations for products and commodities from international vendors, the Federation must allow the unification of the region as one purchasing agent, thereby garnering better terms and discounts.

xxiv.  Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxvi.  Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries… In addition, the Federation must invigorate the enterprises related to existing industries like tourism… – impacting the region with more jobs.

xxvii. Whereas the region has endured a spectator status during the Industrial Revolution, we cannot stand on the sidelines of this new economy, the Information Revolution. Rather, the Federation must embrace all the tenets of Internet Communications Technology (ICT) to serve as an equalizing element in competition with the rest of the world. The Federation must bridge the digital divide and promote the community ethos that research/development is valuable and must be promoted and incentivized for adoption.

The Go Lean… Caribbean book wisely details the community ethos to adopt to proactively facilitate the digital campaigns for the changed landscape of tourism marketing; plus the executions of the following strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principle – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Principle – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments (ROI) Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Foster Genius – Literary, Art and Music in Graphic Design Page 27
Community Ethos – Impact Research & Development – Including ICT Page 30
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Sharing – Data / Social Network Page 35
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Integrate Region in a Single Market Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Build and Foster Local Economic Engines Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Exploit the Benefits of Globalization in Trade-Tourism Page 46
Strategy – Agents of Change – Technology Page 57
Strategy – Agents of Change – Globalization Page 57
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Growing the Economy to $800 Billion – Trade and Globalization Page 70
Tactical – Website for Caribbean stakeholders – Tourists Page 74
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Tourism Promotions and Administration Page 78
Implementation – Integrate All Caribbean Websites to Portal Page 97
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Ways to Impact Social Media – Portal Page 111
Planning – 10 Big Ideas – Cyber Caribbean Page 127
Planning – Ways to Make the Caribbean   Better Page 131
Planning – Ways to Better Manage Image – Digital Media Presence Page 133
Planning – Lessons Learned from 2008 – Tourism & Economy Went Bust Page 136
Planning – Lessons Learned from Egypt – Lack of Tourism Stewardship Page 143
Advocacy – Ways to Measure Progress – Mining Portal Data Page 147
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Communications – Internet & Social Media Marketing Page 186
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism – Excess Inventory Marketing Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Events – Sharing Economy Page 191
Advocacy – Ways to Market Southern California Page 194
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Technology Page 197
Advocacy – Ways to Foster e-Commerce Page 198
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage – Cyber-Caribbean Image/Media Page 218

The CU seeks to foster internet-communications-technologies to aid-and-abet tourism. This includes all supporting functions before, during and after visitors come to our shores. In fact the Go Lean roadmap considers the tourist, a stakeholder in this empowerment plan. These prime directives apply to them as well:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines, ensure public safety for stakeholders and marshal against economic crimes.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

Examine here how a technocratic effort can enhance the Caribbean tourism outreach online. See this How-To article:

Title: Template For Success: 5 Keys to Creating A Winning Social Media Plan

By: Stuart Leung, Guest Columnist from

Stewardship 4With social networks becoming more and more ingrained in everyday business communication and gaining widespread acceptance as a marketing channel, your company needs to know how to connect with your consumer base.

So, do you have a plan around social media?

With dozens of social networks that each offer unique benefits, the natural inclination is to jump on every platform, but unless you have multiple social media managers, the most effective way to communicate is to prioritize and create a business plan around social. With a strategy, you can target your time and effort to not only show up to the social party, but build real relationships with your connections.

There is a difference between using social media, utilizing it correctly, and leveraging it for the needs and goals of your business. Studies indicate that 33% of consumers use social networks as a way they discover new brands, products or services, and if you’re not doing social media the right way, it’s really easy for a consumer to be put off and move on.

Perhaps your business has a Facebook page, but it isn’t engaging with your fans. There’s the corporate Twitter account, but it’s produced only 14 tweets in the last year. And does it make sense for your small business to be invested in Pinterest if the account has been dormant? Businesses jumping in without a plan happens more often than not because it’s simple to register with an email, choose a handle, and go through the motions.

Successful social media players have more than just a presence. They’ve not only developed a strong social media plan, but they also allot real resources to engage and grow their user base on each network.

With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, SlideShare, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, and more, how do you choose which networks to plan around? It’s a common dilemma that faces thousands of business owners everyday.

Here are five important factors that will help not only develop a social media presence, but hopefully will open up new opportunities for business as well:

  1. Realistic Metrics for Social Media Success

In order to achieve success, you first need to define what success will look like on social media.

Take a critical look at how you use social media now. Has it been working for you? Are you able to see any growth as a result? Do you know how to measure that growth?

Now, ask yourself what it is that you want to accomplish. Common social media goals can be enhancing customer awareness, promoting staff accomplishments, and sharing information about your company. Whatever your end goals may be, try to break them down into easily definable and measurable objectives. Be specific when you do this, so that you’ll be able to see definitively what is moving you towards completing these objectives.

As you get more of a feel for what social marketing can achieve, and what you need it to do for you, you’ll be able to refine your goals and make them more realistic. Also, this is a great time to review your overall marketing plan as you look for ways to increase your social media presence.

  1. Active and Nurtured Community

Who is reaching out to you on social and is already, organically engaging with your brand? How can you nurture and grow that community in an authentic way that also supports your team’s overall marketing efforts?

What other methods could you use to connect with your audience, and how could you link your efforts to make them more effective? Define these personas and remember that they will determine your success or failure, so make sure that you know who they are, and how to best connect with them.

  1. Content and Promotion

The Internet is a dynamic and evolving creature, which means that the content that you create for your social media has to be dynamic as well.

A common pitfall among many organizations is not having enough fresh and interesting content for social media. Strive for content that is relevant, current, and genuinely applicable to your audience today.

Plan ahead and dedicate resources for your social media efforts. It’s critical to have a content calendar to organize when you’re going to generate content and manage when the content will be pushed out.

Will you have employees who will write it, or do you plan to use freelancers? Decide who will be creating the assignments and monitoring the quality of the work, and ensure that your social media plan not only allows for regular updates and posts, but speaks the language of that particular social network.

  1. Social Networks Relevant to Your Business

Focus on specific social media networks that will most help you attract and engage your audience.

This goes hand in hand with factor #2 above—the community you will be nurturing. How does your company want to connect with current and prospective customers. Is your brand voice personal or professional? Do you have resources for a two-way conversation, or will your strategy focus on broadcasting?

The demographics of your base are also important here. How old are they? What is their gender? Further defining your audience will greatly help you choose the social network that works best for your audience.

  1. Open and Transparent Communication

The open-forum format of social media means your company will benefit from direct communication with your customers. In all interactions with customers on social, authenticity and transparency is key.

Allow customers to use social media to share their feedback—show appreciation for positive feedback with positive responses, and address negative feedback head-on. Don’t make the mistake of deleting negative posts. Instead, show your customers that they’ve been heard, apologize and accept responsibility, and when possible, use feedback to improve how you do business.

Make sure that whomever is in charge of social media knows how to respond, and is working closely with your internal PR team to manage these inevitable situations.

Stewardship 5

Source: Forbes Magazine – National Business Weekly (Published September 3, 2014; retrieved September 15, 2015) –

This foregoing article describes the heavy-lifting involved in optimizing the digital marketing efforts for the Caribbean touristic enterprises. This hard-work is worth the effort. The Returns-on-Investment is assured!

In previous Go Lean blogs, related points of the Agents of Change affecting tourism have been detailed; see sample here: Cruise Ship Commerce – Getting Ready for Change Tobago: A Model for Cruise Tourism The need to optimize Caribbean aviation policies Internet Commerce meets Sharing Economy: Airbnb Casinos Failing Business Model within Tourism The Future of Golf; Vital for Tourism 10 Things We Want from the US – # 2: Tourists The need to enhance Tourism with “Air Lifts” Tourism’s changing profile

This commentary has related the world of Thomas Cook the person, and reported that the business model he established has now passed on into history, just like him. The new players include entities like the Priceline Group and their series of companies – see Appendix – Priceline below. The stewardship of the past just simply no longer applies today.

It is what it is!

The Caribbean must lean-in to this new tourism business model; we must embrace the future present. With the empowerments and elevations in the Go Lean roadmap we can succeed in making the Caribbean region a better place to live, work and play, for citizens and tourists alike. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix A – Thomas Cook

A pioneer of the [leisure] travel agency business, Thomas Cook‘s idea to offer excursions came to him while waiting for the stagecoach on the London Road at Kibworth [England]. With the opening of the extended Midland Counties Railway, he arranged to take a group of 540 temperance campaigners from Leicester Campbell Street station to a rally in Loughborough, eleven miles away. On 5 July 1841, Thomas Cook arranged for the rail company to charge one “shilling” per person that included rail tickets and food for this train journey. Cook was paid a share of the fares actually charged to the passengers, as the railway tickets, being legal contracts between company and passenger, could not have been issued at his own price. This was the first privately chartered excursion train to be advertised to the general public; Cook himself acknowledging that there had been previous, unadvertised, private excursion trains.[34] During the following three summers he planned and conducted outings for temperance societies and Sunday-school children. In 1844 the Midland Counties Railway Company agreed to make a permanent arrangement with him provided he found the passengers. This success led him to start his own business running rail excursions for pleasure, taking a percentage of the railway tickets.

Four years later, he planned his first excursion abroad, when he took a group from Leicester to Calais [Northern France] to coincide with the Paris Exhibition in 1848. The following year he started his ‘grand circular tours’ of Europe. During the 1860s he took parties to Switzerland, Italy, Egypt and the United States. Cook established ‘inclusive independent travel’, whereby the traveller went independently but his agency charged for travel, food and accommodation for a fixed period over any chosen route. Such was his success that the Scottish railway companies withdrew their support between 1862 and 1863 to try the excursion business for themselves.


Book Thomas Cook Travel and Leisure Services directly at:


Appendix B – Priceline Group – A Giant in Electronic Travel Commerce

The Priceline Group [NASDAQ: PCLN], is a provider of online travel & related services to consumers and local partners in over 200 countries through six primary brands: – Hotel booking source, originating in Europe but now boasting 700,000 properties and 900,000 room nights/year. – Online travel agency for Air, Hotel and Car Rentals products; originating in North America – An Asian-based online hotel retailer.[5]

KAYAK – Meta travel search company; originating in North America – A multinational rental car service

OpenTable – Online restaurant-reservation service for about 31,000 global restaurants, sitting 15 million diners a month.[2]

Collectively The Priceline Group operates in over 200 countries and territories in Europe, North America, South America, the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa in over 40 languages.

Formerly known as LLC, the company was officially renamed in April 2014 to better to reflect its evolution as a company with multiple independently-operated brands.[1] In 2014, Darren Huston was named Chief Executive Officer of The Priceline Group, a role previously held by Jeff Boyd.[2]


Appendix C – VIDEO – TV Commercial –

Published on Jan 15, 2014 – What’s your hotel niche? Footwear? Eggs? Electric wind? If you’re into it, knows where to “booking” find it. / “Planet Earth’s #1 Accommodation Site”.


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