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TOURISM MATTERS: The value of quality sponsorship

Adrian Loveridge

TOURISM MATTERS: The value of quality sponsorship

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When you are working with minuscule marketing budgets, securing sponsorship is absolutely critical to the overall success of most promotions. The secret is to ensure that any sponsor investing in a bigger-picture project achieves a cost effective return. That cannot be done without a careful evaluation of potential linkages and mutual benefits.

A well known business publication said: “Sponsorship should not be confused with advertising. Advertising is considered a quantitative medium, whereas sponsorship is considered a qualitative medium.”

Beneficial partnerships can add tremendous value and credibility, especially if increased sales and market share can be directly measured to the strategic alliance.

It also makes it far more likely that the sponsor would be willing to support future ventures. There are many creative ways that the process can be enhanced. For instance, with our current dine-around initiative we persuaded a major distributor to offer a range of wines at a special rate to our restaurant partners, allowing a greater net return for the individual establishments and growing the suppliers’ market share.

Other sponsors have a monthly option of offering one or more of their products at reduced prices.

Another one is a financial institution, and by selecting a particular method of payment, the consumer earns extra airline miles or points, while the bank offsets involvement costs with increased merchandising fees. Generally it’s a win-win situation for all participating parties.

It is, however, very important not to even hint of a promise that a collaboration could produce any more than a realistic return on investment.

Take the bank as an example. Just 100 people electing to use their branded credit card at one of the 22 dining establishments covers the cost of the sponsorship and that’s an achievable reality during a couple of nights.

Therefore, if you can cover the actual expense, every other benefit that is generated in the wake, like increased visibility, brand awareness and savings created by higher volume, is a bonus, at little or no extra cost.

It is no coincidence that some of the most successful companies are frequent sponsors, learning over the years to be selective and discerning.

Until the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., finds its feet and effectively implements new initiatives which will hopefully drive additional long-stay arrival numbers, the private sector must step up if we are to see any short-to medium-term recovery.

Two thousand and thirteen ended with the lowest number of stay over visitors for 11 consecutive years. It must be absolutely apparent by now that the $11 million budgeted to drive an additional 15 000 people to our shores which were estimated to spend $30 million, called the Barbados Island Inclusive promotion, simply did not work.

Bringing it back this year to all markets, except the United Kingdom, as the only major national promotion has produced the same dismal results, at least for the first nine months of the year.

What is absolutely vital is that any future all embracing promotions must be implemented earlier and monitored for performance on a regular basis.