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Tourism Works: CEO Blog

Travel Alberta is committed to providing timely and relevant information related to the business of tourism in Alberta and beyond. On this blog page Travel Alberta’s Chief executive Officer Royce Chwin provides insights as well as revealing statistics related to the industry. Chwin’s objective for this communication tool is to acknowledge some of the questions people involved in Alberta’s tourism industry are asking.

Check back each month for the latest entry in the Tourism Works: CEO Blog, and engage with Travel Alberta through our corporate social media channels:

Tourism Works: CEO Blog

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Path to Purchase Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

When I was much, much younger, one of my first purchases was LEGO. I had learned about this awesome new toy from ads in catalogues and on TV.

After some cajoling, my parents agreed to the purchase and we went to the store to buy it. I played with my new building blocks, told my friends and we all built mini-skyscrapers together.

The path to purchase then seemed very straightforward. It’s what we boomers and gen-Xers grew up with.

Today, the hype around path to purchase is deafening. New theories about consumer behaviour and buzz words like loyalty loop, advocacy channels and WOM (word of mouth) suggest the path has become radically different.

Tourism organizations are being told the old linear path to purchase is now a reciprocating loop and unless they completely redesign their strategies, they are in danger of being left behind. This has created a lot of anxiety.

I don’t agree the linear path to purchase has evolved into a cycle. I would argue it has always been a cycle. We may not always have recognized it as such, but the core of the purchasing journey is essentially the same as it was in my LEGO days.

Technology has certainly changed, as has our understanding of how travellers behave during their purchasing decisions. That’s made the road from inspiration to awareness to final purchase quite messy.

Today’s traveller is influenced by a myriad of sources and has a seemingly limitless number of channels from which to pick a flight, hotel or destination.

Once they’ve experienced their purchase – good or bad – they tell their friends and family about it. It’s the same impulse as telling my friends about LEGO, but with today’s global broadcast ability, opinions travel infinitely further.

But even with all these changes to our purchasing environment, the fundamentals of the path have not changed.

The customer remains at the core. They gather information about a destination, they are persuaded to make a choice, they experience the purchase and then share their story with others – who are on their own path to purchase. Thus, the cycle continues.

By knowing our best customer, we can determine where best to reach them along their path to purchase. Research into consumer behaviour and traveller insights is therefore critical if we are to constantly evolve and improve.

The key to success is to resist being overwhelmed or distracted by all the hyperbole that surrounds our new playing field.

At Travel Alberta, we’ve taken steps to stay relevant in this new environment while remaining true to the fundamentals of the path to purchase.

  • We invested in local nuanced research to better understand how our global travellers behave while making travel decisions.

  • We invested and took risks with our social media strategy. We brought our curators in house so they would be more deeply connected to our business and made sure we were highly visible on a variety of social media platforms where our target travellers congregate, converse and share.

  • We invested heavily in content, telling our own story and working with influencers and everyday travellers to enable them to tell theirs more widely.

  • We never forget the traveller is at the heart of our strategy and we validate new theories about consumer behaviour with a grounding in research and professional common sense.

There’s no question the path to purchase is more complex than ever. But it doesn’t have to be bewildering. We can start to uncomplicate the journey by remembering that the fundamentals haven’t really changed that much. After all, we are travellers too.

We’re here to help. When you’re ready, we’re ready.
TOURISM WORKS

Royce Chwin
Travel Alberta Team Member
Chief Executive Officer

Photo credit: John Gibson Photographics @gibbymtbphoto

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