In a week of posts that we might as well as prefaced as “How market research can help you or your organisation”, today we look at how assessing market trends can help develop future strategies for all sorts of companies.
Given the time of year (supposedly summer for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere!) it seems particularly apposite to take a look at the tourism industry and what qualitative research has delivered for Britain’s tourist agency VisitBritain.
VisitBritain is Britain’s national tourism agency, tasked with marketing Britain in 36 countries in addition to promoting England in Britain, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands. British tourism is worth approximately £86 billion to the UK economy every year. Some £66 billion of this is generated by domestic residents on trips taken within the UK, a further £16 billion by overseas visitors to Britain. It is Britain’s fifth largest industry and employs over two million people.
General speaking, Britain’s main influx of overseas visitors have tended to come from the US, Germany, France, Spain and Ireland. The market is, however, changing – especially as Asia is beginning to play a more important role in the world tourism market and destined to be the driving force for outbound and inbound tourism over the coming years.
Europe as a whole is forecast to enjoy a 30% increase in visits from Asia and a 31% rise from the Middle East over the next couple of years. During the same period, Europe is expected to experience only a 14% increase from North America, traditionally one of Britain’s main money earners. The falling dollar exchange rate is partly to blame, with North Americans now looking for cheaper, more affordable destinations. Britain is also slipping down the “must see now” list because of the growing popularity of “new” destinations such as India, Thailand and Croatia.
Research continues to help us understand what people want from a holiday and subsequent insights show us how we can meet their requirements. Qualitative research is used extensively to help VisitBritain develop this understanding, with the insights gained helping shape strategy in an increasingly competitive environment.
The above originally appeared in the July/August edition of “In Brief”, the Association for Qualitative Research’s bi-monthly update.