The dramatic growth of the CNMI’s tourism industry has caught the attention of American travel and restaurant website company TripAdvisor, which is impressed with the numbers the sector has been racking up in the past several years.
“The growth is just dramatic, especially in the past year,” said Gary Cheng, TripAdvisor speaker and sales manager for North Asia.
Cheng, who is on Saipan to do a workshop for owners and management representatives of hotels, restaurants, and other tourism-related services, said the number of people from all over the world who are looking at Saipan through TripAdvisor is increasing very rapidly, especially for markets like China, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea.
“The top non-Asian markets that are looking at Micronesia as a whole would be the U.S., Russia, and the U.K. It’s definitely growing but not as quickly as the Asian market,” he added.
Based on the Marianas Visitors Authority’s latest numbers, visitors arrivals jumped 18 percent in September 2017 compared to September 2016, marking 653,150 total arrivals for fiscal year 2017, a 30-percent increase in arrivals over the prior fiscal year. This is the fourth highest fiscal year arrivals in Marianas history, the record being 726,690 in 1997.
MVA invited TripAdvisor to the CNMI to educate the local tourism industry on how to handle online reputation and how to maximize their marketing presence through the internet.
TripAdvisor representatives did a workshop at the Kensington Hotel in San Roque yesterday.
MVA managing director Chris Concepcion said that MVA’s goal is to train the local tourism industry on how to maintain and keep their marketing presence online.
“It is important to have a positive presence because it reflects the whole CNMI. If there is a bad review in one of the hotels or even at a popular restaurant, that spreads because it’s on the internet,” he said. “So we want to make sure they know how to manage their online presence and work so that it benefits them. Travelers these days are very social-media conscious.”
The workshop tackled best practices on how to improve customer experience, encourage reviews, and how to be consistent about it.
Cheng said that information is critical and that hotels, restaurants, and other traveler services available on TripAdvisor should make shared information—even as simple as photographs—relevant.
“We are in a digital age. We can’t go back in time. At this particular time, social media is everything. The internet is liberalizing the whole industry, so now the consumers have more say and more control,” he said.
TripAdvisor and MVA’s partnership began in June this year, when the board approved the MVA management’s request to expand its online presence by working with TripAdvisor.
Concepcion believes that hotels and restaurants in the CNMI could compete at a world-class level, where you attract people through marketing while managing your online reputation and content.
“I do it myself. When I travel and I stay in a hotel or eat at a restaurant and the service is good or bad, I definitely go online and comment. What’s good about TripAdvisor is the registered hotels and restaurants listen. The management usually responds,” he said.
Cheng said that TripAdvisor is just one platform that is business friendly and it happens to be the biggest one where consumers exchange experiences.
“For all businesses, the good thing about TripAdvisor is it is free. Even if you don’t have a budget, you can do a lot and that is exactly what consumers are looking for—genuine content. Even if you don’t pay but you get genuine content, that’s better than you paying for irrelevant content,” he said.
Concepcion said that MVA will continue to keep the CNMI in the know on how tourism marketing is being managed around the world.
“I think it’s good that the CNMI gets in the groove in the way things are handled in the tourism industry today. This way, it will [mandate] businesses to keep improving their products, which is good overall for the CNMI,” Concepcion said.
Source: Google News : https://www.saipantribune.com/index.php/tripadvisor-nmi-tourism-growth-dramatic/