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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

SHEARWATER ADVENTURES

MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS PLAN SHEARWATER

Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

Integrated Marketing Communications Plan Shearwater Adventures Table of Contents


Executive Summary ......................................................................................................................... ii 1.0 Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 1 1.1. The Need.............................................................................................................................. 1 1.2 The Market ............................................................................................................................ 2 1.3 The Business......................................................................................................................... 2 1.4 Report Structure .................................................................................................................... 2 2.0 Situation Analysis ..................................................................................................................... 3 3.0 Market Segmentation................................................................................................................ 4 4.0 Target Market............................................................................................................................ 6 5.0 The 7-P Analysis ....................................................................................................................... 7 6.0 SWOT Analysis ......................................................................................................................... 9 7.0 Marketing Communications Strategy ..................................................................................... 11 7.1 Objectives............................................................................................................................ 11 7.2 Communication Strategy..................................................................................................... 12 7.3 Media selection & Justification............................................................................................ 12 7.4 Advertisement design ......................................................................................................... 14 8.0 Evaluation ............................................................................................................................... 16 References .................................................................................................................................... 17

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

Executive Summary An emerging niche market in the tourism sector is adventure tourism. This report presents an integrated marketing communication plan for Shearwater Adventures, a Zimbabwe based company. Shearwater Adventures currently faces difficulty in increasing revenues and spend per customer. Potential customers include the baby boomers and an emerging market of young persons seeking adventure. Using analyses of the current market scenario, 7-P, and SWOT analyses the communication strategy seeks to increase revenue and customer spend through a CAGR of 20%. Simultaneously, the strategy looks to improve product image to a 5-Star destination in five years. The communications revolve around a challenge to potential customers to dare the activities available and the tag line C-rocks down the Zambezi. First priority lies in ensuring a tight fit and consistency in all corporate communications through a corporate style. This strategy recommends very little use of print media, direct mailers, or outdoor advertisement looking at the geographical spread of the market and the resources available. Selected exposure through advertisements on television shows l ike XGames, Survivor, and Fear Factor and sponsorship of similar programmes is envisaged in later stages of the plan. The Shearwater website is the media of choice as it has the potential to reach across the entire market segment at low cost and detailed plans for improving the quality of the browsing experience and attracting larger number of visits to the site are provided. This report recommends a number of other promotions like contests for free tickets, stay, activities, or complete holiday packages; off-season discounts; promotional T-Shirts; and gifts of outdoor gear with promotional messages.

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

Integrated Marketing Communications Plan Shearwater Adventures 1.0 Introduction With the comparative ease of travel and larger disposable incomes, the world tourism market has evolved and tastes changed. Holiday destinations have gone beyond the traditional sun, sea and sand offerings (Boyd 2002). One of the niche markets that have emerged is adventure tourism. Adventure travel generates approximately $15 billion of the approximately $100 billion-dollar annual industry revenues (Adventure Travel). This report presents an integrated marketing communications plan for Shearwater Adventures, a Zimbabwe based adventure tourism operator. 1.1. The Need The emerging worldwide market for the adventure tourism businesses has grown tremendously riding on the popularity of programmes such as X-Games, Saviour, and Fear Factor on entertainment media (Thompson et al, 2008). Customers, typically working people in the age bracket of mid 40s and early 50s, typically look to perk up their mundane and stilted lives with a first hand experience of real-life adventure in situations close to nature. These customers are also typically from the section of society that has large disposable incomes and some of the main drivers to their lifestyle are the increasing popularity of the ideas of living a healthy life and staying young at heart. There is a continuing growth in young persons looking for adventure travel.

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater 1.2 The Market The international business is estimated to yield annual revenues of 10 billion dollars and has 250,000 operators with some of them reporting an annual growth of 12% (Buckley, 2006). Political and economic uncertainty and massive competition in the global holiday destination market make for a difficult marketing situation. Estimates are that 10% Americans have taken at least one adventure-travel trip and this is growing at 10% every year (Jackson, 2005). 1.3 The Business Located at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Shearwater Adventures (Shearwater) is engaged in providing an adventure experience to its customers mainly centred around white water rafting on the Zambezi River. Shearwater is a small-medium sized operation that saw good growth in the years following leading up to 2005. However, things have not gone very well in the past few years and this appears to a problem related to incorrect marketing strategy. (Details of the company are from their website and from the case study in Thompson et al, 2008) 1.4 Report Structure In this report, we present an analysis of the market in which Shearwater operates and propose a revised strategy to improve performance in a meaningful and measurable way. The aim is to construct a marketing communications strategy for Shearwater and recommend an action plan for its implementation, including measurement of efficacy.

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

2.0 Situation Analysis Revenue growth was reported at 50.74% in 2005 but tapered down to 15.93% in 2006 and has remained steady at this level. It is relevant to note that, given the rampant inflation and political turmoil in Zimbabwe, this growth actually represents a contraction in real terms. It therefore becomes more relevant to look at growth in terms of the number of customers and the revenue generated per visit. Revenue per customer is steady at around 100 US$ and footfall has only increased marginally, indicating: Fierce competition preventing increase in price Lack of product differentiation among different operators offering similar services No ability to attract the premium customer

Customer loyalty is not a factor except for referral sales because a customer is not likely to re-visit having experienced the thrills offered once. Barriers to entry are almost non-existent as anyone with a raft and some experience can enter the market almost overnight. Strategy must therefore look to raise level and range of services unmatchable by new entrants. Shearwater faces redundancy of equipment as newer equipment enters the market all the time that aim to increase customer experience and safety. Growth through mergers and acquisitions is not a viable option as no other businesses of any substantial size exist with whom Shearwater shares synergy. However, acquisition of related businesses like taxi and shuttle services, travel agencies, guide services etc may offer some alternatives. This report does not apply itself to such issues and focuses of developing a marketing strategy to leverage performance. pg. 3

Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

3.0 Market Segmentation We apply the basic principle that each segment should be measurable, accessible, and sustainable to determine market segment on different variables. The information used is from the Adventure Travels website updated in 2008. Geographic Shearwaters customer is most likely to come from the US, UK, South Africa, Australia and the western European countries. The customer lives in urban areas of major cities. Demographic Predominantly male, but with increasing number of women, the customer is in the mid 40s and in the early 50s. Socio-economic Most visitors are married and a majority do not have children living at home. The majority have household incomes between $ 75,000 and $ 149,000. A new segment Gen-Y is fast emerging; these are younger looking to explore and engage with other cultures yet their motivation to travel for adventure are the same as the older customer. These customers are well off and determine destination before worrying about the budget. Psychographic The customer is educated and experienced and looks for flexibility and demand more from the product they are buying and are thus more fickle and less loyal. They are pg. 4

Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater passionate about what they do and will cut back on other expenses before they change travel plans (Jackson, 2005). Buyer Behaviour Customers typically examine many options using internet search, social networks, and rarely information from travel agents. Referrals from earlier customers are important to decision making. 31% travellers decide to visit a travel destination based on information from travel media.

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

4.0 Target Market Based on segmentation the target market for Shearwater consists of customers High-income, middle aged, individuals seeking adventure to perk otherwise staid lives and coming mainly from affluent western countries. Young Gen-Y customers seeking short adventure travel with high disposable income Willing to spend more for personalised service Resident of major urban areas in developed countries. Have access to, and use the WWW for researching destinations and are active on social networking sites. This market segment chooses itself for several reasons: 1. To increase numbers of visitors and importantly per visit spend. 2. To improve pre-visit reservations enabling better planning of resource mobilisation. 3. Establish a premium brand, using skills available and remoteness to place Shearwater at the apex of the market pyramid (Buckley, 2006).

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

5.0 The 7-P Analysis 5.1 Product The product is awesome, and enhanced through addition/tie-up of three-star lodging and boarding. Arrangements to provide gaming facilities will add to the adrenaline rush in nighttime entertainment. Facilities to video-record/photograph experience as a personal documentary will be added. 5.2 Positioning Shearwater will position its services as a different provider of premium top-drawer adventure travel. 5.3 Price and Promotion Destination packages are priced in accordance with the positioning with near complete flexibility for the customer to choose personalised adventure package. Promotion will aim to establish this position within the chosen niche market, and generate positive publicity based on conservation oriented and sustainable business model. The aim is to attract the customer who looks for top-end product without concern for price. 5.4 Place and Partnerships In addition to Victoria Falls, Shearwater will seek dynamic tie-ups with tour operators in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa to provide seamless transfers of tourist traffic and escalating visit satisfaction to mutual benefit.

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater 5.5 People Shearwaters business is people-nature oriented and no automation is proposed. Within the organisation, systems, IT enabled bookings and travel arrangements, and providing elementary communication to guests is the limit. The actual guest nature interface will be strictly personal. Shearwater aims to hire, and train the best personnel in relevant skills. 5.6 Processes All processes from first contact to successful completion of visit are integrated into asystem that offers flexibility to cater to every whim of the customer. Enhancement of processes, in terms of how the customer obtains the product, proceeds simultaneously. 5.7 Physical Environment Sustaining the physical environment of Victoria Falls and the Zambezi River are crucial to long-term success. The environment within Shearwaters business premises needs enhancement.

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

6.0 SWOT Analysis


SWOT analysis is an excellent tool for management analysis (McNamara, 1999). This analysis employs a complete scan of the internal and external environment and brings clarity in decision-making on where to attack and where to defend. In the following tables are the most relevant issues to Shearwaters successful operation.

Internal Factors Management

Strengths

Weaknesses

Management has shown its ability to meet day-to-day challenges and an enthusiasm and belief in the business. Early start and knowledge of location

Present financial difficulties may restrict vision

Product

Differentiation of the product offering is only on location. Addition of premium product like helicopter safaris, zorbing, etc will improve image and raise barrier to entry. Marketing efforts have succeeded in drawing a large majority of visitors.

Competition is fierce and there is no customer loyalty as long as product is similar.

Marketing

Marketing does not attract the premium customer willing to stay longer and pay more. No prior bookings Lack of exposure to world class facilities elsewhere Small numbers

Personnel

Experienced, enthusiastic, and committed staff in operations assures personalised service

Finance

Have managed cost reduction

Low spend per customer

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater


Funds available for equipment replacement and small promotion budget Seasonal business Lack of funds for promotion or contingency expenses Market Growing market for adventure tourism International economic crisis

External Factors Customer

Opportunities

Threats

Expanding market and growing numbers of customers looking for adventure New segment of younger customer

No repeat business - having experienced once customer not likely to come again

Competition

Possible to link with other tour operators and travel agents in neighbouring countries Taxi/ shuttle service vertical integration

New local entrants International destinations Price competition

Political

Long presence and recognition as responsible company can be leveraged for diversification or expansion Underdeveloped country looks to attract new business and tourist traffic

Highly unstable political atmosphere threat of violence and eviction High inflationary pressure on cost Economic downturn

Economic

Regulatory

No licence fees and regulatory restrictions except ecological protection

New government may enact legislations

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

7.0 Marketing Communications Strategy 7.1 Objectives "A mission describes the organization's basic function in society, in terms of the products and services it produces for its customers" Mintzberg (1979: 24). Shearwaters marketing and communication strategies aim to increase revenue and per visitor spend through a CAGR of 20%. Having identified the target customer segment allows us to develop communications objectives. However, before proceeding we need to understand the hierarchy of effects that determines purchase behaviour. Awareness: building awareness is vital for product success. Interest: Once a potential customer is aware of the product the next step is to create an interest and build a desire for the product. Evaluation: The interested customer evaluates the product through comparison with competitor products. Evaluation is crucial and adequate and positive information should be readily available. Adoption: A good experience with the product makes the customer adopt the product and become something of a brand ambassador promoting the product through referrals among friends and social circles.

We now proceed to lay down the objectives of the communications strategy. 1. Create a communications plan, message, and collateral materials that create an awareness of Shearwater among 40% of the target audience in the first year and raise it to 70% within five years. 2. Improve competitive edge through environment and sustainability related promotions and raise product image to premium adventure-holiday destination. 3. Of the customers who become aware of the product the communication plan seeks to create an interest among 60%. 4. Help product evaluation by providing information on unique assets and experience narratives of earlier customers to ensure that 80% customers who undertake evaluation choose Shearwater over others. pg. 11

Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater 5. Attract the first 5000 customers who stay for more than 3 days and come with prior bookings, in the first year and raise this to 8000 by the fifth. Adoption is not an area for communications as this relies on actual experience at the site, and therefore a part of operations management. 7.2 Communication Strategy Strategy is not a constant, for it must have flexibility to adapt to the changing business environment (Lindgren & Bandhold, 2003: 124). Porter (1996) looks at strategy from a perspective of competition as he argues that strategy is about being different and goes on to say, It means deliberately choosing a different set of activities to deliver a unique mix of value. It is obvious that here too the unique mix refers to being different from competition. This argument finds support in Thompson et al (2008), who state that an essential element of a winning strategy is how well it fits the companys internal and external environment and that looks to build a sustainable competitive advantage and improve performance. 7.3 Media selection & Justification The basic goal of the communication plan is to raise awareness and improve image of Shearwater and the target audience the young and the young at heart middle -aged affluent people from western countries. We subdivide the identified market segment into two parts. The first consists of people who have experienced adventure related travel earlier and are looking for newer opportunities and the second are those who have not gone but can be attracted to Shearwater. To build awareness we propose to use the following communications mix around the key message C-rocks down the Zambezi and the logo of a stylised crocodile (distinctly different from the Lacost brand logo). 1. Corporate style: An important factor in communication is consistency in style. The corporate style will figure in all communications including business cards, letterheads, signage, web design and advertisements. All these will follow pg. 12

Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater defined colour and design parameters and will include the key message and logo. 2. Print Media: Looking at the expense, advertisements in the print media will be minimal with emphasis on airlines in-flight in-house magazines and outdoor lifestyle magazines. 3. Direct Mailers: No direct mailers figure in our calculation especially as a target specific database does not exist. Building of such a database will be an ongoing exercise over time. However, aesthetically and attractively designed brochures will be printed and made available at travel agencies across the entire target market with window displays where possible. 4. Outdoor advertisement: No outdoor advertisement is envisaged. Signage will be restricted to hoardings at airport terminals in major cities and at airports servicing other adventure destinations. Exposure at events like auto shows, aero shows, etc will follow. 5. Electronic Media: For similar reasons as for print media advertisements on television will be minimal and exposure restricted to western broadcasting stations and programmes like Survivor, X-Games, and Fear Factor and on National Geographics and Lonely Planet. 6. World Wide Web: The Shearwater website is the media of choice as it has the potential to reach across the entire market segment at low cost. The first step is to overhaul the existing website. The present website is a below average documentary of the different activities available and contact information. This needs jazzing up several notches through inclusion of dramatic video footage, attractive photography, and colour. The website should also offer information on how to get there and provide for booking of trip packages including all travel, accommodation, board, and activities. In addition the webpage will provide linkage to other tour add-ons like wildlife safari in Kenya/Tanzania, trekking up Kilimanjaro, deep-sea fishing off Zanzibar, in essence activities that will attract the customer keen on outdoor adventure activities.

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater The next is website optimisation and linkages to promote the website on popular search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo etc so that the Shearwater website is found on the first page of search results for any of the keywords. To broaden reach, advertisements on related websites will be used.

7. Publicity: The elephant safaris have attracted considerable debate in media with activists seeking to have these stopped, as they are cruel to the elephants. While this is negative publicity, it helps raise awareness and this debate needs continuation in different media. In addition, the good relations with governmental agencies will be leveraged to have Shearwater figure on their websites, especially those related to tourism in Africa.

8. Event Sponsorship: Sponsorship of events such as X-games allows raising awareness levels among viewers. This activity is scheduled into the third year of this plan to improve awareness levels and to spread ad spend.

9. Sampling and Trial Events: The nature of the product does not allow any promotion of this type or on-site advertisement. 10. Other Promotions: This report recommends a number of other promotions like contests for free tickets, stay, activities, or complete holiday packages; offseason discounts; promotional T-Shirts/ caps to all guests; and gifts of outdoor gear with promotional messages. The plan proposes to take up celebrity endorsement, a powerful tool in promotions, only after establishing the positioning. 7.4 Advertisement design Advertisement design has to be persuasive and focused around a key message that while providing the advantages of the product is short and simple (Kerin et al, 2003). The design forming the central theme of all Shearwater advertisements, Brochures, mailers, hoardings etc will focus on themes that emphasise/ use:

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater Sex Appeal: using attractive male and female figures to attract customers of either sex Ego Challenge: containing a challenge to the fitness and courage with a message on the line of, Are you up to it? Humour: making the advert memorable by adding a humorous by-line that either directly or more subtly that the product is more fun or exciting than competitors offerings (Kerin et al 2003: 503); perhaps, the C-rocks are waiting! Luxury: in keeping with the premium image that will emphasise luxury and exotic messages while pursuing adventure amidst the wilderness.

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

8.0 Evaluation Evaluation of the awareness, brand, positioning, and public relation strategies can only be an ongoing process measured against an evaluation process that evaluates these parameters at the time of commencement. Three months into the campaign, a second survey will seek opinions through a questionnaire directed at 1000 target customers randomly chosen across the target market selected from the subscription list of xxx magazine. The second part of the evaluation will seek opinions of visitors to the company website through an open browser that allows visitors to leave comment and seeks answers to a few selected queries including: 1. How did you learn about Shearwater? 2. How may we improve our website? 3. What other facilities should we add? The table below shows the scheduling of evaluation processes.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Product Awareness Image/Brand Analysis Position Analysis Advertising recall Customer Feedback Website Comments

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Marketing Communications Plan - Shearwater

References

Adventure Travel (2008): Adventure Industry Roundup, online resource accessed on March 18, 2009 from: http://www.adventuretravel.biz/2008/roundup.htm Boyd, S. (2002): Cultural and Heritage Tourism in Canada: Opportunities, Principles and Challenges. Tourism and Hospitality Research, 3: 211-33. Hellriegel, D., Jackson, S. and Slocum, J. (1999): Management, Eighth Edition, New York, South-Western College Jackson, K. (2005): Going semi-wild on adventure tours, Seattle Times; May 22, 2005 Kerin, R. A., Berkowitz, E.A, Hartley, S.W., and Rudelius,W. (2003): Marketing, 7th Edition, Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin Lindgren, M. & Bandhold, H. (2003) Scenario planning the link between future and strategy. Creative Print & Design, Wales. McNamara, C P (1999), Making Human Capital Productive, Business and Economic Review Oct-Dec pp 10-13 Mintzberg, H. (1979): The structuring of organizations: a synthesis of the research, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Porter, M. (1996): What is Strategy? Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec Quinn, J. B. (1980): Strategies for Change: Logical Incrementalism, Richard D. Irwin Thompson, A.; Strickland III, A.J.; and Gamble, J. (2008): Crafting and Executing Strategy: The Quest for Competitive Advantage: Concepts and Cases, Eighth Edition.

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