2014 Tahiti Business Forum

This year’s Tahiti Business Forum was held at the Manhattan Beach Marriott in Manhattan Beach, CA on June 18 & 19, 2014.

The Business Forum, last held in 2008, is designed by Tahiti Tourisme North America to gather key Tahiti partners across North America and Tahiti, to promote synergy, and work together for the benefit of our destination.

This event was an opportunity for GIE Tahiti Tourisme and TTNA to launch the new global brand and for our partners to share their concerns about the challenges affecting our destination. An additional objective of the event was to foster an atmosphere of collaboration in order to facilitate a constructive review and evaluation of TTNA programs.

The conference began on Wednesday, June 18th, with an  “Online Reputation Management” session sponsored and presented by TripAdvisor with our guest speaker, Andrew Wiens, International DMO Manager for TripAdvisor. This was a private session for our hotel partners.

Andrew provided attendees with insight as to how to manage their online reputation. “If you have a higher rating on TripAdvisor, then you’ll get more sales,” said Andrew. “If a property can increase its review score by one point, it’s an 11.2% increase in sales.”

“Guests are visiting TripAdvisor more frequently prior to booking. It has become part of their culture,” said Wiens.

In Q1 2013, TripAdvisor had 108 million unique monthly visitors on mobile, which was up 100% year over year. Travelers are using tablets to book more and more; however, they are not seeing significant international booking from using smartphones.

To view the entire presentation of Andrew Wiens and learn more on “Online Reputation Management,” please click here.

Following TripAdvisor was the “Industry Challenges & Creative Solutions” session, presented by TTNA.

A week prior to the Tahiti Business Forum, TTNA had sent out a survey questionnaire about strengths and challenges to be completed by all of our partners attending the forum.

The feedback and raw data from the survey was then analyzed and presented during the   session. All attendees then teamed up to brainstorm these challenges by using strengths through the creation and implementation of an effective marketing plan.

During the session, every team presented their marketing campaigns thus engaging all partners to discuss and share openly with the TTNA team their concerns and suggestions to improve the promotions for the destination. Tahiti Tourisme North America would like to thank all partners for their input and cooperation. TTNA will implement and adapt accordingly new marketing and promotional initiatives and directions to meet the objectives discussed during these sessions.

The following day opened with a sponsored breakfast by Luxury Link, followed by the unveiling of the new global brand launch, which was presented by Thomas Rebergue, CMO at GIE Tahiti Tourisme, and Sally McNeill, Managing Director at FutureBrand Australia.

Sally presented the three main objectives for the new global brand. First, to create a strong, unified and consistent identity and noted, “the North American market has done a great job building the brand, but that hasn’t been done globally and we needed to create consistency,” said McNeill.

The second two objectives are to renew French Polynesia and to identify a global brand positioning for all audiences to be adapted to each market. McNeill remarked, “This cannot just be a short-term solution, it has to be something that evolves and builds and creates a story – for yourselves as well as making sure we are thinking ahead for those that are going to visit the Islands of Tahiti.”

ISLANDS Magazine sponsored the coffee break that followed the unveiling of the new global brand launch.

The “Insights into the Luxury Traveler” session presented by John C. Anderson, Digital Sales & Marketing Director at Robb Report, offered an overview of the North American luxury traveler, what they are looking for, and what they expect. “They look for the best of the best and they look to combine business and personal travel at the same time,” he said. “The biggest change that we’ve heard is that it’s all about experience. People are looking for something that is a broad based experience.”

Anderson also mentioned that the market is now looking at the 35+ audience and that the younger affluent traveler is spending more than the 45+.

To view the entire presentation Anderson and Robb Report and get a better understanding of the affluent traveler, please click here.

Skye Marying, Managing Editor for TravelAge West and award-winning writer, blogger, and social media strategist gave a presentation on “Outbound Travel Trends and The Millennial Traveler.”

Mayring covered the latest travel trends including technology and personalization. “Technology is facilitating the personalization. In the 2020’s, we will all have an e-agent – a digital travel buddy or an A.I. device that is learned to understand the individual needs of each person. It will personalize all of our travel experiences. Travel brands will be able to rent out a personalized e-agent as a part of the vacation packages,” shared Mayring.

“By 2015, millennials are expected to have billions of dollars in spending power.”

To view the entire presentation of Skye Marying and get an overview of the latest travel trends and a better understanding of millennial travelers, please click here.

BRIDES Magazine hosted the lunch and during the luncheon, Hutch Looney, Pacific Director at BRIDES Magazine, presented the award for “Best Honeymoon Destination” to Jonathan Reap, Managing Director at TTNA. This is the first time that the Islands of Tahiti win this award, beating out Italy, Hawaii, and the Maldives.

The Forum resumed with an in-depth travel agent panel discussion, featuring five “Certified Tahiti Specialists” from all over North America, including:

  • Katie Cadar – TravelStore Platinum, Los Angeles, CA.
  • Kleon Howe – The Art of Travel, San Diego, CA.
  • Gretchen Macknight – Perfect Honeymoons/Holiday Travel, Escondido, CA.
  • Annie Smits – The Travel Group, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Christina Turrini – Frosch Travel, San Francisco, CA.

The specialists were invited to share with the audience their perspective from the retail side of the business.

The panel addressed many common themes such as the food costs, free Wi-Fi, the evolution of niche markets, family programs on the islands, the challenge of inclusive resort pricing, the surf and dive markets, etc.

The first question asked the panel to address how the beauty of the Islands of Tahiti compares with other exotic destinations. And the unanimous feedback from the agents was, “it does not compare. Tahiti is what the other exotic destinations are trying to be.”

The audience was very engaged during the panel and extremely interested in understanding their side of the business. The suppliers were also very concerned as to how they could help the agents sell the destination and overcome the challenges facing our destination.

This session was very educational and indicative of many of the challenges we need to overcome within the industry. It offered all of the attendees insight into the difficulties our Certified Tahiti Specialists are facing.

The Forum closed with a public relations panel discussion, featuring five media partners from different aspects of media – print, photography, and television.

  • Yolanda Crous – Features & Travel Director at BRIDES Magazine
  • Kelly Fajack – Freelance Photographer
  • Jacqui Gifford – Senior Editor at Travel + Leisure Magazine
  • Eddy Patricelli – Brand Director at Islands Magazine
  • Nicole Woods – Co-Executive Producer for The Bachelor/Bachelorette on ABC

During the session, some of the panelists were asked to share what the latest trends are with their publication, and what is the best way to get into their magazines. “Culinary travel is a huge trend,” said Jacqui Gifford, Travel + Leisure. “86% want to eat local food. Culinary festivals are also big.”

Nicole Wood with The Bachelor/The Bachelorette was asked how can the resorts and the airlines best work together, “The biggest ask is the room nights and we know it is a big leap. But really recognize the benefit of the exposure from the show for the airlines and the destination.” She also mentioned that viewers do book their trips after watching what they’ve just seen on the show.

The panel provided a better understanding of public relations and how it benefits their products and the destination.

TTNA would like to thank all our partners for their support and for making the Business Forum a meaningful event for the benefit of our destination. We look forward to using this valuable feedback as we continue to improve our programs.

Click here to view photos of the event.

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