Last August 23-24, I was invited to be a part of the Tourism Promotion Board’s (TPB) 5th Regional Travel Fair, which was held in the province of Cagayan de Oro. The aim of this event is to boost domestic travel, which as we know is showing significant growth over the past several years as more Filipinos travel around the country.
The event featured a 2-day travel expo in Limketkai Center. Here travel agencies, hotels and resorts, and other businesses offered discounted packages and services to consumers in the area. It was also a way to promote tourist destinations with pamphlets and local products, especially in Mindanao.
The regional travel fair also held talks about the current issues in the local tourism industry. Here I’ve noted some interesting takeaways during the talks:
Kulas on promoting destinations in Mindanao
One of the speakers for the 5th Regional Travel Fair is Kyle Jennermann, also known as “Kulas” in his popular Youtube/Facebook channel called Becoming Filipino.
Kulas discussed the challenge in promoting tourist destinations in Mindanao, where he resides. Mindanao is deemed “dangerous”, even by Filipinos. He gave several tips on how to change this perception, including:
- Use the word “Mindanao”. He advised local travelers to use “Mindanao” more often in conversations and social media postings.
- Allow visitors to feel local. A lot of tourists are now looking for an “authentic” experience in their travel destination.
- Create positive media. He also encouraged everyone to talk more about positive experiences in the Philippines, even in simple experiences such as riding a jeep.
- Empower locals and believe in them.
To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Kulas but I was impressed with his talk since he showed a clear understanding of the local tourism and he was able to provide perspective from the outside. The tips he gave are not revolutionary, but they are simple, easy to follow, and significant especially on today’s look on Mindanao tourism.
I realized how we — as local travelers — tend to inadvertently help widen the stigma about exploring Mindanao. For instance, a lot of my acquaintances would post “I survived Basilan”, “Marawi Ground Zero” and other “success” stories that imply that traveling to Mindanao is a matter of conquest and survival. Indeed, promotion of our tourist destinations start with how we share our own experience.
MICE: A lucrative target market for the travel industry
A useful discussion for travel agencies and businesses includes the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhbitions). Basically, MICE is a type of tourism where large groups are brought together for a specific purpose. For example, conferences or business trips are under MICE.
The MICE presents a bigger opportunity to those in the travel industry. It’s relatively more lucrative compared to leisure travelers and backpackers for several reasons: it includes a large group of customers, it usually involves a large budget as companies & organizations tend to prioritize the needs and comforts of their people, it requires contracts that cover the risk of cancellation fees, and each represents a potential for repeat business.
Travel agencies who wish to expand their target and earn more can start customizing their services for the MICE market.
Some of the tips to get started include:
- Seek out partnership with international organizations.
- Create packages specifically for the MICE market.
- Improve infrastracture, services, and facilities. (Consider that MICE has more discriminating needs compared to the regular traveler.)
- Develop your own creativity. (Ask yourself, what are you selling?)
The regional travel fair is an important event that’s beneficial for both travelers and travel businesses. Regular travelers such as myself can attend the travel expo to book discounted services from agencies, hotels and resorts, and airlines.
Meanwhile, businesses can promote themselves, network with other brands for potential partnerships, and learn new tips during the talks.
Thanks to the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) for inviting me in this CDO 5th Regional Travel Fair!