Table of Contents
3.Galway in Brief
4.PESTE Analysis of County Galway
6.County Galway Tourism Development
7.County Galway SWOT Analysis
It's not all that difficult to market County Galway: it already viewed by its locals as having a rich heritage and it is seen in long tradition nationally as the Cultural Capital of Ireland.
In the course of this essay, I want to examine whether Galway is marketed correctly as a county with its obvious cultural status and perceived artistic based characteristics. I begin this essay with a PESTE analysis to overview County Galway's role historically, culturally and environmentally.
I intend to use some standard business analysis tools such as SWOT: and in doing so, I hope to make it clear that Galway is being marketed inconsistently and by too many disparate groups.
To conclude, I will evaluate Galway's Marketing Mix and hope to show that this mix is varied and tourist focused.
In Irish "Gaillimh" county is in the province of Connaught (Connacht), in western Ireland. With an area of 2,293 sq mi (5,939 sq km), it is bounded on the north by Mayo and Roscommon, on the east by Roscommon and Offaly, on the south by Clare and Tipperary, and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. The eastern two-thirds of Galway is part of the Irish central lowland. In the west is Connemara, the Irish-speaking "Gaeltacht".
Galway is divided into two contrasting regions by the expanse of Lough Corrib. To the west is Connemara - a region of superb scenic grandeur, dominated by the rocky-mountains known as the Twelve Bens. Many Connemara inhabitants are Irish speakers and much of the ancient Gaelic culture is preserved.
The Aran Islands lie thirty miles off the Connemara coast. Formed from a limestone ridge, their stunning coastal views and prehistoric stone forts are well worth a visit.
Galway is a large county divided into two contrasting regions by the expanse of Lough Corrib. To the west, lying between the lake and the Atlantic, is Connemara - a region of superb scenic grandeur dominated by the rocky mountain range known as the Twelve Bens. A great many of the inhabitants are Irish speakers, and much of the ancient Gaelic culture is preserved., East of Lough Corrib, a fertile limestone plain extends to the Galway-Roscommon border and the River Shannon. It is an important tourist centre and a gateway to the scenic areas of the county.
3)Galway in Brief
Province : Connacht
Location: Maritime county on the west coast.
County size: 2nd in Ireland
Land area: 2,349.79 sq miles
Highest point: Benbaun (727 m)
Main Rivers: Suck; Owenglin; Corrib; Cregg; Clare
Main Lakes: L Mask; L Corrib
Main Islands: Aran Islands; Inishbofin; Inishshark; Inishgort; Omey; Lettermullan; Mweenish, Rossroe; Rusheennacholla; Inishnee.
Areas of Geographical Interest: Connemara National Park, the Aran Islands, Killary Harbour, Lough Corrib.
Areas of Historical Interest: Dun Aenghus, Athenry Castle, Kylemore Abbey, Coole Park, Thoor Ballylee (home of W.B. Yeats)Total Population: 131,613 (exc Galway city)
County Capital and Largest Town: Galway
Main Towns: Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam
Main Business Contact: Galway City/County Council Enterprise Board: Wood Quay Court, Wood Quay, Galway. Tel 091-565269
No of Schools: National 238; Secondary 48
No of Golf Clubs: 17
Blue Flag Beaches: 5
Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental
Inflation: the level of inflation in the country in recent years has been low and this has helped to restrain costs for visitors and keep Ireland competitive. It has, of course, also helped the regional capital investment programme for tourism. In general, the present healthy state of the Irish economy strongly favours the development and marketing of tourism, although the country's competitiveness may come under pressure as inflation shows signs of increasing and skilled staff shortages emerge.
Peace: the peace process in Northern Ireland favours tourism travel to Ireland and this is significant for the Ireland West Region. Approximately 23% of all overseas visitors spend all or part of their visit in the Region.
External Factors: the principal external factors have been the steady growth in world tourism (+5.2% per annum between 1988 and 1997) and improving economic performance in key source markets including Britain and the USA.
Access: one of the biggest influences on tourism growth to Ireland during the past ten years has been the increase in competition on air and sea routes to Ireland and the consequent reduction in access transport costs. There has been a significant improvement in road access capacity to Ireland West, and charter traffic through Knock Airport has grown.
Strong Global and European Economies supported by the IT Revolution.
Continued growth in world travel and tourism (particularly air traffic)
Irish Economy continues to experience Boom conditions - The Celtic Tiger:
oLow Interest rates.
oLow Inflation. & Low Unemployment.
oWeak Exchange rate Ir.ÃÂ£ (particularly against Sterling)
Continued growth in Irish Tourism:
Tourism Visitor Numbers (Overseas)
YearIr ÃÂ£M% + on year
Tourism Revenue (inclusive Domestic)
YearIR ÃÂ£ M% + on year
Continued Growth in Tourism to Galway:
o1998 - Total Tourism to Galway - 2,600,000 (1,650,000 overseas)
o1998 - Tourism Revenue to Galway - ÃÂ£4757.8 M
oMore than 50% of Galway Tourists numbers and more than 30% of tourism revenue from Britain.
oAlthough Investment in tourism product & facilities continues at pace in Galway, there is strong evidence of capacity problems at certain times of year.
Staffing is an issue for any organisation these days and tourism enterprises in Galway are no different to any other organisation in attracting operational level employees such as cleaners and operatives. Because of increased labour cost, businesses have been forced into seeking staff from overseas: staffs that are not familiar with the cultural product that Galway has to offer. Tourism enterprises exaggerate the "Frosty Failte" by training these staff only in operational issues and not culturally as well.
Also, the type of tourist that these enterprises cater for has changed dramatically in 15 years from what was travel reserved for the relatively well off to mass market travel with the advent of the low cost carriers and growth in the FIT market. The increase number of charter flights into knock and Galway airports also brings many different types of overseas travellers who require a greater array of catering and faculties.
1999 saw the Minister for Tourism and Sport call Ireland "a hub for new technologies - an example to the world" Has Galway lived up to this in its marketing strategy? No!
oGlobal meteoric rise in information technology beginning in mid-90's and still continuing today
oIreland has fallen behind in internet/broadband proliferation. Telecom Eireann/Eircom uses its virtual monopoly to stifle growth in E-Commerce in the marketplace
o3 G licences paid for by telecoms worldwide- no roll out as of yet in Ireland. WAP Technology is very limited in Ireland still, yet still a massive potential marketing tool
oTheir website is only a source of information - no interaction with potential visitors by means of graphics or sounds
oE-Commerce widely available and trusted worldwide - Galway seem to think that not selling tickets online will keep their head above water in the marketplace these days. Huge market ignored by not selling tickets online
oUnder-utilisation of web-based marketing tools i.e. Search Engines, Web Portals (Ryanair's alliance with car rentals and www.needahotel.com )
oIreland West's Audio-Visual show is not just an information show - technologically aware tourists/students expect more that just pre-recorded info - more interactive, visitor lead AV is needed. The emphasis of their AV show is still sales/product driven, not visitor driven. They are still selling Galway on product and not on the benefits of that product
During the period being discussed - 1998 to 2000 Galway was experiencing negative environmental pressures associated with rapid growth and economic success:
oIncreased consumption of resources,
oRapid growth in building.
oVisual impact of widespread construction.
oIncreased traffic and poor public transportation
oOvercrowding in certain areas
oLack of adequate environmental services & facilities.
In addition to these pressures, rapid growth in tourist numbers to over 2.5 million (inclusive domestic visits) by 1999 brought pressures of its own:
oOvercrowding in certain areas
oPressure on facilities such as Hotels, Airports, Ports etc.
oRapid growth in building of Hotels & Tourism Facilities.
oLack of Environmental facilities for local i.e. Aran Islands
5) Organisational Structure
Tourism in Galway and in Ireland West is organised and administered in the same way as 6 of the 7 National Tourism Regions (Shannon being the exception). Galway is also in a position also to have the influence of the Irish Language. This is administered by Udaras na Gaeltachta on a national basis with offices based in the Gaeltacht areas, Connemara is the Galway office.
Regional Tourism Authorities
Tourism in these regions is administered by the Regional Tourism Authorities whose role is to assist the national agencies, Bord Failte and Tourism Ireland Ltd. in developing, promoting and servicing tourism at regional and local level.
These are membership based companies whose combined membership exceeds 10,000 including individuals, businesses and tourism associations, and their main activities include:
*Regional Visitor Servicing - (Tourist Information Offices).
*Regional Tourism Development / Product Development.
*Regional Tourism Marketing.
*Regional Tourism Co-ordination.
Ireland West Regional Tourism Authority
Has an overall Board of Management in addition to County Tourism Committees for each of the 5 regional counties. Representation within the Authority includes:
(2)Registered Hotels / Guesthouse / Caravan & Camping Representatives
(1) Town & Country Homes Representative
(1) Farmhouses / Specialist / other approved accommodation Representative
(1)Self Catering Representatives
(1) Tourist Attractions / Products/ Transport Representative
(1) Food / Drink / Business/ Commercial & Other Tourism Organisations
(1) Bord Failte Representative
(1) Regional Tourism Manager
(3) County Tourism Officers
(1) Commercial Officer
A number of Local Authority Representatives are also included.
It is headquartered in Galway and has a network of 15 Tourist Information offices currently operating throughout the region in the following catagories:
4)Udaras na Gaeltachta
1)National Office Services
-Open 12 months.
-Permanent Staff speak main European Languages.
-Computerised reservations service - (Gulliver)
-High Quality Information service.
-Entertainment Booking Service
-Bureau de change facilities
-Wide range of literature covering all National destinations.
2)Regional Office Services
-Open March - October (minimum)
-Staff speak main European languages.
-Computerised reservations service - (Gulliver)
-Route Planning & Information service.
-Bureau de change facilities
-Good quality literature with emphasis on regional attractions and facilities.
-National Literature and trans-regional literature as appropriate.
-Retail areas offering regional produce.
3)Local Office Services
-Seasonal staffing with good knowledge of the area.
-Local & Regional literature & information service.
-Retail to suit locality if appropriate.
-Bureau de Change if appropriate.
Sources of Income for the Regional Tourism Authorities include Bord Failte funding, Regional membership fees, TIO retail activity and Booking fees.
4)Udaras na Gaeltacht
Udaras is a government body whose responsibility it is to promote the Irish Language and Culture in the Gaeltacht Areas of Ireland. Galway has one of the largest Gaeltacht Areas in Connemara, and Udaras is actively involved in promoting tourism in this area. It provides substantial marketing grants to local tourism ventures but it is very underutilised and undersubscribed. According to Udaras, they can't even spend their marketing budget in the gaeltachts. They also have provided limited capital allowances for small scale tourism enterprises such as "Bean an Ti" type Irish language learning initiatives. Of late they have also involved themselves in language courses for the Asian market. This has proven very successful and they attract about 2000 visitors/students to this scheme annually.
Their aim is to market the Gaeltacht as a fun and exciting alternative to city based tourism. They seem to have avoided the MICE market and targeted younger FIT's from Continental Europe. The MICE market could well be interested in this type of cultural product offering, but as the Gaeltacht areas are all located in parts of Ireland that are lacking in infrastructure this could pose some problems for MICE customers.
6) County Galway Tourism Development: Marketing Aspect
In examining tourism development in The Ireland West, I have taken as my starting point the Operational Programme for Tourism 1989 - 1993, as this is recognised as the first significant programme for National Tourism Development.
Operational Programme for Tourism 1989 - 1993
Using EU structural funds, ÃÂ£550 million was allocated to National Tourism development with the key objectives of:
*Doubling tourism numbers and revenues
*Creating 25,000 additional jobs.
Investment was mainly in tourism infrastructure, including Accommodation, Fishing, Golf, Walking developments etc.
In The Ireland West during this period, investment of ÃÂ£90 million was supported by ÃÂ£22 million in structural funds assistance.
By 1993 total of 8,155 approved rooms (an increase of 14% since 1988).
Operational Programme for Tourism 1994 - 1999
EU structural funds of ÃÂ£652 million were allocated Nationally for a tourism development programme addressing the key issues of:
*Sustainability (Physical & Economic)
*Yield (Optimising profitability without greatly increasing numbers)
*Double overseas Tourism earnings to ÃÂ£2.25 Billion
*Seasonality (Redressing seasonal imbalance with 75% of arrivals outside the peak months of July & August).
*Market Development (Geographic and Niche Product).
*Employments - an additional 35,000 jobs.
*Quality of Product / Service & Training
According to The Regional Tourism Plan 2000 - 2006, during the period 1993-1997 a total of 107 tourism projects in the region received financial assistance from the programme and the Agri-Tourism grant scheme. The total investment value amounted to ÃÂ£69.5 million. Of which ÃÂ£18.4 million was contributed in grants.
In addition to grant aided development, there has been a considerable amount of investment stimulated by the Business Expansion Scheme (BES) - ÃÂ£42.5 million 1987-97, and urban and seaside resort designation schemes (Salthill).
When all schemes are taken into account it is estimated that total tourism investment during the 5-year period would be in excess of ÃÂ£200 million.
Tourism Development Strategy 2000-2006
National Development Plan substantial funding has been allocated to tourism with the following key objectives:
*Regional spread - specifically to Border, Midlands & East Regions (BMW), and to a lesser extent to the Western Region
*Increase in Foreign Exchange Earnings - + 5% per annum.
*Seasonal Shift - Arrivals in July / August from 27% to 25%.
*Encourage New Product Initiatives.
*Avoid carrying capacity problems.
*Protect Environment and heritage.
*Encourage high standards in service and management.
Funding will be available to The Ireland West Region at maximum grant rates of 50% for Public Sector and lower rates for private sector organisations and SME's. This funding will be made available for:
*New large scale visitor attractions (capable of attracting
100,000 visitors) - Target of 6 in South & East regions.
*Upgrading Clusters of attractions (minimum of 3 existing attractions, capable of attracting 40,000 visitors) - Target 4 in the Ireland West regions.
*Cycling & Walking Routes
*Equestrian & Horse Riding Facilities
*Adventure Centres & Specialist Outdoor Activities
*Inland Boat Rental & Water Sports Centres
*Health Tourism Facilities
*Angling & Marine Developments (Department of The Marine)
7) COUNTY GALWAY SWOT ANALYSIS
SWOT is used to examine the micro and macro operating conditions pertaining to the business/area in question. It is an excellent tool to focus attention on the limitations and expectations of the business.
Western location in close proximity to Shannon Airport
Good International air access through Knock and Shannon with links to Britain and International air routes
Good bus & rail access to and from Dublin
Significantly improved road access to and from Dublin with the new Kinegad/Mullingar bypass
A varied natural environment with many features of exceptional scenic appeal, including mountain ranges and extensive woodland and bog lands.
Many unique natural physical features such as turloughs and bog oak.
Known for its warm and friendly locals
Has a long coastline with 8 Blue Flag beaches.
A rich heritage with strong links to Celtic, Viking and Norman times.
Strong Irish Cultural Interest, music, poetry and language
A good tourist accommodation base, particularly in the major towns and seaside resorts.
A good range of leisure and recreational facilities, particularly water, mountain and walking based activity.
A number of key popular day visitor attractions including the Spanish Arch, Medieval City Walls and the Aran Islands
Fully working and intact Gaeltacht area
A good number of International Events and Festivals attracting tourism such as the Clarrinbridge Oyster Festival, The Galway Arts Festival and the Galway Races
Although there is air access into the county through Shannon/Knock there still remains a tendency towards "corridor tourism" with tourists traffic passing straight through the county rather than staying for any period.
Limited International air access is available into the region. Lack of integration/co-operation between Ireland West and Shannon Development over marketing in Shannon Airport leaves Galway unaccounted for in the airport
A strong dependence on the domestic holiday market, particularly with regard to tourism revenue. This sector is increasingly taking shorter breaks at home and looking to travel abroad.
Also a comparatively strong dependence on the UK tourist market.
A high degree of weather dependency. Aran Islands and Connemara are both pretty unappealing in bad weather
Peak season capacity constraints in principle tourism centres such as Aran Islands. Mass tourism being reported in this area, Locals not at all happy with situation
Tourism development projects mainly confined to established tourism centres with little rural tourism development in the region.
A lack a clear tourism customer focus, with little quality evening entertainment and late night shopping facilities in many towns.
Environmental issues in main tourism centres e.g litter in seaside resort towns and water consumption on Aran Islands.
Lack of co-ordination between tourism providers and marketing groups at county and regional level.
Most of the tourists to the county are more drawn to the City. They are predominantly young males. Galway should take notice of this when it is looking for target markets again, as it seems to be over-dependent on this sex/age group
Lack of a "Signature Attraction" for the county in general. No one single attraction other than the city itself.
As funding is specifically available for the county under the NDP 2000 - 2006, this provides an opportunity for further tourism development into the future. The Bord Failte Operational Programme for Tourism 2000-2006, highlights the following areas for development:
oNew large-scale day-visitor attractions (capable of attracting over 100,000).
oUpgrading of clusters of existing tourist attractions.
oCycling & Walking Routes.
oEquestrian & Horse Riding Facilities.
oAdventure Centres and Specialist Outdoor Facilities.
oInland Boat Rental and Water Sports Centres.
oHealth Tourism Facilities.
oTourism and Recreational Angling (Sub-measure administered by Dept. of the Marine).
Galway has a very underutilised port: potential for increased sea access from the UK and growth in short stay visits from the UK.
The current strength of Sterling and The Dollar against The Euro.
Opportunities for more effective promotional partnerships with Regional access carriers including Aer Lingus, Aer Arann, Iarnrod Eireann, etc.
Opportunities to develop longer stays in the county and first / last night offers to combat "corridor tourism".
Specific opportunity to grow cruise-ship tourism, which would increase significantly visitor to attractions in the county.
Opportunities for a more even countywide and rural spread of tourism throughout the county
The world tourism marketing opportunities associated with The Internet and E-Commerce
Major World events such as "9-11" and Foot & Mouth or the threat of war.
Downturn in National or International economy.
Any possible downturn in the UK market for Ireland.
Increased competition from other counties
Sustainability of continued growth in tourism numbers in established tourism centres, in peak season.
Lack of private investment in tourism infrastructure.
Future scaling down of tourism investment incentives.
Any loss of access from the UK or Europe.
Continued expansion of Dublin airport, stifling growth in air access.
The Shannon Stopover may be discontinued. This would be disastrous for Galway
Continued lack of co-ordination of promotional efforts at county and regional level.
Potential over-supply of self-catering accommodation.
Uncontrolled growth of unapproved accommodation.
Failure to plan adequately for tourism development in the future.
Potential for any other county to become the "new" cultural capital of Ireland and dethrone Galway
The above SWOT clearly shows the high degree of sophistication that is the Galway product. There is clearly great room for future development: if marketed correctly Galway could thrive well into the coming years and beyond. Galway is seen as a great centre of culture and tradition and marketers need to focus the attention of the target market onto this.
8) Marketing Mix in Action in County Galway
According to Jobber in Principals and Practices of Marketing (1998), marketing objectives can be split up in two parts:
Indicates the direction that the company/enterprise wishes to go with their product(s). Depending on the development stage, which the product and target market are in, this thrust differs.
Purely product related, indicating the movement. Does the company still want to build up sales and increase market space? Does she wish to keep the product its level (hold)? Or alternatively, does she want to maximise profits (harvest) or give up the product (divest)? All this refers to the product's stage in the life cycle and the market, as well its growth potential.
What are the target markets of County Galway? In Bateson's book the target 'audience' should become clear from the marketing plan, as well as from an understanding of the customer. This audience needs to be known in the beginning stages of developing a strategy. Defining the customer is in fact the basis of it.
As stated in their Regional Tourism Plan 2000 - 2006:
The overall approach will be to target those markets which produce most business for the Region and which have the potential for further growth. This will involve the continued development of markets in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Britain and Mainland Europe, as well as the US market. (Ireland West, RTP, p. 38)
This all seems more than a little vague. It could be paraphrased simply as "whoever comes in the door". In this market driven era, this type of marketing strategy, or more precisely, this lack of a marketing strategy will lead any tourism venture down the slippery slope. A much more organised approach is called for, and this involves structuring and tailoring the tourism product to suit the market needs. It involves going out into the marketplace and seeing what the potential customer/tourist wants from a destination: and perhaps more importantly, who is the customer? The destination must then adjust their marketing efforts to suit the target market and not the other way around. The effort must be all the destinations: the tourist needs to feel that he is benefiting from the experience of visiting/staying in the destination, it should not be a chore.
In varying the marketing effort it is best to understand what is meant by "marketing mix". According to Jobber, the marketing mix for a regular production/sales based company constitutes of 4-P's:
The mix for a services company features three more P's: people, physical evidence and process. The word "mix" suggests correctly that all elements are interrelated. It is perhaps advisable to first discuss each P individually.
As was mentioned previously, a service is something that cannot be touched. This means that it is harder to market, than a physical Product. Its quality cannot be perceived before it is used. This can complicate convincing a potential tourist to acquire the service and to choose one service offering over any other.
Many of the services/products that Galway offers could easily be offered by other counties in Ireland or even abroad. What distinguishes Galway is that they were first to the market with this type of culture-based tourism product in Ireland. This is a simple rule of business and it applies greatly in the case of Galway. Far too many tourists buy holidays on what is seen on the brochure. Product is very similar across the market in the Irish Tourism market: little differs from north to south or east to west. Galway has managed to carve out some sort of niche product for itself in the west of Ireland. It is seen as the exemplar of the cultural and heritage product that Ireland has to offer. It is perceived by the tourist and marketed by the agencies as the height of Irish cultural product.
A very important factor in the marketing mix is the price. Since a service is not physical, its value must be carefully thought out. The price is sometimes the first thing which tourists look at. Depending on the type of service, perceptions of value differ. The price can act as an indicator of quality. A low price may seem as an attempt to cheat the customer in some way. People expect quality to cost and are willing to pay a higher price for it. That is why the service provider must be aware of how much people would pay for his service and why. Different visitors have different price expectations and Galway seems to have a variety of price related offerings across the board:
Accommodation is available at all prices and levels. Since the opening of the new Radisson hotel in the city, new price levels and expectations are felt in the city. Country houses and B&Bs are in abundance to suit any price conscious tourist.
Entertainment is available free in pubs and on the street, but there is also night clubs and drama which cost more. Up Scale theatre is also available at a higher price again for those who want it, as well as cabarets and re-enactments.
In the case of Galway, price is naturally also an issue, though not the most important one. Even though the county needs to be competitive in price, in a market where the competitors are increasing the price for their own motives, a lot of focus needs to be put on quality as well. For Galway this means that even though their service and product offering should not be too expensive, many tourists will compare the service more on a qualitative level. Ireland is known now to be an expensive but it is also known for its quality. This needs to continue to be known and practiced as high price will effectively price us out of the marketplace. Galway seems to have met well these considerations: it seems to have a product offering at all prices to suit all income/socio-economic conditions of the tourist.
A third variable in the marketing mix is the promotion. It is a necessary tool for a service sector because it is a way of communicating the "product's" quality. Sometimes, in order to do this, it is good to use tangibles. Bateson's book states that tangibles are the factors that a customer can see, hear and touch. Such techniques can aid a service based enterprise to transmit quality, even before the client acquires the service. They can be anything from the natural environment (which is almost unique to the tourism industry), to the corporate web-site for bookings and information, to references, to personal selling.
Galway uses information and references as a promotional tool. It publishes development reports featuring details about the tourism industry background, strategy and services, the technology, the marketing, the employees and even the competition. This is useful for the tourist to assess the county but this says little to the tourist about the services and product offered
The website is a powerful marketing tool for County Galway. Internet marketing has not completely revolutionised the concept of Marketing, but has incorporated it and expanded the opportunities available to marketers. Internet Marketing still uses the traditional concepts of the marketing mix (4 P's), but the logic of them has changed. Promotion with traditional marketing businesses used a one to many process, by using mass media to transmit their advertisement to their customers. This involved no interaction with the customer. Internet marketing changes this by using a many to many communication process, enabling customers to interact with the medium, with each other and also provide content to the medium. Thus, marketers must reconstruct advertising models for the interactive, many to many medium underlying the web. This is perhaps one of the major changes from the traditional methods of marketing.
One of the most obvious advantages that Internet marketing provides is the removal of barriers in regards to location. Businesses can now reach a much wider audience; customers that were considered unreachable can now be targeted. Also businesses need not operate from a physical location (shop front) any more, they are able to provide all the information that a customer needs on their web site eg using catalogues, pictures, video clips etc. Potential visitors can see what they want to see and empower themselves with knowledge about the destination. Of course this has its disadvantages also: certain issues can get blown out of all proportion on the largely unregulated internet. Lies and misinformation can all appear true to the potential and unsuspecting tourist, leaving the destination in the position of not being able to influence the tourist's decision due to distance in real terms.
Galway is not too bad when it comes to internet marketing: good websites, www.galway.ie, www.galway.com, and www.irelandwest.ie are all kept up to date with relevant information. The one drawback of this is that these websites are not allowing any form of tourist interaction by means of video, flash or java based graphical interfaces. The potential does not know whether the information is up to date or not, he must assume, going on the norm that it is out of date: interactivity would leave the tourist in no doubt that the information is accurate. Previous visitor reports would be an obvious method of convincing the potential visitor as to the bone fides of Galway as a destination: these reports could also include the email addresses of the previous visitors for added traceability and credibility.
Galway has also developed the "Spirit of Galway" brand to help promote the cultural product which it offers. This is largely done through foreign trade fairs, especially the Milwaukee Irish Fest. This type of promotion has the advantages of getting to the tourist directly rather that just the travel agency or tour operator.
The fourth P is the Place. These are the physical location of the destinations, distribution channels, outlets, etc. In the case of a normal production/sales company, facts such as the distance between the storage facility and the retail outlet may be relevant to the marketing mix. For a service provider this is not necessarily important. According to Jobber, the production and consumption may be simultaneous. That is why the important factor would be the place where the service provider could have contact with the client.
To Galway the distribution channels are very relevant. How accessible is the destination of Galway and the product offerings therein? Do they all provide a good level of service? Also partnerships are very important to the county's strategic plan. They strengthen the county's ability to deliver complete tourism products with the same degree of quality, while maintaining the high standards that the Galway brand ensures. This has largely been discussed earlier in relation to the PESTE analysis above, but it is still very appropriate to this discussion as to the importance to place in the marketing mix. Where the product is sold and its proximity to other services and products is essential to Galway: as well as infrastructural links such as transport. Galway does well to achieve the place constraints, but certain aspects are not possible at present.
A high proportion of the product offered in Galway is rural based and the physical infrastructure is not in place for this high level of growth that Galway has enjoyed in the past number of years. The Ireland West Tourism Development Report states when looking at rural tourism in general:
In order to achieve significant socio-economic benefits from investment in the tourism sector, it is necessary to ensure that there is a high level of ownership of the product at local level and to seek to secure the broadest possible community involvement. This is particularly important in rural areas. The Ireland West Regional Tourism Authority recognises the importance for the Region of developing tourism in rural areas and intends to place significant emphasis on rural tourism during the period of this Plan.
Rural tourism is a multi-faceted activity which includes farm-based holidays but also comprises special interest nature holidays, eco-tourism, activity and cultural holidays. The West Region offers a very attractive countryside with an abundance of open space and natural assets, as well as small scale settlements and local enterprises, and ready access to heritage sites and cultural activities which are of considerable interest. Subsequently, the West Region is seen to have considerable potential for rural tourism development.
As can be seen from this statement, Galway take pride in the place issue of the marketing mix, although it still remains a hugely under resourced area. Access needs to be improved throughout the county: it simply takes to long to get from product to next product.
Other "P's" have been raised such as people and physical evidence: the people factor is perhaps the most important factor in the service industry, but in an area where place is the dominant "P", all other "P's" must be constrained.
Galway does quite a good job in relation to the marketing mix. It has a diverse cultural product, sold at a variety of price, in a large number of locations. I feel that promotion is very good, except for the website related issues I raised above. The Spirit of Galway is great promotion but it could be done by any other county in Ireland to similar effect, thus watering down the benefits it creates. The marketing mix is truly variable in Galway: no one area dominates and it gives the tourist free reign to make choices as to which type of product they want to involve themselves in.
As I said in the introduction, marketing Galway is not that difficult. What matters however is how does the marketing work, are the target markets correct and are they being reached by the current marketing effort?
The question then is: is Galway being marketed correctly and what can be done to improve the marketing mix? I believe that I have shown in this essay that indeed Galway is being marketed correctly for now, but little is being done to counteract future treats from competitive other counties of foreign influences. The current strategy is still very much numbers based and gives little attention to the sustainability. Yes, Ireland West claims the sustainability is the key to their 2000 - 2006 strategy, but I can see any major shift from the previous report. They seem quite happy ploughing on with the same type of growth strategy and are very foolish not to see that the good times are coming to a close in the current economic conditions.
All in all, Galway has a good future if managed and marketed correctly. If it is mismanaged it will slip into disarray. From the field trip we made to Galway, I saw little to tell me that Galway was being managed and marketed correctly and I feel that Galway will suffer because of this.
Bateson, E.G. (1995) Managing Services Marketing, 3rd Ed, The Dryden Press.
Jobber, D. (1998) Principals and Practices of Marketing, 2nd Ed, McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.
Bord Failte, Operational Programme for Tourism 1989 -1993
Operational Programme for Tourism 2000-2006
Ireland West, Tourism Development Plan 1993 - 1999
Tourism Development Plan 2000 - 2006
Udaras na Gaeltachta, Tourism in the Gaeltachts, 1999
Hyperlink Based Resources