DoT closes US regional offices to save cash

| 17/06/2010

(CNS): The Department of Tourism has said it has saved over $1 million by closing three regional offices in the United States. In what it describes as a restructuring of its US operations designed to “increase the efficiency and effectiveness” of the Cayman Islands tourism investment in the US market, the offices in Miami, Houston and Chicago will be closed and 12 staff made redundant. It said the national office in New York will coordinate the US operations with five home based marketing representatives who will cover the country. The change comes following a review of Cayman’s marketing structure in the States which has not changed for ten years.

The decision to restructure came about following a strategic review of the department’s effectiveness and ability to deliver on its mandate to increase visitors to the Islands, said Shomari Scott, Ag. Director of Tourism. "The world has changed significantly, especially in recent times, yet the organisational structure in the US has remained static for almost a decade," he said.
“In today’s world, with today’s economic challenges, the Department needs a more flexible and robust structure that will allow for the best return on investment of funds spent. This is particularly important in the current environment where internet, mobile and social media are key drivers for information sharing, decision making and ultimately influencing consumer behaviour."

Dot said the new streamlined framework will enable government entity to target the travel trade as well as consumers. "The new structure is leaner and more focused on the modern needs of the international market and local industry and we expect the modified organisation will enhance the effectiveness of our integrated marketing efforts, which utilize TV, interactive media, print, public relations and promotions," Scott explained.

 "The Cayman Islands is up against fierce competition from other Caribbean destinations," he said, "and Jamaica, Bahamas and Aruba have all restructured their USA based sales/marketing forces a few years back. In order to maintain and grow our market share we too must have the ability to dynamically respond to ever changing market forces."

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  1. Kwesi Fraser says:

    I guess this is a step in the right direction, but you are still talking to the old America with your current marketing mix and spend. You have to get YOUNGER and more URBAN (as in a mindset). I recently moved here from NYC and I am a strategic marketing guru, with a special focus on the NEW DIGITAL MEDIA space. The KEY moving forward is DIRECT to CONSUMER relationships. Fish where the fish are, not where you hope they will be. Connect with them, invite them to over, and allow them to discover or rediscover how beautiful this island is!

    Shomari, I am ready to pick up our conversations when you are.

    Be well and Drink Fresh Juice!

  2. Craig says:

    Honestly, I don’t think many people understand the importance of the overseas office. I am a Caymanian that actually got the opportunity to work in the Houston Office, which was responsible for the Southwest U.S. You are disillusioned if you think that people do not want that "human" connection, someone they can ask questions to, someone that understands the product. The American tourist (which just so happens to be our meal ticket) is one that depends on qualified recommendations especially if they are planning a destination wedding, a family reunion, a multi-family vacation, you get the drift, trips that they are looking for value for dollar.

    What should have been done in my opinion, a commitment to place more qualified Caymanians throughout the Overseas office. There is no one that can promote MY Island better than ME(a Caymanian), because they don’t share the same passion, they don’t have the vested interest that I (a Caymanian) have.

    I think the closure of those offices in those regions are not positive long-term decisions, it may save Gov’t a mill now, but has anyone really assessed the long term effects on our very fragile tourism industry. It is always least effective to be reactive than proactive, and actually think long-term than FOUR-year term. 


  3. Anonymous says:

    I love the term "redundant" – so much more palatable than "fired". Not that the decision was incorrect – just like the terminology.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is great news but I still think we can do better.   With the global technology that we have in the world today, why do we still need five home based marketing representatives?    If we enhance our website and place our advertising wisely that will do it for us.   This will get into homes and places where these folks will not. 

     I say get rid of these five home based reps. and put the money on the Cayman Islands Website.   This is where most people shop for vacations these days.

    These positions were created during the late Jim Bodden era and it worked wonders for us then, but we now have the internet and that can give as much information as we want.

    Another thing, how do we know these people are working like they say they are?   Who will be supervising them, if they are spread over the US?

    I definately think it time to get rid of these positions totally!

    • Anonymous says:

      "Cut off your nose to spite your face?"

      While I’m a proponent of the improvement of technology spending, better  TV and Web ads (e.g. on Expedia etc) we must not forget that tourism is a people business.

      It is necessary to have marketing reps visit travel agencies in various cities to provide them with product updates and one-on-one sales counselling. This is not unlike the big pharmaceuticals having sales reps that visit doctors. We know that pharma sales reps have an influence on what prescription a doctor writes when a patient shows up sick. Likewise, it’s important to have positive Cayman Islands focused marketing rep meet with travel agents that have the ability to sell Cayman to prospective travelers that walk in the door of  Travel Agency and say "I want to go on a Carinbbean or beach vacation".

      Also, due to the growing use of online travel agencies (like Expedia etc) we need more in this space. More packages and adverts need to be put together by CIDOT, CITA etc to target this market. However, we can’t rely only on the Internet. The Internet doesn’t close the sale. People do and information, pricing and incentives are part and parcel of this.

      Don’t forget that the trend in news websites tend to push "acopolyptic" stories focused on crime, budget woes etc. Similarly, travel opinion websites are lightly monitored so it’s easy to find misinformation online. Perhaps, more important than ever before in Cayman’s history, it’s important to have marketing reps visit traditional travel agents & wholesalers and make deals with operators of online agencies to promote the good points of Cayman vs other destinations in times where theyconstantly hearing about increasing crime, coral bleaching, budget issues etc.

      This can only be done by people.

  5. peter milburn says:

    Way late on this decision.I have been saying this for years that in this day and age why do we need more than one office.Properly placed adds will do the job of the other closed offices and guide it all to the one in NY.Good decision RIGHT TIMING.

  6. Caymanian Overseas says:

    Offices in Miami, Houston and Chicago? Incredible!!  I am totally shocked that they are only JUST NOW being closed.  WOW.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thumbs up for the govt. on this one.