THE setting was a festive one at Friday’s launch of the newly-formed Tourism Advisory Committee, complemented as it was by a live musical act, as well as by the prospect of refreshments following the scheduled speeches. However, it was Prime Minister Allen Chastanet with his ‘Tourism/BMW’ analogy, who stole the show.
The Prime Minister was clearly in his element, eating and making merry just before the commencement of proceedings — a million miles away, so it seemed, from the tense Sitting of the House earlier in the week.
Before long, while delivering the keynote address at the launch, the Prime Minister had the room eating out of the palm of his hands as he spelled-out his vision for St. Lucia’s tourism industry with an analogy comparing the sale of a BMW automobile to the selling of the country’s tourism product.
Making the point that tourism and the tourism experience is different for each region and country, Chastanet stated the importance of understanding what the experience specific to St. Lucia is, in order to be able to sell it to visitors — beginning with the importance of its tagline.
“BMW’s tagline is what? ‘The ultimate driving machine’ — and they spend a tremendous amount of money defining that product. So, they know that people who generally buy BMW’s are people who have Type-A personalities.” Chastanet stated, before jokingly adding “I don’t happen to be one of those people…”
He continued his BMW analogy saying that “They understand psychologically the things that improve a Type-A experience. So a Type-A [personality] loves to come into the car and smell that odour of that leather. And that becomes okay.
“The feel of the seat; the wheel and how you feel the wheel and the texture of the wheel and the control it gives you; the knob to either automatic drive or if it’s a stick shift. When you close the door and you hear “cloonk”; you close the door [and say] ‘I’m in my tank and nobody is going to stop me.’ You wanna be driving by and people are going aaahhhhhhh!”
Chastanet then said that “With BMW, none of that happened by accident. They did that because they understood who their client was.”
The PM went on to use his father as an example of a customer who is the opposite of “the Type-A” personalities he had referenced earlier, as he made the point, that not everybody is going to go for the flashy BMW.
“Their client wasn’t my father. My father sees no value in any of those things. My father believes a car needs to turn on when you turn the key. It needs to consume the least amount of gas, cost you the least amount of maintenance and take you [from] A to B.
“And there are many people like my father. There are people who wanna be conservative and inconspicuous; so everybody has their different type.”
With the conclusion of his analogy he stated that “Tourism is no different,” adding that “The problem that we continuously experience in this country is [that] we do not have an agreement on who we are.”
Chastanet went on to explain the move away from the tagline ‘Simply Beautiful”, implying that it no longer conveyed to the visiting customer what we are as a country.
“I hear all these arguments as to why we moved away from ‘Simply Beautiful’, so I’m gonna put it to the test.
“Put a picture of Hewannora Airport up on the wall and put underneath it, ‘Simply Beautiful’. Put a picture of the Castries Market up on the wall and put ‘Simply Beautiful’’. Put the Ramp at Rodney Bay, the picture and say, ‘Simply Beautiful’. Does it fit?”
He argued that in order for Saint Lucia to be effective as a destination, it would have to deliver all the time on its tagline ‘Simply Beautiful’ “…because, remember that brand is a promise.”
Chastanet added that “It’s the people that can fulfil that promise not some of the time, not most of the time, but all the time…” that are going to be successful.
And he asked: “Would Fed Ex be Fed Ex if it only ‘most of the time’ got your package there within 24 hours? Would you pay that kind of money for just ‘most of the time’? These are simple questions to ask…”