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Posted: Monday 8 February, 2016 at 10:32 AM

Tourism - 1st Impressions Matter!

By: Adam Anderson, OPEN Interactive, Inc.

    BASSSETERRE, St. Kitts -- WITH VISITORS of every destination arriving at various times of the year and the day, and with some of their decisions for what they intend to do while visiting SKN not fully known or fixed, a Visitor’s Center conveying information and allowing for an enjoyable visual may be influential as well a stimulant for favorable experiences while on the islands.  Tourist information is a marketing tool. It derives a competitive advantage of what SKN has to offer.  


    Visitor Influence


    An image of SKN—what it offers as a destination is heavily influenced by this ‘at first glance’ experience. Tourists like to access travel-related services not only in the pre-trip phase, but especially in the on-trip phase of the tourist lifecycle.  A visitors center affords us an opportunity to design a persuasive and value-added experience.  


    In the absence of such a critical experience, it’s likely that a visitor will formulate their opinion based on hotel staff and brochures provided at their hotel. Tours, leisure activities, places to eat, and places to visit are best conveyed in the context of national interests which overarch that of any single establishment or chance encounter.  If we are to attract more event-based visits including seminars, nature and sea tours, sports competitions, and niche world-wide visits aimed at renewable energy and investment, then these brand positions would be prominent and persuasively conveyed within and in the environ of the our visitor’s center. 


    The use of physical models, motion video, panoramic video storytelling, and interactive locator and event/restaurant booking kiosks shape a visitor’s vision (and oftentimes memories) of one’s journey.  Motion video and image displays designed to convey our rich culture and history and aid in engaging visitors toward national brands and value is a necessity to reach this realm.  The realm being that of delight and of feeling conscientious of being taking care of—not just as an afterthought—or like just ‘any other’ vacation stop.


    Tourism is a Quality Process


    A Visitor’s Center is a commitment to a reality — tourism is not a one shot or one-time process that begins and ends when a visitor reaches St. Kitts and Nevis.  In the tourism quality process, the information stage, which is usually one of the first real contacts a tourist to SKN will have, is of key importance for our regional and international competitiveness. Our visitor’s center will provide the right communication and information at the point of entry and a satisfying first impression.


    Visitor’s Centers that are well-engineered creates and manages a whole interconnected and closely related system of services and influence established to elevate St. Kitts and Nevis’ competitiveness within the Caribbean world. 


    If properly developed, our Visitor’s Center would:


    • allow for visitors at point of entry to identify, plan, and connect with tours for the most optimal experience
    • convey the rich culture and history of St. Kitts and Nevis for greater awareness and context for visitors’ experience
    • tailor visitors’ experience in real time, with provisions to secure transportation, tours, locate and make reservations at restaurants, and travel to shops or destinations
    • enhance visits and educate visitors about opportunities within SKN for investment, living, and retiring
    • elevate our national brand and increase rev-par opportunities island-wide
    • create more ambassadors worldwide as visitors return home and share their experiences in St. Kitts (enhanced by Visitor’s Center functionality & ambiance)

    What is the cost, and resulting ROI?  For other brands and countries, the incremental ROI has been measured in the 100’s of millions in economic impact, with plenty of case study to support this.   Developing an experience center is an art and a science. It intricately connects to the marketing and PR process, including the tail end, or nurturing campaigns based on interest triggers and data gathered within the Center.  Not to have one or an inadequate one is to not be performing as a nation rich with treasures—beauty, talent, and brains.


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