Recent research by experiences B2B connectivity platform Globick reveals how destinations and local stakeholders are leaving revenue “laying on the table” for failing to cross-sell experiences. Here on Crete island, man locals who provide unbelievable experiences get almost zero support from bigger stakeholders. This report is about doing something about this. It’s a sort of “Part I” of shaking up this industry. So, here goes.
I cannot write this report without venting my own frustration on this topic. For more than five years now, I’ve “pitched” resorts, restaurants, politicians, local businesspersons, and the Orthodox priests here in Heraklion about prime tourism potential. Nobody’s listened. So, now that this is out in the open…
Travel Daily News editor Vicky Karantzavelou just posted a telling report from Globick concerning Spain, where “69% of those who’ve booked a hotel or flight are open to prompts to purchase in-destination experiences.” This validates my own experience here on Crete, where no one, and I mean no one we come into contact with, is being led to any experience other than the beach and Knossos.
No, really. We were in the center at a seaside taverna just the other night, helping a group of a dozen German travelers find things to do as they visit towns from Hersonissos to Chania. A dozen young travelers open to anything and everything and relying on relative strangers for help to find Balos Lagoon? Seriously, the travelers knew little or nothing at all about this island. And this is not just a unique episode.
Now get this. We were in direct contact recently with beach handball teams from around the world on Crete for the IHF World Championships, and guess what? Most of the athletes had no idea that one of Greece’s biggest and best museums is right here in Heraklion. 5,000 world-class athletes, potential emissaries for Crete, came and played, and that’s about it. Most Cretans didn’t even know they were here. I know this because I write more about Crete than anybody. I had to find the head of the press department of the Hellenic Handball Federation via Google. As it turned out, I was the only English language journalist other than Iran’s contingent to report. No, really.
This is unfortunate because the Globick data shows that travelers are keen to visit museums. And this scenario is repetitive. Our German friends were thrilled to learn about the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, which is tied to Knossos Palace.
The problem is systemic. Or, if I am honest, chronic. Xavier Boixeda, Co-Founder & CEO of Globick, mirrors my sentiments in this comment:
“With each sale of an in-destination experience representing both incremental revenue and high-margins, for relatively little effort, it is surprising that there aren’t more intermediaries and direct points of sale already doing this.”
Of course, he’s speaking of Madrid and Barcelona, and not Crete tourism, but I’d venture to say Crete is far worse at failing to convert on obvious intent to purchase. Boixeda says it’s “hard to believe” anybody would not act on a 60% probability travelers would bite. Furthermore, the travel executive says most tourists choose their activities first and then decide on the destination. Here’s where the Greek leadership’s lip service to alt-tourism eats at my brain.
Why aren’t the politicians pushing sports, nature, wellness, culture, and other alternative forms of tourism harder? Furthermore, why don’t the best resorts and hotels sell tickets to wonderful experiences direct from their lobbies? I know for a certainty that the businesses providing experiences would pay commissions and so forth. Even if they did not, isn’t it the responsibility of hospitality to reveal these values to guests? And I do not mean brochures. Crete, as a glowing example of failure, leaves revenue on the table in every aspect from inbound flights to the grilled octopus cooked fresh at some south Crete taverna.
Wonderful businesses here suffer, unknowingly, from lost prime revenue TUI and the other travel giants cannot supply. I won’t go into specifics here, but I can tell you I’ve contacted tourism officials directly about this. As I type this, sports, entertainment, and cultural tourism people are out in the world as emissaries of Crete value. World-class artisans, entrepreneurs, sports people, and wellness experts are out there in the limelight, and no one here is supporting them. I know because I’ve begged on bended knee for leadership to help. Every year dozens in our network and new constituents come to Crete and are still a bit clueless about what Crete tourism possibilities are available. As for our outreach to decision-makers…
All’s quiet. You cannot get a Crete official or resort owner to bend an ear, even if you are offering free publicity, press, mentions, and your time and network. For five years, we’ve operated Argophilia Travel News without a penny in revenue. For five years, we’ve traveled around this island telling the stories, shooting the photos, attending the events, and supporting the locals with absolutely zero resources. And all’s quiet. I had to beg just to receive press releases to help tell the stories (2018).
Money on the table? Crete’s losses could not be ferried across the Aegean in all the cruise ships plying the Mediterranean this summer. If I had to characterize what’s going on here on this paradise island, I’d say Crete’s leadership is throwing away money hand over fist. I wish Globick would conduct research here, just to help Cretans show could use a hand up. I’d be happy to help, and for free. Why not? Five years of beating my head against the office walls only produced a massive headache so far.
Crete operators have been taking what they could get for far too long. A real effort to bring tourists to what’s actually here, instead of to a buffet line on a beach for peanuts, would take this island to its real destiny. Crete should be the richest tourism destination in the Mediterranean and one of the wealthiest in the world. It can only happen with the right leadership and the right ideas. Why aren’t the stakeholders promoting tours like Exploring Crete by Peter Sommer? I can tell you this, at the very least, travelers who can afford £4,365 per person for two weeks touring Crete will have more disposable income to spend on souvlakis. Or, what about simply joining hands with local experiences directly?
Maybe it would help Crete decision-makers to learn about their own island. This scholarly paper entitled “Crete” has plenty of ideas as yet, undeveloped. I’m sure I never read anywhere about a botanical or geological tourism plan here. Perhaps I am wrong.
In the next installment, I’ll look into the so-called Green Economy, and things like natural capital, environmental management, and the chainable effects firms and other stakeholders can have on Crete’s future tourism.