Trapping the Tourists
After visiting many of the world’s most famous cities (Madrid, Rome, Paris…) as well as some hidden gems (Segovia, Valencia, Porto…) I’ve discovered the epitome of clever marketing: The Tourist Trap.
It’s like Business 330 Principles of Marketing on steroids and completely exploited … marketing SO obvious to anyone who knows anything about marketing, yet people completely fall for it, even myself at times. I found this amazing as I’ve been traveling and decided to put together a quick marketing plan of the tourist kiosks for your enjoyment.
- Looking for the ‘real’ experience
- Willing to pay an obnoxious amount of money to skip lines
- Wants physical, material momentos and pictures from anything famous
- Wants to see everything fast versus spending lots of time with few things
- Considers food and drink of the area a necessary spending opportunity, and will act accordingly
- Truly believes each souvenir kiosk and store is different and each ‘hello’ we give them is genuine
Keywords: Fun, Original, Real, Unique, Special Price, One-Time Only, ‘I make a deal for you!’, Free, Sale, Authentic, Any name of the place where located (I <3 NYC)
*Bonus Points if it’s in the tourist’s native language
1. Have an attractive, bilingual wing man.
Purpose: Swoops in tourists by starting up conversation casually as they pass by and seeming to be friendly with their best interest in mind. Talk up every benefit and talk down the general admission or experience if they were to do it with anyone except you and our company. Don’t speak of the price unless asked more than once; white lies are acceptable. Guesses the tourists native language right away and always uses their language.
Goal: Catch the attention of one group member who will fall for it and make everyone else in the group follow and pay.
2. Make prices like they’re already discounted.
Purpose: 3 for 5 euro! No, they don’t cost 1.50 a piece, you get three for a common bill you have in your wallet simply so we can have the bigger bill and not have to deal out change. Get all your souvenirs in one place, we have multiple colors!
Goal: Sell inventory fast, reduce the need to give out change, reduce amateur tourist ‘bargaining’ efforts.
3. Market authenticity, whether authentic or not.
“Best authentic pasta in Italy!” proudly served to you in a American-decorated restaurant with Chinese staff! Doesn’t matter, ‘authentic’ will make them come.
4. Sell the stereotype.
What do you think of when you first see these words? Pasta, David, Pinocchio, Gondola, Pope, Crepe, Escargot, Gelato, Pizza, Wine, Paella, Flamenco
All are related to a place and tourists will want to eat it, see it, or participate when they’re there regardless if it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world. They feel obliged since they’re there and they didn’t research anything else before they came to the place. After all, when in Rome … Do what you think the Romans do.
This is of course an incredibly sarcastic analysis, and many highly touristy places truly are good experiences. While traveling I really enjoyed the Vatican and seeing Michaelangelo’s David, as well as moseying through the Louvre; all really touristy things of course. But as a business student traveling it was so obvious how these mini-empresas carried out their business, and how easy it was for them to be profitable. I also found it hilarious how tourists knew they were being screwed over, but still willingly continued the transactions voluntarily assuming the role of the stereotypical tourist. Let’s just say I tried my best to keep the fanny pack off my body, but some wear about three … in the national colors of wherever they are.
Courtney Cerniglia is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point majoring in business administration and Spanish.