A REPORT BY BRIAN MAJOR FOR TRAVEL PULSE.
“The Rhythm Never Stops” has been selected as the name of a long-discussed Caribbean regional marketing campaign directed by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), with participation from “private sector partners,” Dinosio D’Aguilar, CTO’s chairman, said Thursday.
The campaign will marketing launch in by the end of June, D’Aguilar said at a briefing for media during this week’s “Caribbean Week” program sponsored by CTO, even as additional program sponsors are sought. “We will continue to pursue a funding mechanism for a sustained marketing program, which is critical to our efforts to maintain and grow market share,” he said.
“Our competitors are light years ahead of us,” noted D’Aguilar. For example, “Brand USA has an annual budget of $164 million and Australia’s budget is $122 million,” he said. While the region is recovering well from September storms, with several destinations reporting double-digit visitor growth, consistent regional marketing is required to sustain and support future growth, he said.
In contrast, the new CTO/CHTA regional marketing campaign presently funded at a relatively modest $400,000 said Hugh Riley, CTO’s secretary general. Nevertheless the public/private sector partnership will launch on a yet-to-be-determined date in June with participation from Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, The Cayman Islands, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Martinique and Jamaica.
Riley said the list of participating destinations is “only temporary” and CTO and CHTA anticipate more sponsors following the region’s record-breaking year for visitor arrivals in 2017.
“We did quite a bit of information sharing” in preparing the program’s launch, Riley said. “We expect some of the commitments we reached during our meetings will serve to extend the list of countries” sponsoring the program.
Several major travel brands have also provided financial support to the program said Frank Comito, CHTA’s president. The companies are matching destination-sourced funding on a “dollar-for-dollar basis,” he said, including Mastercard and Marriott and “a couple of airlines as well.”
Comito said the program would proceed in two phases, with a summer edition focused on digital and social media messaging “with a public relations component as well” followed by a program of messaging for the fall and winter.
After joking that as a former advertising executive he’d learned to “never explain” a branding statement, Riley said program’s catchphrase phrase evokes different sensations for different people.
“But we are going to use ‘The Rhythm Never Stops’ in lots different ways so it will have all kinds of meaning to it. In the Bahamas, the rhythm never stops, in Jamaica the rhythm never stops, in Martinique and in Grenada. And in each of the countries will have its own interpretation of its story and its rhythm and its never-stopness.”