Internationalisation is increasingly becoming a key strategy for the survival of many tourism businesses.
However, many tourism companies have not previously defined a strategy on foreign markets. This means they risk being unprepared for certain activities, and can end up investing a significant effort into something that does not give the expected results.
If you want to start a process of internationalisation in your tourism company, you must first prepare an international marketing plan. You must be clear on what this is, as well as the points to keep in mind when developing it.
We will discuss the following in this article:
What is an international marketing plan?
An international marketing plan is the document that defines and details the information about where you want to go with the company from an international point of view – and how you will go about doing it.
It is therefore the ‘guide’ for the internationalisation process. It will be adapted to the target market and will establish the various steps that have to be developed.
But before you define where you want to go, you need a ‘reflection’ period. You must analyse the initial situation and inform yourself about the advantages and difficulties in each internationalisation process.
Usefulness of an international marketing plan
- viability analysis – will help you analyse all variables that might affect your strategy, providing all necessary information on the markets that you intend to target
- process guide – will be your guide for international planning. It details how you organise the process and its objectives in the short, medium and long term – it helps you to evaluate results and correct any possible deviations
- presentation document for your international strategy – you will need this document if you want to ask for financing or public subsidies for commercial activities – it will be used analyse the feasibility of your project
Key factors for your international marketing plan
Before tackling the elements to consider when developing your international marketing plan, you should consider the following tips:
- reflect on your company - you should conduct a pre-analysis and reflect on whether your company is ready to take this leap.
- study your new consumers/customers - it is advisable to have a thorough knowledge of your foreign target market so that you can adapt your business model abroad.
- get to know your competition – study and learn from them - you need to know who the competitors are, how many there are and what their respective strengths are.
- evaluate the financial risk of the operation - the company must be stable, and capable of meeting financial and human resources requirements, for a successful internationalisation process
Below you can see the minimum that any international marketing plan should include:
You must first carry out a preliminary assessment to identify factors that may influence the development of the plan. You should consider the business environment and the circumstances, as well as strengths and weaknesses.
The assessment should also include aspects such as:
- the business lines of the tourism company
- competitive strategy
- the market segments to be dealt with, plus marketing capabilities
- ‘global’ and ‘sectorial’ environmental analysis
- level of need and motivation to go international
- organisational and management capacity
- financial and planning capability
You should sum up the result of the assessment in a SWOT analysis.
List all capabilities, resources and competitive advantages that will help the company make the most of new market opportunities.
List all aspects that limit or reduce the capacity for enterprise development. These involve potential difficulties of the internationalisation process which you must control and overcome.
List all pressures in the market environment that may prevent or hinder the growth of the company or the execution of its strategies. Likewise, consider pressures in the environment and industry that may increase risks.
List all aspects that could represent a possibility to improve profitability, increase revenues and strengthen competitive advantages.
It is vital to choose ‘candidate’ target markets. Choose candidates for the short and medium term, establishing a ranking of priority countries. Justify your choices according to different variables, such as market niches, competition, taxes, etc.
‘Candidate’ target markets
Analysis of market and environment
You must thoroughly analyse the market(s) that interest you. Consider:
- the main way to access these markets
You should also conduct an environmental analysis, including the study of economic, cultural, political and legal variables in each market.
Analysis of international competition
Consider competitors, the products and/or services they offer, the countries in which they operate, their strategies, etc.
Examine factors such as:
- market size
- growth phase in relation to your service
- competitive advantage
Action plan or strategy
Define the element, support, intermediary or instrument that will allow you to introduce your business to the overseas market at the same level as the competition.
Ask yourself how you will enter the market: joint venture, franchise, etc. For more information entering international markets, watch the tutorial on expanding a tourism business into Europe.
Decide which line of services will be introduced into each of the markets. Consider if you will need to adjust your services to fit the markets (for cultural or legal reasons, etc.).
Promotion and marketing strategy
Incorporate a mix of promotional activities to create as much communication as possible. Decide which methods of promotion to use – they could include:
- important fairs in the sector
- research trips
- trade missions
- adverts in magazines in the sector
- presentation hand-outs
Determine if it is relevant to have a pricing strategy in order to:
- allow a certain profit on the investments made
- gain a position in the market
- tackle the competition head-on
The decisions made will influence the following:
- a business plan – for the investment required to implement the internationalisation strategy in the short, medium and long term
- a return on investment analysis – to calculate the time it will take to recover the investment that has been made
Objectives, mission and vision
Each year, both strategic and operational objectives should be reviewed to correct or adapt the plan to the current situation.