“Edutourism – Promotion of educational tourism for the promotion of natural and cultural heritage”, in the framework of the INTERREG, INTERREG V-A “GREECE CYPRUS 2014-2020” Programme, which is co-funded by the European Union (ERDF) at 85% and by the National Funds of Greece and Cyprus at 15%. Focus Group discussion – Hellenic Mediterranean University Dept. Business Administration and Tourism | Friday, 18.11.2022
In the framework of the project “Development of educational tourism for the promotion of natural and cultural heritage”, codenamed “Edutourism”, which is funded by the INTERREG Greece-Cyprus programme, we implemented a few days ago (Friday 18 November 2022) an online round table discussion with participants of young people up to 30 years old regarding their views on educational tourism in Crete and the development of this form of tourism activity. 8 young people participated in the discussion which lasted a little over 2 hours.
During the discussion we asked the participants their views on specific issues regarding educational tourism and the prospects for the development of this form of tourism in Crete. This short report is based on the distillation of the main points of the discussion and focuses on the main results of the discussion and any implications it may have in the context of marketing. Overall, this report focuses on three (3) main conclusions.
To begin with, the main conclusion that emerged from the discussion relates to the tourism product – service in Crete itself. More specifically, the respondents answered that any development of educational tourism in Crete would be a positive step simply because it enriches the tourism service and the tourism product of the island. In other words, they consider that the development of an additional form of tourism activity (which they consider complementary to the main tourism product of the Periphery of Crete) would be beneficial to the development of the tourism industry. Crete), would act as a support and complement to the existing framework of tourism activities and forms of tourism already developed on the island.
Based on the results of our surveys, it appears that youngest people would choose educational tourism or a package of educational tourism activities with the main purpose of entertainment. After satisfying their basic need (i.e. fun), they would also consider the possibilities offered by educational tourism. In this context, they mention the usefulness of including the concept of serious games, i.e. the possibility of enriching their knowledge through educational games. The fact that they mention “Edutourism – Promotion of educational tourism for the promotion of natural and cultural heritage”, in the framework of the INTERREG, INTERREG V-A “GREECE CYPRUS 2014-2020” Programme, which is co-funded by the European Union (ERDF) at 85% and by the National Funds of Greece and Cyprus at 15%. gamification as a key component in the development of educational tourism, together with a focus on the experience first and then on education leads us to the conclusion that potential visitors who will come and consume educational tourism services expect richer experiences than what they have in mind or take for granted by tourism operators and professionals on the island.
A second interesting conclusion that emerges from the analysis of the results concerns the so-called marketing myopia. According to the participants, it is always the responsibility of the official bodies and those involved in the development of tourism and specifically educational tourism in Crete. Marketing myopia in educational tourism describes those cases where operators (e.g., educational institutions and tour operators) exploit a small-limited range of product-service possibilities, and are unable to understand (and thus exploit) all the product’s potential for value-added creation. For example, educational institutions only ‘see’ the potential they can offer to a small group of end-users and fail to understand their role in relation to the wider society. In other words, the participants consider that both educational institutions and tourism professionals do not understand the importance of the specific product (educational tourism), they do not understand the motivations on the basis of which potential visitors could visit Crete.
Another element that emerged from the discussion with young people, and confirmed through the primary quantitative research, has to do with the absence of strategic planning and the heterogeneity in consumer preferences. More specifically, participants indicated that a big mistake made by tourism operators and professionals is to assume that when they talk about developing educational tourism, it can be done in the same way for everyone. That is, the same product should cover all consumers in the same way. On the contrary, the participants’ views moved in the exact opposite direction stating that the educational tourism product changes and changes depending on the age of the participant’s motivation and what they want to achieve or what they are looking for in the future. The absence of individualized incentives and correspondingly the lack of specific value propositions around educational tourism according to the characteristics of demand, demonstrates the short-sighted view that tourism operators and professionals have adopted regarding the development of new innovative educational products and services.
A final point highlighted by the participants and which is related to the previous observations relates to the model of the long-lasting customer in Crete. More specifically, the participants indicated that the development of new innovative “Edutourism – Promotion of educational tourism for the promotion of natural and cultural heritage”, in the framework of the INTERREG, INTERREG V-A “GREECE CYPRUS 2014-2020” Programme, which is co-funded by the European Union (ERDF) at 85% and by the National Funds of Greece and Cyprus at 15%. educational tourism products and services such as educational tourism should be developed with the fact or the model of the timeless customer in mind. In other words, a product (an educational tourism service) is developed not for the first-time visitor but for the visitor who will come to Crete to consume or experience different experiences each time.
The interesting element that emerges from the analysis of all the above observations is that the participants in one way or another, either because of the enriched tourism product, the heterogeneity in consumer preferences or the model of the long term customer, document the potential of educational tourism in terms of developing multi- variable tourism products and services that are easily adaptable to the needs of the market and the business environment.