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The Growth of Stealth Tourism

May 4th, 2006 · No Comments · Destination Marketing

An interesting press release landed in my reader today about a company in France offering what is referred to as ‘Stealth Tourism’. Basically this is seeing France from the place of an insider. The concept is not really new, but still worth considering. I question the ‘reality’ of the France they hope to reveal. Sounds more like a strange Gallic Potemkin Village type experience. How about an insider’s tour of the Muslim ghettoes with some car burning thrown in? I digress…

Travelers seek information about their potential choices from a variety of sources. There is no doubt that the third-party review or recommendation from friend or relative has the most credibility. The search for reliable information and decreasing the uncertainty involved in tourism consumption is a major feature in the activities a traveler undertakes when planning a trip. Don’t we always seek the insider’s tip when making difficult economic decisions? Ultimately what this company is providing is no different than what the CIA might provide to a covert agent heading to a foreign country. Oddly enough, this would be the way I’d like to travel the most.
Any marketer will tell you that customer satisfaction is a function of expectations and actual results. There is no better customer than a knowledgeable one. Besides just providing the list of hotels and attractions, wouldn’t the tourist be best served with a reliable source of insider information? This is just what social networking can do for tourism. The only problem I foresee is the inherent bias that is intrinsic in the concept of ‘insider’ advise. How can a public agency charged with destination promotion satisfy the public’s desire for ‘truth’ and still effectively promote what might be a flawed product? At what point does promotion become propaganda? Can the traditional DMO ever be trusted as a credible insider?


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