Discover your free Construction Marketing Ideas Email Newsletter

Sunday, July 08, 2012

The tourism ecosystem: Fraud and fairness

Tonight is our last night in Istanbul.  With my wife, we did the "tourist" thing today -- taking an organized tour of the key historic sites here for 70 Euros each; that's more than $170 total.  Did we receive value for money?  That is always a question when you are taking the tourist experience.  It is a somewhat artificial place, with systems, rules, trade-offs and side deals between hotels, tour operators and merchants.  After all, the consumers are not generally terribly astute about local prices, values and options and they have money to spend.  Of course, ripping people off generally doesn't help in the long run -- because with the Internet negative word-of-mouth can certainly spread quickly.   These days, there is little reason or excuse for anyone to be caught in the traditional "tourist trap".

Nevertheless, as the morning part of our tour ended, we were escorted into a carpet store.  The merchant apparently gave a good explanation of carpets and traditions, while serving some free tea.  (I missed that part of the action in part because i had more urgent biological needs.)  When I joined the rest of the group about 10 minutes later, the hard selling part had commenced.

I enjoyed the artful tactics of the Turkish carpet merchants, trying to extract some business from a captive, but very temporary, tourist group audience.  Prices magically dropped as the merchants sought to find the key hot spot that would convince the tourist to part with money.  This is the world of "high pressure sales", though of course everyone on the selling side denied they were up to anything that bad.  Nevertheless, our tourist counterparts demurred.  No one was going to spend any money here, no way.  After we left, one of the tour members, who had expressed some interest in the carpets, said she decided that the clerk were "harassing" her and, with that, she made the firm decision not to buy anything.

I suppose in certain conditions and at certain times, high pressure selling works.  It is probably necessary if your market is among transitory tourists.  You really only have one kick at the can, so you had better find some, any, way to extract the cash.  However, I think for most of our businesses in Canada or the U.S., these tactics are almost certain to backfire.  When it comes to construction marketing, I think in general it is far wiser to build your relationships and be patient, rather than push for the quick sale.

1 comment:

T. Miller said...

Having been to Turkey and found myself in the same exact position I have to agree, the hard sell is not a good choice for the West.