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The good, the bad and the totally useless:
An analysis of adventure marketing in
Ireland
Antonie Bauer
Research questions

How do adventure providers market their activities?

Which marketing strategies work best for the soft
adventure industry?

How rational are the companies’ and the tourist boards’
marketing strategies?
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
2
What the literature has to say
 Very little research on marketing of adventure
providers, somewhat more on adventure tour
operators, destinations and the adventure tourist
 Schott: distribution mainly at destination;
Swarbrooke et al.: brochure main instrument
 Ateljevic: marketing of small tourism firms rather
inconsistent
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
3
Data collection

Based on audits conducted for Fáilte Ireland

70 members of Fáilte Ireland’s adventure hubs in
Cork and Kerry

Almost all of the market leaders

In-depth interviews with senior management or
owners

Structured questionnaire
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
4
Data collected

Time and money spent on marketing

Details on all marketing activities

Evaluation of marketing activities

Main sources of new business

Profit and year-over-year growth
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
5
The companies

Providers of soft adventure – usually low risk,
suitable for families
 hill walking, horse-riding, diving, surfing, fishing
etc.

Mostly owner-run micro-businesses
 median revenue € 90 000
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
6
The companies
Grouped into clusters for analysis:
 growing (17) vs. shrinking (32)
 profitable (38) / breaking even (17) /
loss-making (15)
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
7
Results
Marketing budgets: On average 6.85% of
revenue
 Time spent on marketing: On average 7.4
hours/week
Strong correlation with company size
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
8
Who does what?
 Growing firms tend to spend more money and less
time on marketing than shrinking ones and to use
more marketing instruments
 Profitable firms tend to spend less time on
marketing and to use more instruments than lossmakers.
 Strongest difference between marketing strategies
of managers with and without marketing training
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
9
Professionality of marketing
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
10
What the professionals do
No marketing training
At least some training
Marketing budget as
% of revenue
6.3
7
Short-term planning
64%
88%
Hours spent per week
(median)
1.5
6
Long-term planning
41%
73%
No of marketing
activities (median)
7
12
Median revenue
47,500
122,500
%
profitable
55 the totally useless
Antonie
Bauer, The good, the bad and
58
17 February 2012
2012 Adventure Conference
11
Size matters (sometimes):
communication tools by company size
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
12
o
M pti
ar m
k e is
t r ati
es on
ea
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In ch
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rn
Fl e t
y
M e rs
ai
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rs ss- PR
+ s
S p a ellin
al
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V s c age
ira ha s
l m nn
a r els
ke
ti
S Po n g
oc s
ia ter
lm s
B ed
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ch
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TI Ad r es
ca wo
r
Tr mp ds
a a
C de ign
la s s
s h
M sic o ws
at m
ch e d
f u ia
nd
in
g
W
eb
si
te
Frequency (red) and average rating of activities (blue)
70
60
50
20
10
0
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
4,5
4
3,5
3
40
2,5
Frequency
30
2
Ratings
1,5
1
0,5
0
17 February 2012
13
Business generated and perceived effectiveness
50
45
4
44
3,5
40
36
3
35
2,5
30
25
2
20
1,5
14
15
10
10
1
10
6
5
2
0,5
1
0
0
Word of
mouth
Internet
Flyers
Editorial
content
Sales
channels
Print
Trade shows
advertising
and radio
How often named as source of business
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
Posters
Average rating
17 February 2012
14
Comparison to ratings

Negative evaluation of activities is confirmed; some
of those with positive evaluations may be overrated
(posters, brochures)
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
15
Is the marketing mix right?
High rating +
performance
Low rating +
performance
High usage
Flyers
Radio and print
ads
Trade shows
Low usage
Internet /
Website
optimisation
TI campaigns
Match funding
campaigns
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
16
 Marketing mix still contains too many high-cost,
low-impact activities like newspaper advertising and
trade shows
 Too few low-cost, high-impact measures like
website optimisation and viral marketing.
 The campaigns of the Irish tourist boards do not
meet the needs of the providers at all.
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
17
So do the professionals know better?
The good
% using instrument
1
0,9
% using instrument
0,8
0,7
0,6
No training
0,5
Training
0,4
0,3
0,2
0,1
0
Internet
PR
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
Viral marketing
17 February 2012
18
The useless
1,2
% using instrument
1
0,97
0,94
0,81
0,8
0,73
0,67
No training
0,6
Training
0,41
0,4
0,2
0
Posters
Radio + print ads
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
Trade shows
17 February 2012
19
Conclusions
The marketing activities chosen by adventure providers
in the Irish Southwest

depend on company size and marketing training

vary widely in effectiveness and

tend to be rather inconsistent
=> Clear upside potential for individual providers and
the tourism boards’ activities.
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
20
Thank you for your attention
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
21
Key references
 Ateljevic, J. (2007) Small tourism firms and management
practices in New Zealand: The Centre Stage Macro Region.
Tourism Management, 28, p. 307-316
 Buckley, R. (2010) Adventure tourism management. Oxford:
Butterworth-Heinemann
 Schott, C. (2007) Selling adventure tourism: A distribution
channels perspective. International Journal of Tourism
Research, 9, p. 257-274
 Swarbrooke, J., Beard, C., Leckie, S. and Pomfret, G. (2003)
Adventure Tourism: The new frontier. Oxford: ButterworthHeinemann
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
22
Details on what
On a scale of
you do/have done 1=totally useless to 5
What marketing activities do you
= very effective, how
engage in?
would you rate the
effectiveness of this
marketing
instrument?
Market research
Product and pricing (e.g. special
offers + packages)
Sales channels
Communication (lines a to i)
a) flyers
b) brochures
c) posters
d) advertising in classic media:
magazines, newspapers, radio.
Which?
d1) advertising in Kerry Gems
e) online advertising/search
engine optimisation
f) Mailings/emails
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
17 February 2012
23
Percentage of firms using instrument
1,00
0,90
0,94
0,88 0,86
0,84
0,80
0,80
0,66 0,66 0,64 0,64
0,70
0,54 0,54 0,51
0,60
0,50
0,45 0,43
0,40
0,25 0,25
0,22 0,20
0,30
0,20
0,10
C
P
ro
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ai
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e b ra d rne
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op
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is
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oc n el
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ira
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o
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ss
s
ic
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ia
0,00
Median rating = 4
Median r. = 3
Antonie Bauer, The good, the bad and the totally useless
2012 Adventure Conference
Median r. = 2
Median r. = 1
17 February 2012
24
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