Tourism offices are tasked with bringing travelers to their destination; creating an identity for that destination; working with other organizations to promote the destination and ensuring travelers have the necessary services to enjoy said destination, in addition to many other things.
Cristina Cerutti, Tourism Monitor Officer, Tourismo Torino shares the different aspects of managing a tourism office in a changing landscape, including successes and pitfalls.
Prior to the 2006 Olympics, Torino was seen as an industrial city. How did the city anticipate its tourism landscape to change once it won the Olympic bid?
After the Olympic bid victory, the city administration prepared the First Strategic Plan, a six-year plan inspired by the success of one implemented in Barcelona. The core of the plan included elements such as improved international and domestic air; increased road and rail connections; promotion of Torino as city of culture, tourism, trade and sport; and development of new businesses and new jobs.
What results have you seen from the Olympics being held in Torino? How has the city transformed?
Over the past 20 years, Torino has gone through a dramatic transformation. Before the 1990s, Torino suffered economic and social losses.
Now, Torino ranks third among Italian cities in terms of its revenue from tourism, which totalled an estimated 1.68 billion Euros in 2010. This spending generated more than 50,000 jobs—9% of the total employed population in Torino. From 2010-2011, the average daily expenditure was estimated at around 109 Euros per person.
Bednights and accommodation capacity almost doubled. Moreover, data from the last few years show general increase of hotels’ occupancy rates (from 58% to 65%), average daily room rates (from € 83 to € 86), and revenue per available room (from € 48 to € 56).
A key factor of Torino’s successful transformation was strong cooperation with the public and private organizations.
What are the primary roles of Turismo Torino? How have they changed since hosting the Olympics in 2006?
Turismo Torino e Provincia is the local tourist board. Before the Olympics it was in charge of the promotion of Torino and its surroundings. In the area there were two other tourism boards, one representing the Olympic mountains and its surroundings, and another promoting the Canavese area, Lanzo and Grand Paradiso Valleys.
In 1997, the provincial government decided to unify these three tourist boards to create a unique organization that could best promote the image of Torino and the entire province.
The city was used as a driver to then highlight the variety of tourism products in the area: culture, architecture, outdoor, sports, food and wine.
In 2010, our board merged with the Torino Convention Bureau. Now, we are the Visitors and Convention Bureau of the province of Turin.
What variety of partners are involved in your efforts to market the Olympic Valley?
In 2008, we set up a working group called GSI: Grandi Stazioni Internazionali, in which the main stakeholders of the local fabric were, and still are, involved: 6 municipalities (Bardonecchia, Cesana Torinese, Claviere, Pragelato, Sauze d’Oulx and Sestriere), 2 ski resort companies (ViaLattea and Bardonecchia Ski) and the highway dealer that connects Torino to this area (SITAF).
This authority creates a yearly strategic plan that defines the different actions for the following year, according to the budget. Turismo Torino e Provincia can be considered the coordinator and the operative branch of this working group.
There are differences between what the city of Torino offers and what the mountain resorts offer. Is this considered a strength or a weakness?
Yes, these are two very different tourist products. Visitors choosing Turin are inclined to spend their break discovering the artistic, architectural and historical treasures of the city. Tourists who choose a mountain resort are mainly interested in skiing, hiking or other outdoor activities.
The above options could be considered contradictory, but we consider it a strength element of the destination. A destination that could offer so many different possibilities is a selling point.
What is your strategy for collecting data and how do you utilize the data collected?
In 2008 we set up an internal observatory that monitors different KPIs. In particular, we are interested in collecting and analysing quantitative data such as: arrivals and bednights, markets sources, hotels occupancy and the performance of our tourist products (city cards, tourist bus, etc.).
Moreover, we plan some qualitative surveys during the year that are really useful to define, for example, the tourist profile, the average expenditure and the economic impact of an event.
This data is really helpful in orienting the general strategy of our board and is a valid tool that supports—in particular—our marketing and products departments in their actions.
Please describe the City Card.
Torino+Piemonte Card is a prepaid, chip-equipped pass. This tool is essential in monitoring museum entrances, thanks to a specific software that checks this data.
This card offers free admission into 80+ museums and exhibitions in Torino and Piemonte; discounted tickets to approximately 100 other cultural sites; preferential rates to buy public transports tickets; reduced adult fares on board the City SightSeeing Torino bus; and discounts to cultural events, outdoor activities, adventure parks, and guided tours in the region, including mountain destinations.
If you could, what would you change in order to bring in more tourists to the Olympic Valley?
At this time, the biggest limitation of the Olympic Valley is the insufficient offer of beds. This deficit does not allow for any increase tourist floods or for the destination to respond to market needs. In this sense, we think that a solution could be the adoption of a policy of “beds rotation,” transforming second houses into residences.
Want to hear more from Cristina Cerrutti?
She’ll be speaking indepth about Tourismo Torino at her session at EMTS, Destination Marketing Successful Case Studies. Learn more about Cristina’s session and her background, as well as others taking the stage at EMTS 9-11 January in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.