Mastercard Jamaica collaborate to grow tourist arrivals – Jamaica Observer

MASTERCARD International and Jamaica’s tourism authority, through the Kingston-based Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC), have launched a partnership that both say will improve tourism marketing to the island.
Mastercard said the partnership will work by leveraging data it has on spending patterns using its cards that local authorities can harness to target tourists, not only to come to Jamaica but also to develop experiences for them.
The partnership is to take place through Mastercard’s Tourism Innovation Hub, which was launched last year. Jamaica was among eight countries or entities that announced new or expanded relationships with the global payment agency’s innovation hub at the recently held Fitur International Tourism Fair in Madrid, Spain.
“Our Tourism Innovation Hub is set up primarily to cultivate an international network of players in the tourism industry,” Dalton Fowles, country manager for Mastercard in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Eastern Caribbean explained to the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview
“It’s primarily a virtual community with opportunities for personalised engagement, but it facilitates exchange of information and learning. It’s a repository for best practices. It’s also a repository for public use cases and solutions,” he added.
The platform, Fowles outlined further, could be used to point tourists to other experiences of which they would not usually be informed when booking a vacation by virtue of seeing where people spend and what they spend on with their card data.
“So if someone is coming to Jamaica, they go download Jamaica app, for example, and then they will see every single thing, not just what your agent may have visibility to, but what the tourism authority would’ve registered as destinations in the market. So there are different things; it’s collaborative. So as we engage, we are going to hear from the JTB [Jamaica Tourist Board] what are their priorities, and then we’ll help them to make those things a reality — so different things that we can do. We’re an organisation with a lot of data, a lot of competencies and, as a result, we believe that there’s a whole lot we’ll be able to do to help the local tourism authority and the GTRMC to accomplish,” the Mastercard executive pointed out.
Supporting innovation in tourism
Meanwhile, Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s minister of tourism, has hailed the partnership as one that is “critical to innovation” for the country’s tourism product.
“They are partnering in building capacity to create new and exciting ideas for experiential tourism,” Bartlett told the Caribbean Business Report.
“By helping to train and build young people with fresh ideas, it will ensure the continued growth and development of Jamaica because it is the young minds that are going to inform the new products that will make Jamaica’s tourism product more competitive and foster the future growth of tourism and the overall economy,” he added, explaining too that the innovation hubs are essentially incubators for new ideas and new products and start-ups.
“We have 23 new ideas in what we call our innovation boot camp here in Jamaica, where groups of young people have come up with some new attractions, new processes, new ways of having activation in different areas of tourism, and we, through the Ministry of Tourism, have provided funding support for this through our own risk management and innovation division and now Mastercard is partnering with us to enhance that work,” he said.
Bartlett noted that Jamaica will be drawing on Mastercard’s strong database to show these new tourism innovators in Jamaica the experiences they can develop to attract tourists both to the island and to their businesses.
Best practices and collaboration
Fowles, for his part, said one of the benefits of the Mastercard tourism innovation hub is helping tourist destinations to share information on best practices to help countries recover from the downturn in travel that was induced by global lockdowns associated with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“And so it creates that environment where, let’s say you are in Jamaica, but let’s say Spain, for example, is doing something extremely well to help in its tourism recovery. Then the authorities here would have access to that information and could essentially use it to enhance their own tourism product,” Fowles outlined.
He said because the GTRCMC’s mandate is to anticipate, prepare, manage, and to respond to disruptions that adversely impact travel and tourism, partnering with the centre creates a natural synergy for both. Additionally, he indicated that data from the GTRMC will also be made available to other tourist destinations around the world so they can adopt Jamaican best practices.
“Because if you have a body that is focused on tourism resilience and you have a body that is focused on best practices — that is us — then you can see there’s a natural synergy, which is why this partnership makes sense for us.”
Whether it be with Jamaica or other markets, Fowles said the aim is to have a collaborative framework that helps to develop sustainable, resilient, and inclusive tourism.
“Mastercard has a huge database of members around the world that can become a key marketing source for our tourism. We can use that to help to market the destination and to bring content to them all over the world, introducing them to Jamaican experiences and encourage them to visit Jamaica,” Fowles pointed out.
He said innovation around destination tourism, innovation around destination branding and communication, how could we potentially help with traveller journey digitisation, sustainability and resource management, safety and security, and tourism talent are some of the areas that Mastercard has identified as specific areas of focus for the GTRMC.
“Our business is built primarily on people paying with cards, so we have lots of data. So imagine, for example, let’s use Jamaica since it’s close to home. Let’s say the Ministry of Tourism says to us, ‘Hey, you know, every tourist that comes to Jamaica, we actually have that data. But we have not really created this sort of a dashboard and analytics that we potentially could use to remarket to these customers, for example, could you help?’ Now we are a company that knows how to manage data, knows to build analytics and so forth, so that could be a specific example.
“We’re in the business of making sure that people are able to travel, when they travel they’re able to really enjoy their vacation, and sometimes in enjoying a vacation they’re going to be spending. So, as a result, if you have a tourism authority that is pushing travel to a market and we can collaborate with them to make sure that when the visitors get here they don’t just stay in the hotels, but they can go to the finest local restaurants.”
Moreover, Fowles said the initiative will augur well for small businesses, helping especially the artisans to increase their visibility to tourists.
“So, again, I think it’s a natural extension of how we’d want to work in every market around tourism to make sure, for example, that the attractions are visible to the folks that are coming and people can access this information,” he shared.
Using data outlining how people spend using their cards, Mastercard intends to build a dashboard and generate analytics that show where tourists are coming from and help to direct spending in terms of tourism dollars.
“Because, if tourists are coming to Jamaica, our view is that they are likely to land and that they will have cards in their wallets and they are likely to spend, and maybe it’s just that smart advertising that says to them, ‘Hey! You should come back,’ for example. So everyone wins when we have this sort of collaboration,” the Mastercard country manager stated.
“I think it makes good sense for us, partnering with local authorities to help them to achieve their success. We’re an organisation that has access to a lot of data, lots of big data. So anything that serves the markets that we can aid in helping them to achieve their goals, we are certainly happy to be a part of it.
“We are not just a company that’s about profit. At the core of our DNA we talk about doing well by doing good, and this is an example of doing good and hopefully, you know, it’s going to be impactful for the market and there’ll be benefits to us.”
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