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Reprofiling the holiday destination of Aruba 

The case
Endless white sandy beaches and turquoise seas, warm tropical breezes, and delicious cuisine: Welcome to Aruba, a Caribbean island that, despite its plentiful attractions, is under the radar of most European tourists. Aruba has always relied heavily on a steady stream of American tourists. While these holidaymakers have certainly been most welcome, the relationship came with its own set of limitations. By catering for the average American tourist, the island was quickly saddled with fast food and lying on the beach as the main attractions. And charging more money for these diversions than a destination like Curaçao was an absolute non-starter. What’s more, at the first hint of international tensions, such as after 9/11, Americans are quick to decide to stay away. As a brand, Aruba was keen to break free from its dependency on one-sided mass tourism from a single country. Instead, the island's goal was to attract more cosmopolitan European holidaymakers by highlighting its diversity as a holiday destination. To accomplish this, Aruba clearly needed an image makeover for European consumers. 

The approach
Our advice: develop a long-term European brand strategy. The Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) took the lead on this, and together with hotel representatives, they began reprofiling Aruba as a holiday destination for European holidaymakers. Linden & Barbosa helped guide them through this process with a series of workshops in which we defined Aruba’s old image, and then completed the following ten steps:

  1. Market analysis
    Analysing the markets in which Aruba is active (e.g. sun and sand, and honeymoon markets).
  2. Competitor analysis
    Researching relevant competitors in these markets and how they profile themselves.
  3. Unique features
    Selecting six unique selling points (USPs) for Aruba and examining how the island could distinguish itself as a holiday destination from its competitors.
  4. The promise
    Determining Aruba's 'core values,' or the main reasons why target groups should consider visiting Aruba.
  5. Gathering evidence
    Gathering evidence to prove that every core value can be fulfilled, which could also be included later in the communication.
  6. The brand passport
    Describing the island's brand personality
  7. Target group analysis
    Identifying the target groups
  8. The value proposition
    Outlining the perceived price-value relationship
  9. The desired responseExplaining using plain language how target groups should start talking about Aruba.
  10. The ‘from-to situation’
    Describing the current perception and desired future reputation of Aruba.

The creative workshops resulted in smart brand positioning policy on how to achieve the strategic goal of attracting more European clients. The following diagram illustrates the comparison of the ‘from-to situation’:

Fast food image → culinary diversity
Mass tourism from America → cosmopolitan island
Only sun and sea → more is available ... if you want it
Follower → trendsetter
Mainstream → innovative
No stories → storytelling
Expensive → high quality

Aruba’s core value is that it offers a wealth of experiences beyond just sun, sand, and sea. As proof, one only need look at the small island's wide variety of more than 200 excellent restaurants where, in addition to the native Arubans, you will find people representing 90 other nationalities. Trendy festivals and fashion shows attract style icons from the worlds of film, fashion, sports, and music to the holiday destination of Aruba. These celebrities get publicity and talk about Aruba in the media.

Aruba demonstrated that it's an international centre of contemporary culture as well as a beautiful holiday destination with the Soul Beach Music Festival, featuring American soul and R&B artists R. Kelly and 
LL Cool J. Each year, film and fashion journalists flock to the island for events like the Aruba International Film Festival and the ‘Aruba in Style’ fashion week. These events are proof positive that Aruba is a cosmopolitan island offering value for money. 'The brand passport has helped us make decisions on whether we want to take certain actions, like for advertising or sponsorship,' said Tirso Tromp, Area Director of Europe with the Aruba Tourism Authority.