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Tourism Marketing Portfolio-Barcelona Essay

Executive Summary

This paper explores Barcelona as a host destination in tourism. The portfolio is divided into six parts. The introduction section gives a general overview of Barcelona as a host destination. It briefly introduces the subject as well as marketing communication tools. The introduction further introduces a methodology used in the portfolio by briefly describing the micro and macro environment as well as future marketing strategy. The introduction concludes by describing the type research used in the portfolio.

In the second section of the paper of the paper is a background of history of tourism in Barcelona as well as Barcelona Tourist Board. The third section describes the destination environment- micro and macro environment with SWOT and PESTEL analysis respectively.

The fourth section gives a description of the marketing communication tools, different types of channel used by Barcelona Tourism Board as well as their strengths and weaknesses. The fifth section gives the future marketing strategy and remedies to these weaknesses while the sixth section concludes the portfolio.


Tourism in Barcelona dates back in 1992. Earlier, the city was hardly known in spite of its rich culture, location and architecture. The Barcelona Olympic Games spearheaded this transformation. Hence a Barcelona has been held up globally as a major example of how a host destination can make use of Olympic Games to make a change in its tourism industry. There is need to be unique and distinguish oneself from other host destinations.

With the increase in tourist destinations there is an extreme need to develop the appropriate marketing communication tools and the best branding approaches. A winning branding creates distinctiveness which heightens the distinguished desirability of a destination (Hallett & Kaplan-Weinger, 2010).

This portfolio describes destination image and branding in Barcelona. It gives a clear description of the microenvironment and macro environment that define the success of a destination. There is a clear SWOT analysis and PESTLE analysis. An assessment of marketing communication tools used to develop the branding of destinations has been provided.

A future marketing strategy has been proposed followed by a conclusion. The portfolio has gathered information from secondary sources. The data used has been collected from already existing materials. These include; journal content, magazines, statistical data, newspapers, periodicals, books and internet.

Barcelona Tourism Destination Background

Tourism in Barcelona

Barcelona has distinguished itself as a major tourism destination in Europe. Being the leading Spanish city in respect of sales to tourist overseas, 22% of Spain’s credit card transactions are carried out in Barcelona. An important feature that Barcelona showcases is Europe’s largest shopping centre-Barcelona Shopping Line which is a 5 Km fare stretching from the harbor to Diagonal district. Holiday makers account for 50% of Barcelona’s visitors.

Overnight stays have had a considerable growth rising from 14.0 million in 2010 to 15.5 million in 2011. Barcelona recorded an approximately 7.4 million tourists in 2011. Tourism accounts for 10% of Barcelona’s GDP (Barcelona Turisme, n.d).

Barcelona Tourist Board

Commonly referred to as Turisme De Barcelona, Barcelona Tourist Board was formed in 1993 after the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. This ideally followed a consortium between Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and Barcelona Promotion Foundation. Its major aim was to promote tourism in Barcelona.

The Board’s core roles and functions include; coordinating tourism industry and marketing the board, carries out promotional communication and marketing campaigns targeting different world market segments, providing an arena for the tourism industry to showcase its products and services globally.

Barcelona Tourism Board has a mandate to carry out market research in regards to tourism. Turisme De Barcelona has created several department s one of them being a tour operator department that has ensured Barcelona appears in many brochures tour operator (See Appendix 1). Its press department has ensured journalists continue to flow in the city. This has led to an increased publication of Barcelona’s tourism in magazines (PEMB 2010, p.12).

Destination Environment

Micro Environment for Barcelona

Microenvironment refers to the factors in an Organization’s immediate operation area affecting its freedom in decision making and performance. It refers to all those controllable elements a marketing firm has (Laws, 1991, p.67).


Identifying competitors is of high importance as well as the level in which the destination is competing (Blythe 2005). Being a competitive tourist destination, Barcelona is compared with such tourist destinations as Madrid, Rome, London and Paris. All these are state capitals with long established tourist destinations (See Appendix 2). There are several segmentations of different kinds of tourism where Barcelona can compete in (Morgan & Pritchard, 2001). These include city breaks, cultural, fairs and business (See Appendix 3)


According to Ritchie and Crouch (2003) customers are the driving thrust of competition. Consumption in the perspective of tourism is divided into two levels. These are literal and symbolic. Literal consumption includes accommodations, purchase of entrance tickets to attraction sites, souvenirs and purchase of travel tickets.

Conversely symbolic consumption refers to the sense attached to. Symbolic consumption level includes scenes enjoyed, holiday type, and accommodation type. Barcelona experienced a total of 7,133,524 of tourist visits in 2010 (See Appendix 4). Usually 27.7 % of these tourists are Spanish while the rest are from United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and U.S.A. (See Appendix 5). There are more male visitors than females. (See Appendix 6).

Suppliers and Intermediaries

Suppliers complete the tourism chain by providing necessary factors such as toiletries, facilities, human capital and equipment that are used in the manufacture of the consumer’s end product. Intermediaries contrariwise, complete the chain by bridging the gap between tourists and the service providers. A tour consultant is an example of intermediary (McCabe 2009, p.71).


Blythe (2005) defines publics as groups that affect and have influence on a company. In Barcelona, publics include; Turisme De Barcelona, The Barcelona Shopping Line and Barceloneta Cuina

SWOT Analysis


With its strategic location at the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona receives an advantage over other destinations. The sea connects Barcelona to other cities in Spain as well as other nations in Europe and all over the globe. With its sportive ports, Barcelona receives more attention than its competing tourists’ destinations (Drummond & Ensor, 2005). Its major port- Port of Barcelona is situated at the heart of the city. Barcelona has unique features such as” The nine World Heritage sites”.


The major weakness of Barcelona as a tourist destination is the long shifting times from one airport to another. This is due to long distances between the ports. Increased cost in short-pull air travel makes it difficult for those travelling for a short time. Barcelona’s water resources are irregularly distributed making transport by sea difficult (Pearce, 2005, p.22). The rate of unemployment in Barcelona is 17.8%. This brings risks associated with unemployment such as crime.


Improved transportation in Barcelona brought about by availability of cabs, buses, and tram. This has led to flexibility as tourists don’t have to stay in the heart of the city. The entry of new swift trains plying between Paris and Barcelona will also improve the transport links.

Gastronomy has had a high impact on tourism in Barcelona (Chon, 1990). Most chefs such as Ferran Adria have been brought up in the city. The strategic plan of tourism of Barcelona will provide a kick off point to enable the reflection process of the tourism model of the city. The triumph of FC Barcelona in football leagues is likely to place Barcelona’s tourism on a higher arena (Baker & Cameron 2008, p.80).


Due to the high influx of journalists in Barcelona every single detail of news is gathered. This includes bad coverage such as that of crime in the city. Economic crisis in Spain has affected Barcelona’s tourism industry causing dormancy in its economy (Pike, 2008). This has seen Barcelona suffer relocation problems. Water shortage is a common phenomenon during summer; this may send away tourists.

Macro Environment for BARCELONA

This term is used to denote the elements we are in control of but affect the operation of an organization. Macroenvironment is usually evaluated by the acronym PESTEL (Kotler, Haider & Rein, 2002).


Firms involved in global operations are faced by developments in politics. Tourism in Barcelona is one of the industries affected by these developments due to the high influx of consumers (tourists).

Hence tourism companies operating in the region have to keep an eye on the situation of politics throughout (Catalonia Tours, n.d, par.7). The political factors that impact on the stability of an industry are state and regulations that define a firm’s formal and informal operating rules. Some of these political factors include;

A tax policy: In Barcelona, a large number of shops have signed up for a Tax Free Shopping Policy. This attracts more tourists to the city since they can claim back the BAT tax on the items they’ve already bought.

Political stability: This has a great impact on the tourism industry of Barcelona. Wars, conflicts and upheavals may lead to lower number of visitors coming to the city due to security reasons.

Economic factors

These affect customers’ purchasing power as well as an organization’s capital cost (Rose, 2007). Economic factors include:

Economic growth: Basically, higher economic growth corresponds to higher purchasing power of consumers. Barcelona records a high economic growth rate due to the high rate of tourism growth. The rate of immigration has risen from 1.9% to 7.6% of its total population. 39.7% of all the homes have internet connection.

Interest rates: Spain is heavily dependent upon borrowing (Hudson, 2007). As a result it is paying high interest rates, a factor that impacts the economy negatively and scares away investors.

Social factors

These are factors that impact on the needs of a customer and the range of prospective markets. They include the cultural and the population aspects of the macro environment. Social factors include; rate of population growth, distribution of age and attitudes on career.

Technological factors

Technological factors tend to affect outsourcing decisions, reduce barriers to entry and the least competent production levels (Copley, 2004). These factors include automation, technological incentives and rate of change in technology. Barcelona’s technology has advanced.

Hostels have been fitted with websites and systems to enable online reservations. A great technology is that of an mp3 player with multiple languages. The Mp3 player works by keying in any code on an exhibit for an explanation of the item in any language as selected.

Environmental factors

These are natural factors that affect the tourism in a region. They include the type of weather, season of the year and climate of an area. For example during summer there is a high flow of tourists in Barcelona as compared to winter season. October is usually sunny with some few overcast days and average temperatures at 240C making it the best month to travel as it is also an off peak season (Douglas & Derret, 2001).

Legal factors

These are rules and regulations that affect a firm’s behavior in its location (Kozak & Andreu, 2006). They include such laws as consumer laws which protect the consumer from misleading product descriptions, competition laws that protect small tour companies from being intimidated by bigger firms and employment laws that protect workers from abusive employers. The law affects the number of employees and type of contract in the hiring process (Baloglu & mccleary, 1999).

Firms operating in the tourism industry have to consider this element to understand when and how to hire. Some of the employment norms in Barcelona include forty working hours a week, 21 business days off from work for every complete year worked. However, there are no sick off days, instead a sick employee is supposed to see a doctor who signs a verifying they can’t work (De Moragas et al., n.d, p.45).

Marketing communication tools

This refers to all the marketing promotional elements that entail interaction between an establishment and the audience it targets on all matters that impact marketing performance (Kotler, Bowen & Mackens, 2005). Marketing communication channels include; advertising, Television, Video, internet, magazines and newspapers.

Brand and image logo

Branding has three steps, these include; identifying the brand identity, its Mission, Values and culture and the desired brand image. The second step involves positioning the brand while the third step involves imaging the brand (Morrison, 2002).


Advertisements stimulate aspired images of brands in consumers’ minds leading to an action. Hence various factors should be considered before selecting the media. Barcelona Tourism Board ensures this is possible by adhering to the six stage process (Middleton et al., 2009). These stages are:

Creation of awareness: Ensures the clientele knows the product existence in the market

Comprehension: The board ensures the clientele understands the benefits of the tourism package

Acceptance: The board ensures that tourists find what they expected in their destination

Preference: The board ensures tourists desire their products

Purchase: The board ensures tourists obtain the package it offers

Reinforcement: The board ensures clients are contented with what they purchased

Most advertisements are made in color making them more appealing to a wider clientele including children. However, high advertisement costs associated with advertising make it a less preferred marketing communication tool (Cooper & Fletcher, 2008).

Advertising channels used by the Board include:


TV plays a great role in advertising as it airs the adverts in audio-visual. It reaches a wider target group as compared to other channels such as newspaper. The audio-visual element makes it more effective as it is easy to comprehend. The adverts keep on repeating making it more imprinted on a customer’s mind (Crouch, Jackson & Thompson, 2005).


Unlike TV, radio has only the audio effect. However, it is a less costly channel of advertisement. Secondly, it reaches a wider clientele than TV as almost every home has a radio.


This involves erection of billboards, posters and banners in the streets and strategic locations (Kolb, 2006). It serves a wider clientele as the number of people who walk, drive or ride past the channel is unlimited.


These advertisements are made in print form and serve the least number of clientele. This is because only the people who read a certain magazine will have the chance to see the advert. It is also limited to those who can read and write (Morgan, Pritchard, & Pride, 2004).

Public Relations

Public Relations refer to the arranged and continued endeavor to start and maintain benevolence and common understanding between a firm and the public. It simply involves remaining in the public eye and minds throughout (Long & Robinson, 2004). The Tourism Board does this by creating press releases with media houses in regard to tourist destination in Barcelona.


It reaches a global clientele is was anticipated


It is commonly confused for advertising or marketing

Personal Selling

This involves a one-on one interaction between a seller and a buyer. It occurs mostly where a tourist visits a site and pays entrance fee or buys a cultural artifact. Turisme De Barcelona links the customers with its members by holding workshops and seminars.


It involves eye contact hence the two (buyer and seller) will be at a mutual understanding


There may be wastage of time due to haggling

Events and exhibitions

An event is a significant incidence. An exhibition alternatively, is a display of drawings, art work, bead work, photos and other artifacts during an event. Turisme De Barcelona arranges events for its members to showcase their products.


A customer will have a look and even a touch of the real product.


Members of the Tourism Board are charged an entrance fee to participate in an event. The fee may sometimes be too high for small firms.

Sales Promotion

Sales promotion refers to any scheme adopted by a seller to increase product usage, trials or sales. This includes merchandising and issuance of free gifts. In Barcelona, Tourism De Barcelona is using a strategy known as segmented promotion. The campaign centers on activity subdivisions subject to numerous tourism typologies.

Segmented campaign similarly works on such arrangements as errands, extravagance travel summits and symposia sightseeing as well as Epicureanism. Segmented promotion focuses on the precedence given to each international tourism market (Kabul Youthostel, n.d, par.5).

Thus the countries are more likely to send additional tourists to the city. Strategic promotion has also adopted an initiative that focuses on its end users- this is done by using interest groups formed by these consumers. A major strength of this strategy is its diversity. This is because it segments promotional events according to the various market niches as well as by nation.

The use of interest groups is likely to work to the advantage of the Board as it will be easier to bring together different groups of consumers. However, the method has swallowed up all the board’s attention and it seems to forget other tools such as advertising (Davidson & Rogers, 2006).

Direct Marketing

In this channel the seller of product deals with the consumer directly. This includes the promotion of the product. The producer develops the product, advertises, request for orders and issues out directly to the customers. The tourism Board helps its members locate these customers.


It is a quick marketing communication tool as no intermediaries are involved. Besides, it creates harmony between the buyer and the seller.


The seller sets the price independently; this may be a disadvantage to the buyer as some sellers have a tendency to over-price (Fyall & Garrod, 2005)

Corporate sponsorship

This refers to an advertising form in which corporations or organizations pay to be incorporated in certain events, such as sporting activities, park clean ups and charity events. This improves a company’s visibility in the public eye. Corporate sponsorship enables an organization to; showcase the items it offers, create better links with its clientele, distinguish the organization from its competitors and improve company representation.

The strategy also helps an organization achieve better community relations. Turisme de Barcelona therefore works to achieve equilibrium between the general life and holiday actions in the city (BBC, 2011). It also provides valuable information to tourists regarding the landmarks in Barcelona.

A major strength of this strategy is that Turisme de Barcelona improves the global image of Barcelona’s tourism. However, the strategy suffers a weakness in that Turisme De Barcelona lacks autonomy. This is due to its affiliations to the Barcelona Municipal Council which controls its social responsibility (Holloway, 2004).


Marketing communication tools are important elements of tourism. However, they may be ineffective if not properly chosen. Thorough planning ought to be considered before selecting a communication marketing tool. The Barcelona Tourism Board ought to take into consideration several factors, including availability, cost, and the target clientele before embarking on the use of a marketing communication tool.

The board should carry out its Corporate Social Responsibility independently without interference from the Municipal Council (CNN Travel, 2011). The Board should also balance on the use of the communication marketing tools, by ensuring it makes use of all the available tools such as advertisements, T.V, corporate sponsorship, direct marketing and public relations.

This will improve its image as well as ensure all its customers are aware of all the products being offered by its members. The customers will also be aware of changes and improvements in the products.

The Board should arrange free events and exhibitions for its members so as even the small companies can afford to showcase their products.

The board should assist its members and the public to differentiate Public Relations from other communication marketing tools such as advertising and marketing this will enhance the effectiveness of public relations of public relations as a marketing communication tool. This will enhance the effectiveness of public relations as communication marketing tool. The Board should invest highly in advertisements in order to showcase its members’ products. The Board should also filter what goes into the media.

The Board should have watchdogs in all the media houses interested in airing their stories and adverts. Journalists and media houses which give lies and portray a bad image of Barcelona as a tourist destination should be denied visas to the country. A journalist whether local or expatriate found covering a bad image of Barcelona as a host destination should be accused of a criminal offence in a court of law. The Board should work hand in hand with the government in regards to minimum charges of such an offense.

The Board should price regulatory measures to ensure all the tourists visiting the city are not overcharged in any of the products they are interested in. This will further improve its image. Finally the Board should make its magazines more attractive by giving it more color and including a wider variety of products being offered in its market. This will increase the number of people it serves.


Barcelona is a privileged assortment of culture, structural design, harmony and climate. With the 1992 Olympic Games Barcelona was placed on the arena for viewing by the whole world (Beatthebrochure.com, n.d.). The event enabled Barcelona to showcase it s personality made up of multiple dimensions as well as bring about modernization.

The Olympic Games catalyzed Barcelona’s leadership in tourism. Its reputation has been as a consequence of its constant existence on the global stage. It is a preferred destination site by most travelers. It is for this reason that Conde Nast Traveller in 2001, named the city as the world’s best urban destination. It is for this reason that International Congress Convention Association (ICCA) has ranked the city as the global leader in scheduled congresses.


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Appendix 1

Turisme De Barcelona Organizational Structure.

Appendix 2

Tourists in European cities Statistics.

Adapted from the Barcelona Turisme Convention Bureau

Appendix 3

Barcelona Turisme pie chart.

Source: . Web.

Appendix 4

Tourists in Barcelona Tourists
1990 1,732,902
1991 1,751,000
1992 1,978,755
1993 2,455,249
1994 2,663,887
1995 3,089,974
1996 3,061,994
1997 2,823,390
1998 2,969,490
1999 3,123,476
2000 3,141,162
2001 3,378,636
2002 3,580,986
2003 3,848,187
2004 4,549,587
2005 5,656,848
2006 6,709,173
2007 7,108,393
2008 6,659,075
2009 6,476,033
2010 7,133,524

Source: , 2012. Web.

Appendix 5

Tourists by origin (%) Spain Europe Others
2008 29.20 51.00 19.80
2009 31.10 48.70 20.20
2010 27.70 49.50 22.80
Tourists in Europe diagram.

Source: , 2012. Web.

Appendix 6

Tourists by Sex (%) Male Female
1990 80.0 20.0
1995 63.8 36.2
2000 59.5 40.5
2005 55.3 44.7
2010 60.4 39.6

Source: , 2012. Web.


Events and exhibitions link: . Web.

Magazine links: Ideal spain. . Web.

Outdoor link: . Web.

Radio voice over link: Escena Digital: . Web.

TV Link/YouTube: . Web.

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