Sunday, 3 May 2009

PATA – A callous marketing faux pas for Bali?

PATA – A callous marketing faux pas for Bali?
By Bali BS News
Oct 12, 2005, 06:32

We have seen just 2 emails from PATA following and relating to the terrorist suicide bombings of October 1st, and the content while hardly surprising us, truly disgusts us. They are both clearly initial response emails; one, the official PATA communications email, the other an email from PATA’s Bali Chapter / their Vice President, Peter Semone detailing facts, figures and reservation hopes, yet not a single indication of regret for the victims. The later email given even less compassion for the victims by token of an almost accounting fashion attention line, Emailing: 006012-p; how warming for the dead victims’ families and friends, and for the injured. We believe these emails show PATA is all about uncaring even insulting, outdated 1970’s style American marketing; nothing to do with the love of travel and with it compassion for the people who suffered, just about member’s potential cash flow and profitability impact.

In our previous article (see: Pacific Asia Travel Association), we made our feelings and reasons clear why we believe PATA is not a travel association as many people perceive such organizations, but rather PATA are solely a marketing association for travel agents and tour operators piously feigning the wider and higher operations of a true travel association for selfish and unjustified gain. We believe that even PATA’s declaration of being a “Not for profit” organization means nothing other than a marketing phrase based presumably on the premise that the PATA product comes first. It does not say “Non profit” and PATA does not apparently publish their accounts; we have little wonder why.

PATA’s two post-bombing emails clearly are very much targeted content wise and audience wise. They appear solely to be about providing travel agents and tour operators with data and singularly selfish hope of uninterrupted and relatively undamaged revenues from tourism. PATA’s web site clearly confirms their apparent lack of compassion for travelers themselves and therefore operation as a true travel association, by reference to their Bali Update page which again fails to express a single word of condolence, just yards or perhaps yarns of marketing data. It seems PATA long ago lost the “plot” as their collusion loving ex-Bali chapter chairman John Daniels would probably say. PATA have lost touch with the wider true travel picture which involves tourists, as they would need to have in order to be a true travel association. They instead are quite obviously just travel agent marketing boys, and we think not very good ones to say the least.

In PATA’s bombing response email it quoted their chairman, Mr. Nobutaka Ishikure as saying “At this sad hour, all of us stand behind the people of Indonesia who have recently done so much to improve security and bring back tourism to Bali”, but it is not clear to us what he means as "sad"; sadness for tourist or tourism suffering, there is a difference. It appears the contextual meaning of his use of the word “sad” relates to the loss of business, not of life, as the conclusion to his sentence is about tourism. As for improving security, we challenge Mr. Ishikure to say what has anyone done and who? It seems to us you he is just using unsubstantiated and we believe untrue generic calming statements typical of a spin merchant and solely for PATA's commercial agenda. The Indonesian president himself forecast a major terrorist event at this time just a few weeks earlier. And after the bombing President Yudhoyono then said he was ordering security to be tightened. So it seems the facts of the matter are that security on Bali was lax and Mr. Ishikure’s words are just industry lip service.

PATA’s chairman also is quoted as saying “We offer our full support to the Indonesian people...". We have to ask “Really Mr. Ishikure? Does that include extensive financial support as the term ‘full support’ means literally?” We eagerly await and will be happy to publish your response. Perhaps you can also detail to us and the world what specific support you gave the Indonesians and victims of the October 2002 attacks. The reason we ask this is covered in our associated article (Bali’s shame, how it treats victims). It seems no-one but a very small number of businesses and associations, plus a few dedicated independent disaster relief volunteers (one of which recently has had to flee Bali because of corrupt police officers) did anything for the Indonesians / Balinese and victims 3 years ago.

Mr. Nobutaka Ishikure is not alone in making apparently business focused statements. PATA’s bombing response email quoted Mr. Thamrin Bachri, Director General of Marketing for PATA and Indonesian Minister of Culture and Tourism as saying "Indonesia condemns in the strongest terms this senseless attack. Our government will do what it can to return the situation to normal as soon as possible." What situation will you try to get back to normal Mr. Bachri? You mean business back to normal? Shame on those naughty terrorists for making your member's profit margins suffer! More like shame on you that your words did not first include compassion for those people who lost a lot more than just money.

We do not begrudge PATA’s existence, we just do not think they should have the gall or even be allowed to market themselves as a travel association. We believe they have proven they are simply a very selfish marketing advice and intelligence company for travel agents in Asia. Which is fine, but let us all be honest about it. Come on PATA, prove us wrong and we will be happy to admit it, or get off your high horse and rename yourselves to the “Pacific Asia Travel Industry Marketing Association, and by doing so make way for a real non profit association who can actually represent travel, not just travel agents.

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