America is trying to get back the tourist trade it lost since 9/11.
In reminds one of the Barclays marketing case study in South Africa. Barclays had been losing its market dominance. The market research revealed that people don’t like being treated like dirt, and that the arrogant Barclays staff were driving them away.
The Barclays ad campaign told its customers that things had changed. But Barclays forgot to tell their staff. Customers found that nothing had changed, and the decline in market share accelerated.
In America, it’s not the beautiful vistas, the people, or the diversity that’s changed since 9/11. It’s the duress of travel, particularly when going through security. Often business travellers make sure that all the critical components for the trip are in their hand baggage. One lost item can determine the success or failure of the trip. And all those critical and often expensive items have to be unpacked making them susceptible to loss or theft while passing through security. It’s a little stressful, and signs of stress are what the security officers are looking for.
Travelling from different European destinations to America provide good examples of how it can be handled, and how it shouldn’t. In Switzerland, ready compliance with the requirement to unpack evokes reassurance that one’s goods will be taken care of and are secure. In France the same understanding is nowhere in evidence.
Perhaps the French are just trying to protect France’s status as the most-visited-country in the world.
America, in second position, will just have to try harder.