- They make up some 95% of all the enterprises providing tourism services. Although the big players dominate tourism expenditure, the smallest players collectively generate perhaps a third of total tourism revenue, and much more locally.
- The money earned by micro-businesses tends to stay in the local community. They typically purchase locally and are part of the fabric of the local money circulation cycle.
- They are a vital part of new job creation – especially in areas of rural and urban regeneration. Even without new job creation they perform an important economic stability role in fragile areas.
2- In social terms
- Micro-businesses are part of the lifeblood of local communities – as local residents, neighbors, taxpayers and employers – even where they may be part of the unofficial or ‘black’ economy. Many micro-business proprietors are also found in local politics.
- To visitors they are often seen as the ‘friendly locals’. As many large-scale businesses employ foreign labour for service delivery micro-businesses may represent all that most visitors will ever experience of real local character, knowledge and individuality at destinations – reflecting the special values of ‘place’ and ‘host encounters’.
- Leading-edge small businesses are entrepreneurial role models of success and may inspire young people in their communities by example.
3- In environmental terms
- Micro-businesses typically express the local character of a destination through their operations, and in many ways also help to sustain that character and communicate it to visitors.
- They influence the perceived visual quality of the built and natural landscape by their actions and the buildings they use.
- Their operations impact daily upon local sustainability issues such as water usage, waste recycling and local purchasing of goods and services for use in their businesses.
Some marketing implications of micro-businesses
The sheer number of enterprises involved in all countries makes micro-businesses a core, not a peripheral part of the experience of most non-business visitors. The evidence suggests that such businesses are not scaled down versions of bigger businesses, however, and they cannot be treated in the same terms. At the leading edge, they embody the entrepreneurial spirit and vitality of places, and offer some of the best tourist experiences available anywhere. At the trailing edge, which may be a third or more of the total, many exist on the fringes of the visitor economy damaging the environment of the destinations in which they are located, reducing visitor satisfaction and the perceived quality of the overall visitor experience. Indeed, some of the worst visitor experiences will be found in this sector and they can undermine the other attractions and facilities, reducing the marketing potential of a destination.
Most micro-businesses have had no formal management education or training. Traditionally, most have had little engagement in marketing other than through the medium of print provided by local tourist boards and contacts with their own clients.
Only small minorities of them were ever involved in some form of co-operative marketing campaigns. Business and consumer access to the Internet since 1995, however, have revolutionized opportunities for small businesses in the twenty-first century and radically shifted marketing power in their direction.