Speakers at the IMTJ Summit

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Ilan Geva, Main Touchpoint, Ilan Geva and Friends gives his understanding of branding in medical tourism.

Ilan-GevaIlan Geva, Main Touchpoint at Ilan Geva and Friends, says that to understand branding in medical tourism, we first have to understand the patient.

If you are going to have a successful medical tourism branding strategy there’s one fact you need to understand: individuals spending money on medical tourism are customers, not patients.

Patients are people that follow instructions from doctors. Customers have a choice. So it follows that hospitals, and destinations, need to develop a brand personality and brand reputation – to be able to compete in the market.

To build a good brand you need to understand consumer behavior. If you don’t you can’t dissect their needs and wants, and you will end up taking a one brand fits all approach, which doesn’t work in a crowded market.

I go to conferences and collect tons of brochures, and when I get back home and look at them I honestly don’t see a difference between one country and another, or one hospital VS. another…

It means to me that they don’t understand consumers. They just look at everybody out there in the world as one big pile of patients.

And that’s not the case – each customer is an individual who experiences your brand before, during and after their trip.

The before (pre purchase) part is the marketing materials, it’s the website, customers see it and say ‘what a beautiful place, I’m going there’. They see the prices and say ‘that’s cheap, I’m going to go.’

Then there’s the during (purchase), the hospital stay and treatment. Either they’re satisfied because the promise made to them is delivered, or they’re not. The minute they start to be unhappy something is wrong – whether it’s staff not understanding their culture, speaking their language or serving the food they like.

Then comes the after (post purchase), which is when they’re dismissed from the hospital. Is there any follow-up? At this point they are either going to become your brand ambassadors or your worst enemy, depending on their experience.

Ensuring that customers’ cumulative experience is a good one is a complex task. However, I always say that if you add three letters to the end of hospital you get hospitality, and you’ll already be in the right direction.

If hospitals and hospitality aren’t working together, then why would the customer bother visiting? Some may decide purely on price, but if they want to enjoy the whole trip, they’ll pick a destination that has thought about how to make the entire experience pleasurable – from the moment they land in the country to the moment they leave. Medical tourism branding is about managing the customer experience.