How Guadalajara is Taking Tourism to the Next Level

We have already mentioned how Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city and our current nomadic HQ, has turned into a preferred destination for business travel due to its position as a technology hub as well as a meeting point for many industries in the area.

That, combined with a local culture that exudes authenticity, their contributions to Mexican culture overall, and their unique approach to tourism has helped turn Guadalajara into one of the most popular destinations in Mexico and Latin America.

As we have been exploring the city, we have more detailed insights into what sets Guadalajara apart from other popular tourist destinations in Mexico like Mexico City. There are definitely amazing attractions in the city that are helping to contribute to its tourism strategy.

First, let’s talk a bit about what makes this city different in terms of tourism!

Guadalajara’s Approach to Tourism

There’s something you’ll start to recognise after spending some time exploring the streets of Guadalajara (or GDL how the locals call it), especially around the most traditional touristic areas, and that is the way in which the locals make you participate. Interactive is the keyword here. Many places allow visitors to do more than stand, take photos and buy their products. Locals try to involve you in the process, making you an active part of the experience.

Why limit yourself to buy local delicacies when you can also help to make them? Often visitors will walk into shops to find the owners preparing something and, instead of asking them to wait or stopping what they are doing, the shop owner will begin introducing what they are working on and how it is made. This way there isn’t a disconnect between the purchaser and the product. Getting a chance to know what makes the product special and the effort put into it, makes each visitor have more of a connection with it.

With this focus on authenticity and warm experiences, visitors get a deeper connection with the place itself, differentiating Guadalajara from other cities. For many tourists, this feels fresh and unique and leaves a lasting impression that follows them back home.

Cultural Roots and Authenticity

One of the many things that sets Guadalajara apart from other big cities in Mexico is the way it remains close to its cultural roots on almost all aspects. It has grown to a large metropolis, but the city’s urban landscape has stayed in harmony with its roots. It grows and evolves, but Guadalajara remains Guadalajara.

Many businesses and institutions make local traditions a part of their own branding, helping to expand the city’s identity across all commercial sectors as they grow. This creates a rich environment that tourists can enjoy without sacrificing their comfort or the authenticity of the experience.

Photo by CliNKer on flickr

Combining Work and Play

We have established that Guadalajara is one of the most popular regional cities for business travel because of the IT and electronics industries, the constant investment in development, and the number of event centres like Expo Guadalajara, but even business travellers need to sit back and relax for a bit when they are somewhere new.

Business travellers may start their days in meetings or conference rooms, but after work you’ll find them exploring the whole city. Attending a concert in the Teatro Degollado, listening to mariachi music in the plaza or eating tacos and tortas ahogadas just like the rest of the visitors to the city.

As soon as everyone leaves the city, they’ll be planning their next trip. Next time they will take that tour through the local distilleries they missed, attend a convention for mariachi bands, explore Lake Chapala and visiting Tlaquepaque or the Hospicio Cabañas building to watch José Clemente Orozco’s murals (declared world heritage site by Unesco in 1997).

Photo by Nuestros Dulces

Nuestros Talleres, rescuing traditional Mexican sweets

The main goal of Nuestros Talleres is to rescue and protect the traditional sweets and chocolate of Jalisco. The brand lets you participate in the making and tasting of various sweet delicacies like rompope, cajeta, marzapan and local chocolate. You can also buy a lot of traditional sweets and tequila because Nuestros Talleres’ owner also owns Nuestros Dulces, a local company dedicated to producing and distributing typical Mexican sweets.

What makes Nuestros Talleres unique?

Nuestros Talleres is located in a 150 year old house in the centre of Tlaquepaque, away from the metropolitan area. With the help of Sayula Etiqueta Naranja, Cajeta Lugo, and chef Cristina Taylor from Chocolatería Artesanal, Nuestros Talleres keeps the sweet flavour of Guadalajara, Jalisco and Mexico alive while providing you with an opportunity to connect with their history and culture.

What marketing tactics are they using?

Nuestros Talleres takes advantage of the marketing efforts of tour operators that bring groups of tourists to the area throughout the year. The business creates an experience that is authentic and unique. That leads to many customer referrals and testimonials, giving them authority online for a good tour. Press are always looking for something interesting and unique to write about for new digital stories, so by having a creative hook, Nuestros Talleres garners good coverage.

Jose Cuervo Express, a journey through the land of tequila

Tequila, the iconic Mexican spirit that fills the shot glasses of the world was born in Jalisco, and as you would expect is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the region. Among the many tours dedicated exclusively to tequila and its history, the Jose Cuervo Express stands out. Every Saturday you can take a train trip to the blue agave fields and the La Rojeña distillery, one of the oldest distilleries on the continent and the place where Jose Cuervo produces its famous tequila.

What makes Jose Cuervo Express unique?

Mundo Cuervo, the hospitality and tourism branch of Jose Cuervo, offers other attractions that add to the tequila experience. The Solar de las Animas and Villa Tequila hotels, Hacienda el Centenario, and beautiful gardens, typical Mexican patios, and the biggest bar in Latin America are all there to add extra layers to each visitor’s experience. They turn an iconic product like tequila into a bigger experience, sending their customers on a journey through time and space to witness the story of the nation, the town and the brand.

What marketing tactics are they using?

They leverage their brand to uncover opportunities. Jose Cuervo is mainly a tequila brand, but they expanded by creating a whole division dedicated to hospitality. Hotels, guided tours, their own train and even a cultural centre let them sell more than just a drink. By leveraging the history of the area and the global reach of Jose Cuervo tequila, the hospitality branch is able to draw in guests that want a more in-depth experience with the brand other than just a quick stop at duty-free on the way home. They market online through travel agencies, platforms like Airbnb and through their own site. Each one of these areas has its own marketing channel but all of them are connected, each one targets different segments of their audience and then sends them to their other offerings while connecting all of them to their brand and their main product.

Tour Street Art GDL, exploring the colours of the city

Guadalajara is filled with many galleries, but the city itself is a gallery. From the historic centre and the many street art installations, there has popped up a small industry of walking tours that let visitors enjoy the artistry of the state of Jalisco. Tour Street Art GDL takes visitors through the public art galleries that many streets have become. There are many different iterations of these tours, all vying for top spot with tourists.

What makes Tour Street Art GDL unique?

You don’t need to be an art connoisseur to enjoy this tour, just keep your mind open to the stories that surround the city as guide, Karen Mora, walks you along the colourful streets. This tour doesn’t just leave the art on the walls like others, it let’s participants make their very own street art and takes their experience to a different level by making each customer a part of the tour.

What marketing tactics are they using?

Tour Street Art GDL utilises many different avenues for its marketing. Important for tourism brands is to get in front of as many different potential customers as possible. Listings on larger sites like Airbnb, Expedia and Viator take advantage of those site’s marketing power and piggyback their efforts. But, as with many tourism brands, Tour Street Art GDL takes full advantage of social media, crafting engaging visual content to inspire potential customers to join in.

What tourism trends we learned

Guadalajara is a metropolis and each of its surrounding suburbs, Zapopan and Tlaquepaque being the main ones, offers tourists a vast array of touring options. The villages of Jalisco offer up great day trips as well. But, for each of the tour operators that want to attract their potential customers, they take advantage of the marketing power of other businesses as a main source of their ticket sales. Nuestros Talleres and Jose Cuervo both use the history and culture of the region to build up a unique experience for their visitors. Their offerings, like Tour Street Art GDL, include the visitor into the tour and make each feel like they are a part of the experience, not just watching.

Being able to use other online services that leverage huge visitor counts lets these brands reach a larger number of potential customers than they would be able to if they tried to work solely from their own website. Platforms like Viator, Expedia and even Airbnb are bringing in millions of monthly visitors, and by listing on these sites, tour operators in Jalisco are able to have increased reservations without having to spend as much on advertising. There is strength in working together with larger brands when it comes to selling tickets. Let the bigger brand do the hard work and just focus on providing an exceptional experience to beat out the competition.