Business trendsCo-creationEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0storytelling

Envisioning Augmented Reality Games in destinations

Following up with the previous article on Augmented reality (AR), where many key ideas were introduced, this one is to envision further storyliving and gaming experiences based on Augmented Reality.

Creating an Augmented Reality gaming experience is quite a daunting task, so long as the digital content overlays the real world, a suitable scenario is needed to match with the game and its digital content. So, ideally, the game has to be based to some extent on the tangible or intangible (stories, traditions, etc.) heritage of the destination to make it meaningful and effective as a marketing strategy. The game can work as a tool to educate players in the destination history as well as to move them to take action in contributing to some of the local challenges.

For tourism destinations 3.0, the challenge of destination based Augmented Reality games is not only to draw the attention of many visitors, but also to offer them a life-changing edutainment experience that allows them to develop new skills on collaborative problem-solving, conflict resolution, critical thinking, negotiation, mindfulness, etc. Ideally, the game should be designed for many participants to play at the same time in order to make them interact and develop some of these skills.

Further, other relevant features to be considered in such games would be many constraints related to the social and environmental concerns and challenges, to raise awareness and address them to some extent, also awaking the players’ human spirit and turning it into a life-changing experience.

Let’s envision some prototypes:

  1. Worldwide AR game tournament calendar: Imagine a game that is going on globally and so takes place in several destinations sequentially, as it happens with many professional sports tournament calendar, so to attract gamers to each of the destinations participating in the game.
  2. Film story or local legend based AR game: Imagine gamers playing the characters of a film or series broadcasted in a destination, or from a local legend where they can create their own story collaboratively based on the same characters or adding some new ones, in the same scenario.
  3. Videogame based AR game: Imagine using a popular videogame to create an AR game attracting many of its fan players to the destination to play their own character or some of the existing characters in the physical scenario of the destination. This is compatible with Type 1.
  4. Collaborative challenge based AR game: Imagine an AR game to turn a collaborative challenge -such as an environmental or social challenge- into a game to further engage many players and make them become contributors. Making things fun helps both attracting and engaging unusual contributors.

Although it does not incorporate Augmented reality, Geocaching  is a good example to showcase what a multiplayer mobile phone based game can be. Foursquare is an example to showcase collaborative contribution through the mobile phone related to tourism destinations, although it is not a game nor it has AR.

At present, Augmented reality is mainly based on the mobile screen showing the view of its camera and displaying the related digital content, but in the near future it will merge with alternate reality as long as the wearable technology becomes more widespread. This will allow enhanced versions of the games, more complex and also more immersive for the player.

Marketing 3.0StrategySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

Sustainable Tourism Development: Helping Revive Post-Conflict Destinations

One of the greatest and perhaps least recognized aspects of the sustainable tourism industry is the potential for economic growth and peace building in post conflict areas of the world. Working in these areas proves that not only does sustainable tourism have the incredible ability to preserve natural and cultural resources, but it can play a key role in the revival of economies and communities shattered by conflict.

The State of Tourism in post conflict areas

Some of the major problems faced by post conflict destinations are security based. The first hurdle in the revival of the tourism industry is making sure the destination is absolutely safe for visitors and pushing that message consistently across all channels of communication.

Another issue that arises in regard to security is rebuilding the destination’s image, as these locations are often perceived as degraded during times of conflict and violence.  It’s important to highlight that a destination’s cultural and natural heritage is alive and well by sharing high quality content about the destination, such as images, videos and copy.

The second set of issues facing post conflict destinations relates to infrastructure and human capital. Many times, after a long-lasting conflict like the civil war in Sri Lanka, many forms of infrastructure and many of the industries that service tourists are in poor condition, making it difficult for them to visit in a number of ways. For example, in some areas, roads may have become impassable; buildings may be dilapidated and need to be rebuilt. In order to sustain a tourism industry, these areas need rebuilding and basic resources restructured in order to revive their destination’s appeal and functionality.

How to restart the tourism activity

When setting goals for these destinations it is convenient to mirror that of a brand new, undiscovered destination, even if they had a tourism industry before the conflict. Through clear and coordinated communication between all stakeholders, the first phase of these strategies focuses on building the structures necessary to sustain the tourism industry.

A great way to kick start the tourism presence in these areas is to focus on regions that have not been affected by the conflict. A good approach is to promote off the beaten path, adventurous destinations and target tourists who are interested in those types of places. In each destination this might look different, but strategic marketing and promotion allows for such burgeoning markets to flourish.

Benefits & Outcomes

First and foremost, tourism in these countries means an influential source of capital. It provides economic opportunity through employment, ownership of businesses, and an increased market size. It also perpetuates personal and community empowerment by offering renewed opportunities for self-sustaining businesses and economies.

Tourism can also play a key role in reconciliation. It often unites communities that may have been broken or displaced during conflict around common interests and goals, fostering a sense of peace and cooperation that may not otherwise occur. In some cases, tourism can contribute to preventing the revival of a conflict in destinations with increasingly well-established tourism industries, as it contributes to a virtuous cycle of development and economic growth that would be threatened by the renewal of violence.

By rebuilding and strengthening culture, economy, and infrastructure, the tourism industry provides post conflict regions a chance to make a statement about their future to the world. These communities are able to showcase their homes as more than just what people see on TV news.

This article has been re-posted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Geotourism%20Program%20with%20National%20Geographic

Business trendsMarketing 3.0storytellingStrategyTourism marketing

How Pokemon Go can inspire tourism experiences: envisioning augmented reality in destinations (I)

As many of you already know Pokemon Go is one of the most popular Augmented reality games, where a fiction world with many kinds of monsters overlays the real world through the smartphone screen. No matter how unreal do the monsters appear to be, game players end up behaving as if they were real, as fiction and reality merge in their minds.

Somehow, the augmented reality game creates a new reality overlaying the real that gets players to act in the way the game wants them to. It is therefore interesting to imagine how this game could be reframed or just how this technology could be used to move players to take action on a more meaningful purpose such as contribution to a social or environmental challenge. So long as we make sense of the world through stories, creating or using an existing story and developing an Augmented reality game to let the individuals become an active part of the story may turn out to be a truly powerful tourism experience.

Moreover, so long as the story and the game are focused on a mission related to social or environmental concerns, they end up being a very creative and effective way to move people to take action in favor of such concerns. As we have read in previous articles, stories that have a message and inspire contribution are like intangible gold, and Augmented reality games can make them even more powerful to create the desired impact.

Stories can be leveraged from legends, novels, films, history and may serve as a framework to create a gaming experience, especially for the younger generations who are keener on digital game playing, as a conveyor to learn history or sciences of the environment, for instance. In the case of theme parks, amusement parks, zoos, and other themed leisure and entertainment attractions, Augmented reality games should rather be inspired by videogames with characters related to the theme.

Needless to say, such games should be limited to car free areas, so long as the players usually lose sight of the “physical reality” and so become unaware of the real dangers, namely vehicles. In the first case, related to historical or environmental heritage, the game ground could be a monumental area, an old town, a preserved area (natural park) or even a museum.

The upcoming articles are to bring more insights about Augmented reality, Alternate reality and Mixed reality as drivers for destination experiences.

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Visitor Experiences are Still Job #1. Only More so!

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”.

Product, service and experience delivery are frequently missing from many destination branding strategies, however, in the future their inclusion will be essential to ensure that the place and its DMO remain relevant and competitive. They are also the foundation for establishing and expanding the local economy. This need hasn’t changed with the influence of digitalization, except that there are more channels available to connect with the customer and enhance their experiences.

Wherever visitors are in contact with the destination, the encounters must, to the greatest extent possible, be aligned with its brand promise. DMOs must orchestrate this through their collaboration with government, non-profit and business partners. There can be no gaps between expectations and the reality of the place. Delivering outstanding experiences is more important than ever. A bad experience will spread like wildfire and negatively impact your brand. Without DMO leadership, who will monitor the experiences and expectations?

So much commentary regarding social and digital media speaks of customer-focus and relevance, however they seem to be speaking primarily in terms of communication and not in regard to delivering the core experiences that the place stands for. These same principles should be applied to product development and experience delivery. Given the transparency and depth of information available to consumers, the investment in quality experiences to stimulate positive word of mouth and increased media exposure has never been more acute.  The days of boosterism, over-promising and under-delivering have long gone for places that want to establish sustainable brands.

This article has been re-posted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Collaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesSustainability

The ‘Trashtag Challenge’, the new viral challenge that is cleaning beaches all over the world

We have talked many times in this blog about how tourism activity can address the social and environmental challenges of the destinations leveraging the power of storytelling and social media for the greater good. Among all the “Trash contents and challenges” that can be found nowadays in the internet, it is also fair to highlight such a remarkable initiative, also to remind us of the motivational power of good doing and the spiritual fulfillment that it brings.

The hashtag #trashtag intends to shake the environmental consciousness of people all over the planet by challenging them to show a picture of a natural site full of trash followed by a picture of the same site when all the trash has been removed. The challenge has gone viral and so it is possible to see hundreds of examples where it has moved people to take action.

This is a perfect example to showcase how social media can be an excellent platform to connect with the target audiences to engage them in a social or environmental mission, and how it can encourage positive mass behavior by becoming viral in the social networks. The lessons to be learned through this case to create similar challenges are mainly the simplicity of the challenge and the power of the visual impact showing the results achieved. Simplicity helps people taking action without need to think over about the where, when and mostly how to do it. The visual impact is what creates the desire of the audience to take action and the will to see and show the final result. To learn more about mass phenomena, I suggest you to read over the previous articles on the “Tipping Point Theory”, where these are explained in detail.

You can also find further information about the Trashtag challenge in the following link

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

7 Components of a Great Integrated Marketing Program

What is integrated marketing & why does it matter?

Integrated Marketing is a strategy that reinforces your company’s ultimate message and is consistent across all communication platforms. It is important because consumers are present online as well as offline. In the tourism industry, in order to be competitive, you need to be where the traveler is and create relevant content that travelers trust. Unifying all channels of communication is key to having an effective marketing plan.

Here are 7 key components of a great marketing program:

+ Brand Analysis – Prior to implementing a campaign, it is necessary to carry out a brand analysis containing actionable recommendations to improve your look and focus your message. Our in-house design team can also help you update or refresh your current brand and logo.

+ Marketing Strategy – After a thorough analysis, an integrated marketing strategy is developed and will serve as a roadmap for the implementation of the integrated marketing program, which is tailored to the needs of a specific consumer. The strategy will integrate current and targeted use of all channels: social media, search engine optimization, blogging, content, public relations and trade relations.

+ Website and Content Development – Once a consumer finds your website, the goal is to make it so captivating that they want to stay on the site, engage in your content and share it with others. Developing a content calendar and assigning content generation responsibilities will help you decide the type of content to post, where you will post it and how frequently. Finally, try to engage your team, so that everyone participates in the content generation process.

+ Social Media Strategy and Blogging – Social media gives you a place to talk to your consumers before they travel, while they’re on their trip and after they have returned. Social media strategy encompasses social networks, blogs, micro-blogging sites and third party sites. You should determine the best channels to use for your target markets, and what content to post.

+ Creative Campaigns – With all pieces of your marketing foundation in place, it is convenient implement a series of creative campaigns and sweepstakes designed to draw visitors to both your site and social media platforms while synchronizing your marketing message and brand value for maximum effectiveness.

+ PR/Media Outreach Strategy – In this point you should employ simple but effective monitoring tools and indicators to allow you to identify influencers in your market. Then you can “listen” to the conversations taking place online, join ongoing conversations, build trust, and demonstrate expertise. You should also develop a database of contacts and design effective outreach campaigns to reach local and international media, relevant bloggers, guidebooks and sales intermediaries

+ Trade Distribution Strategy – If you work with business to business sales, you should try to take your relationships online by developing a dynamic database that tracks all communication with trade partners; from the initial email/call, to in-person meetings at trade shows, and shares on social media sites by each partner.

A great example of an Integrated Marketing project is the Namibia Online Campaign. The goal of this campaign was to ensure the necessary tools and capacity to combine online marketing activities with their current overall marketing strategy.

This article is re-posted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Integrated%20Marketing%20Program

Culture changeMarketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (IV)

Beyond the key ideas of the Tipping point’s theory exposed in the previous articles, there are some case studies that showcase how this theory comes into practice in the real world.

The diffusion model is an academic model of looking at how a contagious idea or innovation moves through a population. For instance, when the hybrid seed was launched to the market, the group of farmers who started trying it at first were the Innovators. The slightly larger group who were convinced by them were “the early adopters”. They were the opinion leaders in the community, a group of respected and thoughtful people who watched and analyzed what those Innovators were doing and eventually decided to follow. After them came the Early Majority and the Late Majority, the deliberate and the skeptical mass, who would never try anything until the most respected ones had tried it first. Finally there came the Laggards, the most conservative of all, who see no urgent reason to change. Plotting that progression on a graph, it forms a perfect epidemic curve –starting slowly, tipping just as the Early Adopters start using the seed, then rising sharply as the Majority catches on.

But many times the contagious spread of a new idea is actually quite tricky. There is a substantial difference between the people who originate trends and ideas, and the people in the Majority group who eventually adopt them. These two groups may be next to each other on the word-of-mouth continuum. But they don’t communicate particularly well. The first two groups –the Innovators and Early Adopters- are visionaries. They want revolutionary change, something that sets them apart qualitatively from their competitors. They are the people who buy brand-new technology, before it’s been perfected or even proved, or before the price has gone down. They usually have small companies and are just starting out, willing to take enormous risks.

The Early Majority, instead, are big companies. They have to worry about any change fitting into their complex business structure. If the goal of visionaries is to make a quantum leap forward, the goal of pragmatists is to make a incremental improvement, some measurable and predictable progress. The word risk is negative in their vocabulary.

Innovations don’t just slide effortlessly from one group to the next. There is a huge gap between them. Actually, all kinds of high-tech products fail, never making it beyond the Early Adopters, because the companies that make them are not always able to scale them to the mainstream market, just because it’s not appealing enough to the Early Majority.

Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen are those who make it possible for innovations to bridge over the gap between both groups. They translate ideas and information from the highly specialized world of the innovators into a mainstream language that everybody can understand. What they do is to highlight the aspects that most matter to the audience, exemplifying through storytelling how the idea could change their lives, dropping the unnecessary information and technical details that could only lead to confusion.

The Innovators fit a different personality type. They feel different. If you ask people what worries them the most, the trendsetters pick up on bigger-picture things, whereas the mainstream people think about being overweight, or how well they are doing at work. They are passionate activists to some extent.

Conclusion

When trying to use the Tipping Point theory to craft a strategy to create some kind of social epidemics, like engaging and gaining stakeholder support to the destination business model, is that efforts have to be concentrated in three groups of people: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen, so long as they are responsible for starting word-of-mouth epidemics.

We then have to prepare a message that sticks, which can actually be a story, no matter how short we make it. The learning outcomes of the storytelling technique from previous articles and Whitepapers are essential to understand how the human psychology works in order to create emotional connections with our target audience and move them to take action in the direction we want.

We finally have to understand the power of context, that regardless of our thinking about ourselves as autonomous and inner-directed, we are actually strongly influenced by our social and physical environment, and so all the environment factors matter when preparing for the tipping point to happen.

It’s particularly interesting to take into account the rule of 150 when choosing the target audience, so long as it can be split into blocks in accordance with this parameter, to ensure its receptivity to the message. Working thoughtfully on these points we can shape the course of social epidemics. In the end, Tipping Points are no more than a reaffirmation of the potential for change and the power of intelligent action.

If you are interested in further insights about this topic, I strongly recommend you to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, where you will also find many case studies that illustrate all the concepts and theories among other interesting content.

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

Fifteen Common Place Branding Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”

Adopting a city brand offers tremendous rewards if done correctly. However, sometimes these well-meaning efforts introduce levels of complexity and pitfalls which could easily have been avoided if leaders had understood the nuances of brand planning for cities.

Many city branding projects get off to a great start with a lot of publicity and energy, only to soon run out of steam. Their momentum starts to lag, fresh ideas are not as frequent, designs start to miss their mark, and suddenly the brand has faded, it is confused, and becomes very fuzzy to customers and stakeholders. Here are some of the fifteen common pitfalls that can contribute to these situations are:

  1. Insufficient Understanding Of Branding
  2. Lack of Stakeholder Buy-in
  3. Failure to Grasp the Scope of Branding
  4. Focusing On Short-Term Results
  5. Forgetting The Customer’s View
  6. Disagreeing What is Being Branded
  7. Insufficient or Irrelevant Research
  8. The Weak Positioning Trap
  9. Not Following the Strategy
  10. The Lure of “Bright Shiny Objects”
  11. Forgetting to Deliver What You Promise
  12. Unhelpful Mindsets
  13. Brand Fatigue
  14. Going It Alone as a DIY Project
  15. Not Engaging Specialist Skills

This article has been re-posted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Culture changeStrategyStrategy planning & execution

The Tipping Point’s theory for expanding destinations 3.0 (III)

Following with the second article presenting the Tipping point theory, where the “Stickiness factor” was explained, this third article explains the third key success factors to reach a Tipping point: the power of context.

The power of context

Social epidemics are very sensitive to the environment and the circumstances of the times in which they occur. The key idea of the power of context is that people are more than just sensitive to changes in context. And the kinds of contextual changes capable of tipping an epidemic are very different than we might ordinarily suspect.

For instance, Wilson and Kelling argued that crime is an inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will think that no one cares. Soon, more windows are likely to be broken, and the sense of anarchy spreads out from the building to the whole street, and further to the rest of the district, sending a message that anything goes.

The Tipping Point in this epidemic it’s something physical like graffiti. The motivation to engage in a certain kind of behavior is not necessarily coming from a certain kind of person but also from a feature of the environment. The essence of the Power of context is that our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances.

Thinking about “How much influence does immediate environment have on the way people behave?”, Philip Zimbardo –from Stanford University- concluded that there are certain times, places and conditions when our inherent predispositions can be swept away, and that there are circumstances where you can take normal people from good schools and happy families and good neighborhoods and powerfully affect their behavior just by changing the immediate details of their situation.

What this study suggests is that the convictions of our heart and our thoughts are eventually less important in guiding our actions than the immediate context of our behavior. Environmental Tipping Points are things that can be changed: we can fix broken windows and clean up graffiti and change the signals that first invite to vandalism or other kind of undesirable behavior.

Judith Harris has convincingly argued that peer influence and community influence are more important than family influence in determining how children behave. Their behavior is powerfully shaped by the environment out of their family, and the features of their immediate social and physical world –the streets they walk down, the people they encounter –play a huge role in shaping who they are and how they act.

More specifically, hereby we analyze the critical role that groups play in social epidemics. Psychologists say that when people are asked to make decisions in a group, they come to very different resolutions than when they are asked the same by themselves. When we’re part of a group, we’re all susceptible to peer pressure and social norms and other kinds of influence that play a critical role in sweeping us up in the beginnings of an epidemic.

The spread of any new and contagious idea also has a lot to do with the skillful use of group power. It’s easier to remember and appreciate something if you discuss it for two hours with your friends. Then it becomes a social experience and an object of conversation. On the other hand, peer pressure is much more powerful than a concept of a boss. People want to live up to what is expected from them. When each person has a group-acknowledged responsibility for particular tasks and facts, greater efficiency is inevitable.

The rule of 150 is an interesting example of the strange and incredible ways in which context affects the course of social epidemics. There is a concept in cognitive psychology called the channel capacity, referring to the amount of space in our brain for specific kinds of information. We have a channel capacity for feelings, and there is also what could be called social channel capacity. So what does correlate with brain size? According British anthropologist Robin Dunbar social group size is what correlates with the size of our brain. If you look at any species of primate the larger their neocortex is, the larger the average size of the groups they live with.

Dunbar’s argument is that brains evolve, they get bigger, in order to handle the complexities of larger social groups. If you belong to a group of five people, then you have to keep track of ten separate relationships: your relationships with the four others in your circle and the six other two-way relationships between the others. That’s what it takes to know everyone in the social circle.

Humans socialize in the largest groups of all primates because we are the only animals with brains large enough to handle the complexities of that social arrangement. Keeping things under 150 has proved to be the most efficient and effective way to manage a group of people. When the group gets larger than that, people become strangers to one another. They’re knit together, which is very important if you want to be effective and successful at community life. If you get too large, you don’t have enough things in common, and then you start to become strangers to one another and that close-knit fellowship starts to get lost. Above the 150 Tipping Point, there begin to be structural impediments to the ability of the group to agree and act with one voice.

If you are interested in further insights about this topic, I strongly recommend you to read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”, where you will also find many case studies that illustrate all the concepts and theories among other interesting content.

Environmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0SustainabilityThird sector and social sustainability

The Importance of Measuring Tourism Impacts

Measuring tourism impacts is often perceived as a tedious and complicated task by some tourism professionals. Since tourism is integrated across numerous sectors, there are many aspects to consider when analyzing the results of tourism development. At the broadest level, tourism affects the economy through employment and investment. It also impacts the environment as many tourism destinations are in conservation areas, traveling requires creating carbon dioxide, and too many visitors can degrade natural wonders.

why tourism matters

For these and many other reasons, measuring tourism impacts is actually one of most important practices in achieving successful sustainable tourism development. Here are some of the reasons behind its significance:

1. Helps in Conservation

Determining the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental impacts of tourism development will help in conservation because it can show the positive and negative effects. Is tourism development helping in the protection and growth of wildlife? Is tourism development promoting the culture of indigenous peoples? Or is tourism development negatively exploiting the natural resources and cultures of the local population?

Measuring tourism impacts on our environment will help decision-makers in creating strategies that will support rather than harm conservation. Decision-makers can use the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) to evaluate the impact of tourism on the local community, cultural heritage, and the environment. From this evaluation, they can then establish if they should implement stronger controls, support other initiatives, or correct harmful practices.

The GSTC Partnership was initiated by the Rainforest Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Foundation, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to promote and implement universal sustainable tourism principles around the world.

2. Spurs Investment

Sustainable tourism development often begins with investment from the government and private sector. To rationalize these investments, the government and the private sector need numbers from the tourism sector.

How many jobs is tourism creating, both directly and indirectly? How much of the gross domestic product (GDP) is from tourism? What is the potential of tourism in creating more jobs and in increasing the country’s GDP?

By measuring these important tourism metrics, investors will get the information and encouragement that they need to continue supporting sustainable tourism development.

The UNWTO, in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently released a report on the best practices of measuring the impact of tourism on employment. This could be a helpful resource for those who want to increase employment on their communities.

3. Educates Tourists

Last year, at least one billion tourists traveled across the globe. That means one billion opportunities to teach about how tourism affects the world and how people can have more positive impacts on communities and the environment. How much of a tourist’s expenditure go to the local economy? How can tourists reduce negative economic impacts, especially on protected areas and heritage sites? How are tourists getting involved with preservation after visiting a destination?

By measuring tourism impacts and sharing results with tourists, we can help them support sustainable tourism development. Measuring tourism impacts is therefore crucial for sustainable tourism development. Having the numbers and the research results with us is a powerful tool for our industry.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Measuring%20Tourism%20Impacts