Month: May 2019

storytellingTourism marketingTourism trends

Envisioning Mixed Reality in tourism destinations

Having seen how Augmented reality and Alternate reality technologies can help developing new cutting edge experiences and marketing strategies, it is now time to see what Mixed Reality Technology can bring to the tourism industry. This is the most complex of all, and so there are just a few examples to help us envision how this Technology may be leveraged to develop tourism experiences.

As it is defined in Wikipedia, “Mixed Reality is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality not only takes place in the physical or the virtual world, but it is a hybrid of reality and virtual reality, encompassing both augmented reality and augmented virtuality via immersive Technology. Whereas Augmented Reality overlays virtual objects on the real world environment, Mixed Reality not just overlays but anchors virtual objects to the real world objects and allows the user to interact with combined virtual-real objects”.

Due to its sophistication and high cost, this Technology is not recommendable for all the experience prototypes proposed for Augmented reality, but specially for edutainment (educational entertainment) experiences related to old heritage site, which usually require too much imagination to understand how life used to be in these places during its Golden times. By overlaying the current site real images with the virtual ones, we get an accurate idea of the original scenario to help us having an immersive experience to the history of the site, almost like a Time Machine would.

This video shows us an excellent example on how Mixed reality can create edutainment experiences, namely in old heritage sites that have lost many of its assets, so to help us imagine how these sites used to be in the old times in the most realistic possible way.

 

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Characteristics of a Successful Online Marketing Campaign

Being flexible and current are two important characteristics to a successful online marketing campaign. The social media landscape is constantly evolving—whether it is the changing of an algorithm, a new feature, new trend, or even the inception of an entirely new social media platform. To run a successful online marketing campaign you must be knowledgeable of these alterations and have the ability to adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Adapting to Changing Rules

To understand what a change in “social rules” looks like and how it could be a game-changer in your online marketing campaign, take a look at this recent example. Just a week ago Facebook instituted a change which disallowed requiring someone to “like” your page before entering your contest, promotion or giveaway. This feature, coined “like-gate”, has been a significant factor in online marketing campaigns. In many cases, the main purpose of offering a contest or giveaway is to enhance a company’s social media presence.

In fact, many online marketing campaigns use “likes” as a metric for success. Does your contest now serve a purpose if it isn’t generating “likes”? If not, how can you modify your strategy to accommodate for this? These are crucial questions in ensuring your online marketing campaign meets its objectives.

Finding Solutions

In 2013, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi carried out a Plan to promote Geotourism development and contribute to the region’s competitiveness as a tourism destination. An online marketing campaign focusing on the Geotourism MapGuide was carried out, which promoted the US Gulf Coast States (USGCS) through an online interactive map, mobile application, and print map. USGCS’s first marketing campaign was called “Hidden Treasures” and was designed to demonstrate the MapGuide’s utility as a resource for lesser-known attractions in the region. The mechanism behind this campaign was a giveaway in which participants could win a trip to one of three weekend getaways in Vicksburg, MS; Lake Charles, LA; or Miramar Beach, FL.

In early 2014, radical shifts in the brand page design and user feed algorithm on Facebook forced a shift in how the platform could be used for marketing and engagement. Facebook applications, on which the “Hidden Treasures” campaign was largely built, were sidelined. This meant that apps were no longer a central component in a page’s interaction with a user. As a result, driving traffic to the application was more difficult, entries into the contest were low, and the campaign did not achieve its intended result. This algorithmic change was largely focused to drive advertisers to pay for sponsored or boosted content. To adjust for this, a second campaign was rolled out, “Summer in the South” which was adapted to better thrive in this environment by utilizing Facebook’s pay-for-play services. The adjustment proved successful, driving over 12,000 visits to the USGCS Geotourism website—nearly a third of the website’s 5 month total traffic in two weeks’ time.

Integrating New Platforms

In other instances, an entirely new social media platform may start trending. In 2012, while working on the North American Destination Marketing Campaign (NADM) for Namibia, Pinterest emerged onto the social media scene. Specific content focusing on recipes and weddings, for example a board for “Weddings in Namibia”, were created.  By staying current and on top of trends, a completely new audience was reached.

These are just a few examples of how to keep a close eye on changes in “social rules” and trends when running online destination and tourism marketing campaigns.  Being able to quickly shift to enhance clients’ performance is key to success. To achieve this, a campaign needs to be flexible. Flexibility may be reached through diversification, as seen in the USGCS example. If the USGCS online marketing campaign solely relied on the “Hidden Treasures” campaign, the entire project would have failed. Being current is also extremely important. The NADM’s campaign would not have been as successful had it not been adapted to the social environment and utilize Pinterest. In an environment that is constantly changing, effectively running an online marketing campaign that is both flexible and current will help ensure that your campaign reaches its objectives.

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

Business trendsCo-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Envisioning Alternate Reality Games for marketing destinations

Unlike Augmented Reality Games, Alternate Reality Games (ARG) are not mobile based but transmedia based and much cheaper to create. ARG cannot be explicitly a marketing product, but rather a marketing strategy, which turns into an experience itself and could be indirectly considered as a marketing product, so long as they are usually free although sometimes they end up involving some business too. They stand out by offering best practices in collaborative learning and problem solving, having been object of attention by scholars, private and public organizations for that reason. ARG design requires many different skills, and there are actually several profiles matching that role, such as storytellers, web designers, and puzzle creators, to shortlist the main ones.

ARG deny the difference between the real and the game world. Actually, the game takes place for those who discover that something is going on in the real world beyond the obvious, by identifying some codified information and decodifying it to figure the clues to start playing. Another unique feature of ARG is that there is no other marketing than word of mouth from players, who look for other players to help them in tackling the game’s challenges. These games rely on knowledge sharing among players to solve the challenges and use the internet as a platform for sharing knowledge, although the game uses all types of media to provide the information to the players. The game works like an interactive networked narrative using the real world as the game board and many different media channels to deliver clues and the story that is eventually co-created by the organizers and the players.

The games are driven by a story that takes place in real time and is developed through the contribution and reaction of the players. The story characters are controlled by the game designers –unlike computer games, where characters are controlled by artificial intelligence- and interact with players, solving plot-based challenges and puzzles through collaboration by analyzing the story and coordinating real-life and online activities. Players discover the story researching just as archeologists would, as the story is split into pieces throughout the media channels to challenge players in connecting those story pieces to make a coherent narrative. The game uses players’ real live as the platform, players not being required to build a character other than themselves. The game designers control most of the story but leave some room for contribution to the players, who end up being co-creators of the story to some extent. Furthermore, so long as the game evolves demanding more complex challenges, players need to recruit new co-players with specific skills or expertise. ARG have become a genre of gaming themselves, not just a one-time occurrence, as it appeared to be at first.

ARG are usually free to play, using various kinds of revenue sources such as supporting products or marketing deals with existing products. In the case of tourism, the price to pay would be that associated to visiting the destination, without discarding other sources such as marketing deals with brands that want to be associated with the destination brand to target players as potential customers. Actually, after the first successful ARG had appeared, many corporations started regarding such games as a potential marketing strategy to promote their business as an innovative and fan-friendly strategy. So far, the major trends regarding the funding strategy for large-scale ARGs are the development of game-branded products and also fees for participation in the game.

Curiously, beyond the games created for fun only purposes, the so called “Serious ARG” have also emerged, consisting of the same structure and functioning way but with a real-world problem as a driving challenge instead of a fictional one. The first one –World Without Oil– was centered about the vision of a world with shortage of oil, and others such as Tomorrow Calling tackle many environmental issues. This type of ARG approaches the idea –ingrained in the Vision of Tourism 3.0- of open innovation for tackling the social and environmental challenges, so long as ARGs are focused on collaborative problem solving, leveraging the collective intelligence, knowledge and imagination to design innovative solutions. The “Serious ARG” approach works as a marketing strategy to attract and engage contributors through the shape of a game.

So far, the ARG phenomenon has already reached millions of players in more than 177 countries, who participate both online and in live events in the streets. There is even an award at IndieCade for games that have a social message, shift the social perception of games as a medium, represent a new play paradigm, expand the audience or influence culture.

Moreover, there have been organized some ARG directly related to the tourism industry. In 2008, the American Art Museum organised an ARG called Ghosts of a Chance encouraging players to find new ways to engage with their art collection, attracting more than 6000 participants over six weeks. At the same year, McDonald’s and the International Olympic Committee launched an ARG to promote the Summer Olympics of Beijing, facilitating the participation of players from different countries running the game in 6 languages, and encouraging players to share information and interact with fellow co-players overseas. They used a sport celebrity as Game Master to promote the game and promised to donate US$ 100,000 to charity at the end of the game on behalf of players.

Prototypes such as those presented for Augmented Reality Games could be useful for Alternate Reality Games, namely the “Worldwide ARG tournament calendar”, the “Film story or local legend based game”, and mostly the “Collaborative challenge based game”, without discarding other options. Rather, inspiration should come from the “Serious ARGs” focused on tackling real-world challenges.

The ARG can therefore become a good strategy to find and engage new targets, neutralize tourism demand seasonality and also create long lasting positive impacts both for the visitors –through the life-changing experience provided by the game itself- and for the destination, so long as the game challenge is related to some of the social or environmental concerns of the destination stakeholders.