The creation of stories involves a large variety of contributors, who are invited to participate in accordance with three development stages:

In the first stage, along with some professional writers employed for these purposes, the priority is to engage the industry influencers who are more likely to contribute in content creation for their expertise in doing so: bloggers, journalists, travel industry leaders, NPO leaders, etc.  It is the time to leverage the most skilled and influential stakeholders to start developing the content creation and storytelling virtuous circle. As these are often busy professionals, it may sometimes be sufficient to have a partial contribution within a piece of content, as long as they feel it is their own creation, and to deliver it to their follower audience with their signature, thus guaranteeing a broad readership.

In a second stage, the circle of contributors should expand encompassing the corporate employees outside the marketing team and the most committed community members. Through storytelling training courses, all these non-professional but potentially skilled storytellers should develop confidence and skills to eventually become talented contributors. At this stage, schools with teachers who are interested in developing these skills in their students could be included, along with the motivation for the mission-driven purpose. At this stage, co-marketing partnerships, consisting of a content delivery exchange with other mission-driven partners, should be included as long as both partners’ contents are relevant to both sets of audiences. Story creation contests are likely to be critical in the success of the last two stages.

In the third stage, the network of contributors should reach all kinds of profiles, and the content marketing system should start fuelling itself through the aforementioned creative activists who eventually take control of the brand. At this stage, the destination executives´ role is no longer about pushing stakeholders to contribute, but mostly about tracking the results and managing the operational system to streamline and develop communication and sales tactics. At this point, it is necessary to highlight the importance of following the conversations about the brand, the mission accomplishment and the stories, and prepare a strategy for managing crisis in case issues threaten to damage the brand’s reputation. 

Research the target audiences with the goals in mind. When formulating the content strategy, the first step concerns referring to the communication goals in relation to each of the target audiences. Then, based on the goals for every audience, it is time to decide what type of contents and formats are more likely to effectively convey the intended message or to motivate the intended action by the target audience. Here, it is necessary to conduct research on the target audiences’ needs, concerns, preferences, motivations and habits to figure out which is the appropriate content for every occasion.

The story creation contests could have several categories depending on the format (video, cinema, text, podcast, etc.), also offering special prizes for originality, for young talents, etc. Authorship rights should be co-owned between the creator and the destination management organisation, thus rewarding the most successful authors and saving costs for the organiser.

The White Paper “The Marketing Plan 3.0” explains all these strategies in further detail, while the White Paper “Marketing destinations through storytelling” explains the story creation process, as well as the key elements of compelling stories to engage the audience.

This article is from the White Paper “Envisioning Open Innovation in Destinations”, available for download in

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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