All posts 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.

IntelligenceTourism marketingTourism trends

Cultural Tourism: Four Examples of How It Works for Destinations

According to the World Tourism Organization cultural tourism accounts for 37% of global tourism, and furthermore affirms that it will continue to grow 15% each year. With all of this market interest, destinations should leverage what makes their societies unique and invest in developing cultural tourism programs.

What is Cultural Tourism?

Cultural tourism allows travelers to be immersed in local rituals and routines, taking away not only pretty photos but also shared memories of unique experiences. For destinations, it encourages local communities to embrace their culture and boosts economic growth. Developing culturally geared tourism programs encourages destinations to celebrate and promote what distinguishes their communities, and in doing so, provides the opportunity for authentic cultural exchange between locals and visitors. The following four case studies illustrate how cultural tourism can be developed.

Morocco: Down the Road of Traditional Crafts

Before 2010, Morocco has a vibrant craft industry, yet artisans had insufficient opportunity for direct sales. Aid to Artisans and the Moroccan Ministry of Crafts cooperated to facilitate direct linkages between artisans and tourists in Marrakech and Fez. This was achieved through establishing new or updating existing artisan and cultural heritage routes, and furnishing them with engaging creating marketing collateral. The team involved as many as 6,603 sale points and was successful in increasing artisan revenue. As a result of this project, crafts and tourism in the area are now more linked than ever before.

Ethiopia: Empowering Community Enterprises for Long-term Success

Ethiopia’s Bale Mountain area is lush and beautiful, and is the home of successful community-led tourism initiatives. The conservation and regulation problems in Ethiopia were addressed by affecting a sustainable tourism development project in partnership with the Frankfurt Zoological Society. The team created 7 community tourism enterprises as well as branding and marketing tools aimed at awareness-building among foreigners and locals alike. The local communities now leverage their cultural heritage, which includes expressive dances and crafts, in its tourism development. This offers them alternative livelihoods that in turn benefit environmental conservation.

Namibia: From North America to Local Villages

 Namibia is a country of rich tourism potential that prior to 2010 had not been successful in fully captivating the North American travel market. A comprehensive trade-focused marketing campaign was launched with the goal of increasing North American arrivals in Namibia over the course of 4 years. By fostering partnerships between Namibian and North American trade, and leading destinations awareness campaigns, this mission was successful.

 Community-based tourism was a large component in promoting the country to the North American market. The campaign succeeded in increasing the number of tourists and routes visiting Namibia by 75% by 2013, exceeding expectations. This helped improve local employment opportunities and enhance cultural awareness among international visitors.

Colombia: More than Whales at Nuquí/Utría National Park

Nuquí/Utría National Park is famous for its prolific whale watching opportunities. However, it suffers from a lack of organizational and business capacity, as well as weak marketing outreach. In 2012, the challenge was tackled by creating a destination marketing alliance with four local community tourism enterprises, providing them capacity building trainings. The team developed and promoted new tour packages that incorporated cultural elements, such as visits to a typical Pacific Chocó village. The team liaised with the Colombian Ministries of Tourism and the Environment to feature the park as a model for sustainable tourism development in a protected area. Through this work, the team was successful in increasing the gross sales of each of these community tourism enterprises and the number of tourism products in this remote area.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management

Collaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureMarketing 3.0Strategy

For Smart Cities, to collaborate is the smartest thing to do

According to a United Nations report, 70% of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities by 2050. This is why overcoming many of today’s humankind challenges in areas such energy, water, food, climate change, health, etc.  will depend mainly on the success of the so called Smart Cities strategies. But as urgent we consider the implementation of smarter cities, making it really happen still remains a challenge several years after the concept was first coined.

As in many other cases, we think too collaboration should be a key factor implementing a truly transformative Smart City strategy. Considering the broad and diverse kind of stakeholders, expertise, knowledge, technologies, etc. needed for an average Smart City project, it is difficult to imagine any that does not require the commitment and dedication of a collective team.

The idea of a Smart City promises to improve municipal operations and the health and safety of citizens. New models of cooperation and engagement will make a tangible difference for this promise to move to a reality. These are just few of the many possible…

Organizational changes in local administrations

City managers are main actors on the potential gains of properly implementing Smart City initiatives. But many of the challenges they confront in order to achieve efficient outcomes of such initiatives still lie on the way city government is structured. As it happens in many other organizations, many departments and units in city councils are operated in isolation without any or little consideration of other departments. Add to that, an extra layer of red tape and special sensibility about the immutability of roles and positions that sadly are still typical of public government organizations.

But despite these cultural and organizational barriers, when projects need to address such variety of issues as, for instance, transportation systems, law enforcement, community services, water supply networks or waste management, some Smart City projects have become the driver for cultural changes and shifting attitudes that seemed impossible so far.

Sharing experiences and knowledge

“Lessons learned” are an important asset in competitive markets in which proprietary Know How can be easily turned into a competitive advantage. But it does not make much sense for cities to compete with other cities to be smarter, especially in the case of cities at the same continent and in projects funded by the same supranational organization.

Knowledge exchange and transfer is a crucial element of many of the projects funded by the European Union. The GrowSmarter project is one of the most important bets of the European Commission for the smart development of urban areas, and represents one of the only three projects that the Commission has financed under the umbrella of the “Lighthouse”. GrowSmarter brings together cities and industry to integrate and demonstrate ‘12 smart city solutions’ in energy, infrastructure and transport.

Key for the project is the concept of “Lighthouse Cities”, as the 12 smart solutions are being rolled out in designated sites in three cities: Stockholm, Cologne and Barcelona – including industrial areas, suburban and downtown districts, ensuring a sample base representative of many European cities. The idea is for these three “Lighthouses Cities” to show how ‘smart’ can work in practice documenting their journey with regular news updates. This way, the project specifically aims to provide other cities with valuable insights on how the smart solutions work in practice and the opportunities for replication, creating a butterfly effect.

GrowSmarter even considers the existence of five “follower cities” (Cork, Graz, Malta, Porto and Suceava) which role is to work closely with those “Lighthouses Cities” to learn from their experiences.  The three Lighthouse Cities will each host a number of study visits and European workshops, providing opportunities to see first-hand technological application of the smart solutions.

Sharing Standards

The performance of a city is intimately linked to its physical and communications infrastructures and the delivery of resources through these infrastructures. At present, the delivery of city services tend to operate in isolation from each other, in silos of activities, governance and information. But new digital infrastructures offer the potential of increased service integration that could ultimately result in services provision cost reduction, natural resource savings and efficiency gains for cities and their inhabitants.

Standards are required in order to accommodate such integration of data. But smart city implementations tend to focus on specific cities or services rather than multiple locations and services. This individual focus in the main cause of the lack of standards across the market. Many organizations and analyst, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), advocate the development and generalization of international standards for smart cities.

In UK, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills commissioned the British Standards Institution to develop a standards strategy for Smart Cities in the county. The strategy identifies the role of standards in accelerating the implementation of Smart Cities. As part of this strategy the Cities Standards Institute is a joint initiative of the British Standards Institution and the Future Cities Catapult bringing together cities and key industry leaders and innovators to work together in identifying the challenges facing cities, providing solutions to common problems and defining the future of smart city standards.

By developing a coherent set of standards that addresses key market barriers, smart city products and services become easier to be widely accepted. Promoters of the consortium consider than an easier acceptance of these products and services ultimately accelerates the growth of the future cities market, first in the UK and then globally. The Cities Standards Institute is also leading a set of programs to help cities, companies and SMEs to implement standards-based solutions and strategies, and to ensure the uptake of smart city standards regionally and internationally.

This blog post is from www.co-society.com

Environmental sustainabilityStrategyStrategy planning & executionSustainability

Johnny Cay Regional Park: Strategies for Conservation in the Caribbean

Johnny Cay, a small Colombian island in the Caribbean, faces significant conservation challenges. Although the park is a protected area, currently no license system or code of conduct exists for the tour operators who bring tourists to Johnny Cay from nearby San Andres. This lack of a tourism management plan has led to negative environmental consequences on the island, which in turn jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of businesses operating in Johnny Cay Regional Park.

A Sustainable Tourism Strategic Plan for the park has been recently developed. The plan supports conservation and business development in Johnny Cay Regional Park by identifying conservation threats, creating a plan to mitigate those threats, and implementing sustainable tourism best practices.

Principal conservation threats include environmental degradation, mainly pollution, both on the island and within the surrounding waters. The island is also losing its cultural identity and turning into a daytime party spot, leading to an abundance of alcohol consumption and diminishing authentic cultural interaction. Operations must become more conservation-focused if tourism businesses hope to use Johnny Cay Regional Park as part of their long-term business strategy.

The Sustainable Tourism Strategic Plan addresses conservation threats by employing five specific strategies over the course of three years:

  1. Creation of a Sustainable Tourism Department within Coralina (The Organization for the Sustainable Development of the San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina Archipelago).

This department will ensure that businesses comply with specific operational standards while operating within the park. The department will also develop training programs, implement environmental education programs, and act as a link between Coralina and tourism associations on the island.

  1. Develop a Sustainable Tourism Certification Program within Johnny Cay Regional Park

This program will serve as a tool for setting operating standards and increasing sustainability awareness among local stakeholders. The program will provide best practices and codes of conduct for businesses and use the implementation of these practices as a filter to determine who can operate within the park. Businesses will be encouraged to gradually implement best practices and will receive recognition upon successful implementation. Businesses will also receive training related to different strategies for improving their product offerings. Ideally, this will serve as a pilot program for the region with possible extensions on the nearby islands of San Andres, Santa Catalina, and Providencia in the future.

  1. Provide a Business Support Program for tourism businesses operating within the park

A relatively low standard of technical business knowledge emerged through the project’s initial assessment process. This negatively impacted total revenues and product quality while poor marketing limited the ability for businesses to attract new clients. A business support program, run through Coralina, has been proposed to provide training in business planning, marketing, and monitoring and evaluation. A competition has also been proposed through which locals will develop their own business plans and compete for initial funding based on plan quality.

  1. Develop a Communication Strategy to increase cooperation between tourism businesses and Coralina

Improving communication among local residents, tourists, businesses, Coralina, travel agents, and national tourism entities will be vital to the success of the sustainable tourism strategic plan. This communication strategy hopes to strengthen conservation efforts by ensuring that residents and visitors understand that Johnny Cay is a nationally-recognized regional park. The goal is to invoke a sense of pride within locals and operators to foster a culture of conservation. Additionally, the communication strategy aims to facilitate a smoother communication process between businesses and other entities while keeping businesses up-to-date on the implementation of the overall sustainable tourism strategic plan.

  1. Develop a system for tourism businesses to pay a concession fee for operating within the park

The plan calls for this implementation to occur in year 3, after the above strategies have had time to take hold. Each business applying for a concession will have their tax calculated based on their financial projections. A maximum tariff will be established and businesses will have to comply with certain standards in order to apply. Very clear communication and successful implementation strategies 1-4 will be vital to establishing the concession system.

Johnny Cay faces serious conservation issues that threaten the long-term viability of its corresponding tourism economy. However, with the proper strategy and training, these negative consequences can be reversed.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management

Business trendsIntelligenceMarketing 3.0Tourism trends

The next generation has arrived

Facebook.  Snapchat. Airbnb. easyJet, TripAdvisor. Tinder. Instagram. What do all these have in common? Yes, they’re all popular apps and websites (some apps never even had to bother to build their own webpage…that’s SO 1999!). They have also coincided with, and been driven by a generation: the Millennial generation.

Born during the 80s and 90s and consuming independently (as teenagers and post-teens anytime after the year 2000), the Millennium generation has, consistently broken with tradition and found new ways of living, working and of course, traveling; something that’s proved hard for major global corporations to keep up with, never mind tourism destinations.

While it’s hard to define the traveling behavior of an entire generation (though this Huffpost article does makes a good attempt), probably the characteristic that defines them the best is the way they have grasped technology and used it to their advantage: to get instant recommendations from friends, to find cheap (or free) accommodation, to escape the crowds and to meet new people.

Of course, all ages are able to enjoy the same access to apps and web platforms that allow these things to happen, but Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with the internet 24/7 so the web is the first port of call when looking to solve any travel related issue, before, during and after the journey.

As well as being the first generation to grow up in the era of ‘internet everywhere’ this generation, in Europe and North America at least, entered adulthood as the global economic crisis took hold. House prices rose, banks stopped handing over credit like they used to, and whole industries (and with them, job opportunities) have moved to far-away lands. All this has created a sense of doubt among Millennials that they will enjoy the same economic prosperity that their parents did. No matter though, because fortunately this is also the generation of #YOLO (you only live once) and the travel industry has noticed this, with Millennials traveling a lot, spending more than their parents, and seeking intense experiences everywhere they go.

All this undoubtedly creates a complex picture for anyone looking to define their tourism business or destination’s strategy for capturing and nurturing the Millennials market.

This blog post is from   http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=393

Environmental sustainabilitySustainabilityThird sector and social sustainabilityTourism trends

Best Practices in Integrating Sustainability in Tourism Management and Operations

The importance of sustainable tourism development is increasingly recognized throughout the sector. However, it has been a challenge for many organizations to integrate sustainability into tourism management and operations. Here are a few tips and examples on how to incorporate sustainability in your destination’s tourism management and operations.

Involve Local Residents and Communities in Tourism Planning

Sustainable tourism development requires the participation of local residents and businesses at the planning stage. By consulting with local stakeholders, you gain their support and reduce conflict as the plan progresses.

In Geotourism projects, which seek to highlight the unique culture and heritage of a region through the voices and stories of the people that live there, local residents are invited to nominate places of interest. This provides more economic benefits to local businesses especially those that are less known. The nominations are reviewed by a Stewardship Council, composed of representatives from the region, before being used to create an interactive website, a MapGuide, and a Smartphone app.

Establish Partnerships with Different Stakeholders

Effective collaboration among different stakeholders from the government, tourism boards, businesses, and local communities is crucial to successful sustainable tourism management and operations. This facilitates a more balanced system of decision making as the priorities of various sectors are considered.

For the assistance of Uganda in tourism development, stakeholders from each part of the tourism and conservation sectors were actively involved. The cooperation among the stakeholders was important to enhance tourism products, build strong community enterprises, strengthen linkages among different attractions, and bolster the success of the program.

Develop Products Based on the Destination’s Strengths

What are the local assets that your destination can highlight? Destination assessment should be conducted to identify the strengths of a destination and determine the best tourism products based on the findings.

In the destination assessment for the Sierra de la Gigante region, potential conservation models leveraging the region’s strengths in order to address conservation goals and provide economic opportunities for the local population were identified.

Strengthen Local Capacity to Manage Tourism

Sustainable tourism management and operations need to equip local businesses with skills to succeed. Workforce development and training is therefore integral to a successful strategy.

To strengthen the capacity of the Ethiopia Sustainable Tourism Alliance (ESTA), many workshops were conducted and materials were created to train personnel in using the necessary tools and activities to implement community tourism in Ethiopia.

Target High-Yield Market Segments

High visitor numbers aren’t inherently valuable for your destination. In sustainable tourism management and operations, it is important to serve the proper target markets. Fortunately, there has been a growth in the number of travelers who demand more responsible travel and have higher visitor expenditure.

The Namibia North American Destination Marketing Campaign targeted travelers who would most appreciate the country’s strong conservation and special interest selling points. These include curious conservationists and experience seekers. This is why a destination assessment of strengths is so important—you must know what you are marketing and to whom.

Use Guidelines to Limit Impact

Creating guidelines is important in sustainable tourism management and operations. It not only helps the destination preserve its ecological value, but also helps businesses limit their negative environmental and sociocultural impacts. Educating visitors and locals on best-practices matters.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC) Initiative fosters increased understanding of sustainable tourism practices and promotes the adoption of universal sustainable tourism principles.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Management

Collaborative business modelsIntelligenceStrategyTourism trends

The pressure is on for destinations to make the sharing economy work fairly for all

UBER and Airbnb were recently announced as the two most valuable travel startups in the world, recently valued at $40 billion and $20 billion respectively. Last year Airbnb processed nearly 1 million bookings per month, while UBER drivers took passengers on 1 million rides per day!

It’s not hard to see why hoteliers and taxi drivers around the globe are stepping up the pressure on legislators to clamp down on what may label as the ‘black economy’. In San Fransisco, the debate about the success of law enforcement and potential legislation revisions has already begun just one month after the short-term rental ordinance took effect, with both lawmakers and hosts expressing concerns about limited staff resources and complex registration procedures. In the meantime, Uber and Starwood have recently launched their own partnership, blurring the lines between traditional and contemporary providers of travel services by allowing travelers to accumulate Starpoints while riding with Uber drivers.

Legislation on short term accommodation rentals and local taxi transport is usually down to politicians at municipal or regional level to solve, and many have found themselves in legal deep water as they have struggled to meet the demands of hoteliers and taxi drivers, while being reluctant to shut off the flow of visitors who use and enjoy the flexibility and unique experiences that short term renting brings.

The above concerns and many more where echoed at ITB. Over the course of various seminars, directors of Europe’s top DMOs, hotel groups, limo firms, lawyers and representatives of the top sharing economy platforms got their chance to air their views on the sharing economy. CEO of VisitBerlin Bernard Kieker made his views clear: “We do not want Berlin to become an Airbnb city where local residents are priced out of their apartments” while acknowledging the additional streams of visitors that were coming to the city precisely because this option is currently available (though perhaps not on such a large scale for much longer).

CONTROVERSIAL, BUT ALSO SMART

Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, General Manager for Western Europe of Uber explained his firm’s position in a different way: “Our main competitor is not the taxi driver, it is the very concept of car ownership”. With 1 billion cars on the planet only being used 4% of the time, Uber’s target customer is the customer who given up his or her own car in favor of shared rides. This raises the broader question of how sharing economy platforms can be used to help solve some destinations’ biggest problems, not least traffic congestion or hotel capacity during conference season.

While politicians argue over the subject (or try to look the other way), local residents continue to offer their accommodation to visitors and visitors get hooked on the practical benefits of using shared resources such as apartments, cars, bikes, boats and much else.

This blog post is from   http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=398

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Suggestions to travel brands and DMOs on how to improve their blogger outreach activity (II)

 

1. ADDRESS BLOGGERS BY THEIR NAME

It is amazing how many bloggers get sent generic emails. In 30% of all emails I receive, I find the press releases are addressed to me without using my name and even worse they are getting my name wrong. It damages your agencies professional reputation and that of the brand. Even worse is, that as someone who writes about budget travel…. I get a PR agency sending me a press release about the launch of a luxury hotel. It is also surprising how often bloggers get blanket emails from PR professionals about working with a brand that they already have a relationship with.

2. GIVE YOUR BLOGGER OUTREACH A HUMAN FACE

Bloggers, the really good ones, tend to be very fussy when it comes to working with brands. The bigger the blog, the more they are likely to be focusing on developing a few but solid partnerships with brands relevant to their niche. Remember we work in an information-rich environment filled with millions of choices. On average I’ll get at least 50 pitches a week from brands wanting to work with my blog so your approach, your pitch, has to really stand out. Take the time to research the person’s blog, understand what their interests are and find out their current blogging projects. Comment on their blogs or Instagram account. Follow them on their social channels. Share their content with your audience if it adds value to your customers. Arrange a time to call them, even if they are on the other side of the world. You can chat with them via Skype. I’m always happy to talk to brands. The fact that you are willing to take the time to explain your brand and learn more about the blogger, takes you straight to the top of the queue. Get creative and invite bloggers to a Twitter chat or Google + hangout, or even a Q&A session with your director / marketing manager.

3. BRANDS NEED A FULLY INTEGRATED APPROACH TO BLOGGER RELATIONS

Some tourism DMO’s are still stuck with the idea that social media, SEO and public relations are separate marketing strategies. Online, social media, SEO are all part of your online strategy. They have to complement your blogger outreach activity. As a result of not having an integrated strategy when working with bloggers, brands are losing out on opportunities to further build their brands and to create brand advocates by combining the power of the three, working together.

4. THE PRESS TRIP MODEL IS DYING

The world of new media needs new rules of engagement. The ‘One size fits all’ approach of PR’s and treating bloggers the same as journalists can backfire badly.

Press trips. In my first year of blogging I was invited mainly on press trips along with other journalists. I remember my days being packed from 8am in the morning till 12 at night. What a tourist would see and experience in a week, we were being shown in a day. So much for travel being all about the experience. 5 years on, I can only vividly remember my trips to Costa Brava, Poitou Charentes and Rotterdam which is a testament to the quality and care of their blogger outreach.

One of the key things when working with bloggers is how they tell the story of the destination through real-time storytelling. So you have to offer bloggers a mobile wifi device with a decent data allowance. You have to allow time for the bloggers to compose tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram or even do a scope ( Periscope). This is laborious and energy consuming work. Forget about updating your social networks, I found there is little or no time to pause for taking a picture on press trips. I remember on one trip spending the most time being shown around hotels. By the end of the day, I was exhausted. Few bloggers I personally know don’t mind the ‘all action’ nature of press trips but I, personally, prefer when the events of the day are well spaced out. Instead of inviting bloggers to press trips, allow them to create their own trip. Travel is an emotional sell. Give the bloggers the freedom and the trust to build a relationship with your destination.

5. HAVE A LONG TERM STRATEGY WHEN WORKING WITH BLOGGERS

Brands have to move away from the short term, tactical nature of mass engaging bloggers and instead focus their efforts on identifying and working with key influencers. There is also room in this model for engaging with emerging influencers and bloggers. By building a long term relationship with a blogger you are likely to have a bigger chance of converting them into brand ambassadors which is where the real value of working with bloggers is.

New media needs new rules of engagement. It requires brands and DMO’s to make some tough choices and go off the well beaten track. Experimentation is needed. There are risks but for those brands and DMO’s willing to change their attitude to blogger outreach, the long-term benefits are huge.

This blog post is from  http://www.toposophy.com/insights/insight/?bid=405

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Suggestions to travel brands and DMOs on how to improve their blogger outreach activity (I)

While there has been a gradual evolution in the blogging industry towards becoming professional, has blogger outreach evolved and improved over the last few years?

My personal observation after attending TBEX Costa Brava is that while there has been a definite improvement in blogger outreach, there is still huge room for improvement. A fact echoed by my fellow speakers, is that educating the brands and sponsors remains a key priority.

The rise of blogger collectives and networks like iAmbassador, Captivate, Navigate, Travelator Media and the PTBA has made the lives of those doing travel blogger outreach a lot more easy. However as said, there is plenty of room for improvement. On both sides. Bloggers need to up their game too but that is a topic for another post. My personal thoughts are summarized in the following points:

1.  THERE NEEDS TO BE AN EVOLUTION IN BLOGGER OUTREACH FROM A PR PERSPECTIVE

There needs to be an evolution in PR.  I feel that most  PR agencies are currently not setup to deal with the key influencers. While there are some agencies who are investing heavily, attending travel blogging conferences and spending time to get to know the bloggers personally, there is still a feeling that the majority of agencies do not know who the real influencers are for their brand and are unaware of how to maximize their potential. Some of it is really simple. Like actually taking the time to read the blogs. Monitor how they are interacting with readers. I know that PR agencies are stretched resource wise but these are the basics of blogger outreach.

There was a controversial observation made by Alastair McKenzie at the recent Traverse travel blogging conference about whether the PR agency model was in danger of becoming extinct. Alastair’s observation sounds far-fetched and outrageous to some, but there is an element of truth in his comment.

The limited scope and budget that PR agencies have at their disposal mean that the true reach and potential of bloggers is not being realized. This is directly not the fault of the PR agencies. Modern blogger outreach sits somewhere between PR and marketing.

Something needs to change. PR budgets need to expand to improve the quality of blogger outreach. Or does the blogger bypass the PR agencies and speak directly with the marketing directors?  The days of earned media are coming to an end so we need to rethink the role of PR in this brave new world of native advertising and branded content.

2. DON’T DEPEND ON AN SEO AGENCY TO DO BLOGGER OUTREACH

This leads onto the second point. While PR agencies still have a handle over blogger outreach in some form or another, I clearly think the majority of SEO agencies do not have a clue about blogger outreach. Download the MOZ toolbar. Research keywords for your client. Identify bloggers who rank high in those keywords. Craft an email that you can send to all bloggers. Just to make life easy for you.

Here is an example on behalf of a hotel chain in Ireland. “My name is John, I work for X Hotels Ireland (xhotels.ie ) a hotel chain in the country. We are promoting tourism in Ireland and found your website budgettraveller.org would be ideal to share bespoke and unique content about things to do when visiting Ireland.

Are you interested in receiving and sharing unique and relevant travel content for budgettraveller.org?
The content provided is written by our in-house professional writer and the featured piece would be tailored to your website and relevant to your readers and their interests. If you prefer you could suggest a topic for our content writer to create and we can get that unique piece of content to you for you to share. If you would like to see examples, you can find several on our blog at xhotel.ie.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me back and work something out”.

What is it with SEO agencies and the word ‘bespoke and unique content’? The moment I see these dreaded words, the email is in my trash. Bloggers are the experts at producing fresh, unique content for their readers. What would be my advice for SEO agencies? STICK to SEO. Communication is not your forte.

Also in case you didn’t know, the practice of buying links and manipulating search engine rankings of a brand are clearly over so don’t approach bloggers with sponsored posts. Bloggers beware of sponsored posts. There are better and more sustainable ways of working with a brand, than posting sponsored content on your blog.

Just as there needs to be evolution in PR, there needs to be an evolution on how brands treat SEO. SEO still has a huge role to play in destination marketing. Focus on the quality, not the quantity of links. Build more on organic links. The only way you can do this is by building long-term relationships with bloggers who are truly passionate about your clients’ brand. Look after your brand advocates. For me it has to be a mixture of financial incentives and also giving bloggers the complete creative freedom to engage with your brand.

3. HIRING BLOGGERS = INCREASED NUMBER OF TOURISTS TO MY DESTINATION?

I often find DMO’s somewhat obscure when starting their blogger outreach: they are inviting bloggers left right and center with little forethought of how bloggers and content sits in their marketing strategy. Blogs are not direct sales engines. There are examples of bloggers like Planet D’s Outdoor Ontario and iAmbassador’s Melbourne and Royal Brunei Airlines campaign which have had huge success in helping generating sales for a brand. However, there are many key areas where a blogger can start and influence the conversation around a brand. It is also no point inviting a blogger to write a review about a hotel when the brand in question has not optimized their booking pages or their website is not mobile friendly.

4. PRESS RELEASES DON’T WORK WITH BLOGGERS

Just as much as travel editors don’t respond to press releases, majority of bloggers will rarely respond to or choose to publish press releases.

Besides the problem of duplicate content that may arise from publishing press releases, I just find alarming the number of brands introducing themselves to bloggers via a press release. Most bloggers are on Twitter or LinkedIn. Connect with us there and send us the link to your press release. I am far more likely to respond to a tweet, than an email.  Plus if you do want to send a press release via email, try and add some value to the press release and have a personalized approach. Remember that personal stories drive the most engagement on blogs. Think how your client’s story can fit into the story of the blogger you are reaching out to. Find a hook of how the blogger can introduce the brand to their audience.

StrategyStrategy planning & execution

The World Bank builds country ownership in the National Tourism Strategy of Georgia

Tourism strategic planning is a comprehensive process for determining what a business or destination should become and the steps needed to achieve that goal. Many times when consultants are hired to create a strategic plan, the plan is at risk of remaining on the shelf and never being fully implemented. Why? Because those most affected by the tourism development plan may not have been fully integrated into the development of the strategy, and may not agree with the ideas. This is an ongoing issue the tourism industry faces, and a difficult one in which to find a solution.

The World Bank and the Georgia National Tourism Administration (GNTA) recognized this problem in the past. As part of the solution, they decided to develop a tourism strategy for the Caucasus nation. The consultants were asked not to lead the development of the strategy, but rather facilitate and guide the GNTA through the strategy development process to ensure it was collaborative and comprehensive as possible.

Between the years 2009 and 2013, Georgia’s international tourism arrivals grew over 300%. This was largely in part to its envious location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East, as well as increasing amounts of exposure in international press as a unique, exciting destination. Georgia is the birth place of wine, has an exquisite culinary tradition, a rich early Christian history, and an abundance of natural assets – including 7 national parks. These attributes – if developed practically – demonstrate a significant strength to the country’s tourism sector within the high-value European marketplace, while improving the industry’s ability to contribute economically.

To keep pace with the increasing demand for tourism in Georgia, additional financing for private and public investments will be necessary. “The joint World Bank and IFC collaboration [in Georgia] focuses on fostering entrepreneurship and access to finance, improving the investment climate, and developing Georgia’s tourism strategy that will determine how to improve the sector’s performance, align implementation priorities and enable job growth.” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Regional Director for the South Caucasus.

Georgia’s tourism development approach has generally been focused on regional advancements rather than a cohesive national-level plan. However, to maximize tourism’s national impact, a national strategy is required that takes into consideration large scale infrastructure and marketing activities that cannot be achieved by the regions alone.

 “The tourism sector currently provides nearly 20 percent of export earnings. The national tourism development strategy is, therefore, an instrument to take full advantage of Georgia’s potential and position it globally as a rich, diversified and high quality destination.” Ahmed Eiweida, Program Leader for Sustainable Development Programs in the South Caucasus.

Where is the Georgia National Tourism Administration now?

With the support of the World Bank, the GNTA produced a 2025 strategic plan that articulates the country’s current position, its vision for the future, and the key activities required in order to get there.
To build buy-in for the strategy, the GNTA led regional workshops, communicated with inter-government committees, issued press events and integrated action plans from other tourism-related sectors. The final document describes how the GNTA and its partners will deliver creative marketing to attract to higher income markets and statistical projections on how the GNTA will achieve a minimum of 5% growth rate over the next 10 years.

Where does Georgia National Tourism want to be in 2025?

The GNTA envisions the country as a premier, year-round, high quality tourism destination – a destination centered on its unique cultural and natural heritage, its world-class customer service, and timeless tradition of hospitality. The GNTA will be at the forefront of tourism competitiveness, through strategic investments in infrastructure, education, marketing, and the development of unique Georgian visitor experiences that appeal to high-value markets around the globe.

How does the GNTA lead the tourism industry to reach it’s vision?

Extensive stakeholder consultation resulted in the identification of 50 priority actions that have been grouped around the following 8 strategic objectives.

1.Respect, enhance, and protect Georgia’s natural and cultural heritage
2. Create unique and authentic visitor experiences centered on those natural and cultural assets
3. Enhance competitiveness, through delivery of world-class visitor services
4. Attract higher spending markets, through increased and more effective marketing and promotion
5. Expand and enhance Georgia’s ability to collect and analyze tourism data and measure industry performance
6. Enhance the business environment, to facilitate increased foreign and domestic investment
7. Expand public and private sector investment in the tourism sector
8. Build partnerships between government, industry, non-governmental organizations, and communities that will be needed to achieve all of the above

What will the challenges be?

Even though the GNTA has completed their strategic plan and found positive monetary incentive to start implementation; the national and regional tourism stakeholders must work as a team to have success. And most importantly, the 2025 strategic plan will only be effective if the GNTA continues to be committed and take ownership of this visionary strategic plan.

This blog post is from  www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Destination%20Assessment

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

How to Avoid Being Anytown, USA Part 4

Firstly, there is no one action or magic bullet that can save places from the Anytown, USA sameness trap. However, one thing is certain, and that is that it will take leadership and a holistic approach involving many local organizations, along with the support of residents. Among the considerations are:

  1. A clear vision that crystallizes the city’s competitive advantage and distinctive strengths.
  2. A brand strategy that embraces competitive positioning and is aligned with the vision. It should provide the guidance for compelling communications and delivering the city’s distinctive identity.
  3. A focus on what’s authentic and organic about the city.
  4. Develop a long-term tourism strategy that embraces Geotourism principles to focus on what sustains or enhances the character of the place – its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.
  5. Don’t settle for cookie-cutter designs and every development that is offered to the city.
  6. Identify, preserve and present the city’s heritage and stories. Tell the story in engaging ways for locals, as well as visitors.
  7. Invest in the city’s aesthetics and gathering places because these are focal points for both locals and visitors.
  8. Introduce development guidelines for buildings and signage that enhance heritage, streetscapes and viewing corridors.
  9. Urge hoteliers, restaurateurs and retailers to enhance the appeal of the community by developing sites that are sensitive to local heritage, materials and style.
  10. Protect and enhance community gateways and viewing corridors to provide a distinctive sense of welcome.
  11. Restrict or eliminate billboards because they can strip away scenic beauty and a community’s distinctive character faster than other factors.
  12. Encourage the development of experiences that provide opportunities to encounter the city’s authentic cultural and natural environment.
  13. Encourage residents, business, developers, and all relevant government departments to respect the city’s heritage and environmental context when considering new developments and restoration.
  14. Build community pride and ownership in what is distinctive and special about the city.

If a city is not clearly differentiated or remains in the shadow of its competitors, it will always be seen as a pale alternative, and proving that it is different, relevant and adds value will become increasingly difficult. The rewards for small cities that break out of the Anytown Syndrome are considerable. There are great opportunities for leaders to offer citizens a vision and policies that will retain and develop their city’s distinctive character and take the road away from being another Anytown.

Those that take the route away from Anytown status are rewarded with increased income, investment, talented new residents and a great place to live.

This post is from http://citybranding.typepad.com/