Category: Intelligence

Tourism trends and other business’ trends influencing or applicable to the tourism industry

Business trendsCollaborative business modelsCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0

Destinations with a soul (I)

Most of us have experienced working with – as an employee, supplier or client – companies or visiting destinations with a soul, as well as working with companies or visiting destinations without one. The difference is not easily visible, but it can be perceived by sensing the spirit behind the people’s behaviour.

 When human relationships are only based on rights and obligations, often without a win-win approach, people work because they have to, rather than because they want to. They are demotivated and are unlikely to bring in any value beyond what they are paid for. In these types of firms and places, financial KPIs are the only metrics taken into account to measure the health of the organisation, and social problems more or less related to its operations are most likely disregarded or overlooked. These types of places have no soul.

Sometimes there are organisations created with a purpose beyond the financial success thanks to a visionary leader who thought that caring about the common good was key to business profitability, but also because it was appealing to him/her and many other stakeholders, and so this vision is a powerful inner source of motivation.

However, many of these organisations born with a noble soul have lost it over time: sometimes they have been bought by a larger corporation without the same sense of purpose; have new shareholders that do not share the same values, or because the founder has been replaced by a leader with a different vision. And when this happens, all stakeholders notice it to some extent as the passion, generosity and purpose that used to drive the organisation disappears, and the relationships turn out to be colder, rather short-term oriented and calculative, and decisions are based on financial KPIs only.

Instead, in organisations with a soul, people work moved by their human spirit, knowing that what they do is not only to get income at the end of the month, but also to make a positive change in their community at a smaller or larger scale, and becoming change makers for the sake of the environment and the disadvantaged layers of society. In such a kind of organisation, sustained commitments are more likely to take place and its soul can be sensed beyond the marketing campaigns, in the daily routine. It is good to know that more and more talented professionals nowadays feel attracted to work in organisations with a soul, with a special sense of purpose beyond the financial profits.

When an organisation is based on authenticity in human relations – respect, empathy and self-exigency – when customer and mission centricity are deeply rooted in the people’s mindset, and when leading means serving the common good with humility and passion, then we can be sure that there is a soul. And it is reflected in the organisational culture not only in the speeches but also in the daily behaviour and the critical decisions, where the mission and the values prevail over the short-term financial profit, because long-term financial profit is superior when the organisation is loyal to these values and mission.

 

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketingTourism trends

Using Facebook’s Updated News Feed for Your Tourism Marketing

One of the biggest challenges for tourism marketers is keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of new technologies and best practices in tourism marketing. It used to be a lot easier than it is today. As little as 5 years ago, you could probably get by without learning about new techniques and tools to help market your tourism destination or business. What worked in 1985 probably would still work in 2008 – with the exception of updating photos so we can all forget about those questionable 80’s styles.

This all changed in the last 5 years with the rapid adoption of social media and web 2.0 technologies that allowed website users to leave comments, reviews, and interact with companies, destinations, and other website visitors from around the world. It seemed like overnight the Internet and marketing, as we knew it, changed dramatically. What was once limited to a digital brochure, suddenly became a completely different tourism marketing tool. This allowed tourism marketing to shift from one–way communication to real time conversations with travelers.

We call this new approach tourism inbound marketing and use it to help our destination and business clients market with a purpose. The challenge in this new landscape for tourism marketing changes on a regular basis and forces all tourism marketers to stay on top of these changes or risk wasting time and money.

Last week Facebook rolled out a new feature that gives users more control over their news feed, which will impact the way tourism marketers are able to engage with their social communities. These new features include:

  • Rich Stories– Since over 50% of all news feed content is photos and visual content, Facebook is changing the way users share stories by improving the display of visual content and giving it priority in news feeds.
  • Choice of Feeds– Facebook is determined to make sure the content displayed in a user’s news feed is the content they want to see. To support this, Facebook is now allowing users to select different types of feeds based on friend lists or topics like music or photos. This means it will become even more difficult to get your brand messages to your facebook communities.

So what does this mean to your tourism marketing efforts? This is actually good news for the travel and tourism industry since we utilize visual content as the core of our tourism marketing efforts. Below are some recommendations for how to change the way you market your tourism business or destination on Facebook in light of these new features.

1) Continue to use visual content and aim for engagement – Tourism marketing relies on visual content to tell your stories and encourage people to visit your destinations. Now more than ever is the time for you to create a stock-pile of tourism images that can be used to interact with your community. Be creative on how you use these images to ensure your community engages with them. Here is an example of a photo from our “Caption Friday” series for the Namibia Tourism Board where we share a photo each week and ask our fans to provide a caption.

2) Repurpose those beautiful print ads for Facebook – Tourism marketers are masters at creating print ads with a striking photo and a few lines of copy that compel people to visit a destination. This same approach can be used on Facebook. If you have existing print ads, adapt them for use in your Facebook content strategy. If you don’t have a budget for print advertising, now is the time to work on your copy skills and create image-focused ads.

3) Keep your photo captions short – With the new features, image captions moved from under the photo to above of the photo. This means that you need to keep your photo captions short or your message will be lost.

4) Likes, Engagement, and Check-ins are more important then ever – Since the changes in “Choice of Feeds” means it will be harder for your posts to reach your community, engagement becomes even more important. The best way to promote your tourism destination or business on Facebook is to utilize your fans and attract more likes. When a person likes your post, checks in on your page or engages with your visual content, it appears in news feed sharing with all of their friends. If you want to use your Facebook page to market your tourism destination or business you must think about how to effectively use and grow your community.

Social media is one of the most exciting and challenging things to face tourism marketing. It seems like every day a new feature or social platform emerges that challenges everything you know about tourism marketing. The key for today’s tourism marketer is to stay on top of these changes through continued education. Who knows what tomorrow’s “big new thing” in tourism marketing will be, but I can promise there will be something we are all talking about in 5 years that doesn’t even exist today.

 This article has been re-posted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing?start=10

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketingTourism trends

Marketing trends for 2019 (II)

Video marketing & original video content

Digital video advertising spending has been increasing these last two years and is expected to continue to grow at least two more years. The most popular kinds of used content are Comedy, Music, Education and News. Brands tend to target the audience through sponsorship agreements integrating the brand within the show, rather than through traditional advertising interrupting the video.

According to many surveys, video offers an outstanding performance on many relevant metrics such as content sharing rate and conversion rate, as well as generating confidence in online purchase decisions. When it comes to the broadcasting of the online video, there are also some significant trends to consider:

  • Length of the video varies depending on the marketing goal
  • Calls to action such as redirecting the viewer to a site, another video, to a form in order to receive further content are included
  • Talk style videos are used when explaining something in depth
  • “Ask me anything” type of videos where a public figure from the industry answers questions from a diverse group of characters are used to create trust on a potentially controversial issue.

Needless to say, video is one of the most engaging content formats according to many metrics. When it comes to marketing destinations and related experiences, this is even more obvious. In this regard, far beyond the “destination marketing video” there should be a collection of videos in accordance with the different experiences and motivations that move the target audience to visit the destination. A very convenient tactic is to make a short version of the video (less than 5 minutes) to draw the attention of the audience with a call to action to watch the long version of the video (not longer than 15 minutes). Furthermore, as it has been explained in all the marketing-related white papers, the finest video content produced by stakeholders should be delivered through the branded platforms of the destination.

Influencer marketing

Influencers are expected to be able to raise brand awareness, boost reputation, improve brand advocacy and drive lead generation. Beyond the most popular and expensive influencers, there are also a great deal of smaller influencers targeting specific types of audiences or niche markets. Accurately selecting those types of influencers is likely to be the most effective choice. The software Traackr contains an influencer database and allows the users to find the appropriate influencers in accordance with their marketing goals.

Furthermore, beyond the influencers you will have to pay for in order to gain their support, some others are likely to provide you with some support, so long as they really are enthusiastic about your product or service. Moreover, as it has been explained in the marketing white papers, it is convenient to create a network of brand ambassadors leveraging the power of influence of many stakeholders like suppliers, employees, and specially clients.

For as long as possible, it could be convenient to establish some kind of incentive system, giving special deals to the brand ambassadors who manage to raise more brand awareness and foster engagement. Influencer effectiveness can be measured through different metrics (mainly engagement but also sales) and techniques, like providing them with unique deal codes, UTM codes on digital posts, and custom landing pages to monitor their results.

As explained in some of the Envisioning Tourism 3.0 White papers, destinations developing tourism based on the principles of Tourism 3.0 are very likely to attract influencers, so long as they move their human spirit to take action in favour the destination’s social and environmental challenges stated in the mission. In many occasions, this is likely to happen at no cost for the destination. This is one of the greatest advantages of the Tourism 3.0 approach.

Business trendsInnovationInnovative cultureIntelligenceOpen innovation

Attracting creative residents as a key success factor for destinations

The tourism industry is usually perceived – based on true facts – as business based on low-skilled workers. However, many researchers have identified a curious trend: creative workers settle down in touristic areas, due to elements such as the concentration of creative professionals, a community of creative industries and an open-minded atmosphere, or other conventional factors such as affordable housing, high-quality infrastructures and services, a booming job market, and an attractive lifestyle.

According to Francesc Gonzalez, professor and researcher at Open University of Catalonia (UOC), research currently being carried out in many seafront tourist villages in the area of Barcelona points to the following factors attracting creative talent:

  • Closeness to a large urban area and housing availability
  • Positive perception of the urban and social environment, with criteria such as inclusiveness, openness and tolerance to social diversity, a pleasant and efficient urban environment, and life quality.

Other findings show that these villages are experiencing a transformation: previously, they were temporary leisure and vacation destinations for visitors; now, they are becoming complex urban areas which offer an outstanding quality of life which is very appreciated by the demanding segment of creative workers.

The concept of “creative worker” encompasses many types of professionals, generally speaking all those who carry out intellectual, management and creative jobs with an innovative approach.

The importance of this type of residents for the local economy is subject to many different opinions. For example, Richard Florida, the American urban studies theorist, reasons that attracting talented workers is one of the main concerns for businesses, and therefore the existence of communities of creative workers is a key factor to be taken into account when deciding the location of a company headquarters or delegation, as these communities are an essential condition for innovation. Although this statement is subject to controversy within the academic community, it is quite obvious that the capacity to attract creative workers is at least a big plus for the development of the local economies.

In “The Vision of Tourism 3.0” white paper, creative professionals play a key role in the development of the destination, regardless of whether they work in the tourism industry or not. As it will be explained in the coming white paper “Envisioning Open Innovation in destinations”, all professionals living in or near the destination in question are considered stakeholders and potential contributors to the Open Innovation System, and are therefore expected to bring their know-how and creativity to overcome the various challenges of the destination, using an innovative approach.

So, while the cause-effect relationship between creative professionals living in a place and its development success is not well-defined, mainly due to being too indirect in nature in many cases, in the case of destinations focusing its development on the principles of the Tourism 3.0 approach, this relationship becomes direct and strong, as long as all community residents, and especially the creative professionals, are encouraged and engaged in addressing the local challenges through open innovation. In this way, this type of destinations go one step further in leveraging the creative workers’ potential to foster economic development, while at the same time creating better conditions that attract and result in this creative group settling in the destination in question.

Business trendsIntelligenceMarketing 3.0Tourism marketingTourism trends

Reaching Millennials- Tips from Music Festival Marketing

It’s officially springtime, and that means the start of music festival season! Millennials across the globe are gearing up for their favorite events, whether they prefer EDM festivals like Tommorowland in Belgium, local music showcase festivals like Donauinselfest in Austria, or headline concerts like Lollapalooza’s offerings in Chicago.

As we’ve noted, destination marketing for millennials can be challenging, but ultimately this tech-savvy generation is willing and ready to travel to destinations that establish personal relationships with them, and music festivals are a great place to start. Marketers from all industries are turning their attention to music festivals, as through-the-roof ticket sales continue to rise. Brand sponsorships for music festivals, tours, and venues totaled $1.22 billion in 2012 and are projected to increase in the coming years. Connecting with millennials isn’t easy, but brands have a wide range of opportunities to engage with their target audiences at festivals. Crowds of attendees obviously mass around the entrance gates and stages, but successful brand activations, located throughout the festival grounds, are often just as popular as the beer tents!

According to Nielsen’s Music 360 report, 51% of consumers and 76% of festivalgoers feel more favorably towards brands that sponsor a tour or concert. Marketers attempt to capitalize on the powerful associative nature of music by becoming a memorable part of the festival experience through luring crowds into their air-conditioned tents, giving out free samples and souvenirs, hosting celebrity guests, or holding contests and sweepstakes.

Why Travel Brands Should Consider Music Festivals:

  • Thousands of millennials will be confined to the same area for two to eleven days- a captive audience for brand messages! 74% of music streamers prefer brands that engage them through music giveaways, sweepstakes, and sponsorships. Red Bull took advantage of this opportunity and created a music blogon its website to complement its festival sponsorships.
  • Festivalgoers most likely have some disposable income to spend on travel and experiences. Music festivals and concerts can be quite expensive, and many attendees even pay to travel to faraway events. The type of person who is likely to attend or travel to music festivals is likely to travel for other reasons as well and have the means to do so.
  • Brands have the opportunity to present themselves as relevant to millennials. Marketers that can naturally integrate themselves into events can become cool by association with the music and festival. Of course, brands must be careful to choose brand messages that fit within the overall theme of the festival so that their activations are natural extensions of the spirit of the event.

Creative Music Festival Marketing Examples to Apply to the Travel Industry:

Social Network Interaction: Lacoste offered free flower garland crowns in exchange for social media postings. While this the corporate equivalent of buying friends is no substitute for quality social media engagement with fans, it did succeed in generating buzz and brand impressions with Millennials.

Customization: Gap partnered with a variety of music festivals and tailored their offerings according to the audience in attendance at each. At Sasquatch in Washington State, “Camp Gap” included a DIY cut-off shorts station, face painting, and a penny press machine to cater to the hippie, alternative, carefree crowd. They ran contests on Pinterest, Twitter, and their website to win free tickets and other prizes and encourage social media interaction with the brand.

Partnerships: Pitchfork Music Festival created a free mobile app with a schedule, map, and other information and partnered with Rdio to provide a feaure that allowed attendees to take pictures at the event and attach songs to them. Festivalgoers could print their photos and receive a free trial of Rdio at the sponsor’s tent. For apps to be successful, consumers need a compelling reason like this one to download and interact with the app.

Experiential Marketing:  PopChips created a “Rescue Hut” which was stocked with music festival necessities like cell phone chargers, games, and a prop fram for photos. Experiential marketing is about creating a personal connection between the consumer and the brand. PopChips’ activation positioned the brand as a rejuvenating and essential product in a way that resonated with festival attendees.

Product Placements: Samsung’s tent provided free henna tattoos. Festivalgoers could scroll through henna designs on Galaxy products while they waited in line. Samsung was able to offer a desirable service while simultaneously and quite naturally exposing its target audience to its product line.

Our Favorite Global Music Festivals:

  1. Paleo(Switzerland): Despite its limited funding and all-volunteer staff, Paleo drew crowds of over 230,000 last year to see 200 acts on 6 stages. In addition to headliners and local acts, the event showcases a different region of the world each year. In 2013, Paleo featured food and music from Indian Ocean region.
  2. Outlook Festival(Croatia): Outlook is an up-and-coming festival that takes place in a fortress in rural Croatia. Its sound systems and stages displaying hip-hop and electronic musicians are hidden throughout natural tunnels, abandoned ruins, and other unexpected sites.
  3. Glastonbury(Glastonbury, England): If for nothing else but the expected muddy and wild music festival environment, Glastonbury is worthy of consideration for anyone’s festival bucket list.
  4. South by Southwest(Austin, TX): SXSW music festival runs concurrently with its film festival and interactive technology conferences to create a unique and vibrant atmosphere focused on up-and-coming talent.
  5. Przystanek Woodstock(Poland): With an overarching theme of “Love, Friendship, and Music”, Przystanek Woodstock emulates its namesake in its emphasis on rock music and inclusiveness. Entry is free for the crowds of over 550,000, as the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity hosts the event as a thank-you to its volunteers.
  6. Sweetlife(Columbia, MD): SweetGreen supports its mission of developing healthy, sustainable lifestyle options through sweetlife, their music and food festival dedicated to celebrating wholesome food and thoughful living. The event is carbon neutral, emphasizes composting and recycling, donates leftover food and swag to local shelters and food banks, and draws an incredible line-up. Lana del Rey and Foster the People will headline the 2014 festival.
  7. Mawazine(Morocco): Although it drew over 2.5 million attendees last year, Mawazine remains almost unheard-of in the English-speaking world. The festival features mostly African artists from French-African countries, although international superstars also participate. The 2013 concert series was headlined by Rihanna.
  8. Governor’s Ball(New York City, NY): With on-site amenities like Luke’s Lobster, Mexicue, and Cool Haus, this music festival has a decidedly upscale New York vibe.

This article has been re-posted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing

Business model innovationBusiness trendsEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0Strategy

The marketing power of doing good

As it has been explained right from the outset in the presentation of the ¨Vision of Tourism 3.0¨, the essence of this vision is that the tourism business should be focused not only in the financial goals, but also in environmental and social goals, to say it shortly, in doing good. And doing good is not only a matter of responsibility, it is also the smartest way to ensure the sustainability of the development, and to build a good reputation, which is the core essence of the best possible destination marketing.

The ¨Good doing¨ of destinations 3.0 is not only focused on caring about the destinations social and environmental challenges, but also on leading a cultural change, by fostering mission-driven cooperation and innovation throughout the stakeholder system, and improving visitors’ lives through life-changing experiences. It is therefore a holistic approach of Good doing: inwards and outwards. This approach is what makes people fall in love with destination 3.0 brands, and creates an unbeatable virtuous circle of effective and efficient marketing that draws not only tourism flows but also contribution from all stakeholders in addressing the social and environmental challenges stated in the destination model’s mission.

In this TED Talk, Simon Anholt -creator of the Good Country Index, as a sort of Global Nations Reputation Index- explains how country reputation is created, and how important is the perception that people all over the world have about a country on its economic development. Needless to say, these lessons apply also to destinations, and so they should be taken into account when defining the destination model.

Business trendsMarketing 3.0storytellingStrategyTourism marketing

Tourism Marketing with Instagram

Instagram is nothing new – it’s long been one of our favorite social media platforms – but it still lags behind other tourism marketing tools. Don’t neglect this simple app that offers huge potential. Photos are a big part of travel marketing, and this humble app specializes in nothing else so there is no reason it shouldn’t be part of your tourism marketing plan.

But where should you get started? Luckily, Instagram is a very straightforward platform. Here are a few tourism players who are doing great things on Instagram, and some quick lessons we can learn from their success.

Highlight User-Generated Content

Why does Australia always make our lists of the best of the best? Because they are terrific tourism marketers. But don’t be fooled – you don’t have to have a huge budget like Australia to see results. In fact, Australia’s Instagram success does not come from employing hoards of photographers. Instead, Australia came up with an innovative way to crowd source their photos. Their entire social media strategy is aimed at enabling fans to build upon their platforms, like Instagram. They essentially turned their fans into marketers. Now, they receive 900 photo submissions each day and choose the best 4-5 photos to share with their 600,000+ Instagram followers.

Pay Attention to Hashtags

If you feel a little overwhelmed, step back and focus on doing one thing really well. Instagram has a variety of common hashtags that encourage sharing among users. The most popular one, by far, is #tbt or #throwbackthursday where users post older photos on Thursday. Within the tourism world, nobody does #tbt better than Delta. In fact, most of their Instagram content is throwback photos from the earlier days of the airline. Your photos don’t have to be new and shiny. It can be a great marketing tool to reflect on the nostalgia of a different time – especially since so many people have vivid travel memories. It also inadvertently emphasizes the long tradition of your brand and highlights innovation over time.

Throwback Thursday isn’t the only hashtag around either. Read here for a list of other great daily hashtags, and don’t forget to pay attention to current trends. Specific hashtags pop up all the time to celebrate events, holidays, and other happenings.

Don’t Neglect Other Aspects of Your Brand

Yes, gorgeous travel photos are an easy sell on Instagram, but don’t neglect to highlight other aspects of your brand. Everything can’t be photos of sunsets or beaches! And those won’t necessarily help your brand or destination stand out in the crowd. Virgin America has found creative ways to highlight other aspects of the traveler experience. Their Instagram feed is full of passengers and cabin crew doing everything but taking themselves too seriously. Their photos help display the mood of the airline by emphasizing people and candid moments over scenery and posed shots. They always look like they are having fun, which is a huge feat for a company that deals in an area of travel most people consider to be a pain.

Virgin also runs some great contests, like this social media one from 2013. They offered 15 minutes of free in-flight wifi for Twitter, Instagram & Vine and encouraged passengers to use these social media platforms & a specific Virgin American hashtag to enter to win airline points. The easier you make it for users to interact with your social media (free wifi!), the more results you’ll see.

Educate Your Audience

Instagram isn’t just about gathering likes and follows. Like all social media platforms, the ultimate goal is to grow your audience and generate more customers. Sharing beautiful images is a great way to showcase your destination and inspire future visitors, but it’s also important to help nudge them down your sales funnel. You want them to go from aspiring traveler to actual traveler.

One way you can help this process is by focusing on educating your audiences with key pieces of information. This will also help set your destination apart. I know this is a huge need in tourism marketing because I had to look outside the travel world for a good example.

NASA’s Goddard Space Center does an outstanding job of marrying their breathtaking images with equally intriguing information. Each photo helps inform the viewer with interesting facts, tidbits and stories. You can do the same thing with your travel-minded audience. Rather than share a photo of a lake with only its name and location, mention a unique fact about it. Maybe it’s great for fishing or swimming. Maybe it hosts an annual festival. Maybe it’s a hidden gem that most visitors would be surprised to learn is easily accessed from a nearby hub city.

You should still try to be concise, but by adding one extra sentence, you can help move your traveler from the dreaming to planning stage of travel.

This article has been reposted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing

Business trendsInnovationstorytellingTourism marketingTourism trends

Inspiration for Mixed Reality projects

This article has been written by Robert Pratten, CEO of Conducttr and expert on Transmedia storytelling.

Over the years, we’ve been experimenting with the possibilities of combining storytelling and mixed reality elements. Here are some projects, tutorials or videos that show how Conducttr blends the digital with the physical.

voice assistants

Voice assistants

Create an Alexa skill that will trigger Conducttr and request information

How to create your Alexa Skill

virtual reality

Virtual reality

“Meet Lucy” is a VR experience that adapts the story depending on the prior interaction with characters in social media

Learn more about “Meet Lucy”

buttons

Buttons

Create physical triggers for any project using AWS buttons, that identify single, double and long clicks

Set up your AWS button

lighting

Lighting

Home automation can be used creatively for storytelling. Philips Hue is just an example on how lights can enhance your project.

See how Conducttr controls Philips Hue

sockets

Sockets

Connect your story to the physical space having Conducttr control SMS or Wifi sockets.

See SMS sockets in action

bluetooth beacons

Bluetooth beacons

Beacons detect the position of certain devices and trigger contents for your story

See how beacons are used in military training

Arduino

Arduino

Raspberry Pi and Arduino can communicate with the Conducttr engine using our Open API.

See how an Scalextric is moved by online conversation

NFCtags

NFC tags

Stickers with NFC tag can convert any object in the digital space into triggers for your story.

Get inspired with NFC cards used for wargaming
Make your book or comic interactive through NFC scanning

location based

Location-based

Your story can move forward when your audience is located in a specific place. Trigger using matchwords, QR codes or NFC tags.

Learn how to build a scavenger hunt

phone numbers

Phone numbers

Integrate SMS and real phone calls into your story, to personalize the story to the individual

Try a branching video story using SMS and calls
Experience a survival game on SMS

for everything else API

For everything else… API

Wearables, DIY projects and integration with other platforms can be achieved by Conducttr API methods and actions.

This article has been reposted with permission from http://www.tstoryteller.com/inspiration-for-mixed-reality-projects

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.

 

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.