Category: Tourism marketing

Trends, ideas and case studies on tourism marketing

Business trendsCo-creationEnvironmental sustainabilityMarketing 3.0storytelling

Envisioning Augmented Reality Games in destinations

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

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

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

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

Let’s envision some prototypes:

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

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

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

Business trendsMarketing 3.0storytellingStrategyTourism marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

7 Components of a Great Integrated Marketing Program

What is integrated marketing & why does it matter?

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

Here are 7 key components of a great marketing program:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketing

Fifteen Common Place Branding Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Brand Planning Should be the CEO’s Baby

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

At the conclusion of a presentation on place branding, I was approached by the CEO of a mid-west Chamber of Commerce who lamented that their brand planning had resulted in a bland and uncompetitive outcome. To my surprise, the CEO went on to take the blame himself by saying, “I made the mistake of delegating the project to our marketing manager and not taking responsibility to drive the process myself.” I’m sure that he hasn’t made the admission within his community or to his Board, but it’s commendable that he recognized this as being a major factor in the brand’s mediocre result.

The president, executive director, or CEO of the organization leading the effort on behalf of the community must be actively engaged in every aspect of the brand planning and development, and breathe vitality into the assignment. We have found that the only way for the brand to take off is having a leader who “gets it” and has the passion, authority, skills and vision to make it work. If he or she takes a passive role, the brand will almost certainly fail.

Understandably, there may be many legitimate distractions that consume the CEO’s time. However, the brand is at the heart of every activity directed toward the way the place will present itself for years to come, so it is worth every minute that he or she can devote to it. While the CEO may want to delegate aspects of the day-to-day management of the process to others, he must remain intimately involved in crafting and managing the strategy.

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

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Why are Bland Brands So Common? PART TWO

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

As I mentioned in Part One, there are many reasons why destination and place brands can end up being bland and uninteresting. One of the most common causes is sometimes the weak competitive positioning on which the brand is based because of the risk-averse approach preferred by leaders. To get beyond this state, communities need to address the barriers that can prevent them from defining their strongest competitive positioning. These challenges frequently include one or more of the following:

  • Self-interest of key stakeholders and influential groups
  • Insufficient focus on customers and their needs and wants
  • Trying to keep everyone happy
  • The “we’ve got it all” syndrome which is really an excuse for not choosing a point of difference
  • Political interference
  • Parochialism and a lack of objectivity
  • Unfocused and short-sighted thinking
  • Unhelpful mindsets

Then there are many places that choose to by-pass positioning all together because it involves hard decisions and actually standing for something beyond the basic attributes enjoyed by most places. Great place brands emerge when there is focus, consistency, and creativity centered on a unifying, competitive concept that resonates strongly with customers and that competitors can’t easily match. It may sound simple, but achieving this takes courage, leadership and imagination – and tons of selfless teamwork.

Article reposted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Business trendsIntelligenceMarketing 3.0Tourism marketingTourism trends

Destination Marketing For Millennials

It may be the year of the horse in the Chinese Zodiac, but in the travel industry, 2014 should probably be marked as the year of the local. Mass travel is out, and local, personalized experiences are in. Destination campaigns that emphasize local travel like ‘Visit Philadelphia’ and ‘London and Beyond‘ have already been wildly successful.

Who is driving this trend in travel? Millennials, of course – those who were born in the early 1980s – 2000s. Is your tourism business ready for the Millennials? Let’s start by looking at a few key features of this generation, as reported in this extensive study about Millennial travelers, & some ways tourism marketers can reach this key demographic.

marketing for millenials

Are you familiar with the next generation of travelers?

They are tech savvy. This almost goes without saying. Having grown up in a digital age, Millennials are now heavily tech-dependent. They consume information on a rapid and almost constant basis. In terms of travel, this means they book trips faster and, in turn, often share their own travel experiences in real time.

They are good citizens. Nearly half of Millennials show more interest in destinations that offer volunteering opportunities. Moreover, compared with the people over 30 years old, Millennials are more willing to engage in sustainable practices and care more about environmental issues.

They like to learn. Travel isn’t just about fun with this generation. Millennials are attracted to authentic destinations where they have the opportunity to learn something new. They also prefer hands-on, interactive experiences.

They are spontaneous. Many airlines and hotels have begun offering last-minute online travel deals targeted at digitally savvy Millennial travelers. A host of apps like Jetsetter and NextFlight have emerged to help travelers find a flight or a hotel on a whim.

They rely on word-of-mouth recommendations. 8 out of 10 travelers say they are likely to trust the recommendations of a family member or friend via social media when it comes to travel. However, more and more recent studies tend to report that travelers trust reviews from peer reviews and strangers more than those from friends or colleagues.

What does this mean for your business or destination?

All of this is great news for sustainable and community-based destinations. And it’s a call to action for all destinations to begin focusing on more authentic experiences. Here are some things every destination can do to help reach this desirable group of travelers:

Involve Locals. By far the best brand ambassadors of any destination are the people who live there, work there, and just love being there. Collaboration with local residents in destination marketing yields enormous results. Millennialls flock to this type of information because it’s authentic, insider information that stands out in a sea of mundane reviews. Millennials want to travel like locals, and there is no better way to do that than by connecting them with the local people of a destination.

Facilitate Relationship Building. All travelers want to feel special and welcome. It’s no different with Millennials. By making them feel welcome before they even touch down in a destination, you’ll already be establishing a positive experience. Visit a Swede is one great example of this relational marketing. The website aims to connect visitors with a local Swede before they even arrive in country. It’s takes the idea of involving locals to a whole new level – by promoting them as tour guides, coffee buddies, dinner hosts, and so much more. Bewelcome has also opened up channels of communication between the locals and the visitors.

Emphasize Authenticity. The last takeaway is the most encouraging: focus more on authenticity. The best part is that this is also the easiest lesson! Instead of focusing on what your destination lacks, you should find ways to celebrate what it has. You might be surprised by the response to some honest marketing that highlights the unique or quirky about your destination. Not every desirable destination has to have sunshine and beaches. Millennials are open to learning & relish new opportunities so don’t be afraid to embrace the off-the-beaten places within your destination.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Why is a Bland Place Brand the Fast Path to a Non-Brand? – PART ONE

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

One of the great challenges for many places when it comes to place branding is to not become absolutely boring and bland in an effort to please disparate voices within the community. It’s so easy (and quicker) to just settle on the warm and fuzzy, right?

The task is even harder when the community opts to define the brand themselves without outside help. Problems start to arise when no-one is pushing to move beyond the generic, threshold qualities that every ambitious city must have to play the place marketing game. Too many choose to stop when they reach a concept that pleases a block of stakeholders. Sometimes it’s as trite as the old standby, “a great place to live, work and play” or a variation on that theme.

Too frequently these cities and regions end up with a logo and tagline based on qualities that are irrelevant to external customers or can be easily exceeded by other places. Trying to define a brand that everyone in the community is going to like is a sure-fire path to revealing a bland brand. These brands attract no attention, don’t resonate with markets and are a poor imitation of thousands of other meaningless places.

All successful place brands have an imaginative edge or tension that resonates with target audiences, but may sometimes not be liked by some locals. The important issue to examine is the nature and substance of their dislike. To be different and stand apart in ways that are meaningful can be a challenge for some community leaders. The critical point that they must keep in mind is that the brand is being orchestrated for external audiences to meet specific and sometimes economic objectives.

A strong, sustainable place brand demands leaders who exert strong leadership don’t simply pander to local interests. They must be truly customer-focused and help locals understand the brand and its benefits to them. Diluting the brand in an effort to please vocal locals at the expense of target customers is the best path to a spectacularly bland brand.

Article reposted with permission from http://citybranding.typepad.com/city-branding/page/2/

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketingTourism trends

Using Pinterest for Destination Marketing

If you’re in the tourism industry and you’re already on Pinterest – nice work! If you’re not, now is a great time to start. You’ve heard the cliché, “Pictures don’t do it justice,” and that could not be more true than with travel.

Which catches your attention?

“A glass bottom boat with a thatched roof

anchored in crystal-clear, calm, blue water.”

The image, of course! Words can be very descriptive – great content is key in successful online marketing, after all – but images are more descriptive, leaving an imprint on minds and covering every language on the planet. Graphics rapidly fill the human mind – cognitively and emotionally, according to Mike Parkinson at Billion Dollar Graphics. Humans are very visual creatures – telling stories ages ago by painting images on rocks. We still use images today to tell our travel stories.

Pictures are much easier to process and much more compelling. Images are a great way to quickly and effectively express an experience, fact, or description. Not to mention that people are more likely to remember what they see. Even more importantly, images are an important part of the travel buying cycle. This graphic from Google is one of our favorites:

pinterest

Travel starts with dreaming, and a lot of times, dreaming starts with images. A photo of a picturesque beach, delicious local cuisine, or a breathtaking landscape have all launched travel experiences. And images are just as important in the sharing phase. After a traveler has returned from a trip, the sharing of their photos helps inspire others and launches them into the dreaming phase of the cycle.

How can a tourism business effectively use images for destination marketing? How can your business or destination engage travelers in the dreaming and sharing phases of travel? One great answer is by using Pinterest. This social media platform is incredibly useful to the tourism industry because it encourages the dreaming and sharing phases of travel through images and storytelling. In fact, Pinterest counts about 1.5 million destination pins every day, and now there are more than 750 million destination pins on Pinterest!

For tourism destinations, Pinterest can be a centralized photo space to show off destination highlights and discoveries. It is like a very large, continuous, and easily-updated scrapbook. For travelers, Pinterest provides a place to gather and organize destination images that represent ideas for future travel, thus, providing destination marketers a look into potential customers ‘usually secret’ travel bucket-list. Tourism destinations can use Pinterest to influence travelers to add their destination to travel dream-lists. When a tourism business analyzes their followers they can interact with potential customers at the top of the travel planning funnel and work to move them down the booking phase using tourism destination inbound marketing techniques. Interacting with potential travelers can influence their emotions about your destination, and everyone knows how emotions influence decisions!

An even more valuable and very recent addition to Pinterest is the use of Place Pins. Pinterest created ‘place pins’ to combine a picturesque travel magazine look to a useful online map. These ‘place pins’ can even include information such as addresses and phone numbers, making it easy for inspired travelers to seek out their bucket-list travel locations. For tourism destinations, this means that your Pinterest boards take on a whole new meaning. These Place Pins provide a visual plan for visiting your destination, and move your inspired travelers one-step closer to actually planning a visit!

All tourism destinations want to tell their stories and ‘pinning’ images on Pinterest is the best and easiest way to tell these stories in the most basic language known to humankind – pictures! Facebook and Twitter, alone, can not do this for your destination. If you aren’t on Pinterest or need help utilizing it more effectively, here are some great ways to get started. By taking just a few minutes each day to follow these steps, you can start growing your Pinterest audience immediately.

Pin new content. Content can come from a variety of sources – blogs, photos, webinars, slides, eBooks, or website screenshots. Make sure the pin description uses your SEO keywords and that the pin links back to the appropriate page on your main website to encourage increased website traffic. Pick images that will capture visitors and descriptions that tell a unique story about your business or destination. Try not to pin more than five images within five minutes – think quality over quantity!

Monitor your news feed. Start by following relevant pinners. Some great places to start searching would be a local tourism board, other area tourism businesses, local travel enthusiasts, or industry leaders. Once followed, their pins will show up in your news feed. Re-pin anything useful to your relevant boards.

Engage with other pinners. Search out and comment on pins posted by pinners (relevant to your destination and product) who are not yet following your boards. Reply and/or thank pinners who comment on your pins and boards.

Follow your followers. Discover your new followers and start following them. Aim to follow 5 new Pinners each week. Getting to know your followers is an important part of the process, and can help you refine your strategy for reaching your target audience.

Search for your SEO keywords. By searching for your keywords in Pinterest, you can find new pinners to follow or new material to repin. It’s also a great way to keep a pulse on what’s currently inspiring people about your destination or business.

Promote your Pinterest page. Encourage people to start engaging with you on Pinterest by promoting your page on your other social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Place your pins. Pinterest is starting to recognize that their brand is very popular among travelers. Just this week, they introduced Place Pins to help travelers more easily “turn their travel inspiration into reality.” By adding your pins on the map, you’ll help future and current travelers connect with the treasures in your destination.

This blog post is from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing