Category: Tourism marketing

Trends, ideas and case studies on tourism marketing

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.

Marketing 3.0storytellingTourism marketing

Pinterest’s Promoted Pins Add Value for Tourism Marketing

Pinterest’s successful strategies for the tourism marketing industry capitalize on the “a picture is worth a thousand words” consumer mentality. Its ability to drive traffic and sales stems from its ability to provide content that users want to consume and even share with others. In fact, the value of a single pin is worth more than a tweet, and has 100 times the chance of going viral! The value of Pinterest to generating interest and sales is too large to ignore, particularly since Pinterest has announced plans to launch promoted pins, opening up new opportunities to attract customers.

Pinterest is an aspirational medium

Pinterest’s visual and aspirational nature lend itself to use by the travel industry. Destinations already have the stunning visual content that performs well on Pinterest. Consumers are searching for and sharing these beautiful pins that reflect where they would like to be, rather than where they are in the present moment. Other visual sharing sites like Flickr and Instagram showcase the past and the present (and Instagram is even coming out with a competing sponsored advertising program), but Pinterest allows users to share the places and activities that they would like to do in the future.

Because of its aspirational nature, Pinterest offers marketers the unique opportunity to influence travelers before they choose a destination. Travelers use Pinterest both for inspiration and for planning trips, giving DMOs the chance to show them where they should go and why. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that are feed-oriented and reflective of the present can’t offer the same influence as Pinterest. Destinations can put themselves on consumers’ radars, move from awareness to bucket list status, and move from bucket list to actual travel plans all on one website! Even more exciting, marketers can see when consumers have added destinations to their consideration sets (when they pin or re-pin your content!). This powerful signal of intent to travel is difficult to uncover through any other social network.

Pinterest includes desirable, visual, shareable content

Pinterest’s addictive nature is largely due to the vast amount of incredible content that exists on the site that users actually want to consume and share with their networks. Consumers are actively searching for travel images and inspiration, which marketers can happily provide.

An important feature of Pinterest is the ability to re-pin content. Users can and often do save your content to their own boards to either share with others or keep as reminders for themselves. Over 80% of pins are re-pins. Because users will always be able to see the original source, traffic can still be driven to your own boards or to your website. Destinations should pin pictures from their website and blog so that each pin will carry a link to drive traffic back to the original site.

Pinterest has a broader audience than Twitter or Facebook, but the audience does skew towards 25 to 39 year-old women. The visual nature of the site transcends language barriers and has wide appeal to a broad base of consumers predisposed towards traveling.

Features of Pinterest for the Travel Industry

Map Feature

The map feature allows users to change the format of boards to include a map on the right side of the screen. Although the map dominates the board, reducing the space available for pins to 2 of the usual 6 columns, maps can successfully and immediately convey a sense of place and allow followers to zoom in and easily click through to pins in their desired locations. Pinterest partners with FourSquare to provide location information for pins, so it’s important to be sure your favorite locations are listed! If they haven’t been added to FourSquare’s database, add them using this simple form.

Using the map feature, destinations can share itineraries, categorized into boards by length, trip category, season, or tour package. Similarly, maps can be ideal showcases for restaurant guides, historic before and after pictures, and photo contests for destinations an organization has pinned.

Collaborative Boards

Pinterest users who are following each other can add each other as collaborators on their boards. This feature has a variety of applications, from restaurants and tour operators partnering up to collaborate on destination boards to showcase a location’s diverse offerings to DMOs reaching out to directly interact with consumers.

A great example of using collaborative boards for travel and hospitality marketing comes from the Four Seasons Hotels’ Pin-Pack-Go campaign. The hotel chain invited its followers to create a Pin.Pack.Go board on Pinterest and comment on which hotel location they planned to visit. The hotel would then follow the user on Pinterest, and when the user followed back and invited the hotel to collaborate on the board, local experts from the hotel would pin recommendations and insider advice.

New! Promoted Pins

With the upcoming launch of promoted pins, Pinterest hopes to create a a valuable way for marketers to connect with consumers. Promoted pins will blend seamlessly into Pinterest streams and be indicated only with a small icon in the bottom right corner of the pin.

Pinterest now allows marketers to reach users through a paid boost, much like other social networks. In such a visually-rich and aspirational industry, these new tools will be extremely valuable to travel and tourism marketing strategy. The hospitality and travel industries are already some of the most active on social networks, and adding promotional tools to a visually stimulating platform like Pinterest will only increase this trend. In fact, Tnooz reported that 20% of web referrals on e-commerce sites come from Pinterest, and 26% come from Pinterest’s mobile site!

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

InnovationMarketing 3.0storytellingTourism marketing

Brilliant experiential marketing for Art Museums

Cultural tourism is often associated with people with a special sensitivity towards arts and history, who account for a rather small share of the tourists or potential visitors. However, turning a rather passive activity such as watching paintings or sculptures into an immersive experience that makes the audience vibrate and transports them to a storyworld that relates to the art masterpiece, not only helps the visitors understand the significance and importance of the art piece, but also helps them enjoying it and motivates them to visit the site, search for more related sites and tell their story to their relatives and friends, creating the virtuous circle of storytelling marketing.

This is a great example to showcase how experiential marketing can be done in a public space such as a shopping mall, targeting the mainstream audience and motivating their will for visiting a local Art Museum in the Netherlands.

This other video is to promote El Prado Museum giving life to the characters of the masterpieces, bringing in another original approach into marketing Art Museums.

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

storytellingTourism marketing

A benchmark life-changing experience: The Santiago Way

When it comes to think about life-changing experiences to showcase one of the intended missions of destinations 3.0, there’s no other like the Santiago Way. This is an old pilgrimage in the North of Spain that takes place since the middle age times. Starting in St. Jean Pied de Port, the last village in France before entering Spain through the Pyrenees mountain range, it has almost 800km, which usually take a month to be walked.

The Way ends in Santiago de Compostela, where the relics of St. James have moved people from all over Europe to do this pilgrimage for centuries. Nowadays people continue to do it, although not always for religious motivations. It is overall a spiritual journey, in which the real goal is not really to make it to Santiago but to connect with your soul and often challenge it to make a leap forward. It is also a journey to create new relationships, open people’s mindset and people’s heart, and rediscover everyone’s human authenticity. People from all countries, all ages and social conditions live together for a few days or weeks in the same conditions, facing very similar problems and concerns, and thus building mutual understanding and cross-cultural brotherhood.

The Way is a great but simple scenario where thousands of stories are created and inspired every year. This video shows a great story of friendship and challenge overcoming that took place there. Enjoy!

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.

 

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Characteristics of a Successful Online Marketing Campaign

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

Adapting to Changing Rules

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

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

Finding Solutions

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

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

Integrating New Platforms

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

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

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

Business trendsCo-creationCollaborative cultureEnvironmental sustainabilityInnovation

Envisioning Alternate Reality Games for marketing destinations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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