Tag: marketing strategy

StrategyStrategy planning & execution

Cluster based competitive advantages

In line with the origins of cluster development, the combination and cooperation of many resources and operators may result in many types of competitive advantages:

Resource uniqueness: many clusters feature a unique collection of natural or cultural resources. Cases of cultural resources could be the Egyptian Pyramid cluster along the Nile River, or the Maya Pyramid cluster in Yucatan Peninsula. Examples of unique clusters based on natural heritage could be Iceland with its unique combination of volcanos, glaciers and northern lights, or the Tanzanian cluster with Mount Kilimanjaro and the Masai mara safaris.

Experience innovation: some clusters have, beyond competitive natural or cultural resources, a special deed for innovating experiences. Such is the case of Queenstown in New Zealand’s Southern Island, the most innovative destination for adventure tourism activities, where bungee jumping was invented, among many other crazy experiences. Developing unique experiences without unique resources requires building a culture of innovation.

Operators’ cooperation: the good coordination and cooperation among the cluster operators may also be the source of competitive advantage. The case of the Trois Vallées ski area, the largest ski-lift connected ski area in Europe illustrates this type of advantage. This dominion has no unique resources like other areas in the Alps –namely Zermatt-, but the connection between the three valleys offers the best mobility efficiency for skiers who want to enjoy the whole ski dominion, allowing them to enjoy all the ski areas spending the least possible time.

Differentiated product experience: clusters featuring one main product may develop their competitive advantage by creating a unique signature experience, adding an extra value that other cluster rivals do not offer. This is the case, for instance, of the Austrian Tirol for ski holidays, offering a unique “après-ski experience” consisting with traditional Tirolean pubs with local atmosphere and also a world class network of Wellness & Spa facilities. The Ski Resorts’ accommodation facilities are all in old villages, which also give character to the experience.

Dimension: some clusters base their competitiveness in offering the largest amount of facilities or resources for a specific kind of tourism activity. Such is the case of the Golf Cluster in Costa del Sol as a Winter Golf destination in Europe. On the other side of the world, the Australian Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef on earth, a paradise for divers. Another example could be Macau, featuring the largest offer of Casinos in Asia.

Variety: many tourists are not only motivated for one type of activity but prefer to enjoy many different experiences during their holidays. Clusters offering a large number of different attractions appeal to an increasing number of tourists. Such is the case of the Costa Brava, offering not only attractive beaches, but also first class gastronomy, unique cultural heritage sites, a Golf cluster, a protected area for diving, Casinos, facilities for skydiving, Wellness, etc.

Price: for certain products, price is sometimes a decisive factor to gain competitiveness, especially in the case of the most standardized ones. As it happens with clusters in other industries, the competition of many operators may result in a price advantage for the tourist, though this is not usually the main reason. This could be the case of Tunisian coast cluster competing with European beach destinations, the Red Sea cluster for diving, etc.

Do you think of other cluster based competitive advantages?

Co-creationMarketing 3.0StrategyTourism marketingTourism trends

Cross-destination competitiveness programs: enhancing marketing

Route partnering with neighbor destinations. Regardless of whether nearby destinations are within the same country or not, for some tourism sectors such as International touring or Fly & drive, marketing an attractive route encompassing a selection of interesting destinations is likely to be far more efficient and effective than marketing these destinations independently. Further, it makes the product far more competitive.

This partnership may be also attractive for some types of Special Interest travel, especially in the case of the long haul markets, whose tourists are more likely to do long routes once they land at the destination. The sum of Special interest attractions of the same kind within a route makes it an attractive product to justify a trip for many of these long-haul travelers. This is also an opportunity to develop new products for many destinations in the same area, making it a win-win development project.

Therefore it is convenient to explore partnership agreements with neighbor destinations which are suitable for adding value to the final product, so as to share marketing costs while creating a more attractive product. Even if many tour operators create these routes themselves, the marketing activities not only directed to tour operators (fam-trips, workshops, etc.), but also to the final client, are likely to increase the results of the marketing efforts.

New flight connections. A key program to develop is connecting the destination with all target markets, by all possible means, but mostly focusing on flight connections. Accessibility is a key factor for competitiveness, and so enhancing the capacity and the competition among transport operators benefits also the destination competitiveness.

Attracting new flight connections is not at all an easy challenge. First, and most importantly, the destination has to arouse sufficient demand to make the airline operator identify a business opportunity. To do so –whenever the destination is also an outbound market for the other- it is convenient to join efforts with the other destination’s DMO and Government in order to boost demand to clearly creating a profitable opportunity.

The Government and DMO should share with the airline operator the Tourism development plan, to build confidence and make them envision the business growth they can take advantage of, highlighting the marketing activities planned for their market. It is important to highlight that the intervention of the Government executives is very recommended, even in the cases when it is not strictly necessary, so as to build trust from the very beginning.

Destination App. Apart from the tourist information offices and guides, modern tourists like to have all or most of the information in their smartphone. Apps provide excellent information services, being able to provide tailored information on demand, high quality pictures and videos, downloadable maps, and many other features.

In the case of Tourism 3.0, Apps may be also a tool to foster tourist contribution to the content marketing system and product co-creation. Apps can operate like a channel through which the tourist provides service reviews and ratings, creative reviews about products, pictures, videos and text based stories, etc. It is important to point out that the destination should count on many free wifi areas to empower the Apps in providing all the possible services and up to date information.

Finally, Apps may also be a sales channel, providing access to the destination branded souvenirs online store, booking service, and also offering special deals near the location of the tourist through the geolocalization technology. Altogether, it is a very powerful tool, which is actually likely to become the main information supplier and the main channel to connect tourists with the destination operators. Closely related to the App services, the new technologies for augmented reality should also be included to provide a higher experiential value to the tourists through their mobile devices.

Which other programs would you consider to enhance the destination marketing?

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & execution

Destination models’ brand values related variables

Character and style harmony: many destinations pay special attention to the architectural style and urban aesthetics to guarantee a harmonic urban landscape. This harmony is very appreciated by most upscale tourists, for it is an important requirement to attract the highest spenders. These destinations take special care of the traditional urban heritage and require new developments to follow the same traditional style in harmony with the most authentic buildings and urban aesthetics. Unfortunately, there are also many destinations that have not taken any care of this issue, allowing new hotels and apartments to be built disregarding the harmony with the traditional style of the destination. This is a missed opportunity to offer an experience with a differentiated value that only destinations with character can provide.

Development & tourist flow constraints: closely correlated to the “character and style harmony”, destinations have to decide the maximum capacity of tourists they are able to sustain, depending on their concern on sustainability and also on the type of tourists they are willing to attract. Upscale tourists are to be more exigent regarding congestion issues that may spoil the experience, and so prefer staying somewhere a bit more exclusive with accommodation capacity constraints. Conversely, destinations with little capacity constraints are more likely to attract middle to low end profile tourists, who are not that much concerned about congestion problems.

Other constraints may be those related to the visitors allowed in the natural or cultural heritage sites, to prevent both congestion issues and to manage tourist flows according to the site’s carrying capacity. This capacity is determined by experts who assess the impact of the tourism activity on the site, and establish a limit of visitors per hour or per day that guarantees the sustainability of the tourism activity in the site.

Accommodation mix: the combination of different types of accommodation services is also a relevant variable to consider. In this point there are two main issues to resolve: first, the mix between hotels and real estate, considering also intermediate formulas. Hotels create jobs and tax revenues, whereas real estate may be an important source of funds to leverage for investments, and also to create loyal tourists. Second, there has to be the decision on the accommodation mix of categories –namely for hotels- according to the types of tourists that the destination intends to attract.

Sustainability management: the control of the tourism activity impact and the protection of the environment and cultural heritage in the development are also a key factor to take into account. Many tourism activities carried out in natural environments require damaging the landscape or threaten its fragility. Therefore the constraints on the tourism development in natural areas and the protection status given to these areas are an essential issue to consider in tourism development planning. In this point, it is necessary to determine the carrying capacity of the natural areas and determine the accommodation capacity accordingly.



Branding: all the aforementioned variables along with the natural and cultural assets of the destination define the destination experiences and determine the attributes and values of the brand. The branding messages contained in all marketing materials and campaigns should go in accordance with them. Branding also refers to the image that the destination conveys as a territory, for it is a political issue of major importance: the destination model is not only to be decided by the local tourism operators, but rather through consensus among all stakeholders.

Would you consider other brand value related variables?

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Destination models’ product & market related variables

There are many variables to be considered when defining a destination model, and so several models may be designed based upon different combinations of these variables. However, as we all know, many of these variables usually have a strong correlation.

Seasonality: models focused on certain products with strong seasonality are not able to provide stable jobs to let the employees live all year round in the destination. As a result of that, many destinations with strong seasonality experience enormous variations of population, hence becoming “ghost towns” during the low season periods, due to the considerable proportion of empty hotels and apartments. A key challenge for sustainability is therefore to balance the demand by developing multiple products with complementary seasonality.

Product portfolio: some destinations are clearly identified with one product, whereas others manage to position themselves as multiproduct destinations hence diversifying risk, reducing seasonality and offering added value to many product categories by allowing multiproduct combinations, very much appreciated in many cases.

Target markets: as it happens with the products, there are also destinations focusing on a specific traditional market –national or proximity market most usually-, but for many reasons are not targeting other more distant markets. The reasons may be the saturation of the capacity by the current markets, making it unnecessary to attract new tourists; the lesser profitability of distant markets due to higher negotiation power of the distant markets’ tour operators, and the lack of adequacy of the destination services to the requirements of distant markets (language mastery, service standards, etc.), among many others. Conversely, many destinations have internationalized their demand attracting tourists from many markets.

Product category & target tourists: beyond the aforementioned target markets, it is necessary to determine the type of tourists that the destination intends to attract. Apart from variables such as development constraints, accommodation offer, character or style harmony –which favor the attraction of high-end tourists- the products offered should also satisfy the needs, motivations and aspirations of the target tourists. In this regard, innovative, sophisticated and differentiated products are more likely to attract tourists with higher expenditure, whereas standardized products offering “commodity experiences” compete on price attracting low end tourists.

Would you consider other product & market related variables?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studiesTourism marketing

Storytelling training process: finding visual supports and audio content

In the case of the Digital Storytelling, the next step is to find images or videos to support the story. To do so, storytellers have to first describe the images that come to their mind when recalling the story, understand the messages and emotional contents embedded in every image, find or create such images or videos, and combine them with the written or audio content in the best way to convey the intended message and emotions.

When combining the visual contents you have to be aware that they are creating additional layers of meaning. It is preferable to use real visuals, but if these are not available, the teller can also create images or videos faithfully reproducing the scenes of the story. At this point, the storyteller has to be aware of all the messages that the visual content is likely to convey, as the communication power of visual content is far superior to that of the written.

At this stage, the emotional tone of the story should have been identified, and therefore the teller should have a clear idea of the adequate audio content to combine with the other content, or at least it should be easy to discern whether a certain type of audio content may or may not be suitable to convey the intended tone and emotions. The way the voice-over is performed, the ambient sound and the music are the three kinds of audio content to play with.

In digital stories, the voice of the teller not only conveys the narrative but also the way he or she lives the story experience and his or her personality. The teller adds a significant layer of meaning and has the power of arousing emotions. To play with this added layer of meaning, it is also useful to consider not only the right choice of words but also other resources such as the use of incomplete or broken sentences that have the power to help the audience understand how the narrator –who is often the main character – is feeling about the scene.

In considering the addition of ambient sound, it is recommendable to start by adding as little as possible and see if this added layer of sound enhances or spoils the story. In the case that it enhances it, you may try to add a bit more and consider again whether to leave it, to add more or to withdraw. To choose the right sound, try to identify those that come to your mind when recalling the story in the critical moments where sound is usually added.

Music requires a similar exercise like that of the ambient sound. Music has the power to set the tone, change the perception of the visuals and even the meaning or the scene. Bear in mind that in adding both visual and audio contents, it is crucial to specifically relate every piece of content to the corresponding part of the narrative.

Would you consider other tips to enhance the integration of audiovisual contents?

Marketing 3.0Storytelling training & case studies

Storytelling training process: identifying the emotions and key moments

When thinking deeply about the story, there are usually many emotions associated to every story chapter. It is necessary to identify all those emotions and decide which of them you want to convey and how you want to do it. To identify the emotions embedded in the story, you may ask yourself about the emotions experienced when telling the story, and which specific facts are at the origin of such emotions.

Then, to decide the emotions to convey and how to do it, it is convenient to think about which of these emotions are likely to help the audience to better understand the story message, and whether these emotions may be transferred through the tone rather than just using expressions of feeling. Emotions are what strengthen the connection between the audience and the story, and so they are a sensitive point to deal with.

At this point, it is important to decide the most adequate sequence of emotion delivery for a better understanding of the story, and to support these emotions by facts that provide a measure of the emotional strength. To effectively convey them to the audience, it is necessary that the teller takes ownership of the emotions and feels them in the depth of his or her soul. If the teller does not believe and feel what is saying, he or she is not likely to be credible in the eyes of the audience. Furthermore, it is necessary to consider the cultural context to properly adapt the emotional content to the audience cultural codes.

To keep the audience engaged it is necessary to use the power of the turning points. There are always certain moments when a fact or a conjunction of facts triggers a domino effect to change the direction of the story. These ups and downs fuel the compelling power of the stories, and therefore it is necessary to identify them carefully in the story crafting process. Such moments have to be depicted constructing well described scenes where all the relevant details are shown. Here it is especially important to provide high quality visual support to help the audience imagine the scene.

Beyond the mentioned means, how else do you think that emotions may be conveyed when telling a story?

Marketing 3.0StrategyStrategy planning & executionTourism marketing

Monitoring results

As for all strategies, storytelling results need to be monitored to evaluate its effectiveness in terms of the marketing goals. The success of storytelling marketing is mainly measured by the extent to which stories become the focus of conversations. However, so long as the new technologies offer new possibilities, there are new metrics to consider. In accordance with Latitude’s method, we suggest that storytelling marketing performance should be measured through four main categories of metrics: Impact, integration, interactivity and immersion.

Impact: does the story inspire one to take action offline, such as purchasing, supporting a cause, inspiring one to discover more, to better oneself, etc.

  • Mindset shifting: to what extent does the story make the audience consider a new point of view or even change their attitudes in relation to a certain issue?
  • Heart shaking: does the story move the audience to support a good cause?
  • Acquired knowledge: does the audience learn anything new about the destination experiences and services? Does it boost the number of enquiries or information searches?
  • Conversion: does the call to action move the audience to take the intended action?
  • Coverage & impression: what reach, viewership and positive sentiment does it achieve? Does it generate positive publicity? Does it increase the recommendation rate?

Integration: is the story cohesive across platforms? Can it interface with the real world?

  • Cross-platform usage: how many devices and platforms are the followers using?
  • Cross-platform engagement: how engaged is the audience with each platform and device?
  • Offline integration: does the story integrate real world experiences?

Interactivity: can the audience somehow influence the elements of the story? Can they interact with other followers or with characters?

  • Plot building: how much does the audience participate in shaping the story plot (voting, providing ideas, etc.)?
  • Engagement: apart from sharing the content, how active is the audience in discussing, participating, collaborating, and competing with other followers?

Immersion: to what extent is it possible to go deeper in the story world, learn more about the context and the character’s lives, and have sensory experiences about it?

  • Information searching: how active is the audience in seeking further information about the story context and characters?
  • Extended following: to what extent does the audience look for stories related to this one?

Such metrics are to be revised and new metrics are to be created for as long as new strategies are developed in accordance with new media technologies that allow new ways of interacting, immersing, integrating online with offline experiences, and generating new kinds of impacts.

What other indicators would you consider to track the story performance?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Setting the story style

As for all the marketing materials, brand storytelling has to follow certain guidelines that are usually detailed in the corporate content marketing style guide.

In the case of destinations, where many amateur writers are to participate, this style guide plays an especially important role. First, it has to be explained in the storytelling training workshops for the new storytellers, but it has to be easily available to all of them on the corporate site. The style guide is like a basic road map that orientates writers on how to create high-quality content. There are some key recommendations to take into consideration when crafting the destination’s content marketing style guide:

Clearly define your goals and audience targets. Think about writers with different skill levels, providing not only guidelines for advanced writers but also for average and inexperienced ones.  Focus on the most common flaws and main style guidelines.

Create a logical framework that makes it user friendly. Facilitate the understanding about how to use the guide to make it easy for the new writers who are not familiar with that kind of document. Using simple language and visual aids is likely to help them out.

Use reputable sources of guidance. So long as the Style Guide cannot include guidelines for all the possible mistakes, it is convenient to use a few selected sources of style guidance that users can access in case of doubt.

Promote its usage. Apart from the digital version uploaded in the corporate website, it would be convenient to all contributors to have a paper copy of the Guide in the storytelling training workshop. Then it is the moment to explain the importance of using it.

Update it regularly. The content marketing style is likely to evolve in the same way as all the marketing strategies evolve. The Guide is therefore to be updated incorporating the new social language and other communication trends.

Some of the key components of a Content Marketing Style Guide would be:

  • List of stylistic guidelines on what to do and what not to do
  • Punctuation guidelines on when to use colons and semicolons
  • Corporate guidelines regarding some words and phrases that are part of its culture
  • Guidelines on confusing words to let the writers know the differences
  • Writer’s checklist to evaluate drafts and correct mistakes

How would you foster the adoption of the Style Guide by the non-professional contributors?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

Strategies to foster story virality

Based on the factors that have proved to foster virality, there are three main strategy recommendations:

Design your content to provoke an emotional reaction. Arousing a sense of amusement, surprise, anger, solidarity or affection is likely to foster sharing among the audience. However, to make it effective, you should consider the following points:

  • Support the story with visual content, either photos or videos. Good visual content communicates much faster and is more engaging than written.
  • Make it entertaining by presenting your story in a humorous or original way. Make it stand out with an original plot or a more engaging tone or language.
  • Make the content personal by showing the faces of the people working in the organization. This helps by creating emotional connection and humanizing the stories.

Create content that provides real value. As aforementioned, stories may address some of the audience’s needs, challenges or aspirations, providing know how and inspiration for their personal lives. You may create and enhance the value provided by:

  • Inspirational stories work like case studies showing how others overcame a specific challenge or difficult situation, that are at least partially applicable to other people’s cases.
  • Stories related to other destinations with similar mission purpose provide a sense of authenticity to the audience and may eventually lead to cross-marketing alliances.
  • Invite thought leaders in the issues related to the audience concerns to write stories or participate in a story creation with the added value of reputable advice and know-how.

Embed features that facilitate virality. Incorporating interactive features in the content is likely to foster more engagement, and engagement is the first step towards virality. There are many possible ways to do so:

  • Incorporate social sharing tools throughout the site so that readers need only to click once to share it with their connections.
  • Encourage people to make comments so as to spur discussion among the story. Ask questions at the end of the content to provoke people into giving their opinions.
  • Create contents calling for participation and interactivity, like contests, sweepstakes, polls, etc. They are great engagement drivers and are also likely to go viral.

Finally, there are some common mistakes you should avoid if you want to boost engagement and virality: being offensive, asking for likes, talking about yourself and being too obscure.

Do you envision other strategies to make stories go viral?

Marketing 3.0Tourism marketing

What makes stories go viral?

One of the most desired effects of content creation and delivery is to make it go viral. Despite the fact there is not any magical formula to do so, there are many strategies and tactics that increase the chances of stories going viral. The main key factors fostering virality are:

Promise of practical value inspires people to share knowledge that may be useful to others. Either it is a matter of generosity or a matter of a desire to be perceived as smart and helpful, inherent practical value works as a social currency that fosters relationships among people. For some people, it makes them feel like insiders having privileged information.

Specific topics related to the dreams, aspirations and challenges of specific audience segments, inspiring them and spurring discussion among their community. These may encompass warnings, inspirational stories, advice, special deals and opportunities.

Inspiring strong emotions of laughter, amusement, anger, surprise, inspiring solidarity or uniting people for a common cause are powerful drivers of virality. The stronger the emotion is, the more likely the content is to go viral.

According to a survey carried out by The New York Times, the top motivators for sharing were:

  • 75% said that sharing helped them better understand news they were interested in
  • 85% said that the comments they got from sharing provided them with more thought
  • 94% considered how helpful a link would be to another user
  • 68% shared as an advertisement for themselves, to give others a sense of who they are
  • 73% said it helped them find people with common interests

Do you think of other factors that make stories go viral?