Move over cookie cutter vacation destinations; hallo authentic travel! Tourism has undergone a dramatic change during the last five years, with large numbers of people losing interest in crowded, cliché holiday destinations and seeking out more authentic experiences.
Today’s traveller wants something true and unique: a taste of real local food, local attractions and a connection to local lifestyles and culture.
Destination tourism has become the hottest buzz word of the moment.
All around the world, towns, cities and regions are increasingly showcasing their own distinctive heritage, architecture, attractions, products and events to lure this ready market of interested visitors.
In most instances, the brunt of destination marketing falls on provincial and regional tourism offices who run media campaigns. Although many bureaus do invaluable work, limited funds often inhibit the success of such campaigns. In many cases bureaus lack online presence, use social media too sparingly, are slow in responding to emails, or keep irregular hours.
Businesses can augment the existing efforts by throwing in their full weight behind the campaigns.
- Join chambers of commerce – Chambers work with regional groups and economic development organisations that understand the special character, needs and concerns of their locations. They offer a unique platform from which to build valuable community and marketing connections.
- Know your region – businesses should fully educate themselves about local assets, including: architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history and people. They must understand what assets set them apart from other tourism sectors and use the information to drive campaigns.
- Invest in improving your community – Determine what aspects could improve visitors’ experience to the region, for example: providing better signage, more community information at frequented places, and special services. Businesses should use their voice to influence city planners to build bike trails, improve walkability, preserve historic buildings, facilitate a sense of community, improve parks, make downtown areas more vibrant, and more. Happy residents grow more attached and engaged with their community and in turn, become the most effective marketing strategy available.
- Out-of-the-box marketing – New tastes in travel demands new marketing techniques. Travellers now research the internet and base their choices on consumer reviews and testimonials. Traditional marketing campaigns do not sway them as effectively as before. Innovative commucation strategies will ensure that the right message hits the right audience at the right time.
Google, during their recent “Innovation & Inspiration” session at their headquarters in Mountain View, USA, suggested these tips for future marketing:
- design web content for mobile devices – In the tourism space, Google saw a 50% increase in travel-related searches on mobile devices in 2016. Traditionally, marketing companies built online content for a website first and then adapted that same content to a smartphone. The data suggests it’s time to reverse that order.
- use video to tell a story – Statistics show that YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any other network or cable provider. Travel videos have become some of the most viewed content on YouTube, with interest in any travel-related video up about 60% in the last couple of years.
- stay on top of nifty apps – smart new travel apps like “The Story of Us” allow travellers to create their own video travelogue, which can fast and effectively spread the word about a region.
- offer a ‘vacation test drive’ with virtual reality – new technology ensures that virtual reality will boom in the next five years. Special headsets built by Sony, Oculus, Samsung and Google will offer travellers a real-time experience of a destination, which can become a bedazzling new tool in any marketing box.
Therefore, do not settle as a passenger, but get into the driver seat of your destination marketing campaign and use all available connections, knowledge and innovations to put your region and business on the exciting new world map.