What makes or breaks the content on a good tourism website?

What kind of content works on a top-notch tourism website? What actually engages the visitor to stay on the page longer and better yet -develop a genuine interest towards the company?

When a few small things are taken into consideration, it is easier to capture the attention of the visitor. The most important thing to take into consideration is the customer value proposition.

The nitty-gritties

Who is your customer, what problem are you trying to solve for them, what are your customers’ needs and what will they gain from your services? By answering these questions you are well on your way of designing prime content for your website.

Answering these questions is also important because a website acts as a first impression -the first few seconds determine whether or not the visitor will stay on your site. The content on your website must be engaging not just for selling but for solving the customers’ needs in the best case. Also, keep in mind you may want to produce different content for your various target groups.

Make the first impressions count

Needless to say, what affects the first impression is the visuality of your site; pictures, videos, colours etc. Did you know that there’s research to show that visuality affects the customers ability to imagine themselves in your destination or using your product? Now you do. While it may not work to your advantage to have a 2 minute HD ad video on your site as it would slow it down, it will be beneficial to have relevant pictures and you may want to consider shorter clips.

Symbolic ideas for content

Convince, link and create

Whatever you produce onto your website, the content has to be persuasive as this affects the customers’ attitudes towards your company and product. The tone in which you present your written points should also be consistent -this way you maintain credibility in the eyes of the reader. In addition, you should sound confident but not intimidating and the tone must tell the story of your business and be in line with what you offer.

A couple of tech-savvy pieces of content that are good to have would be online chats, relevant calls to action as well as reviews from your clients and perhaps even photos taken by your customers. Don’t forget to include your contact details or social media links either! If you’re for example writing a blog, it might be an idea to include a snippet from your content there as well.

Above all, your website content needs to tell a story, as stories are what appeals to us and make us engage with a brand. Don’t just lay out the facts and service attributes but tell the emotional stories around them.

5 key learnings for a destination marketer

In the spring semester 2020 I attended a very interesting course called Destination Marketing, which is a part of the Tourism Marketing and Management master’s programme. The course gives an overview on different aspects of destination marketing in the rapidly changing world and offers interesting content for anyone interested in destination marketing. Here are my 5 key learnings from the course: 

Destination vs a company 

Traditional marketing approaches are a good basis for destination marketing. However, destinations are not companies, which makes a huge difference in their marketing. Every destination marketer should keep in mind a few differences between destination and company marketing. Marketing strategy for a company does not necessarily fit the needs of a destination. 

Whereas a company can control basically everything they do in terms of marketing, a destination management/marketing organization (DMO) has very little control on the execution of a marketing strategy. A destination is a complex entity consisting of different actors and stakeholders, which are not bound to any strategies or plans made by the DMO. A DMOs goal of course is to make a marketing plan that benefits all.  Still there might be companies in the area that have completely different goals and business objectives. Those are very likely not to follow the strategy by the DMO.

Probably all destinations try to communicate some kind of brand. A company can control quite well how they communicate their brand to the customers. The image of a destination among visitors is however strongly dependent on the encounters between the visitors and the local operators. A DMO can’t control the quality of the actual visitor experience.  

 

Operant resources 

Every destination has some tangible and intangible resources that it can use for competitive advantage. However, the resources as such don’t create competitive advantage. Firstly, operand resources, such as sun and sea, exist in other destinations, too. Secondly, the destination has very little control on them. There is nothing a destination can do to get more sunny days than it already has.  

The potential sources for competitive advantage lie more in the interaction between the destination and its stakeholdersA destination must recognize, which are the potential competitive advantages it can create with stakeholder collaboration and how to do that. The knowledge and skills to do that are called operant resources.  The heart of a destination’s competitive advantage lies In the operant resources. In conclusion, a destination marketer must understand the difference between the two types of resources and enhance the use of operant ones in the destination marketing. In many cases this requires the collaboration between a variety of different stakeholders.   

 Smart destinations and data sharing 

Digitalization is inevitable in tourism business. It is changing also the function of destinations and how destination marketing and management organizations are working. Smart tourism and smart destinations are very popular concepts in tourism business of today.  

The core of destinations has traditionally been something physical, e.g. attractions, activities and availability. Nowadays, technological aspects are more and more important. A  more customer-oriented approach in destination marketing is needed But it’s wrong to think that technology is all in all. After all, technology is just a tool, it’s not the core of destination marketing. Leadership, innovation and collaboration are also key issues if a destination wants to be smart. Real time engagement, mobile technology, online inventory and co-creation are just a few examples of the features of smart destinations.  

Purchasability and online inventory have traditionally been a problem in many destinations. Luckily, destination managers have realized this and are working on making the buying of activities and other services easier online.

Another problem many destinations still face is data. One key feature of smart destination is the use of data that they are getting from customers. The problem here lies in the collaboration. It would be crucial for the individual tourism companies to share the data with other companies and the DMO.  This way the whole destination profits from the data. In real life, most of the companies keep the data to themselves. This is quite understandable – many companies fear that they lose their competitive advantage against other operators in the area. Here the help of the DMO is needed – trying to change the attitude and view of the companies. Even though being competitors, the companies must still learn to collaborate with each other. That is the only way to a customer-oriented, smart destination.   

 

Impact of consumergenerated content on the brand 

Most of destination marketers recognize the importance of consumergenerated content in their marketingSocial media posts about the destination and online reviews by customers are free marketing and visibility for a destination. Destinations often encourage consumers to write something about their destination. The possible threats are in many cases taken into account. Consumers can post something negative, which of course is not desirable but with an action plan can be managed.  

However, the impact of consumer generated content on the destination brand is something that destinations might overlook. Because of Web 2.0 and social media, destinations no longer are the major controllers over their brand and message. Nowadays, the branding content on the internet is based on interaction and participation of the consumers. Consumers can post whatever they like on social media, whereas in the past the destinations controlled the distribution of information. Nowadays, a brand can even be totally created in social media by consumergenerated content 

For destination marketers it’s important to notice that consumergenerated content does not necessarily match the brand that the destination wants to communicate. It can be totally different than marketergenerated content. For example, consumer generated content rarely includes the formal elements of the brand, such as slogans and logos. After all, those are important elements in marketer-generated content. What should the destinations do when the control of the brand is largely outside of the company?   

Authentic content 

Last but definitely not least I want to highlight the importance of authentic content. Internet and other media are full of marketing content created by marketers. From the highly scientific and empirical research we conducted on our lectures (discussing in the classroom), we got the results that traditional destination marketing videos are not interesting enough. No one wants to look at nice views with peaceful background music for longer than a few seconds. People are interested in authentic content with local people. Visitors don’t come to a destination with the main reason of spending money there but to learn something and educate themselves. This means that destination marketers need to shift their mindset from consuming to learning.  

Onthe destination marketing course  we had an interesting workshop with the CEO of VisitKarelia Jaakko Löppönen. He pointed out an issue with this approach that they as the destination marketers are facing: If the marketing material can’t be made by marketers and agencies but rather by the local people, who is willing to produce this content? And what kind of content should it be? The resources they as a DMO have are limited and often the more traditional content by agencies is the only option. This is an important question for us students as the future destination marketers to think about. We should totally forget the traditional destination marketing and focus on something new and innovating. Skills and knowledge to do that will be the competitive advantage of destination marketing and marketer of tomorrow.  

VisitKarelia Destination Destination Marketing Workshop with University of Eastern Finland

University of Eastern Finland (UEF) and Visit Karelia are partnering to develop destination marketing innovations for North Karelia region. This partnership is part of the Destination Marketing course at the International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management (TMM), at UEF Business School in Joensuu. VisitKarelia is the local destination marketing organization (DMO), focusing on raising awareness of North Karelia region as a tourism destination.

These destination marketing innovations are divided into three workshops. The first workshop focuses on destinations as media. In the second workshop, we examine what it means for a destination to be a marketplace. The third workshop then discusses what kind of experience North Karelia could be for a tourist.

We also want to invite tourism stakeholders to participate in the workshops with us. If you are working in the tourism industry, studying tourism, or interested in destination marketing you are most welcome to attend these workshops with us. If you are going to participate, please register at https://elomake.uef.fi/lomakkeet/25238/lomake.html two days before each seminar.

The timetable for the workshops is as follows:

24.02.20 AG106 Agora-building Monday 12.15-16.00: VisitKarelia Workshop: Destination as a Media
10.03.20 N101 Natura-building Tuesday 12.15-16.00: VisitKarelia Workshop: Destination as a Marketplace
17.03.20 CANCELLED Tuesday 12.15-16.00: VisitKarelia Workshop: Destination as an Experience

Language in the workshops will be English and they are held at UEF Joensuu campus (Yliopistonkatu 2).

Descriptions of the workshops:

Every workshop starts with a 30-minute keynote from VisitKarelia CEO Jaakko Löppönen and Head of e-tourism research Juho Pesonen, from UEF. They will frame the workshop topic from their own perspectives and provide instructions for the group works. After the keynotes and discussion, the participants are grouped together and in groups, they can develop answers to these workshop topics and questions. After two hours of working time each group will have five to ten minutes to present their ideas. At the end of the workshop, the best ideas are selected.

Destination as a Media

Marketing has moved mostly to digital channels, but it is often supported by other, traditional offline channels. In digital marketing, the importance of interesting content is emphasized. Consumers spend hours watching digital media with their mobile phones, tablets, computers, and other devices. There is constant competition on the attention of the consumers. Those brands and businesses that are able to create content that people pay attention to are also the ones that consumers remember the best when they are making decisions. Being a media that people want to consume increases the mental availability of the destination.

This increasing media usage in digital channels is also changing branding and destination marketing. Destinations cannot just rely on marketing campaigns aiming to promote various seasons in the tourism destination but have to be constantly in the minds of the consumers. This requires DMOs to transform from marketing organizations into media organizations. The key questions are for example:

  • With what resources content is created?
  • How to create interesting content?
  • What kind of content works the best?
  • How to distribute content in various channels?
  • How to analyze the success of media-based destination marketing?

 

Destination as a Marketplace

It is not enough that people are aware that the destination exists. They also need to be able to buy services and trips easily. When it is easier to buy tourism services, people are more likely to do so. Destinations need to think how they organize distribution so that it is the most convenient for the tourists to buy the services they are interested in. There are various possibilities to do that. Visit Rovaniemi is using Bokun platform to make booking services easier (https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi/fi/) and Turku is using Doerz to help people find interesting things to see and do in the region (https://fi.doerz.com/turku). How could Visit Karelia be a marketplace for tourism products or is it even reasonable for the DMO to be the platform? What other options are there to make it easier for consumers to buy tourism products and services they are interested in?

 

Destination as an Experience

It doesn’t matter how great a destination is in marketing or sales if the customer experience in the destination does not meet and surpass consumer expectations. Customer experience is the sum of dozens if not hundreds of encounters between the tourist and the destination and people living and working in the destination. Tourism businesses are responsible for staging memorable experiences for consumers. Destination marking needs to be able to identify those experiences and make sure the tourists find the best things to see and do in the destination. However, what is best for whom differs from one tourist to another. Also, destination brands need to be experienced in tourism services in the region. What would be the key things to improve in North Karelia region in order to ensure that the experiences tourists have in this region are ones that make them happy and delighted to tell others, not to mention coming back to the destination in the future.

How to better interact with your customers on social media?

 

If there’s something a business can’t ignore these days, it’s the social media. All the businesses should be present at social media as it’s the way to reach out and communicate with their customers, increase awareness and boost their sales – after all, there are more than 3 billion social media users worldwide so it’s better to take advantage of that!

Social media has significantly changed the way people and organizations communicate and interact with each other (Ngai, Tao & Moon, 2015). Social media allows businesses to communicate with their customers in a more personal level which helps to build stronger relationships with them. Interacting with customers creates better engagement and value for the customers. Because of this, interacting with customers should be also included in the company’s social media marketing plan. But what can you do to effectively interact with customers on social media?

Be where your customers are
To be able to interact with your customers, you need to be where they are. This requires knowing your customer. When you know who your customers are, you’ll be able to figure out how to reach them and identify the right social media channels to use. So, there’s no point on being on every social media channel there are available but instead, focus on the ones that matter the most.

Be easy to find
When you have chosen the right channels to be at, you should make yourself as easy to find as possible. You can achieve this by using simple profile names, relevant profile pictures and hashtags that relate to your business. Also, you should add links to your social media accounts on your company’s website.

Post interesting content regularly
Don’t just make your content about sales and product promotions but instead try to provide value for your customers by posting interesting and entertaining content. Think about the following questions; What interests them and brings more value for them? What kind of content would attract attention?
Also be sure to post a variety of content – photos, videos, link shares, contests etc. Post user-generated content to make your customers feel more involved. Use storytelling as a way to increase engagement and attention. Ask questions and feedback. And remember to post regularly.

Be responsive
When thinking about better interaction on social media, one of the most important aspects is the communication and responding to your customer’s requests, suggestions and messages. Consumers expect to get fast responses when leaving their comment on social media. That’s why you should try to reply to them as quickly as possible. Reply to all questions, comments and feedback – both positive and negative ones. In this way, you can create better relationships and improve brand loyalty.

Show yourself – “behind the scenes”
People want to connect and interact with other people. Therefore, it would be a good idea to show the people working behind the company’s social media profiles – and not just the ones who are dealing with social media but other employees as well. For example, you can post pictures of the staff, introduce the team members and reply to comments with your name. This builds trust and reliability.

Reference:
Ngai, E., Tao, S. & Moon, K. 2015. Social media research: Theories, constructs, and conceptual frameworks. International Journal of Information Management. 35(1), 33-44.

How has technology influenced the rise of LGBT tourism?

 

 

What is LGBT tourism all about?

LGBT tourism is the process of tourism product and service development and marketing that caters the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people. This specific segment of tourism provides opportunities to select destinations, accommodations, transport, events and so on, which are LGBTQ+ friendly. These create options for LGBT tourists to travel while feeling welcomed and respected. As the modern world moves towards a more inclusive and open-minded attitude, this area of tourism keeps growing with potential and is one of the fastest-growing tourism segments. For more information see https://www.iglta.org.

Technology and its impact on LGBT tourism

Technology has had a significant effect on awareness and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people and issues relating to them. UNWTO: Global Report on LGBT Tourism (2012) shows that countries with progressive policies towards LGBT individuals gain more economic benefits from tourism. It also shows that there are improved social benefits resulted from LGBT friendly brand image. This image is formed by inclusiveness, tolerance and diversity.

Using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) enables tourism businesses to gain competitive advantages in promotion and marketing, in addition to reinforcing the operations and strategies in the industry. Development of ICTs has enabled tourists in the LGBT segment to actively participate in the creation and sharing of their tourist experiences. This is done by activating conversations in social media with friends, family and others. Development of ICTs has created an opportunity for people to connect despite geographical and physical boundaries. This has decreased the effect of isolation commonly associated with the LGBTQ+ community.

Social media has had an essential role in strengthening the formerly silenced and sidelined voices. Various online, brand and marketing campaigns such as “It gets better” and Spotify: Pride stories, have carried out hope for a better future for the representatives of LGBTQ+ community. However, while the positive awareness and acceptance get better, the negative backlash is fueled. Specially targeted hate campaigns towards the LGBTQ+ community showcase the popularity of homophobic and transphobic convictions people still hold.

LGBT tourist behaviour

As a tourist segment, LGBT tourists have fairly high spending power and more opportunities to travel off-season. Tourists in the LGBT segment utilise all available ways of communication, with a high focus on channels and online platforms developed for this community in particular. These channels and platforms include such as online forums, specified websites, apps and various social networks.

As tourists, LGBT people like any other tourists connect to and use technology, digital and online tools before, during and after travel. Before travel, they utilise the internet to search for LGBT friendly places to visit and while travelling engages with the rest of the community through posts and pictures in social media. After travel, they evaluate the services and use e-WOM to share their experiences. Some applications are specifically catering for this tourism segment, like Misterbnb. This is similar to Airbnb but the accommodation hosts are LGBTQ+ friendly. Another great mobile app is Wimbify. It combines Couchsurfing and Airbnb with a way of meeting other people in this community.

What are the ways to grow as a destination for LGBT tourism?

The question arises; how the tourism industry can gain an advantage of the positive impacts of technology to grow LGBT tourism and is there a way to minimize the negative impacts? Destinations should jump on the bandwagon of creating awareness on inclusiveness and tolerance towards this community. If not existing already, they should develop tourism products and services that are authentically LGBT friendly. Additionally, creating specified marketing campaigns plays a huge role in attracting these tourists and getting the destination on the map as an LGBT friendly tourism destination. This can be achieved through smaller actions as well. It is as simple as using a small rainbow on websites or advertisements. Website design should include inclusive visuals to welcome this segment of tourists. Destinations can add a section for options focusing on LGBT tourists, such as LGBT events calendar in the destination.

It all comes to education and understanding, ensuring that all staff members understand, respect and value all customers equally. Taking the time to research how other LGBT friendly destinations are performing and learning from them is worthwhile. Because there is various online platforms and channels specifically for the LGBT community, tourism product providers should utilise them to engage with tourists. Additionally, they can be used to co-create tourist experiences by involving LGBT customers in every step. Including aspects for LGBT tourists in the company strategy and values, regardless of which tourism segment the business caters creates the potential to emerge in this tourism market.

Overall, the key is to utilize the endless opportunities technology and digitalization has provided in more open-minded, inclusive and tolerant fashion.

 

References:
  1. British LGBT Awards (2019). Winners 2019 – British LGBT Awards. [online] Britishlgbtawards.com. Available at: https://www.britishlgbtawards.com/winners-2019/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2019].
  2. Last, M. (2019). How technology has changed the LGBT+ experience. [Blog] Available at: https://technation.io/news/how_technology_has_changed_lgbt/ [Accessed 25 Oct. 2019].
  3. Liberato, P., Liberato, D., Abreu, A., Alén, E. and Rocha, Á. (2018). LGBT Tourism: The Competitiveness of the Tourism Destinations Based on Digital Technology. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, pp.264-276.
  4. UNWTO (2012).Global Report on LGBT Tourism. AM Reports: Volume three. [online] Madrid: UNWTO and IGLTA. Available at: https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/pdf/10.18111/9789284414581 [Accessed 25 Oct. 2019].
  5. IGLTA (2019).The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association > Home. [online] Iglta.org. Available at: https://www.iglta.org [Accessed 25 Oct. 2019].

Digital Tourism Think Tank 2019 – Day 1

#DTTT 2019 What did I learn?

 

I had a great possibility to participate in Digital Tourism Think Tank Global 2019 on 4rd and 5th of December, which this year took place in Espoo. DTTT Global is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting conferences as it gathers a bunch of tourism DMO’s and other professionals to hear the latest innovations and good practices made around the globe. As it was my first time in participating anything this big of an event, it was a great chance for me to test what I have learned during my year in UEF Master’s Degree studies and put that knowledge in practice.

The overall impression from the two days was, well, impressive! Both days were all about technology and digitalization, but the theme was viewed from different angles; the first day was all about how technology can be used in sustainable destination design and the second-day topic was all about AI and digitalization. We saw great examples from around the globe on how to do things a bit different view. The repetition, which still rings in my ears, was: DMO’s role is shifting, DMO’s role is changing. I will try to cover a few examples of how this topic emerged during those two days. You can see the whole program and key take-aways here

DMO’s shifting role – What’s this about?

Traditionally DMO, a Destination marketing organization, focuses on MARKETING. Building a brand, getting the stakeholders together, promoting the place and focusing on tourism flows. However, in most presentations, you could hear how DMO role was merged as DMMO (destination marketing management organization) or DxO where x stands for anything that the future holds for us and tourism organizations must be ready to modify their actions on how the digitalization and travel behavior change. As written in the article at Atta.travel

“A DxO is better-equipped to manage disruptive business methodologies, to pivot when it comes to times of change and to be agile in the face of challenges. For example, A DMO in a time of water shortages cannot simply sit back and continue to market a destination as if oblivious to the challenge faced by locals and, ultimately, visitors. A DXO tackles the challenge head-on, collaborating with relevant bodies in the private and public sector to drive tangible change, having a positive impact on the very environment in which tourism takes place.”

As the growth of tourism flows has not only had a positive effect, UNWTO, (United Nation’s World Tourism Organization) has instructed DMO’s not only to focus on marketing and sales but also to the elements of government and coordination towards collaboration. Therefore, DMO – or should I say – DxO’s role is constantly shifting towards more holistic governance of the area and tourism flows.

So, how this is seen in practice?

Case: East Iceland

I was impressed by the work done in East Iceland (Austurland) and in the Faroe Islands on how they have managed to do collaborative work together with the locals, aiming at the commitment and destination loyalty and most importantly – that the locals are proud of their destination. East Iceland current destination strategy and branding building process started in 2012 when they got familiar with Swedish Destination Designer Daniel Byström. Two years later East Iceland DMO together with Byström started to blueprint the touchpoints and putting the stakeholders in the center of the whole design process.

They did a lot of workshops and interviews with local residents and formed a brand tagline “Think outside of the circle” referring e.g. to the circle (1-road) going around Iceland and from which you have to deviate from to get in most of these cities in East Iceland. (I accidentally visited Seydisfjördur and Egilsstadir in 2017, as we were circling the ring road and thought on do a day-trip to this city, and especially first mentioned it is worth stopping by!). They build a strong brand around local people, around emotions and storytelling. The brand was build and communicated openly with stakeholders and local people. The brand mission is as follows:

Our mission

“We are communicating experiences and emotions with a personal the approach that inspires and surprises the audience, while working with every visitor, resident, and company as a part of the Austurland story”

I think they have done a splendid job in brand building and designing collaboratively with visitors and locals. They’ve managed to build up the communal spirit and “proudness” towards their homeplace. One great example from creating value together was one walking road to church, which became a “landmark” of Saydisfjördur after a bit of a fine-tuning. The story behind it was that there wasn’t enough money to repair the old brick road. Therefore, instead of repairing the road, they painted the road with rainbow colors together with residents and local artists.

(Source: María Hjálmarsdóttir & Daniel Byström’s presentation in DTTT 4.12.)

I think this is a great example of DMO’s shifting role: instead of just marketing, DMO’s role is also bringing local people together, coordinate and encouraging and committing them to build up a destination in where they are proud to live alongside tourists.

Case: Faroe Island

Another marvelous example from that what DMO could do with literally 0-budget – do it as they do in Faroe Island – Do it viral. It was ridiculous to see how many viral hits the Faroe Islands got just being creative. Google Sheep View and Faroe Islands Translate have got. However, it is not all. Collaboratively with locals, they built up a strategy and a brand “Preservolution” – aiming not to have over-tourism, but sustainable tourism.

Unique and authentic experiences are in the focus, instead of mass-events. As for one another example, they did a one-day event where the stage was in private homes. Over 20 concerts in local’s home sound like an experience you can’t get from anywhere else!

However, after successful viral hits and events, it became clear that not everyone wanted Faroe Island as a playground for tourists. Tourists were not always welcome and landowners mind their land to getting ruined by a tourist. Added to that, complicated legislation was ambiguous in topics liability and who takes care of the land if tourists “ruin” it. It created opposition within landowners creating their way of doing things and creating e.g. cash per visit -systems

(Source: Levi Hanssen’s & Jóhan Pauli Helgason’s presentation on DTTT 4.12.)

For that, they built up an idea: Closed for Maintenance – open for voluntourism. The whole country is closed from “ordinary” tourists but open for volunteers who construct and help locals to preserve nature. Collaboratively with locals landowners, local people and tourists they build more sustainable destination and have less annoyance from residents towards tourism. All these actions created by a DMMO of Faroe Island created proudness towards the home country, and willingness to move back and do things for it. More importantly, it connected people to do things together with tourists and destination stakeholders. Another great example of DMO’s shifting role.

Wrap up #DTTT Day 1

This was just a scratch from Day 1 of DTTT. After the first day, my head was filled with ideas and I got the same inspirational feel what I got after their presentations and immediately I started to compose ideas: Could we do something similar in Finland and around Saimaa Region? Maybe we can start a project around these issues to develop a strong place brand around Lake Saimaa and ECoC –process, to build a stronger feel towards the place – for example. Do open workshops and interviews and build a strong destination brand and strategy around Lakeland and Saimaa region. Well, even these cases could not be modeled in these contexts; the key thing for me was realizing how wide scope DMO has to control. I do not envy you guys, who are doing this as your daily job!

For me, these two above-mentioned presentations were the ones, which stood up from the ground from the first day, as there were many touchpoints where I could relate. Not to say that other presentations were bad – the opposite! For example, Lyon have done a great job as a sister “smart city” to Helsinki on the year 2019 in connecting technology to culture by creating a “visitor database” which is shared by the entire destination stakeholders to maintain loyalty and understanding visitors better and communicating with them, referring visitors nearby activities during city visit. That’s how you use technology to create collaboration with destination stakeholders!

(Source: Camille Lenoble & Blandine Thenet presentation in DTTT 4.12.)

Finally: Finland as a sustainable and smart destination – how are we doing?

I cannot end the post without mention our dear beloved Finland. I was proud to see how good work we’ve done in Finland. Comparing to strategies, sustainable travel goals and such things that were seen during the few days. The place, Dipoli in Espoo was a great spot for this kind of event. Espoo in many ways surprised me with all the tech innovations that the “happiest city in the happiest country” had come up to. Automatic transportation pilot Gacha, Uber-style boat on-demand –service Bout, Airbnb-style rent your boat – SkipperiAutomated helicopters which deliver food just to mention a few examples to which I immediately could see business models in Saimaa region as well.

We are ahead in building a sustainable tourism destination, where e.g. MyHelsinki has focused on by encouraging stakeholders to act more sustainable. However, to be frank, in Finland collaborative work still needs some work to do – but we are slowly getting there and seeing the benefits of what we could achieve by creating and innovating our tourism flows sustainably and responsibly. This is also a recognized problem by Visit Finland and noticed in for example in a report where they dive deep to examine the operating models of Finnish tourism agencies (in Finnish).

When we identify and speak out from our problems, it is much easier to solve and develop them together.

Read more about the event on my Day two recap.

DTTT Global 2019, Day 2

The second day (Read about the first day here) of DTTT was all about technology and digitalization. What we can learn from data and how we can benefit data in place branding, leading and marketing.

Lead with data. Do marketing with it, learn from it, optimize – optimize – optimize – then do it again.

Head of Telia data technology Tapio Levä gave an inspirational speech on things you can do with data in Finland. Tourism sector statistics have been depended on interviews, surveys and such, where they calculate and estimate overall income to the area. Well, I have some good news: No more guessing! Data that you can get from mobile phones is mind-blowing: You can see e.g. from where the tourist is coming, how long he/she stays in the area, where they go during their stay etc. And most importantly: no more guessing about day visitors which does not stay at hotels: they are included in the statistics as well!  Tapio Levä told us an example from Ed Sheeran’s gig in Helsinki – where the estimation was 9 m. € in revenue – from 2 days!

(Source: Tapio Levä’s presentation 5.12.2019)

Data gives us access to information what we have not to be able to see before. In discussions throughout the day, it was clear that using data improves collaboration with the stakeholders and it gives tools to understand tourism flows better. By using data, the traveller’s customer journey is possible to form from the first idea to get abroad to marketing after the visit. It is essential to learn constantly from your data and optimize your marketing by how your data is changing. E.g. in Benidorm, they understood from data that tourists from the USA are interested in their destination and are talking about it and changes their marketing strategies based on that.

In Ireland, they’ve put data into some serious work. By utilizing data they’ve built up a detailed customer journey and touchpoints. In practice, they collect data on how one tourist acts during their stay. Based on that data AI builds customer profiles and recommendations with future tourists with a similar profile. A massive project with 48 m. cookies and 1,5 m. digital touchpoints. WOW!

Content is king – Tell a story worth hearing!

As I love great stories and marketing, I want to showcase a few examples heard during DTTT on great stories utilized around destination brands.

In Vienna, they celebrate Ludvig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday and Capital of Music –title year in 2020. One way on how they combined LVB’s to a digital era, was to combine Alexa with Beethoven.

They did a project, where the integrate a vivid story of Beethoven with Alexa’s voice commands. With a command “I want to hear something about Beethoven” Alexa tells a 2 min long story about how he has lived his life in Wien. After one story it gives 3 more alternatives to where to continue with the story. So, it’s kind of a book I’ve read in my childhood where after one chapter you can choose what alternative you take.  Except that you communicate with Alexa and hear the story from it.

(Source: Andrea Kostner DTTT 5.12 (A model from the storyline plots)

I think that this was a great example of how to build up great stories that combine place history and place attachment with place branding. And I instantly started to think about how could we in Finland e.g. take advantage of this in Jean Sibelius’s 160th birthday in the year 2025.. 🙂

The USA also used storytelling by creating unique stories around its destination brand based on the musical history of the country. They collaborated with “minor” actors such as MTV, BBC, and Spotify and let them create content independently around the topic. One result with Daily Telegraph was this microsite where the stories were combined with the evolution of music 

Collaboration with open API

It’s obvious that technological solutions revolutionize tourism research and gives huge opportunities to destinations in optimizing and personalizing tourism flows. More importantly, it emphasizes collaboration IN the destination. Today, your business does not exist if you are not on Facebook and you don’t have a webpage – but tomorrow you don’t exist if you don’t collaborate. You don’t survive if you do things just by yourself.

tomorrow you don’t exist if you don’t collaborate.

Collaboration is in the focal point also now in Saimaa – where they try to achieve a title for the European Capital of Culture for the year 2026. To do that they must collaborate with 4 provinces all together – tourism, culture and most importantly, the local people. Digital tools and technological solutions give great tools on achieving this by first collecting data from all the stakeholders in one place and secondly, sharing that knowledge with anyone whose interested. The first thing to create collaboration is that stakeholders are aware of each other. Not just inside one city or just inside one province – but in Saimaa and Finland and the Nordics etc. To gain a competitive advantage you must collaborate and think big.

Conclusions:

  1. Digitalization enables collaboration, it can make collaboration more visible and open via different kinds of platforms. Data provides information on what has been “hidden knowledge” before. This knowledge can be used on planning customer journeys etc. Besides just planning – you can see in real facts how you have succeeded in your plans.  Sharing is caring – no matter if you are a DxO or RMO, tourism stakeholder or just an average Joe. Sharing knowledge with each other creates stories, gives data, creates collaboration, gives a competitive advantage. By utilizing data and technology, that work is more easily done.

2) The second conclusion is that AI is here. We are in the middle of a big change in society where digitalization, automation, AI and robots are already here. There’s no use on denying and fearing that robots are taking on the world. Let’s face it: we are living in the middle of sci-fi society. When you think about what kind of things we already have, it is something I couldn’t dream of in my wildest dreams in my childhood. ( but I’m still waiting for the flying cars!) Instead of living in fear, you have to look forward and figure out ways on how to utilize this efficiently. I think in this sense I saw quite a few good examples on how to utilize data efficiently what it comes to the tourism sector.

That’s my view from #DTTT Global 2019, hope you enjoyed it!

Research: What Do Fishermen Value as a Tourist Experience?

 

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

A new Tourism Marketing and Management research suggests that fishing tourists’ lived experience is always built around the same core elements. The elements in the order of importance are the following: emotional value, social value, and epistemic value. This means that Finnish fishing tourists value such elements as nature, peace-and-silence (i.e. emotional value). Also, sharing the own fishing success, fishing know-how and growing the social esteem (i.e. social value) is important. As well as, new experiences and self-development (i.e. epistemic value).

Based on their seriousness towards fishing tourism, three groups are identified: Hobbyists, Active tourist anglers, and Occasional tourist anglers. Even though the relative importance of value components was the same in every seriousness group, more serious fishermen had higher values.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

Practically this means that serious fishermen’s, (i.e. hobbyists) total experience (incl. fishing activity, travelling, accommodation, etc.) is more strongly built around the fishing activity. Thus, they are more likely focusing on self-development, learning of new skills, visiting new fishing spots, and actively sharing this knowledge with like-minded people. Whereas, the fishing activity itself does not seem to have the same meaning for less serious fishermen (i.e. active tourist anglers and occasional tourist anglers).

 

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

Six different types of recreational fishermen

The research also identified six different types of recreational fishermen based on the benefits they seek.

Fishing tourists’ profiles

‘Service-oriented novelty seekers’ is the most potential group from the guide services perspective. That’s because their experience is often carried out by using a different kind of guide-services. Segment’s fishing tourist experience is built around networking, novelty, and development.

© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

Practically, their fishing tourist experience is more likely a social event that takes place in a peaceful environment and focuses on networking with like-minded people. These fishing tourists are also willing to try new fishing spots, seek new experiences, and use professional fishing guide’s to develop their own fishing-related skills. Thus, it can be proposed that usage of different services enable them to realize their own dreams which would otherwise be difficult or even impossible to implement.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

How to use the results in tourism business development?

Company or organisation may only gain a competitive advantage with benefit segmentation if they understand the preferences of different market segments.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

The segmentation results should be combined with other segmentation variables to generate even more accurate customer profiles. Hence, future development should more likely focus on the main characteristics of seriousness clusters, preferences of individual segments, and combine these together with the company/organization own special characteristics. The idea is that this kind of profile combines the company/organization service offering, main characteristics of different seriousness clusters as well as the preferences of fishing tourist segments. Practically, customer profiles should be something like “Service-minded novelty seeker who likes to fish monster pikes” or “Development-oriented salmon rower” or “Group-focused trout fisherman who focus on an ice fishing”.

© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

About the research

The research approach was quantitative, and the data was collected from the Finnish recreational fishermen by questionnaire. In total, 1 166 respondents participated in the survey. However, the results only focus on the respondents (937) who had participated in a fishing tourism trip.

fishing tourist experience
© Anssi Ylipulli / KeloVentures

The empirical study is based on two basic theories, namely serious leisure and consumption value. According to the theory of serious leisure, the fishing tourists have been categorized into three clusters, based on their level of seriousness in fishing. The components of experience value are based on the theory of consumption value, completed with togetherness value which was found in earlier hunting tourism research. In addition, these value dimensions are utilized as criteria for benefit segmentation, when searching for different fishing tourist segments. The data was analysed by using cluster analysis, principal component analysis, and comparative analysis methods.

More information

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

How to do video marketing in tourism businesses?

Did you know that most people prefer video over reading? Also, social media platforms have started to favour video content, making video marketing in tourism an important part of any modern marketing mix. Videos have been growing fast as popular media content, especially on social media. Videos have great traffic potential and convert customers if you do it right. You can increase your business’ visibility and get more customers with video marketing.

If you think it is too hard to make videos, here are some suggestions: someone else could do it for you, or you could learn to do it yourself. It doesn’t have to be an expensive project, but high-quality videos can be more viable. It is a bit scary to step in front of the camera, but tourism is a human-to-human business and it is definitely worth it.

Photo by Robin Noguier on Unsplash

When you are thinking about doing video marketing in tourism, consider at least the following aspects:

  1. Think a clear purpose for the video

The clearer the purpose is the clearer it is to make and watch. There can be many kinds of purposes like you can make the video to introduce your brand, tell your values and build the trust and awareness or you can do a video just for entertainment. Remember to take into consideration in which stage the reached customers would be: are they still looking for inspiration (pre-purchase stage) or are they already comparing and deciding which service they are willing to buy, for example.

  1. Do different types of videos

Try to do a different kind of videos for different purposes. You could make a virtual tour and take the viewers with you, for example in your facilities or activities. When you give a glance to your customers beforehand, they can be convinced of your services and want to experience it by themselves. Videos increase trust as they convey a lot of information.

  1. Publish it in the right place and at the right time

Publish the video on the platforms and channels where your customers are. YouTube and Facebook at least are the most common video platforms right now. Also, think about the timing. Publish the video when there are most of the people online to gain the best results. And not just any people, but your target audience.

  1. Make it useful for all

You could make a video where you answer the frequently asked questions (FAQ) or educate your future customers by making a behave in your destination or how-to check-in on the self-service desk or how to paddle safely on stand up paddle (SUP) board.

  1. Don’t be boring

Try new things like 360 °, virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) videos, use drones or other technology. And more importantly, make your viewers laugh or at least to smile. Everyone needs a little fun to their days.

  1. Use influencers

Especially if you are not familiar with the technology, you can ask a videoblogger, for example, to introduce your business in an interesting way. Choose the influencer that has the audience who could also be interested in your business. Good influencer may have a great power to increase your markets. Same with other networks!

  1. Create and tell stories

Stories always work for people. Make a story that people can identify with, the video that makes the viewer emotional or inspired. Answer to your customers needs and desires and make the video attractive and your services irresistible, so your viewers would think “I must go there, and I must experience that!”. But still, be real, you have to meet their expectations. It is easy to talk about facts, but tourists make choices based on their feelings.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

What else? See good examples below:

Vinkare is Finnish video blogger and influencer with almost 150 000 subscribers on YouTube. He always uses the newest technology and can do nice tricks with it. This is a useful and fun marketing video of Sastamala city.

For foreign readers, here is another example. This is inspirational video content in the first place. It introduces national parks in the USA.

The last video is a good example where the tourism business answers the customers’ questions, wonders and gives tips for families in Disney Park.

Thanks for reading. Hopefully, you got some ideas for your own content marketing and video marketing in tourism.

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

Tourism Marketing and Management to start studying extraterrestrial tourists

Today is an excellent day to launch our new mission: we will focus now on how to make our world more hospitable for extraterrestrial tourists. There have been concrete sightings of UFOs for decades, clearly suggesting that we are constantly being visited by extraterrestrial aliens.

In 2017 we at Tourism Marketing and Management programme started educating postgraduate students at University of Eastern Finland with the mission of making tourism better. However, as a result of recent strategy meetings, we have identified an even more prominent research stream.

Research on extraterrestrial tourists

When we started looking into the topic it came as a bit of a surprise to us how little academic research could be found even remotely connected to intergalactic tourism. Sure, there are already academics studying space tourism, but this research is mostly focused on humans as tourists, like almost all other tourism topics before it. Based on the number of sightings Earth must be a popular tourist destination for aliens, but the academic literature on the topic is almost non-existent. This is what we now aim to change.

UFOs
Extraterrestrial tourists arriving

Various new research topics

There are several different topics that our research group and our students will start examining. First of all, we are interested in their travel motivations: why do the aliens undertake such long interstellar voyages to visit Earth? We are also interested in what makes them choose Earth among all the planets in the universe? What makes Earth so special? Understanding these topics helps us to better design our destination to meet traveller needs. Even though finding respondents for our survey might prove challenging we are close to signing a memorandum of understanding with NASA and hopefully will be able to interview our guests at Area 51. A new form of collaboration is needed to cater for the needs of these customers, as well as to rethink the traditional definitions of tourist destinations.

We will also study the sustainability of interstellar tourism by calculating the dark matter emissions of travelling to Earth from many of our major source markets. A global study will be conducted to calculate the economic impacts of extraterrestrial visits as well as what kind of effect the alien tourism has on our culture. The results should provide us with important knowledge to guide our marketing decisions to a more sustainable direction.

The search continues, now for tourism research purposes.

Unique postgraduate programme

This novel research stream will differentiate our programme and take it to the next level. This is evident with the success of our latest recruitment process. Professor April S.F. Ools (Ph.D.) will start developing cross-cultural marketing and management at our programme. We will be the only academic postgraduate programme to really see the big, intergalactic picture of tourism.

Understanding this seldom studied tourist group will contribute to our understanding of the world and offer novel insights into tourism as a research topic as well as an industry. The students graduating from our programme will be innovative out-of-box thinkers with unique intercultural communication capabilities and understanding.

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.