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.  

The most important concept in destination marketing?

What is a concept or a term that every destination marketer should know and understand about destination marketing? I think I found it. It is very catchy. A bit marketing-oriented even. Quickly thought, something far-fetched? But coherent and makes a lot of sense when thought more deeply.

It gathers up something very wide in one tight, distinct term. It makes me go “aha” and to nod. Have I now learned the most important concept during my master studies in tourism?

Destination DNA

Understanding Destination DNA is the key to plan and implement destination marketing. The identity of a place, the code written there by nature, the basic framework of a certain destination. It is something not to invent. It is something that already exists and has existed for a long time. It cannot be faked to be something it is not or changed to something else.

Destination Marketing DNA

Destinations, embrace your identity!

Place DNA is the destination’s competitive identity, and that’s why it is important to dig out. It must be deeply understood and commonly agreed among the entrepreneurs and residents in the area – the destination’s ‘frontline ambassadors’: those with whom visitors come into contact.

It is the atmosphere, the setting, and surrounding, the natural staging of the destination. It makes the genuine holiday experience possible to happen, to exist.

Or can the DNA of a destination change?

Actually, will it – eventually – anyway?

No. It won’t. Destination DNA is something that stays as it is. Presence, personality, and characteristics change. Or rather, develop. It is important to distinguish these two.

As important as it is for a destination to be well aware of its DNA, it is important to understand that once it’s known, it cannot be ignored, left unattended or unutilized.

What matters the most in destination marketing?

People build the destination marketing

Destination DNA is the basis of “what” and the core for “how”. Also, it gives the visitor a purpose, “why”. What makes a certain destination special? How are the available attributes possible to experience during the visit? Why should someone visit in the first place?  Therefore, an essential concept in tourism marketing and management.

As I stated in the beginning, learning this term got me captivated by its importance. Destination DNA – I pondered, maybe even the most important realization considering my tourism studies? Well, it is a term. A written, nicely formulated concept. Putting into practice, another thing. And who does it?

The people.

People behind the product, the service,

the experience.

Heart and soul to destination marketingThe final touch, in connection with the customer, comes from the business owners and the employees. They, the people, are the ones who transform the destination into a tourism product. Into experiences which breathe the place atmosphere.

And they add their own personal DNA into it,

 to make it memorable for the people.

For the customer.

 

 

 

Get a master’s degree in tourism business

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.

Complexity of academic research

To understand the world

I’ve started my university (academic research) studies this autumn. I´m 32 years old, and I like my age. At least for me, the somewhat life experience gives a better feeling in this rather complex overall feeling that I am having at the moment. I will get back to this later.

I’ve realized the complexity of dealing with academic research and creating my personal content into it, in this world of “no- black and white, “no- single wrong or right”- dilemmas of academic studies in general. This is not totally new founding for me – but now I am really in this in practice, because of my master degree studies in Tourism marketing and management programme.

Accepting, and using common sense

Recently I asked from my professor during one lectures discussion – How I can know whether it is fine or correct to use some “basic” theory as a background of some subject from what I’m trying to write about, or not?  She answered (looking at me first with the facial expression of “exactly- good question, but…” and then she gave me and the group the answer of her that there is no clear answer for this, you need to use your common sense in these cases for making your decisions and choices.

I´m little surprised that it feels so disturbing for me, (or whoever involved in the academic research), that it is, at least usually, very hard to find the one and only truth or theory for some subject or theme that we are studying. I happen to be quite flexible and highly spontaneous personality myself.  So it makes it even weirder. I come back to my age-thing. Because of it, and maybe other reasons too, I’m still very happy not to be stressing this issue too much. I’m fine with it, I understand that I’m not alone with it, – I’m just reflecting it.

Dreaming about getting that absolute truth out…

Though I’m very curious to know, whether I’m actually capable at some point during my studies to get use of the theory or truth which I can use as an “absolute” for some subjects research findings or as a suggestion of my own for some topic.

My teacher said that “the only constant thing in this world is change”, as a starting point for further discussion. I agree mostly with this statement, however, I cannot say it is an absolute truth to everything. It is somehow easy, comfortable and kind of highly secured for me to realize and feel, that example the most important theories for researchers to use, apply and form formulate something new (!) already exists.

Hong Kong, 2011 (Jenni Kaitila)

Or not

This gives me huge importance when dealing with the almost absolute complexity and no- single truth experiences while I’m studying the life of academic research. I remember also, that this same teacher stated the truth about also agreeing that in fact, the main theories and typologies in general already have been founded before. And the timeless value of sources which exists in those. He said this during the information technology- courses discussion session, and I absolutely liked the moment and the fascinating, yet somehow secured feeling of having the experience of learning same time about the new world and information technology – and somewhat it’s relying on still in the theories presented and founded already from decades ago.

Hong Kong (Macao), 2011 (Jenni Kaitila)

Tourism Marketing and Management programme takes novel approach to business studies

A business degree that specialises in tourism business is now available for the first time in Finland. Running at the University of Eastern Finland Business School, the international Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management has got off to a good start, as 20 new students started at the Joensuu Campus this September.

Their studies began with an orientation week focusing on the programme’s four main themes: technology, well-being, nature and sustainability. Visits to the Puukarin Pysäkki guest house and the Murtovaara Forest Farm Museum, both located in a small town in eastern Finland, were particularly enlightening experiences. These destinations summarise well the potential and challenges of tourism in places like the eastern part of Finland.

The programme brings together academic studies and real-life links with working life in many different ways.

“It has been nice to notice how interested companies have been in our programme and students right from the start. Already in early September, our students did a Sales Race event in collaboration with the North Karelia Cooperative,” Programme Director Juho Pesonen says.

Co-operation with tourism businesses
Sales Race teaching practical selling skills

The Master’s degree programme has a unique advisory board consisting of representatives of business and industry, and the task of this advisory board is to make sure that the content of the programme and its courses are in line with working life requirements. Students also learn practical marketing skills by participating in the programme’s marketing.

Collaboration is the key to successful tourism marketing

The significance of collaboration is highlighted in the programme in many ways.

“We focus on collaboration rather than competition, and collaborative learning and problem-solving is encouraged in many different ways. We do plenty of group work on our courses and make use of collaborative learning methods that are independent of time and place,” Pesonen says.

The programme’s novel approach also applies to teaching, as the number of traditional lectures has reduced thanks to the introduction of flipped classroom. Students are largely responsible for their own learning process, and this process is supported by different kinds of assignments given during contact sessions as well as by in-depth discussion of the most difficult content.

The programme’s smooth start has also been aided by Professor James Murphy from Australia, who was recently appointed as a docent of the University of Eastern Finland. He brings an international angle to the first course, and visiting scholars and teachers from all over the world will be contributing to the programme.

The goal of the programme is to train experts who are valued by employers and the scientific community alike. The programme places emphasis not only on content learning, but also on important working life skills such as critical thinking, taking initiative, can-do attitude, independent and lifelong learning, and team work.

“A good example of this is a campaign our students designed and implemented at the university on World Tourism Day on 27 September to raise awareness of sustainable tourism.”

 

Tourism Master's Degree in Business
Study Tourism Marketing and Management at UEF.

Admissions to the international Master’s degree programmes of the University of Eastern Finland will be open between 1 November 2017 and 31 January 2018.

 

For further information, please contact:

Programme Director Juho Pesonen, tel. +358 40 184 2698, juho.pesonen(at)uef.fi

 

For more information on the Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management, please see http://www.uef.fi/web/tmm.

Study tourism business at UEF: Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management

There are dozens of reasons why you should study Tourism Marketing and Management at University of Eastern Finland. Here are 16 top reasons to study with us:

  1. High quality studies

We aim to keep the quality of our studies high. Our studies are not the easiest; there are no free credits but a lot to learn. You will have to work hard, but when you work, you can be sure that the things you learn really matter after your graduation. We are using innovative teaching methods that inspire and motivate you to give 100 % to the programme and to develop your skills and career.

  1. Focus on students

We value every student who applies for our programme. This degree programme would not exist without you students. We constantly listen to what you have to say, have a large number of feedback channels and methods and act accordingly to the feedback we receive. We take good care of our students, keep track of how their studies are progressing and help them to learn what is required and get their degree.

Travel and tourism studies
Studying tourism
  1. Co-operation with destinations and tourism companies

We are networked with various destinations and tourism businesses in Finland. Our network makes it possible for us to knit our courses to real-life business goals. All our courses programme courses have business partners and actual business case studies that we use to test what you have learned and deepen your knowledge on what is required after you have received your degree. Our programme is supervised by an industry advisory board that ensures that the skills and knowledge in our programme is up to date and relevant.

See our advisory board and partners.

  1. Academic research

Our programme has a strong research focus. Right from the start, you will start to familiarize yourself with academic research and prepare for writing a master’s thesis. Thinking that is required to do academic research is similar to the line of thinking that businesses value. We need to be critical of information we receive, understand the meaning of it for business practices and try to find new approaches to marketing and management.

See our research here.

  1. Unique focus topics

Wellbeing, nature tourism, sustainable tourism and technologies are all globally trending topics and form a strong and unique focus for our programme. This profiling should also be reflected on our students who are interested in the outdoors, wellbeing of people and planet and enthusiastic about new technologies. We do not train hotel managers or hospitality professionals but focus on developing tourism business in destination management organizations, tourism businesses and in public sector.

  1. High ranking university, internationally recognized

UEF is among top 50 of World’s Top Young Universities and within the top 500 of all world’s universities. We are internationally recognized research university that aims to solve global problems. See our rankings at http://www.uef.fi/en/web/guest/uef/international-rankings and university strategy at http://www.uef.fi/en/web/guest/uef/strategy

  1. Finland and Finnish education system

Finnish education system is world-renowned and our national higher education system is the 6th best in the world (http://www.universitas21.com/article/projects/details/152/u21-ranking-of-national-higher-education-systems-2017). Finland is one of the best countries in the world to live in (rank 21 http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2016_human_development_report.pdf) and safest country on the planet. Finland is also rapidly increasing in popularity among international tourists. With its four seasons, living in Finland can be an exotic experience. For more information about Finnish education system visit http://minedu.fi/en/education-system

  1. Student satisfaction

Finland and UEF are not world leaders when it comes to the number of international students we receive. However, the students who do come to Finland, tend to be extremely satisfied with their choice: https://www.studyportals.com/intelligence/international-student-satisfaction/international-student-satisfaction-awards-2016/.

  1. Flipped learning

One of the innovative teaching methods we use is Flipped learning. We do not believe that centuries old method of lecturing in front of the class when students listen is the most efficient way of teaching things. Most of our courses are utilizing flipped learning methodology where the traditional roles of lectures and homework are reversed. This means that learning is flexible and happens mostly online with material prepared by the teacher. We focus on learning, not just that you have to get credits and pass through courses. We do not have many exams but learning is measured with various tasks and team works. You will not submit essays and assignments only for the lecturer to read but will be producing valuable social media content right from the beginning to benefit the whole industry as well as the programme.

Learn more about flipped learning.

  1. Small, tight knit and relaxed group

We have a common goal, to make our programme better known. The TMM staff and students are more like colleagues than students and professors. There are only four people working in the programme so you will get to know them well before you get your degree. We encourage our students to co-create learning and do things together. We only accept around 15 new students each year; finishing our programme is a team effort. Teams and networks are increasingly important in modern work life and we provide our students tools and skills to be a productive team member.

  1. City of Joensuu

Our programme is based in a small city in Eastern Finland called Joensuu. We think that Joensuu is a perfectly sized city; it has everything you need but is surrounded by nature from all sides. It has good train and air connections to Helsinki from where you can continue anywhere in the world.

Visit Joensuu and Karelia Expert websites for more information.

  1. Career for the future

Work life is changing. Technological development in artificial intelligence and robotics are affecting how we work in the future. Many of the jobs people will work in in 2030 do not exist yet. Still at least for some time creativity and innovativeness will be the strengths of the human mind. We will train your mind to be useful for various development tasks in the tourism industry and provide insights how you can keep your skills relevant in the decades to come.

  1. Learning environment

UEF aims to provide its students the best academic learning environment in Finland. We have identified the development of our learning environments as one of our most important goals. The best academic learning environment in Finland is built around innovative teaching methods, research-based education, diverse use of facilities, and transparency.

Under the lead of our motivated teachers, we are creating a new culture of teaching. The teaching we offer is of a high standard and based on the latest research findings, enabling us to train professionals for the needs of the rapidly changing working life. We support this process by renewing our campus facilities with flexibility, inspiration and technology in mind.

At UEF, we want to create a culture of open science and technology that enables seamless collaboration between our students’ own devices and the devices and technology provided by the university.

From day one, we want to make our students feel welcome as new members of the scientific community. We invest in supporting flexible study paths, and to this end, we have created a new digital environment, Kamu, for our students.  Our work to develop our learning environments is rooted in student-centeredness. Together, we are building a university of tomorrow.

https://www.uef.fi/en/learning-environments

  1. Doctoral studies

For successful students we provide opportunities to continue their education with doctoral studies. Our doctoral students have opportunities to work in the department in various research and development projects and have wide selections of courses available for their studies. Doctoral studies are free for those accepted for the programme and we even have a few paid positions available.

  1. Costs and scholarship

Our programme is free for European and Finnish students. For students coming from outside EU/ETA region the annual study fee is 8000 €. We provide the best international applicant’s 80 % to 100 % scholarships for our programme. Studying in Joensuu is also cheaper than in metropolitan cities as living costs are lower.

  1. We make tourism better

We are not only educating tourism professionals of the future but we aim to have a wider impact on tourism. Our goal is to make tourism better through our actions and through our students who will work in the industry. Better for local people, better for tourists better for planet and better for tourism research and tourism industry.

Click here to see how to apply for the programme.

Why study hospitality, travel, and tourism?

The main reason to study hospitality, travel and tourism is to work in the field. Hotels, airlines, destination, attractions, transportation, cruises, events, activity providers, shopping centers, tourist services, travel agents, tour operators and many others together form together a huge industry. It is a  practice-oriented field and an interesting one. It is in constant growth and needs more and more skilled workers and innovators every year. There are so many good reasons why you should study hospitality, travel, and tourism:

Tourism is a service industry

Everywhere in the Western world service industries are booming. One of these industries is travel and tourism. By studying tourism you position yourself right in the very center of service. You will learn skills that are transferable to many other industries. Being a service and human-to-human industry, it is also one of those that will need hard-working and creative people in the future.

Tourism is an experience economy

Most jobs in the tourism industry are about creating experiences for the traveler. This is what makes this industry especially interesting. When you are studying tourism you will learn how to create these memorable experiences. When you are working in the industry, you will need to be able to adapt and improvise what you have learned as

Every day is different

No matter where you study or what position you get in the tourism industry, it is guaranteed that almost every day is different. You will meet new people that come all around the world and they will make sure that no day is like another. Every tourist has different expectations, motivations, moods, experiences and opinions that will make your job interesting and also most likely a little bit challenging.

Dubai is witnessing the growth of tourism
Tourism is growing

Tourism is witnessing huge global growth every year and it is forecast to grow far into the future. It is definitely an industry of the future. Growth means that more and more skilled workers are needed all over the world. By studying tourism you give yourself the skills and knowledge to be a part of this growth.

Tourism is global

First and foremost tourism is a global industry. From Antarctica to space there are tourists everywhere. By studying tourism only the sky is the limit (well, actually, not even that!) to where you can work and what you can do.

Tourism is local

Despite being a global industry, it is also very local. Most of the tourism businesses are small- and medium-sized companies that provide income and jobs for local people. When you are working for the tourism industry there are many possibilities for you to contribute to your local community.

You get to travel

There are many positions in the field that enables you to travel a lot. You have to familiarize yourself with tourism destinations, attractions, and services, maybe guide tourists in exotic places or do research in foreign countries. Travel broadens your perspective on everything and tourism industry has plenty of possibilities to travel.

Tourism is fun

Tourism might not be the best option if you want to earn a lot of money. But if you value other things such as having fun, meeting new people,  enjoying life and doing what you like, tourism and hospitality offers plenty of options. People studying and working in the field are typically relaxed, outgoing and international.

Where to study travel, tourism, and hospitality?

There are plenty of fantastic opportunities to study tourism all around the world. One of these opportunities is the International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management at University of Eastern Finland. This program provides you the knowledge and skills required to work in various development positions in the tourism industry and take the field forward with your actions. It is ranked No2 in Finland in Shanghai University Ranking. You can also use the Shanghai ranking to find out other universities all around the world!