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 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!

Content marketing and how to harness it for your business

Content marketing is a necessity in today’s digital marketing field. It is also an effective tool, especially for small entrepreneurs, to reach new customers, build trust and increase site traffic. The key to success is planning content marketing that can answer three questions:

  • What are your customers’ need and desires?
  • Can you provide your customers with something value?
  • Can you keep them wanting more?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when building your own strategy:

Who are your customers?

The customer is the key factor in raising profitability. As a result, it should be considered as the centre of all activities and decisions of your company. When creating content, segmenting your customers is the first step as it helps to identify your target customers, understand their behaviors, habits, and preferences. Consequently, it provides useful information to create interesting and engaging contents and to refine your marketing approach.

Tips to find out the searching trends of customers after segmenting your customers:

  • Use analytics features on social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Google Analytics) to get an overview picture of customer behavior within the online environment.
  • Connect face to face to get some truly unique insights from customers.

Which content marketing formats have the most impact on your customers?

Choosing popular content formats is the second step to connect with customers. Online content format is not just text. It can be under different forms: images, videos, infographics, e-books, case studies, webinars, press releases, competitions, quiz, reviews or case studies… The format of the content should be compatible with the main goals of the content, which are to entertain, to inspire, to educate and to convince. For instance, if the purpose of the content is entertaining, the suitable formats could be quizzes or contests while if educating is your purpose, e-books, instructions will be the reasonable selection. Picking the proper content format helps the potential customers engage, share, learn, become loyal customers or even entice new customers.

How to write an attractive content for online customers?

Reading habit is different between online and offline content. The style, length or structure of the content in different channels has an enormous impact on attracting customers. For instance, reading a long article in a newspaper is much more breathable and enjoyable than in online format.

Tips to achieve successful content writing:

  • Stay inspire. Pick some engaging topics. You can refer to your competitors or using tools to query the keyword list as this way is good for creating content based on the demand of customers.
  • Start with a direct topic or opening sentence to entice customers’ attraction and satisfy what they are looking for.
  • Write the content under the customer’s position and focus on content purposes. Avoid adding too much sales messages in the content.
  • Be consistent in your writing style to make customers immediately link to your brand, to build a relationship with your customers and to differentiate from your competitors.

How to promote your content online?

Spending time to promote your content online is as important as to create content because it helps to reach a larger audience.

Before creating a content promotion plan, choosing suitable channels to manage is important. There are three types of channels which should be considering: Owned, Earned and Paid channels. Promoting content on owned channels such as websites, blogs or social media sites is a typical starting point as it is a flexible and low-cost option. Earned channels help boost the customer reach of content and also add credibility. Whereas paid channels allow you to target your goals to specific customers.

Once choosing which channels to promote your content, creating a content calendar is the next step. A content calendar will organize your content marketing activity and make your content process consistent and efficient.

Tips to reach the full potential of a content calendar:

  • Combine a variety of marketing channels to work together for marketing strategies.
  • Make the plan achievable by using realistic time frames or highlighting special days or holidays to offer seasonal content
  • Use online tools to save your time. It will help automate the content creation, distribute process and easy to keep track of the plan
  • Stick to customers at each stage of calendar

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.

The Most Common Problem in Destination Marketing in the World

World’s Most Common Problem in Destination Marketing

What is the difference between successful and non-successful destinations from the destination marketing perspective? In this post, I want to understand the details behind successful destination marketing. What is the one key thing to gain competitive advantage in destination marketing?

When we start to think about the exact reasons for the success, I suppose that most of the people will answer that: “It is all about the strategy”, or “The budget walks hand-in-hand with the success”. Third largely heard opinion is: “There are right people behind it”.

These are all right answers while looking at them from the micro perspective. Anyway, by turning the whole point of view into a larger scale, we can find one rallying point for all of them. That is the collaboration. Collaboration ties all of them together and separates the destinations into a successful and non-successful.

d’Angella & Go (2007) and Fyall, Garrod & Wang (2012) have created an excellent researches about the connection between collaboration and marketing. Main results were that, in tourism destinations collectivism is needed for individual success. In such a win–win situation cooperation brings higher competitiveness for the actors involved. The collaboration allows destinations to expand their reach and tap into wider market opportunities. Collaboration is also natural response to the marketing and management challenges of destinations.

We can pointedly say that to succeed with marketing objectives, it is necessity to re-orientate with organisational level toward the achievement of ‘‘collaborative advantage’’ rather than ‘‘competitive advantage’’. The future norm for successful destination marketing and management will be more collaboration and less isolationism. Good example about the destination marketing with “collaborative advantage” is Iceland.

How DMO can strengthen up the level of collaboration?

There are usually many different aspects affecting for the willingness to do collaboration. In many cases, behind the non-collaborative destination you will find following similarities: trust, fear of change and preposterous expectations toward DMO. These all fits in under the following statement: lack of knowledge. There are tons of small micro companies (SME’s) in tourism industry, which does not have the knowledge about nowadays needs. Many of them do not even know the basics about the current issues in marketing scene.

We have almost reached the 2020’s and the marketing is focusing more and more on different digital channels. To be successful, one must be able to develop itself to answer for nowadays needs. Unfortunately, the fact is that SME’s knowledge toward digital marketing is still limited. These small entrepreneurs are still playing by the rules settled in the 90’s. Posters, brochures, newspapers and letters via postal mail. There are too many whose only digital channel is Facebook without any idea how to use it effectively.

To be successful in destination marketing your every component needs to be at a certain level. In situation where the SME’s do not even know how to be visible in online you don’t meet with this goal. As a DMO, encourage the entrepreneurs to improve their skills in digital marketing. That is the modernity, and it is the necessity. SME’s don’t need to be professionals but if they even know how to be visible in online, how to create content, how to use SEO and how to use social media effectively, you are already one step ahead.

How to learn digital marketing together as a destination?

Content creating is now easier than ever. You do not need to be an engineer to create content anymore. Everyone has a possibility for that in the internet. Social media (SM) and content management system’s (CMS) such as WordPress have unlimited options to share content effectively and more importantly, easily.

Educating people inside the destination is not even time-consuming process for DMO anymore. Most of the programs are available in digital format.  Even better, there are great variety of free courses where to participate in. Encourage the SME’s to attend for these free courses and learn how to use these different online tools. Check out these top free online courses to upgrade your destinations digital marketing skills in to next level:

1. Google Digital Garage: https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage/

One of the most versatile courses is offered by Google. These completely free online courses will guide the participator through everything from search engines, to social media and beyond. There is totally 26 different topics and 106 lessons. You will learn to use SEO, create content, to be visible in online, launch different kind of marketing campaigns and use analytic tools more effectively. This is probably the best place to start learning the basics of digital marketing and E-Business.

2. Alison Diploma in E-Business: https://alison.com/course/Diploma-in-E-Business

Alison is a massive online learning community of more than six million registered users. They offer both, free and paid courses. Now you can take the free digital marketing course, Diploma in E-Business. Taking part for the course you develop your skills in search optimization, Google Analytics and AdWords, campaign tracking and integration, revenue metrics analysis, digital measurement, and much more. Extremely useful and recommend course to upgrade your current knowledge.

3. HubSpot Academy: https://www.udemy.com/inbound-marketing-course/

HubSpot Academy offers an incredibly comprehensive digital marketing courses. They are also offering free and paid courses. Recommend free course is: Inbound Marketing Course. This course has currently more than 35K participators. This inbound marketing course offers over 4.5 hours of instruction with totally 38 lectures, and all of them are completely free. You will learn how SEO, blogging, landing pages, lead nurturing, conversion analysis and reporting come together to form a modern inbound marketing strategy.

Benefits of collaboration

At the beginning, it is enough if you can encourage even couple of companies to take a part for these courses. As a DMO, think about the benefits of educating the people inside your destination.

1. You will get available working hours and other resources for your destination marketing. That does not involve even money transfers. The more people we have creating content about the destination, the easier all of this provides advantage through synergy. Little by little the visibility and awareness of whole destination will start to increase.

2. Togetherness creates strength. It is always better to have more people doing right things at the same time. Professionals are important, but one or two gurus cannot do everything by themselves.

3. You can start to build a common marketing strategy in more detailed level. Exploit the different digital channels as together and create a controlled content network between the individuals inside the destinations.

Once you have reached that, you are ready to take a step for the next level: collaboration between destinations and organisations.

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.