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.

Nature tourism is trending as we start to understand how healthy being in nature is

Nature tourism in Finland is all about “the space to breathe, a time to dream, hiking in summer, cross-country skiing in winter, gathering berries and mushrooms or simply a gentle walk in the woods.” (http://www.visitfinland.com/finrelax/). Nature is also one of the central themes in Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management (MDPTMM, www.uef.fi/tmm). Why is nature so important for tourism that we have raised it so high in the programme?

Nature tourism brings us closer to nature
Nature has great health benefits for people

There is an increasing amount of evidence that being in the nature has huge benefits for our health. The latest is a 300-page review report from European Commission (link). The report examines more than 200 academic studies exploring the topic from various perspectives.

As more and more of us are living in the cities the interest to travel back to the nature increases. We are bored with congestion, air pollution, noise and eternal hurry. We want to have a place for relaxation, a place to get away from it all. Nature provides balance and health for our busy life and creates fantastic possibilities for example for digital detox.

FinRelax

Nature does as good and people are starting to realize that. Destinations that have good infrastructure for nature tourism will come up strong. But nature tourism needs to be developed in a sustainable way. In Finland for example Visit Finland is focusing on FinRelax program to increase the level of nature tourism products across the country and developing them to a direction that focuses on creating wellbeing for tourists (http://www.visitfinland.com/finrelax/). Finland aims to be the best place to relax in the nature, a noteworthy goal. All the elements are in place and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. We have a front seat for this as the MDPTMM will work closely with Visit Finland and especially with FinRelax program to understand destination marketing and management.