How can we apply Harry Potter’s sorting hat into tourism marketing?

 

The novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone by J.K. Rowling (1997) is the first to introduce the concept of the Sorting Hat. The Sorting Hat is a hat that has a magical ability to sort the first-year pupils of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry into their “houses”, i.e. the groups of pupils that they will represent through their school years. The House-system is used in schools across the English-speaking world but evidently, the Sorting Hat exists mainly in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy literature. But does it really have to?

In the book, the Sorting Hat bases its conclusions on pupils’ values and characteristics. Each of the houses possesses different sets of qualities and values that they expect their pupils to share. The Hat divides pupils into houses most suitable for their characteristics. Although being quite strict in the novel due to there being only four houses, the concept is interesting from the marketing point of view. The idea of a marketing factor guiding customer behavior towards goods and services closest to their likings and values sounds almost too good to be true. What kind of sorting hat could we utilize in tourism marketing and what could it do for the tourism industry and tourist experience? What would happen if we could outsource the destination and activity decision-making process and turn around the basic idea of targeted marketing? Let’s find out.

Why do we travel?

To utilize a sorting hat -concept in the tourism industry, we must understand the basic nature of tourism: why do we travel? What good do we achieve by sitting in an airplane for hours or by staring at some reindeers in Lapland? According to Philip Pearce (2005) reasons for travelling and decisions made before, during and after a trip can depend on numerous variables. Demographic and psychographic qualities, style of travelling and destination for example are qualities that can be used to categorize tourists. Sine Heitmann (2011) proceeds to define tourism motivation through a tourist’s cultural background. But on our way to find out why do we travel; the answer lies in psychology like it so often does.

To understand tourism motivation, it is essential to understand the concept of motivation. Seppo Iso-Ahola (1982), has defined motivation as guiding energy that makes one pursue goals and make essential decisions on the way there. Motive, a reason for pursuing something, is an awareness of future satisfaction. Satisfaction is a collaboration of push and pull factors – a theory often used to describe a person’s reasons for travelling. Push and pull factors form the decision by giving a tourist a reason to leave and a destination to pursue. Awareness of future satisfaction provides energy to make essential decisions and to pursue one’s goals and therefore the motivation to travel is formed.

Sine Heitmann (2011) adds the need for travelling into the definition of tourist motivation. She sees a more practical approach to decision-making and sees there a need and series of actions made to fulfil that need. This is highly similar to push- and pull- theory. The need for travelling is a kind of push factor and the pull factor needs something touchable from tourists’ desires and needs. Therefore, the need and fulfilling that need can be a link in a tourist’s decision-making process and defines the question of why we travel; we travel because we have a need or desire to do so.

Targeted marketing in a nutshell

By understanding who we are dealing with and what guides their motivation, we can start to understand why they travel. A tourist’s values, qualities, travelling experience, area of living and especially personal desires determine a lot when making decisions. But, as a tourism marketing student, I can’t ignore the impact of marketing on a tourist’s decision-making process. After all, marketing is a bridge between customers’ needs and desires and the market’s offerings, a way to match supply and demand if you will (Dolnicar & Ring 2014). But tourists aren’t a homogenous group with their needs and desires. Therefore, we need to decide who we are selling our products for and to recognize our main customers.

Targeted marketing is a way of marketing that allows marketers to target marketing efforts for distinct customer segments (Camilleri 2017). This happens by categorizing our customers and by defining the mutual qualities between our customers and their needs and desires. So, in a nutshell, targeted marketing is a way of marketing your products for those who are willing to buy them and need them by identifying needs associated with your products. This seems quite simple: by knowing my customers and products I could avoid wasting my resources on selling stuff for someone who isn’t interested. Targeting my marketing efforts can have a nice effect on both customer retention and satisfaction and my company’s cash flow.

When written like this it seems that someone already has invented the Sorting Hat long before J.K. Rowling did. But what about if you don’t know that you are part of someone’s intended customer segment and target group? Probably someone must have thought of this and marketing today probably can reach even those not aware of their status as someone’s target group. But could there be a slight niche or even a little bit of Blue Ocean (cf. the Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne from 2004) for Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat in that small question?

What is a personality quiz?

According to Verywell Mind -webpage, a personality test or a quiz is a test or a tool that defines different qualities and characteristics of a tested person and assesses human personality. Personality tests are used in the medical world and can help diagnose, therapeutic processes and is closely associated with studying human behavior. Personality tests can also be used as entertainment. When talking about entertaining personality tests the term is usually personality quiz. The Internet offers a wide variety of different personality quizzes and, not surprisingly, there are also many quizzes that tell the tested persons their Hogwarts houses, like the Sorting Hat.

Photo by Unsplash.com

Apparently, the author of Harry Potter -novels has constructed an online quiz to work as a Harry Potter fans’ sorting hat. There have even been several studies concerning this personality test and according to Jacob et al. (2019) the test possesses some slight accuracy from behavior study and psychology point-of-view. They figured that the test works mainly by defining qualities and values in the books commonly associated with each of the houses and by forming heavy stereotypes the test can guess with some accuracy the house most suitable for the one taking the test.

The Sorting Hat

Although not being the most accurate personality test available and working mainly on stereotypes, the idea behind the study and the value-guided functionality of the test is highly interesting. After all personal values have, according to Pearce (2005), Iso-Ahola (1982) and Heitmann (2011), a major role in all consuming-related decisions and are a key element in brand communication according to Lisa Sounio (2010). Therefore, this sorting hat theme isn’t that far-fetched. Could we transport this into marketing tourism products?

Targeted marketing might not recognize all the potential customers due to it focusing commonly on recognized customer personas and tourist segments. This means that those who don’t realize they are someone’s target group can get left out of fulfilling and interesting products and services. The companies behind these services lose potential income and visibility by missing people who might be interested in their products. But this scenario can’t be totally avoided because targeting marketing for specific segments depends highly on potential tourists knowing what they want. If a tourist is unaware of being possibly part of a target group, the tourist can’t be reached due to a lack of former activity and interest. Then that tourist might stay as a potential customer also in future. But hypothetically, could we turn the situation above upside down and outsource the customer segmentation for the tourists themselves?

When thinking about the push- and pull- factors, the necessary part is the push, the need and the desire to travel. Would it be possible to focus as a marketer, a representative of a tourism agency or an OTA only advertising the pull factors of a given area? Then we could let the tourists determine their traveler profile and suitable locations, travelling styles and other characteristics that usually are done by marketing specialists. Mehmetoglu et al. (2010) have studied the significance of values in tourist behavior and decision making. They defined personal values to be reliable predictors of consumer behavior. This is supported by Pearce’s (2005) and Iso-Ahola’s (1982) findings. The meaning of values in consumer behavior is an interesting finding in the context of Jacob’s & al. (2019) study. The view of Harry Potter’s sorting hat is highly based on personal values in both novels and Harry Potter’s author’s Sorting Hat -quiz.

Photo by Unsplash.com

At this point, an OTA-based, semi-entertaining tourist personality test is starting to sound quite interesting to me. A common OTA possesses quite a few tourism companies more on its site than the Hogwarts School possesses houses. Therefore, the accuracy of an OTA-based tourist personality test should be higher than that introduced by J.K. Rowling – at least when executed properly. This could take some pressure of segmenting and categorizing targeted groups. Through the test’s psychological and value-guided base the decision of a tourist would be scientifically valid. An OTA-based tourist personality test could therefore improve tourist retention and satisfaction.  This concept would also reach those potential tourists that get left out of target groups because the only upfront information needed here is if there is a need or desire to travel.

This is highly hypothetical and out of my own substance but as an idea, I think it is worth playing with. After all, marketing is an innovative field of work and what would be a more innovative approach than Harry Potter. Sometimes it can be useful to rattle one’s way of thinking because it can bring up something no one hasn’t thought about before. OTA-based, psychological and value-guided tourist personality test definitely is something ponder. Would you like to get sorted for your next journey?

 

References

Camilleri, M. A. (2018). Market Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning. In Travel Marketing, Tourism Economics and the Airline Product (Chapter 4, pp. 69-83). Springer, Cham, Switzerland.

Dolnicar, S., & Ring, A. (2014). Tourism marketing research: Past, present and future. Annals of Tourism Research, 47, 31-47.

Iso-Ahola, S. (1982). Towards a social psychological theory of tourism motivation. 1982 Annals of Tourism Research, 256-262.

Jakob, L., Garcia-Garzon, E., Jarke, H., & Dablander, F. (2019). The science behind the magic? the relation of the harry potter “Sorting hat quiz” to personality and human values. Collabra. Psychology, 5(1)

Mehmetoglu, M., Hines, K., Graumann, C., & Greibrokk, J. (2010). The relationship between personal values and tourism behaviour: A segmentation approach. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 16, 17-27.

Pearce, P. (2005). Tourist behavior: Themes and conceptual schemes 

Robinson, P., Heitmann, S., & Dieke, P. (2011). Research themes for tourism. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 24(6), 31-45.

Sounio, L. (2010). Brändikäs

 

 

Research: Communicating the Image of North Karelia to German Market

Introduction of the study

The aim of this master’s thesis was to increase the knowledge of German tourists as a marketing segment and to clarify, what kind of image they have about North Karelia as a region. The thesis was made in collaboration with the North Karelian DMO VisitKarelia. An online survey was sent to two German Facebook-groups – Finnland Rundreisen and Finntouch – Finnland hautnah – both of them having so-called Finland enthusiasts as their followers. The survey was written in German and included 26 questions. In total 209 responses were gathered in February 2022 just before the Ukraine War started. So, the situation did not have impact on the results.

visitkarelia-hiking-forest-lake-northkarelia-pohjoiskarjala-harritarvainen

A profile of a potential German tourist

Firstly, the most potential target group, which would travel to North Karelia was discovered. A profile of a German tourist was following: a female, who is 40-59 years old. She is in relationship and has kid(s). She is currently employed, and income level is below the average (3975 € per month in Ger-many in 2020). Most likely she is from Southern or Western part of the Germany. She will arrive to Finland by plain or ship and continue trip by car or plane to North Karelia. She is traveling with a partner or family and make all the bookings by herself. In general, the willingness to travel to North Karelia within the next two years was high and most of the respondents have visited Finland several times before.

Most actively used information channels

Secondly, it was discovered which online and traditional information channels are most actively used by German tourists when they are looking for information about a destination. On the top were official web page of a destination, Booking.com and Instagram account of a destination. Also, Facebook page of a destination, travel related Facebook groups and TripAdvisor were rather high on the list. The most actively used traditional information channels were own experience, WOM from friends and relatives, guidebooks and maps. The following channels were brochures, TV, magazines, and journals. On the contrary to earlier studies, travel agencies were not actively used by this response group. Also, TikTok kept the last place.

Especially nature, lakes and forests interest German tourists in North Karelia

Thirdly, respondents were asked to describe North Karelia with three words. The results showed that North Karelia is strongly connected to nature, lakes, forests and natural phenomena. In addition, especially Karelian pies and Karelian culture were well known among the respondents. They also had a list with North Karelian attributes. Also there, nature and culture related attributes were rated high-est. Special accommodation, meditation and luxurious experiences were not important for Germans. When North Karelia visitors and non-visitors were compared, especially Finnish sauna and rural set-tings were more important for those, who have experienced them by themselves. Surprisingly, Russia was mentioned several times in contexts of border, history and location. However, the results did not reveal if it has an impact on traveling willingness.

koli-northkarelia-pohjoiskarjala-harritarvainen

What to highlight in marketing communication?

Lastly, the most important marketing communication statements were discovered. Especially, the possibility to book accommodation, activities and services online were rated on the top. Germans also appreciated, that there is information available how to reach the destination, information about distances and a map of the location. Also, sustainability was an important factor for Germans. Specially, men and respondents with higher income level found sustainability very important. Having information in German was a neutral factor. Only the age group of 60-64 rated it as an important.

 

Pictures: Harri Tarvainen / VisitKarelia

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.

Experiences and digitalization – where are we going?

It’s all about experiences these days, isn’t it? They are constantly discussed in the field of tourism, and with other industries as well, but do we actually know what it is about the idea of experience that in the end intrigues the customer enough to make a purchase decision?

No, we cannot know that. Why? Because experience is a subjective, individual and very unique concept. No one experiences a product or service the same as their peers. Someone might not even feel as though they have received any kind experience from a service or product which might have been completely transformational for someone else. So, how do we market experiences, if we cannot guarantee that there is even going to be an experience to have? Can we enhance the experiences with tools provided by digitalization?

We must know our customer segment and what they are searching in their travels in order to understand how they might see the meaning of experience. Finding the customers ready to receive those experiences and even pay for them is not probably going to be difficult as marketing online develops, and it gets easier to attract bigger masses or find the niche market inside those masses that want your products.

How will digitalization change experience design?

In the future, digitalization and online marketing will be the key element in marketing experiences. As the world of digitalization moves forward, we can expand our experiences and how we see them. It opens totally new doors for marketing; A customer puts a pair of VR glasses over their eyes. They jump through a series of videos; snow, reindeer petting, Santa Claus, northern lights. The pretty picture formats in their head. I have to see that for myself. The thought of perfect winter wonderland has been set in their mind. The spark is there. All you need is the product to sell.

Snow dusting, formation of experience
Will there be time when experiences, like the feeling of snow and seeing the northern lights, can be designed fully online? Photo: Pulkkinen 2015

The question then becomes; how much we can tease the potential customers? Where is that line of wanting the hands-on experience, instead of watching northern lights lying on your own bed with the VR glasses on, enjoying the comfort and safety of your own home? What added value does the customer get from coming to Finland and going to freeze in the middle of the lake to watch northern lights? And how we can keep that experience authentic to the customer?

It’s about evolving. Designing. You need to find the link between the need to evolve with digitalization and the benefit for your company. What can you do in order to enhance the hoped customer experience? It’s about designing, prototyping and trying. Co-creation, another big word. Co-creation will most likely get on a different level with digitalization in the future, as information sharing and possibilities to do online get wider and wider. We are in a state of constant development.

The question remains. Digitalization, opportunity or threat to experiences in the tourism field?

Maybe both? The key is to find what is the best possible practice for you.

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.

3 easy ways to make online customer experience better in tourism

As technology develops it is necessary for tourism businesses as well as businesses, in general, to think about how they can improve online customer experience. There is a lot of talk about if technology will replace human interaction, but actually in business purposes technology can help make customers happier. Although we have to remember that to do so, it has to be done correctly and enhance the customer experience rather than make things more complicated.

Our class was brainstorming to find out how technology can delight customers in tourism businesses. We discovered a lot of different ways, but there were three that stood out the most for all of us: easily accessible information, photos & videos, and helpful marketing.

Easily accessible information

When planning a holiday or booking activities, one of the biggest things is that the information is comprehensive and easily found. Tourism companies should focus more on the content of their website as it is the main source of information for customers. This means that the navigation should be clear and there should be information available about everything the company is offering. Especially for tourism companies, online booking is one thing that will make customers happier as well as the possibility to give feedback online. Easier the information search process is the happier the customer gets.

Photos & videos

We all know the saying “a picture tells more than a hundred words”. This should be kept in mind when marketing your products or services. Photos and videos can increase the trust as well as the satisfaction of customers when they match with reality. As an example, if a hotel has a gym, but they have no pictures of it, the hotel might seem a bit shady for the customers. But then again, you should not use pictures or videos that are much better than the reality, as the reality will then disappoint the customers. It’s also good to remember that high-quality photos and videos are also quite nice to watch, and they easily caught the eye in social media.

Helpful marketing

No one likes when a business is by force trying to sell their products or services, at least not Finnish people. Tourism companies should use more helpful marketing, which means that you introduce the strengths and benefits of our products or services rather than use a phrase such as “buy now”. In helpful marketing, you create content that is helpful for customers and that creates value for your customers. In the end, it will also lead to better sales. Make the customer feel special and be interactive on social media channels.

Focus on online customer experience!

As said in the beginning, there can be multiple ways to make customers happier by utilizing technology. Get started with the three ways introduced here, but remember that you can always develop ways that suit your company and customers better. In the end it all comes down to understanding the online customer experience!

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.

How to successfully master website design for your tourism business?

An effective website is important for your tourism business as it is one of the first touchpoints in online marketing. We developed a framework of the most important core factors in website design. Instead of digging deeper into each of them, we look at the whole picture.

Website Marketing_Different Devices

STRUCTURE AND DESIGN

First, let’s start with the basics. Design the website in an easy, clear and simple structure. Be visual! Hence, make customers remember your website. Furthermore, include a navigation panel. You want to make sure that your customers find exactly what they’re looking. And pay attention: less is sometimes more. An over-designed website is not only daunting for the visitor but also impacts the page speed. Trust me, the goal is to attract more customers, not to lose them.

ACCESSIBILITY

Ensure quick-loading pages by choosing the right technology, smaller compressed images and a simple website design. Pay attention to the general accessibility on different platforms, devices and browsers. Don’t despair! You can even make a test run and check the page speed on different devices before you publish it.

ENGAGING CONTENT

There is no need for an attractive and clear structured website if your visitors are getting bored to death. Hence, create engaging content by integrating your personal story and stating your missions, vision and goals clearly. Show your customers that you care and include their testimonials and reviews as well as your values by adding sustainability certificates or Corporate Social Responsibility awards.

Picture_Metaphor for Storytelling

STORYTELLING

Most importantly, think about your customers and their values and implement them in your story. Don’t forget to add a beginning and an end and build up excitement. Captivate the customers with a powerful message.

Include interactive elements like videos or photos of your products or links to your social media channels. Then, think a step further and use chatbots to guarantee a round-the-clock personal customer care. Furthermore, retarget customers with discounts or feedback sections.

All in all, the possibilities online are endless. Just remember: taking your customers’ needs and your own values into account is the goal to succeed in digital marketing. Use Website Analytics and Search Engine Optimisation and dedicate a website manager to ensure constant updates, trouble-shooting and optimisation.

Follow this framework and you’re all set to go! What are you waiting for?

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.

Do Not Read This!

Content Marketing?

Yep, I thought you wouldn’t listen. Luckily there is no harm in reading this, quite the opposite. I just wanted to prove a point: In content marketing, you are competing of customers enjoying an overflow of information and suffering lack of time. Therefore, your content marketing needs to be intriguing and catch the attention. Like hopefully this headline did. So, in case you are interested in content marketing, you should stick around and read rest of the post!

Let’s start with discussing the term. It can be mixed up with social media marketing. Creating an ad in Facebook is still not content marketing, just marketing happening in social media. The idea of content marketing is to create different types of content, like blogs, video material and online discussion with customers. The content is shareable and creates interest towards your business, increases your appearance in search engine results and should affect your sales.

How to start

So, let us say that you just established a hotel in Lapland. Should you now open accounts to every other social media outlet and fill them with room pictures and other posts? No, first comes the content marketing plan. For that you need to know your potential customers and their preferences. With bench-marking rival companies, you can learn what content they share and what social medias they use. Referencing the competition is a good start, but also personal goals need to be established. What does your company achieve with all the content you share? Who sees it and what do they do with it? When you can answer these questions, you can proceed with the plan.

Some No No’s

Next, lets dodge some common landmines of content marketing. First, the content can’t be all about the company. Do not always sell something, the customers are not always buying something. The key idea is to be on mind of the customers and when they want to make a purchase that you can provide, they will remember you.

Television was a one-way media, but social media is not. By forgetting this, you miss out on the potential of content marketing and might even do damage. Be attentive to the customers, answer the complaints and discuss the questions.

Do not do too much. If your customers discuss your services in Facebook and like your pictures in Instagram, but Twitter is not working, concentrate on the former. That way your company can be consistent and reliable online, which creates trust also in general.

Do not forget to track the impact of your content marketing: It is essential for you to know how it works and what should be developed or altered.

Entertain, Inspire, Educate and Convince

Content should be useful to both existing and potential customers. In general, you should follow these four guidelines:

  1. Entertain the customer with top quality content to spend time in your media and get them to know you.
  2. Inspire them and help them to create new ideas and new dreams.
  3. Educate the customer on the issues related to your business and create a feeling of trust.
  4. Finally, convince the customer to use your services to retain the best possible solution to his or her problem.

Know your customers to know the preferred social medias and content. Track the impact and you know what to develop. By being consistent and attentive, you are reliable and on people’s mind.

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.

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.