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.

From Marketing Strategy to Values Strategy

Having been processing the concept of marketing strategy during the ongoing autumn due to our course on destination marketing, the concept of strategy has been wandering in my mind. What does it actually mean and how important is it for a (tourism) company?

Applying the concept of strategy

In his book Valonöörin käsikirja (A lightneer’s guide) Frank Martela poses the questions What are our goals, what things are worth doing? and What can we do to reach our goals? as the central questions about the human life. He also points out that too often we do things that we didn’t actively choose to do. Too often we spend time on social media or Netflix though our goal is to do sports and be physically in a good condition. Or maybe we feel pressure to do certain things or maybe we just accept them because that’s how people always have done them. I think these questions and thoughts can be applied to business strategies as well.

During our course on marketing it was highlighted how important the mission, vision and values of the company are when creating a strategy. Another author and teacher Jim Collins reveals in his book Good to Great ways to develop a good company into a great one, based on a broad research. One of the core findings is to first find the right people around you, to keep them around you and then to “figure out the best path to greatness”. Also because with the right people you can more easily face changes in the changing world: “if people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then  it’s much easier to change direction”. This can also be seen as a value-based approach: when there’s a group of people who share the same values and hopefully the same mission, it’s easier to set the direction.

Getting the right people on the bus (although the bus might need to be repaired along the way).

 

 

 

Don’t get stuck to the word: it’s about the content

Wikipedia, tells that the word ‘strategy’ derives from the Greek word stratēgia and the original meaning would be something like “art of troop leader, office of general, command, generalship” and that a strategy is a “high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty”. The other week I also had the chance to hear some thoughts about marketing from Timo Kiuru, who works as a creative director for different companies. In his opinion the term ‘strategy’ shouldn’t be used at all. He still stressed the importance of values and to on a weekly basis check if you have been acting according to your values.

It was a very inspiring speech and I also agree that we shouldn’t get too stuck to the word itself or think that if there’s some kind of a strategy, everything will fall into places. The importance of the content of the strategy, the goals and actions have to also be highlighted: a strategy is no use if it’s not concrete, applicable and if it’s not applied. For a company it’s quite essential to define some sort of a strategy. If there is a high level plan with at least some values or core thoughts that are important and/or motivating  it can’t go very wrong. Also, possible changes in the plan don’t necessarily mean it was wrong in the first place.

Setting a direction.

Management by wellbeing

Mindfulness, victorious corporate culture, growth rates that the board cannot accept, going to the gym with your bosses, hiring a personal business coach, fighting loneliness… does not sound like a traditional Finnish management style, does it? In one company it is.

Managing corporate culture and people at SMT

Our Tourism Marketing and Management Programme had the privilege to have CEO of travel and event agency SMT Kirsi Paakkari as a guest speaker to discuss with us about managing corporate culture and people in a way that enables a tourism business to grow.

tourism business management
Kirsi Paakkari discussing corporate culture in tourism

She has successfully merged two ill-performing businesses into a victorious one in a shrinking market, not an easy feat at all. It requires a lot from a manager to change the direction of a business and reach double-digit growth rates. Sometimes traditional Finnish management by perkele (traditional Finnish curse word) style might just not do it. Managers make many choices that define company performance.

Focus on employees management

Kirsi has clearly chosen to focus on the employees of the company. It was great to see how she monitors and leads the wellbeing of her people. She is also managing her company with metrics and data as much as possible while still listening to people. This might be the only way to reach her goal, which is to make SMT the best service company in Finland. This goal is also dependent on trust. Leadership requires trust in many forms. Employees have to trust their leaders and trust in the future of the company. In addition, the manager has to trust the employees, why hire people you cannot trust?

tourism marketing and management
Management education for students

Our student Lari Turunen appreciated how Kirsi decided to bring new people from outside the industry to create new ideas for the company. Lari also noted that when you are building a new culture for a company you have to invest in it. Mergers should not be only about saving money and making companies more efficient but they should also be seen as an opportunity to start anew.

Management by employee wellbeing is similar to human sigma management and has a sound basis in academic literature. There are many challenges ahead for SMT as they integrate with American Express Global Business and are more and more focusing on a growing event market. It will be interesting to see how the company manages these changes and how management by wellbeing works in the future. Could it be the direction of future leadership in Finland or even globally?

 

What is online business in tourism?

Online business in tourism, digital tourism business, e-business in tourism, e-tourism; call it what you will, it still has a huge impact on how tourism business is conducted. Most of tourism businesses and large part of marketing are now online. The internet is most often used medium to search for information about a holiday or destination. Skills and knowledge of online tools and channels are critical for the competitiveness of a tourism business or destination.

Director of our master’s degree programme in Tourism Marketing and Management, Juho Pesonen, has made his lectures on the topic freely available for anyone interested in the topic. The course was given for the students of Finnish University Network for Tourism Studies during Fall 2016. You can see the course content and access the lectures on YouTube through the course time table below. YouTube videos have links to SlideShare presentations if you want to take a closer look at them:

Juho Pesonen teaching the course

Thursday 3.11.2016 

9.00-10.30 Introduction to E-business in Tourism: history and context

10.30-10.50 Break

10.50-12.30 Theoretical background: central concepts of E-business

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.30 E-business in practice: what to do

– website

– E-commerce

14.30-14.45 Break

14.45- 15.50 E-business in practice: what to do

– social media and content creation

15.50-16.00 Break

16.00-16.45 Practical examples

Friday 4.11.2016

9.00-10.15 E-business in practice: what to do

– analysing and managing online business

10.15-10.30 Break

10.30-11.25 E-business in practice: what to do

– mobile devices

11.25-11.35-Break

11.35-12.30 E-business in practice: what to do

– Search engine marketing

– Security

– Customer Relationship Management

– Marketing automation, artificial intelligence

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.30 Destination management and marketing in the era of online business

14.30-14.45 Break

14.45-15.30 Future of tourism in digitalizing world: where are we going?

15.30-16.00 Final conclusions

 

These lectures provide an overview of a wide topic of marketing and managing tourism business in digital environment. A more in-depth view of the topic can be achieved for example in our Master’s Degree Programme.

Welcome to Tourism Marketing and Management

Koli, tourism marketing and management
Picture by Karelia Expert

Welcome to the blog of International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management by University of Eastern Finland. This blog is an essential part of the programme and will bring forth the ideas and news from the programme. We aim to build a significant international platform for making tourism better with this programme and the blog. 

The programme will start during Autumn 2017. The programme seeks to attract students from Europe and Asia in particular. The programme is also open to Finnish students interested in tourism studies and holding a relevant Bachelor’s degree. The international nature of the programme makes it possible to create new networks and showcase Finland’s strengths in tourism globally, as well as to obtain new information about tourists coming from abroad.

This kind of a programme in tourism marketing and management hasn’t existed in Finland before, and the programme’s strong focus on tourism marketing will bring new life to the Finnish tourism sector. The key themes of the two-year Master’s degree programme are built around the strengths and opportunities of tourism in eastern Finland: nature, well-being, sustainable tourism, and digitalisation. The launch of the new Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management shows that the University of Eastern Finland is confident in the positive development of the Finnish tourism sector and wants to play a role in supporting that development. Already now, tourism is a major financial factor in North Karelia and elsewhere in Finland. Globally, the tourism sector is growing by several per cent every year.

Konnevesi National Park, Finland
Konnevesi National Park, Finland

The Master’s degree programme will collaborate closely with local, national and international tourism sector companies and other actors. This collaboration is based on close interaction, with the aim of jointly developing business activities and finding solutions for any possible challenges discovered. Graduates of the Master’s degree programme will understand the role of digitalisation, customer care, customer motivation, environmental aspects and nature for the business activities of tourism companies, and they will be able to translate their understanding of these aspects into practical activities. The programme’s graduates will have the skills needed to work in a variety of different roles, for example as entrepreneurs, marketing managers, experts, coordinators, community managers and other positions involving customer relations.

The application period to the Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management will be open from 1 December 2016 to 13 January 2017. For further information, please see the programme website at www.uef.fi/tmm.

For further information, please contact:

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