Tag: Destination Marketing

digital marketing displayed in times square

The digital era is synonymous with a time of constant change. Innovations are transforming industries at incredible speed. The travel and tourism industry is no exception. Technology is driving the way in which travellers are searching, accessing and consuming travel content. But how much has the industry changed? Find out below! 

digital destination marketing remote beach vacation

According to Wex’s US Travel Trends Report 2019, technology influences the imagination and preparedness of travellers today – this cannot be overstated. More recently, Google Trends insights highlighted that the pandemic has resulted in consumers having even higher digital expectations.  They have adopted new digital habits, and changed their online behavior as a result.  Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) therefore need to understand the value of digital destination marketing as an essential part of the marketing strategy. Digital is now the norm and a tool to reach consumers around the globe.

Digital marketing refers to all marketing that uses an electronic device or the internet.

But, what is digital destination marketing?

According to HubSpot, digital marketing refers to all marketing that uses an electronic device or the internet. Today, 65% of global travel and tourism sales are made online (Statista 2021), leading digital marketing to be even more important than traditional marketing. DMOs can creatively engage with potential visitors to raise awareness for its products and services, increase visitation, and maximize benefits for all its stakeholders. 

Now more than ever, digital destination marketing matters. Destination Management Organisations are facing high competition for tourism dollars.  They must not only find the right customers, but they also must standout, inspire, and engage them in the most effective and efficient way. Digital marketing facilitates these goals.  

What is the value of digital destination marketing?

1. From local to global 

As DMOs look to grow visitation, targeting new geographical markets are a logical step. Digital marketing brings a destination’s products and services to an audience anywhere in the world.  Whether prospecting for new visitors using social media campaigns, or launching a paid search campaign, a destination can expand its presence beyond its immediate geographical vicinity.

2. Focused targeting

Using detailed customer data, perhaps from its website, DMOs can position its offering directly in front of its ideal consumer, that is, the audience which is highly likely to be interested. Messages can be personalized to increase the level of engagement with different segments. This reduces the wastage experienced in traditional marketing where one broad message is used to target everyone. Solimar’s work with destinations like Namibia integrates digital platforms in the marketing strategy to enhance the country’s awareness to its targeted audience.

3. Improved measurability

Tracking the results of traditional marketing activity is near impossible. With digital marketing, DMOs can see detailed performance throughout the life of the campaign. They can see precisely which activity is achieving their goals, and use this data to drive revenues and increase profitability.

4. Campaign agility

Due to its very nature, digital campaigns allow companies to make improvements at any point. Close monitoring provides data in real time and adjustments can be made rapidly. As a result, funds are spent smarter with less wastage. 

Virtual reality transports travellers to the destination through a multi-sensory experience

What are the top digital marketing trends to inspire a DMO’s strategy in 2022?  

1. Everything must be mobile, mobile, mobile

According to 2018 Google research, 45% of US and 48% of UK smartphone users are comfortable using a mobile device to research and book their entire trip to a new travel destination. Therefore, a ‘mobile first’ strategy is essential. DMOs will want to ensure that any action which they inspire consumers to take online, is easy to achieve on a mobile device. 

2. Content is King 

Content is at the heart of digital marketing. It refers to everything from text and images to video and audio, and more. It has the potential to increase search rankings, drive visibility to the right audience, enhance brand image and build brand authority. As travellers do more streaming and posting of content online, DMOs can reap big rewards with storytelling which showcases the authenticity of its products and services.

3. Go virtual

Accelerated during the pandemic, virtual tours are used to transport travellers through a multi-sensory experience. Viewers get an immersive pre-travel experience without leaving their home. DMOs can really create standout brand experiences with intriguing storytelling and short engaging videos. Even individuals who are unable to travel, can get a flavour of the destination. Virtual reality experiences can support a destination’s sustainable tourism goals, as they reduce the impact of physical footprints in vulnerable locations.

virtual reality destination marketing

4. The power of video in destination marketing

Videos are powerful. They fully immerse the viewer in a different world more impactfully than images can. Google research cites that 65% of travellers search for travel videos online by destination.  DMOs have an opportunity to create content in the format most appealing and likely to be found by potential consumers. Solimar International’s expertise in creating impactful videos was a key part of Jamaica’s successful community tourism programme. Four promotional videos, each showcasing a core theme of the community tourism experience, were launched on social media and other digital channels to raise awareness for the incredible sustainable initiative.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and, more recently, TikTok, are ideal for this.  TikTok is now mainstream – with over 1 billion active users, the average user spends 52 minutes per day on the platform. It gets the highest engagement of any social platform and is seeing the 25 – 39 age group as its fastest growing segment. The quality of the content and the collaboration with influencers are the keys to success on this platform. By offering fairly low-cost opportunities for influencers to experience the destination, museum or festival entrance, for example, the content can reach large audiences.

So, why should I care about digital destination marketing?

The value of digital destination marketing is significant. It enables DMOs to promote its products and services to a more targeted audience, it affords the use of cost-effective channels to reach wider geographic markets, and it helps to enrich content. All of these combined drives success for the destination.

Solimar International creates strategic online marketing strategies and social media marketing plans for destinations worldwide, including Rwanda and TanzaniaInterested in how we can help you with destination digital marketing? Contact us to learn more.

My Switzerland website

Understanding what makes a travel destination website successful is crucial for anyone interested in reaching more potential travelers online. Sparking travel inspiration is a tough task, so we have compiled a list of the top 10 destination websites that inspire us and motivate us to imagine creative ways to entice travel plans. Check out these high quality, user friendly travel websites:

Machu Picchu 360 Destination Website

Machu Picchu 360
Machu Picchu 360

Machu Picchu 360 has adopted a creative and unique way to promote this awe-inspiring Peruvian landmark. By creating a highly interactive virtual reality tour, the website allows the visitor to emerge themselves into the ancient city of Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world. From the sound of the birds to detailed interpretive information, the prospective visitor is taken on a truly immersive experience. The website gives such a detailed visual experience that it attracts tourists to understand more about Machu Picchu and inspire a visit to see it first-hand.

My Switzerland Destination Website

My Switzerland website
My Switzerland website

Other than having a complete set of information about Switzerland’s main attractions, My Switzerland promotes experiences aimed at all target markets. Relevant for specific travelers, the site also displays clear information about Covid-19 safety protocols with indications on where and how to get tested. Although it catches the attention for being a very beautifully designed website, one of its most unique features is the separation of experiences by season, promoting a varied experience and showing that Switzerland is a travel destination to see all year round.

Travel Belize Website

Travel Belize website
Travel Belize

One of the first things you will see when entering the Travel Belize landing page is a health and safety warning letting visitors know that the country has reopened and is ready to receive tourists in a safe and internationally certified way. To display such certifications is becoming increasingly important in order to rebuild tourists’ confidence to travel again. The website includes the publication of blogs that together form an excellent guide. The interesting element of this guide is that visitors can make their travel plans around archaeology, backpacking, beaches and coast, birding, ecotourism and hiking so that guests can find their niche and  the experiences that interest them the most. Travel Belize did an excellent job in displaying the colorfulness of Belize’s nature without ignoring the cultural aspects, all while paying tribute to its diverse ethnic background.

Love Cape Town Website

Destination Marketing: Love Cape Town
Love Cape Town

As with many other destination websites, Love Cape Town has been updated with useful Covid-19 information, safety instructions and the latest news affecting tourism. The website is well divided in different types of attractions such as nightlife, eat and drink, wellness and arts & culture. One unique factor of this website is the presence of a ‘Travelwise’ section that highlights responsible tourism practices that gives information about local tours to more off-the-beaten-path destinations. Other than that, Love Cape town also displays the businesses that support the destination so that visitors have the opportunity to chat with the their tourism teams.

Visit Phoenix Destination Website

Visit Phoenix Website: Tourism digital marketing
Visit Phoenix Website

One of the features of Visit Phoenix’s destination website that catches visitors’ attention right away is the high quality use of Instagram pictures from locals and travelers. This strategy shows what Phoenix is truly about and how it is seen from the visitor perspective. Additionally, it makes the visitors interact with the destination management organization (DMO) through hashtags for the opportunity to be featured on their website. Engaging tourists through social media is a great technique to raise awareness towards your destination, especially in attracting younger travelers. As with many of the websites highlighted before, this site is separated in different travel categories showing the visitor what to see and where to stay. But one unique aspect of Visit Phoenix is the LGBTQ+ travel section that shows more about LGBTQ+ historical sites and promotes local artists and events aimed at this market.

NYCGO.com Website

NYCGO.com website
NYCGO.com website

This official guide to New York City provides a unique platform to deep-dive into trip planning for the most visited city in the United States. What stands out with NYCGO.com is the sheer amount of content the website covers. From the different boroughs to spotlights on specific communities, the site details so many trip options and features a plethora of locally owned businesses. The site also has their finger on the pulse of why some may be inspired to travel to the city. For example, at the time of writing, In the Heights, a film that was shot and takes place in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan, has an entire section of the website dedicated to visiting the area and exploring spots from the film. The amount of options the high quality travel destination website offers perfectly encapsulates the diversity of things to do found in NYC.

Travel Oregon Website

Travel Oregon: Welcome Again

The Travel Oregon website gives travelers a wide variety of travel options, similar to NYCGo. The difference here is the overall look of the website. It perfectly captures the essence of Oregon with a variety of photographs of the outdoors, an embedded Instagram feed, and a cinematic video that previews your potential adventures when you visit the state. A big part of traveling to a state like Oregon is driven by its natural beauty and the emotional effect it has on those who travel there. Travel Oregon captured this perfectly when they developed their site and even created an entire section devoted to travel inspirations within Oregon. Utilizing emotion and feelings to help curate a trip is one of the most unique ways of travel recommendations that we’ve seen, and think it holds a great key to curating the perfect trip. Be sure to check out their interactive map.

Visit Reykjavik Destination Website

Visit Reykjavik website
Visit Reykjavik website

Set as the jumping off point for the rest of Iceland, Visit Reykjavik paints the city as being more than just a city. What stands out with Visit Reykjavik is that the site knows the demographic of those who visit. Over half of the visitors to Iceland in 2018 were under the age of 35, signaling that the destination has a lot of appeal with younger travelers. The front page highlights their understanding of the core traveler by including subjects like local bars and clubs, coffee shops, and vegan food. It’s important to understand your target market, and Visit Reykjavik demonstrates that well.

Visit Norway Website

Tourism Marketing: Visit Norway website
Visit Norway website

Sometimes a destination doesn’t need a fancy angle for their websites. Visit Norway demonstrates this with their sleek and simple website design that gives curious visitors a jumping off point but without an overwhelming amount of information for those who are looking to plan a trip. It encourages narrowing down exactly what the tourist would like to do, then it gives them the data, which is refreshingly simple.

South Africa Tourism Destination Website

South African Tourism website
South African Tourism website

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Norway’s simplified site, South Africa’s site provides an almost “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of experience. This experience begins with a landing page asking what type of trip the visitor to the site is looking to plan. Then the site eloquently customizes a visitor’s visit to the site by telling them how long it would take to get to South Africa from their location and allows visitors to explore offered activities. Consider this a digital, accessible travel guide.

 

Solimar has worked on numerous projects around the world to build effective destination websites for our clients, such as the recent development of the Atauro Island site for this emerging Destination Management Organization in Timor Leste.

If you are interested in learning how to make an effective, engaging destination website, contact us today to learn how Solimar can help you with your digital tourism marketing needs. 

 

By Kevin Lewicki and Marina de Moraes Lopes

A Tourism Improvement District (TID) is a revolutionary way to fund destination marketing programs. They are typically run by local businesses that collaborate and invest collectively to support the growth and development of their destination’s tourism industry. Depending on where you are in the world, the concept of a Tourism Improvement District has several different names. The United States first started using this term in West Hollywood in 1989. The UK and other destinations soon followed, by developing similar public-private partnerships sometimes called “Business Improvement Districts” or “Tourism Marketing Districts”.  Though they have different names, the goal is the same – increase the number of overnight visitors using business and services.

Lodging businesses are usually heavily involved, charging each visitor a per-night occupancy tax (also called a lodging tax, room tax, hotel tax, or tourist tax) usually ranging from 1-5% of the total bill. These funds raised are then directed to a destination marketing organization/destination management organization (DMO), and must be used on programs that increase paid nights spent in the destination. The TID tends to fund services such as marketing programs, tourism promotions, and projects to regenerate the destination to make it more attractive to prospective visitors. The period of the district varies, ranging from one year to a ten-year term, with some contracts lasting even longer. A 2016 survey of tourism districts revealed that most districts took between six and twelve months to form.

West Hollywood Tourism Improvement District Case Study

West Hollywood is the city where it all began and the home of the first TID (and now one of ninety-five of California’s cities that have a TID). In 2013, West Hollywood revived its previous TID and increased the hotel’s levy from 1.5% to 3%. The levy was then given to the West Hollywood Travel and Tourism Board where they used these funds to form strategic plans to promote the identity of West Hollywood, create a destination marketing strategy targeting potential visitors, and undertake advertising solely focused on the travel industry. In 2014, they implemented a three-year plan with the following objectives:

  • Increase demand of the destination
  • Strengthen domestic and international awareness
  • Improve and grow partnerships
  • Be a leader in developing the destination
  • Reinforce a culture of innovation

To achieve these objectives, they spent a total of $6,289,440 with the hotel levy contributing a staggering $5,900,000.

A 2015-2016 annual report by the West Hollywood Travel and Tourism Board, noted there were 1.38 million visitors to West Hollywood during this year. These visitors spent a total of $737,212,000, and directly supported 5,289 tourism industry jobs. In 2017-2018, West Hollywood saw record-breaking visitor numbers and spending, with over 3.59 million visitors, spending $1.73 billion, with an increase of employment supporting total 7,958 jobs. These numbers indicate how vast growth occurred in just two years.

Beyond West Hollywood, TIDs have developed other global destinations such as Visit Britain registering a 4 million increase in visitor numbers annually, and Visit Barbados showing an additional 2 million visitors per year. Once a Tourism Improvement District is implemented, destinations must be sure to maintain focus on the implementation of a tourism development strategy for consistent tourism promotion. Businesses in a destination need to collaborate and sync their efforts, to consider innovative ways to effectively market their destination.

 

 

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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