Monday, February 16, 2015

Destination Marketers: Be On Board or Be Left Behind

As a DMO, social media is proving to be the most cost effective ways to reach consumers and their performance can revitalize your business. As an Integrated Marketing Communications student at Northwestern University and previous experience in tourism marketing, I found 2 articles worth sharing.

As tourism consultant Frederic Gonzalo has pointed out in “Why The Destination Marketing Model Is Broken”, destinations are facing a much different reality, where traveler behaviors and their decision-making processes are shifting like never before. One of the most important disruptors is the rising importance of social platforms and mobile. According to his research, social media and the rising use of smartphones and tablets have made the information-seeking process much faster and complex. At the same time, today’s travelers trust peer reviews or reviews from strangers more than those from friends or colleagues. Yet, few destinations have developed tactical plans with social media as part of their digital marketing strategy.

On the other hand, based on the article “Social Media Best Practices For Destination Marketing”, travel is one of the most sought after topics on social media, second to technology. Today’s travelers are using social media channels more frequently, and it is important for DMOs to be there to capture their attention before they decide to visit another destination. In general, there are 4 ways to get most use of social media: Direct booking, Create engaging posts, Conduct researches and Provide customer service. It is also important to always focus on your audience more than yourself by simply following the 5-3-2 Rule, which means out of 10 Twitter Tweets, LinkedIn updates, or Facebook posts: Five should be content from others, relevant to the audience. Three should be content from you, relevant to the audience. Two should be personal, something non-work related to help humanize the brand.

Based on the 2 articles and my graduate learning at Northwestern University, there are 3 steps that I suggest you to consider:
  • Create Awesome. Try to focus on your audience’s core needs to create relatable, engaging and comfortable content. It can start easily by applying the 5-3-2 Rule.
  • Manage WOM. Give your consumers a chance to voice their concerns and always get prepared to fix the problem through a strong online presence.
  • Generate ROI. Incorporate e-commerce to social media tools to sell products on behalf of destination partners. Remember, social media presence without generating ROI is not going to last long.
Establishing and maintaining social media accounts can take lots of time and effort. However, get on board of social media can be the turning point of the stopping or even dying DMOs. Some changes are always better than nothing.

The author, Kai Teng is an MS candidate in Integrated Marketing Communication at Northwestern University. She is particular interested in tourism marketing and consulting. You may contact the author via Twitter @KaiTeng2015 or LinkedIn.