by Emma Glazier, Global Head of Social Media at Crowd
The last few years have seen a revolution in destination marketing. A shift towards highlighting inspirational activities has leveraged social media use in providing opportunities to elevate the value of personal brands amongst family, friends and connections.
More than ever, marketing needs to attract and engage people across existing and new platforms with a dynamic and cohesive message which puts the customer at the heart of the campaign. Digital is no longer a channel, but a way of life and successful brands are leveraging technology to create rich, immersive experiences to engage and inspire audiences.
Content Marketing Tactics
It’s no secret that most travellers rely on multiple sources of information during their buying journey, from the moment they begin considering a destination right up to when they book travel and accommodation. We no longer live in a two-dimensional ‘brochure-like’ world. Destinations must adapt and embrace new media and technology and take a brand like approach.
TripAdvisor and Reviews
TripAdvisor is the number one destination site for travellers looking for 5-star experiences, and so leveraging this user-generated (and therefore highly trusted) data is essential. Integrating this data on owned platforms should prevent the need for visitors to double check activities and destinations on the main TripAdvisor site and keep them on your site.
Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are constantly innovating their content formats, most recently by introducing 3D photography on Facebook, to keep users engaged. While Facebook mixes native content from users and traditional banner ads from brands, Instagram is still able to offer a strong organic opportunity for DMOs and drive discoverability of content using hashtags. Instagram is the most visual of social channels, and with an emphasis on inspiration and exploration provides a perfect opportunity for DMOs to latch on to.
Bloggers, Vloggers and Social Influencers
Another key way that DMOs promote their brands is through teaming up with influencers. Traditionally, DMOs and influencers have often worked together on an ad-hoc basis, in which bloggers or others with large followings request free stays or press trips in return for coverage on their blogs and social media channels. This landscape has also changed with the emergence of the ‘micro-influencer’ and many brands are now harnessing the value of a smaller, but highly engaged community, as well as reducing the investment entry point for influencer partnerships. DMOs should consider influencers as both an expert content creator for their target audience as well as a powerful media channel.
Video and Virtual Reality
Both video and virtual reality (VR) are instrumental in content marketing across industries. There is no better way to market your destination than through video. Video is expected to continue dominating web traffic in the years to come, and savvy DMOs are investing heavily in the medium to drive brand awareness. Video also provides one of the highest content marketing ROIs, a trend that will likely continue, especially as social media becomes more visually driven (as illustrated through the success of 360 videos and Instagram Stories).
DMOs are constantly looking at new ways of using technology to provide site visitors with an engaging and memorable experience. Platforms such as Sitecore are packed with powerful personalisation features and automated marketing, which can be the difference-maker in customer engagement. The concept of building separate landing pages for each user group or scenario is now a dated concept. Personalisation techniques allow pages to be created in real time, based on the knowledge held on the user or audience segment. Every interaction is collected and stored, ready to help influence the type of content that should be surfaced to them, based on their interests and browsing history.
Building on the trends of inspiration and individual social brand building, being able to leverage the work already being done by advocates, locals and reviewers will be key to creating effective and engaging destination marketing. Rich and immersive content formats will continue to be key to creating engagement, both off and on-site with virtual reality and panoramas gaining more traction as the technology becomes more widespread and more cost-effective to produce.
Your website needs to act as the destination for all marketing activity, so it needs to be fast, easy to use and flexible enough to utilise content whether created internally or by a community of content providers and influencers. Personalisation adds an extra layer of intelligence to ensure an engaging and tailored experience with the added benefits of providing data about website visitors and their needs.