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Positioning a destination at the forefront of the tourism scene - Part 2

Being a trendy destination is the greatest challenge facing the organisations in charge of promoting tourism in a territory. Because when you talk about trends, you talk about the number of tourists and the resulting economic benefits for the destinations in question. But in the age of social networks, it is increasingly difficult to get a place in the spotlight given the number of competitors. So how do you stand out and attract the favour of travellers at a time when international tourism is picking up again after two down years? It is not a question of drowning your territory under hordes of tourists, but of having a firm grip on the activity in order to de-seasonalise it and redistribute the flows.

To discover the first part of this analysis dedicated to destination marketing, click here.

Campaigns that stand out

More and more tourist organisations are breaking away from the traditional codes and distinguishing themselves by playing the originality card. With this in mind, Atout France has launched two new campaigns aimed at Asian customers. The first takes the form of an animated video inspired by the world of manga to address Japanese travellers. Launched on 20 July, this campaign called "And you, what is your France?" was produced in partnership with a Japanese animation studio. In this way, Atout France wishes to remind the Japanese public that France has everything they like to find during their travels, such as its historical and natural heritage, art and culture, gastronomy, skiing or even sports cycling in the mountains.

The second campaign targets the South Korean clientele thanks to a collaboration with the emblematic characters and official ambassadors of KakaoTalk, the leading South Korean mobile application with 47 million users. Their entire travel journey is shared via social networks and the Kakao Friends website as well as those of Atout France South Korea. It is thus possible to follow the mascots' journey through France. In addition, Atout France is offering a colouring contest "Kakao Friends Paris Edition", where the winner can win a trip to Paris and a unique experience following the itinerary of Ryan and Chunsik. The campaign is already a great success with the millenials and Z generations.

Eure Tourisme and the Department of Eure are using humour to give visibility to their territory. The latest campaign in 2021 was offbeat and very daring by highlighting the opinions of those who do not like the destination. Tweets posted in 4 by 4 in train and metro stations or bus stations with colourful and aspirational images of the Eure in the background. The tweets include "I had a horrible nightmare, I dreamt I was going on holiday in the Eure #PlusJamaisCa" to which the slogan at the bottom of the poster replies "The Eure leaves no one indifferent and that's why you'll love it". A very original way of promoting a destination by trying to break down the preconceptions that may exist around it. 

For some, the Eure is not considered a holiday destination. For others it is "the arsehole of Normandy", or even not Normandy at all. You'd have to know. So yes, we don't have the sea (although we do have 150 metres of coastline), we don't have mountain ranges. But come and try your luck on the coast of the two lovers. The Eure is so much more and so much better, you have to come to find out. The Eure is worth a visit, to discover its resplendent nature, its 600 villages full of buildings, monuments, gourmet addresses... Far from prejudices, it is nature in its raw state, you can disconnect, you can be carried away.

Thomas Elexhauser, President of Eure Tourisme

The French rural territories have definitely got humour in spades, as shown by the latest campaign in Batz-Sur-Mer, Loire-Atlantique. The aim of the "Uniquement à Batz-Sur-Mer" communication campaign is to present the destination in an atypical and offbeat way, by highlighting the places and above all the people who bring the resort to life every day. The recipe for this unusual campaign lies in the choice of highlighting a more or less well known place in the commune by promoting local authority employees, elected representatives and partners with pop-culture references, without forgetting of course to add a touch of madness. A refreshing campaign in which Frédéric Sauton, Director of Communication and Promotion, was almost completely naked in the sea as a tribute to Jean-Claude Dusse from Les Bronzés.

Some campaigns stand out more for their ingenuity, such as the one designed by the German railway company Deutsch Bahn. Called "No need to fly", it aims to encourage Germans to discover the riches of their own country via the train rather than flying to discover other territories. The plus of this campaign is its use of data. Facebook data was used to identify target groups interested in specific destinations. Then an algorithm found similar images on Getty Images in Germany and around the world. Geotargeting shows the closest airport to each person and their destination, while a search engine determines the cheapest flight price in real time. By combining all this data, targeted video ads offered travellers an unbeatable deal. The campaign is fully automated and offers almost endless possibilities. The aim was to show that it makes no sense to spend a lot of money on a plane when you can have almost the same experience by train for only 19 euros in Germany. The campaign also won an award for innovation.

Tourism New Zealand, for its part, plays on feelings and seeks to arouse the curiosity of viewers in its latest campaign called "If you seek". A series of 18 mini-videos, each with a specific theme and revealing an experience that can be had in the country. From traditional welcoming ceremonies to trekking to sacred places to swimming with dolphins, each video is a call to adventure and discovery. Showcasing both must-see locations and more private spots, the campaign takes a different approach to destination marketing by giving audiences information about what's on offer and inviting the curious to take the time to research and find out more about their visit. 

Competition is intense, with destinations running multiple campaigns to capture the imagination of travellers. Because of its size and location, New Zealand will have to work hard to encourage post-covital visits, as it takes years for international visitor numbers to increase and Kiwis now have the opportunity to travel overseas. [Tourism New Zealand uses a range of information to create compelling campaigns to reach quality visitors. These are visitors who we believe will explore further and ultimately contribute to New Zealand's tourism sector beyond the economic benefit. These are travellers who want to engage with our culture, our society and interact with our environment in a respectful way. Our research shows that visitors who see our work spend more and travel more widely in New Zealand. 

René de Monchy, Chief Executive, Tourism New Zealand

For its part, Spain is building on its myths and legends through the 'Legends of Spain' campaign in partnership with National Geographic. It reveals Asturias, the Basque Country and central Spain through their myths, legends and the country's immense folklore. The campaign highlights the marine myths of the mermaids of the Basque Country, the giant winged snake of Asturias, the "Cuélebre", and the stories of the "Land of Giants" in Castilla-La Mancha, which inspired Cervantes' Don Quixote. The campaign is part of Turespaña's branded content strategy, which consists of partnering with leading publishing brands and content producers from around the world, with the aim of generating inspirational content from the best international storytellers. The campaign, which consists of three articles, three videos and a photo gallery, is aimed at key European markets and North America. It will be published in the global edition of National Geographic magazine and on its website.

Press the green button" is what Tourism Ireland is asking us to do in its campaign launched in 2021 and running throughout this year. The campaign delivers a clear 'book now' message and aims to boost visitor numbers and intent to book a trip to Ireland. The concept revolves around creating a commitment to travel by 'pushing the green button', green being the universal colour of departure and instinctively linked to the island of Ireland. It features iconic locations including the Cliffs of Moher, the Titanic in Belfast, the Giant's Causeway, Ha'penny Bridge, Lough Tay and Trinity College. The campaign targets 12 international markets including the USA, Germany, France, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. 

The second phase of our 2022 Green Button campaign is underway in the United States, reaching millions of Americans who are considering where to take their autumn or winter holidays. With non-stop flights from several US cities, we are reminding US travellers that Ireland is 'closer than you think'. The US remains an extremely important market for tourism on the island of Ireland. 

Alison Metcalfe, Head of North America for Tourism Ireland

However, it is important to promote sustainability in the tourism sector because promoting a destination is one thing, but promoting respect for it is another. With this in mind, Loganair has launched a new initiative that asks tourists to respect and protect the UK's unique island destinations by creating a new 'Island Visitor Commitment'. An initiative not unlike the Sustainable Tourist Pledge created by Visit Iceland. To showcase the best of the British Isles, Loganair recently launched its 'Loganair Loves Islands' summer campaign, which actively encourages potential UK travellers to support island communities by visiting them this summer. However, as part of the campaign, targeted communications will be sent to Loganair customers who are due to travel to one of its island destinations. The pledge calls on travellers not to use plastic bottles, to support local catering businesses and to respect heritage and fragile archaeological sites. 

We are extremely proud to fly the flag for our beautiful but fragile island communities. In the aftermath of the pandemic, people continue to explore and enjoy the many unique attractions we offer right here in the UK, but we need to be extra careful to protect our precious destinations, especially our islands. We hope our customers will join us on the next stage of our journey to protect the environment and secure our islands for generations to come. 

Luke Lovegrove, Loganair Commercial Director

Building meaningful partnerships

Partnerships are of paramount importance in the promotional sector. They allow for a wider audience to be reached, but also for targets to be addressed outside the usual perimeter. Partnerships also allow two entities to join forces, thus filling possible gaps in a given area of one of them.

The Canary Islands tourist office has thus called on the Airbnb platform to position itself as the European reference destination for digital nomads by directly addressing this niche of clientele. To date, it is the only Spanish destination to join the Airbnb "Live and Work Anywhere" campaign promoting digital nomadism. In 2020, the Canary Islands government set a target of attracting nearly 30,000 teleworkers to the island within a decade, a figure that has already been surpassed with the gradual increase in digital nomads on the islands since the health crisis began.

After Covid, Scotland wanted to let tourists know that it was ready to welcome them back. In order to reach out to people who wanted to discover the destination, VisitScotland partnered with Skyscanner to target the right people with the right message at the right time. The aim was to support partner airlines by raising awareness of the resumption of direct flights to Scotland among German, French and Dutch travellers, while driving bookings. The campaign was also linked to the Scottish Government's ambition to promote a long-term sustainable recovery, which encourages travellers to explore all parts of the country throughout the year and support local communities. Travellers are targeted throughout their shopping journey, through a combination of inspirational advertising and content using the slogan 'Scotland is calling you'. The campaign reached 2.5 million people, resulted in a significant increase in bookings and gave VisitScotland an ROI of +1,114%. Searches for stopover cities increased by 1,175% compared to 2021 and bookings by 1,257%.

Skyscanner was the perfect partner for us - its vast European audience provided the perfect platform to spread our message and reach active travellers looking to get away. The result - an impressive return on our advertising spend of +1,114% - speaks for itself. 

Fiona Holmes, Marketing Director, VisitScotland

For its part, VisitBerlin is partnering with Join GmbH to develop its own intelligent tourism database. The aim is to store and consolidate all the city's tourist information, for example, on hotels, sights, museums, attractions, restaurants and events, in a digital data centre and make it usable for a variety of applications. Not only will the city's tourism providers benefit from the smart database, but the technology will also allow visitors to access the latest information through different channels. VisitBerlin plans to complete the development of the first prototype by the end of 2022. Further external systems will be integrated in the second phase of the project next year. The new data centre is expected to lay the foundation for further intelligent applications, such as services based on artificial intelligence. Personalised advice for visitors could be envisaged, as well as tailor-made travel products.

With our new data hub, we are making Berlin's tourism a little smarter and creating the technical basis for continuing to play in the top group of international competition between urban destinations in the future. 

Burkhard Kieker, CEO of VisitBerlin

In a bid to support its tourism industry, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is launching a digital travel passport in collaboration with five leading companies, including AIS, TRUE, Kasikorn Bank, ThaiBev and Dusit Thani. The TAGTHAi Pass, among other things, provides an additional sales and distribution channel so that tourism operators can earn more revenue by having better access to travellers from around the world, while providing travellers with a convenient tool when travelling in Thailand. From the TAGTHAi Pass app, tourists can access a variety of selected tourism services, including those recommended by locals.

The municipality of Istiaia-Edipsos and the hospitality association Loutra Edipsos have joined forces to promote the Edipsos region to European clients. Famous for its thermal springs, Edipsos is considered an ideal destination for visitors who enjoy wellness tourism. However, according to the president of the hospitality association of Loutra Edipsos, Thodoris Roumeliotis, the region is much more than a wellness haven and offers many other forms of alternative tourism that travellers know little or nothing about. In particular, he said that the time had come to take the destination's tourism product to the next level by participating in the "renaissance" of the destination. The municipality and the hospitality association are reportedly in constant communication with the Ministry of Tourism and the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) regarding the promotion of the destination. The region is expected to launch a tourism campaign in the near future to present all that Northern Evia has to offer. Entitled "Northern Evia, Become part of our experiences", the campaign will target young travellers and families in the national and international markets.

The multiple forms of tourism that are developing in the region will satisfy all visitors. Istiaia - Edipsos is a place that can and will attract travellers all year round. Having as its main point of reference that it is the first spa and wellness town in Greece and in the world, Edipsos also has cultural routes, the trekking routes of Mount Telethrio and many kilometres of coastline. 

Ioannis Kontzias, Mayor of Istiaia - Edipsos

On the Asian side, Trip.com Group and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are deepening their collaboration in key markets such as Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong, while expanding their partnership to new markets such as Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. The two parties will work together on a series of marketing campaigns in several Southeast Asian markets, as well as in South Korea and Hong Kong in the coming months. Among the various initiatives is the development and delivery of promotional content via Trip.com's app and website to showcase the destination's story and position the city-state as a safe and attractive destination for travellers.

We have worked closely with Trip.com Group, especially over the past two years during the pandemic, to maintain Singapore's image with regional travellers. [...] We will build on this to showcase Singapore's new destination offerings and encourage travellers to reimagine their trip to Singapore through our global marketing campaign SingapoReimagine. 

Juliana Kua, Deputy Director General, Singapore Tourism Board

Trip.com has also signed a two-year memorandum of understanding to promote Mongolia as a tourist destination with Tapatrip. Under the partnership, both parties will jointly promote the destinations and products through various marketing and media activities in global markets and will also collaborate on various capacity building and knowledge sharing initiatives. The ambition of this cooperation is to attract one million visitors to Mongolia per year by 2024, according to Batmunkh Unubukh, founder and president of Tapatrip.

Other initiatives on a smaller scale are emerging, such as the creation of the Club des 9, which is the result of collaboration between 9 major tourist sites in the north of the Val d'Oise and the south of the Oise. These are the Château de Compiègne, the Château de Pierrefonds, the Château de Chantilly, the Parc Astérix, the Abbaye Royale de Chaalis, La Mer de Sable, the Abbaye de Royaumont, Sherwood Parc and the Château d'Ecouen. The ambition of this project is to federate around common objectives that allow for exchange and progress on priority themes, while developing a collective dynamic. The creation of inter-site offers as well as better communication and connection are at the heart of the collective's priorities. In order to carry out this ambitious project, an external coordinator has been appointed to design the actions. This "link" between the 9 sites, as he calls himself, is none other than Vincent Varache. The Club des 9 is focusing primarily on local and regional customers, although it is not excluded that the targets will be widened and new customers sought afterwards. Two initial actions have been put in place through event programming around Halloween 2021 and Easter 2022 with joint communication. Other future actions include a pricing partnership that will allow a full-price ticket from one of the partner sites to be used at the other sites with a minimum 20% discount. 

This association of heritage and leisure sites offers great agility to our actions, and creates a coherent area of attraction north of Paris. The dynamics of this grouping, which shares the same approach, both locally and beyond, has led Royaumont to organise very public events for the first time. The night visits and egg hunts generated attendance well above the usual levels. 

Igor Szabason, Director of the Department of Public Affairs and Communication at the Abbaye de Royaumont

 

After two years of a health crisis that has had a heavy impact on the tourism sector, the battle is raging between destinations to make the most of the situation. Humour, originality, technology, rebranding, development of new offers and partnerships are all elements that constitute strong and unique marketing actions within the reach of local and national tourism promotion organisations. With today's technological tools and a touch of innovation, small destinations now have the power to compete with large, established destinations. It remains to be seen whether tourists will be sensitive to all these initiatives and base their future destination choices on them.

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