The rules of marketing have definitely changed. In this new digital environment, a weak and inadequate brand will quickly be exposed. The potency and breadth of new digital platforms are compelling DMOs to engage in activities that have greater relevance, integration, targeting accuracy, speed, and responsiveness. It’s now a two-way encounter, no longer totally controlled by the destination and its partners.
More Accessible Touchpoints
Touchpoints are the most critical moments where the customer comes in contact with the place and where its brand reputation can be enhanced or devalued. The Digital Age is opening an even greater range of opportunities to connect with customers before, during and after their visit.
Mobile devices have provided consumers with the 24/7 ability to source information (web), navigate (GPS), be entertained and learn (video), communicate (text), compare (Yelp), meet (Foursquare), brag (Facebook and Instagram) and review (TripAdvisor) while wandering through a museum, walking a forest trail or driving an historic route. Not to mention the power to enhance the interpretation, storytelling and ability to bring a place to life through place-based solutions. They are dramatically changing the way that visitors interact with places.
There are extensive opportunities for destinations to bring their brand to life and deliver value and amazing visitor experiences. For DMOs the challenge is to orchestrate and influence encounters to be as close as possible to the brand vision at every critical touchpoint. This coverage can now be integrated through traditional and digital platforms. While touchpoints may vary for each customer, they may be in the form of a magazine ad, tradeshow, booking, website, tweet, kiosk, smartphone apps, map, street sign, tour guide or myriad other encounters.
A location that doesn’t optimize the use of these assets and fails to present itself as interactive, engaging and experiential won’t develop a meaningful brand or sustainable destination. Those destinations that will excel are clearly differentiated, innovative, and connect and inspire customers across its most critical touchpoints.
An Era of Opportunity
Rather than be threatened by these new rules and digital tools, DMOs should embrace them by fostering a city-wide culture of innovation, adaptation and collaboration. Despite these new assets and changes to consumer behavior and interaction, the basic principles of branding haven’t changed. To thrive and survive DMOs must learn new skills and be more adaptive in conveying their destination’s distinctiveness and benefits across myriad media, platforms and touchpoints that destination managers could not have accessed a decade ago. And to achieve this they must be guided less by politics and appeasement, and more by collaboration, product development, and true customer focus.
Produced by: Total Destination Marketing
Best Selling Book: Destination Branding for Small Cities