But everyone is City Selling. The juxtaposition of centuries of art, architecture and natural beauty makes these cultural capitals come alive with personality and flavor. With hundreds of years of promotion already behind them, they are at the forefront of the race when it comes to vacation destinations. Faced against such tough competition out there, how can a travel marketer put his own location on the map?
Just because a city, town, or village does not boast a Fontana di Trevi or the Mona Lisa does not mean that it is not worth visiting; destinations are popular for a variety of reasons. The French-speaking Swiss town of Montreux, for example, draws thousands of spectators with its annual jazz festival. Eastern European cities such as Budapest and Karlovy Vary have long been renowned for their thermal baths. And across the pond, many tourists flock to the United States each year just to cruise along the “Ole’ 66.” So even the smallest things can be of great interest to people: a concert, a spa, or even a mere road.
However, because cities are marketable does not guarantee that your marketing plan will be successful. As with any product or placement, travel destinations have to be properly positioned and aimed at the right people. Below are some key points to remember when planning your next big holiday “go-to” campaign.
Invest in Web Design
I cannot count how many times I’ve pressed the back button on my browser because of a badly designed homepage. (Isn’t the point of a website to attract, not detract?) In this age, a website that looks unprofessional reflects an organization that is likewise unprofessional, whether or not it is actually true. There is no longer any excuse not to invest in good web designs and layouts. If you want to be serious, then it’s time to give your local HTML professional a call.
Think about it: if folks who are interested are not able to see a place or city for themselves, the first thing they will do when they want information fast is to look it up online. And what do you think their reaction will be when they come to an outdated page with broken links, kitschy fonts and tacky backgrounds? “Nope!”
A good tourism page consists of current information that is relevant to the customers: attractions, hotels, restaurants, and other things which make a destination worth visiting. It should also be easy on the eyes and simple enough to navigate through. Choose colors complementary to each other and be consistent with your fonts. While it might not seem very important, these small aesthetics could make or break the impression you are trying to make!
A Picture is worth a Thousand
A great part of attracting visitors is appealing to their visual senses, so it should go without saying that pictures are mighty important. However, often choosing the right images is a task in itself: it’s important to use pictures that draw immediate attention. Tirol Werbung does a fantastic and creative job with the images used on the region’s official website, www.tirol.at. Currently, each header image is split into different sections—foreground, middle, background—which shifts as the animation pans from angle to angle, giving the images a sense of depth and inclusion. Why not take your photographer (or perhaps Photoshopper) out to lunch to discuss your ideas and vision for your destination’s presentation and image?
One of These Things Is Not Like the Other
Does your city have something unique that people should know about? (If you say no, you’re not thinking hard enough!) Often, having a strong unique selling point is all that is needed to start reeling in the guests. The town of Winchester sits quietly in the backyard of Ontario, Canada, for most of the year; however, during the summer it is the host of the Dairy Fest, an event which brings in farmers, cheesemakers, and dairy-lovers from all over the country. Once you’ve established a unique selling point, you’re on your way.
Who are the people you are trying to attract? Chances are, establishing a reputation within a certain group of consumers is a lot more dependable and profitable than trying to stretch thin and please everyone. If the destination is big and diverse, perhaps there will be different target groups. However, if the destination is small and uniform, you will probably only be looking to grab the attention of a particular group of people.
A country such as Norway, for example, would not fare very well in trying to attract young metropolitants who enjoy clubbing and meeting new people, since Norway only has a low population density and Scandinavians are known for being notoriously shy. Neither would it do very well in selling itself as a nation with a rich culinary culture. However, the country chooses to emphasize its vast territories of untouched natural beauty, making it a haven for hikers, mountaineers, and kayakers.
Marketing a place is not so unlike marketing any other product or service, however, there is one big difference. Unlike with products, there is no triability, and since prospective customers cannot try out the destination for themselves before going there, the major factors which go into their decision making is mainly from advertising, leaving the ball in your hands.
By Gregory Wen