The Impossible Task of Destination Marketing
I spend a lot of time exploring tourism destinations.
I spend a lot of time creating strategy to encourage others to explore tourism destinations.
The more I explore, the less I am convinced that destinations can be effectively explained to potential tourists.
Sights and Sounds
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon falling in love with Santa Monica.
I watched locals and visitors alike searching for a retreat from the day. Noticed kids playing in the sand. Dogs out for a walk. A dance lesson in the front room of a house. A man painting in his garage. Three friends playing backgammon in a driveway.
I felt the wind. Heard dozens of different languages. Smelled the sea. Watched the traffic retreat. Tasted fresh fish.
And saw thousands of people having a unique experience in a very small corner of Santa Monica.
I found myself equating travel not to an escape, but to the confirmation of a routine. The appeal was not the complexity of choice, but simplicity in the ordinary.
It was comforting to know that my family could live in this place.
I did not fall in love in Santa Monica or Amsterdam or Mexico Beach because they are different, but because they are familiar.
The Monotony of Marketing
For all of the brand campaigns, big data and marketing tactics utilized to inform the potential tourist about the promise of travel, the results remarkably underwhelming.
Ads and websites look the same.
Social accounts sound the same.
Most best of lists are the same.
Perhaps our clients and peers are trying to hard.
Our focus on everything and everyone has resulted in a message that appeals to few.
Have we placed too much emphasis on inspiring the impossible, while overlooking an explanation of the essentials?
Photos, video, Google Glass, guides, tweets, testimonials — can anything truly capture the experience of travel like the act of travel?
If the answer is no, why are we trying so damn hard?
We ignore the obvious because it is too obvious.
Invest in substance before style.
Pay less attention to your competition and more attention to your consumers.
Keep pushing your partners and members to value the overall tourism experience.
Give potential visitors the information and ability to create and complete their own experience.
Accept that the story of your destination cannot be told in a few words, photos or videos.
Discover what is familiar about your destination and find an audience that will appreciate it.
Consider the needs of partners and the organization, but to inspire travel, simplify to differentiate.