Four Tips To Overcome The Digital Travel Marketing Disruptors

July 17, 2014

This article published on Skift one year ago, The Destination Marketing Organization Model in Tourism Is Broken, challenged DMOs to re-examine their marketing model to remain effective in the fast-evolving digital landscape. Skift identified four disruptors to DMOs: the rise of the collaborative economy, user generated content, OTAs and mobile platforms.

To not just survive, but to thrive in today’s destination and travel marketing environment, here are four actionable ways to overcome each disruptor.

1. Leveraging Aggregate Travel Audiences

  • Disruptor: The collaborative economy
  • Don’t view the peer-to-peer (P2P) movement as a threat, but as an expanded community with niche audiences to leverage. If AirBnB is becoming popular in your destination, what can your destination do to capitalize on the consumers visiting the site to book a place to stay? Explore advertising opportunities to push to your booking engine or accommodation partners. Participate in social media chats sponsored by other travel aggregators like the #Expediachat Twitter chat or the Travelocity Gnome’s #gosmelltheroses twitter chat. Show that your destination understands this new travel ecosystem and how to be an active player in this evolving space.

2. Instagram and Vine Are The Little Black Dress of Travel Marketing

  • Disruptor: The rising importance of UGC and social platforms
  • The ability to create and curate user generated content (UGC) is imperative for any destination’s marketing plan.  Research continues to show that consumers trust the opinions of other consumers, travel bloggers, friends and family over brand advertising. Work with popular digital influencers across Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote your destination. For DMOs, curating content is more valuable than creating content. So leveraging visually-driven  UGC on Instagram or Vine can be a time saving way to publish more personal content. Vine, the video-only social platform, is exploding right now. According to Mashable, five Vine videos are tweeted every second and the platform has 40 million users. DMOs can regram a picture or video on Instagram or revine a video on Vine to share third-party content with their followers.

3. Be Visual

  • Disruptor: The dominance of OTAs in the distribution system
  • DMO websites still play a vital role in inspirational travel, even though OTAs are dominating the consumer search and buying process.  OTAs are most often used to search for the best deals once a specific destination has been shortlisted. However, DMO digital platforms offer inspiration when consumers are still selecting which locations to shortlist. To be effective, make sure your website plays into the aspirational values and experiences for which your target audience is looking. Be visual!  For cost-effective imagery, create a promotion to drive image content creation. For example, HotelTonight created the “Snap Your Stay” campaign to encourage users to take pictures and upload shots of their hotel rooms to receive credits ranging from $5 to $10. As a DMO, you could partner with a hotel, city coupon service like CityPASS or Entertainment Book, attractions, or restaurants to encourage travelers to generate content using specific hashtags.

4. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

  • Disruptor: Mobile
  • By this time, responsive design in mobile is old news.  Your best bet to stand out from the clutter online is personalization. From touchdown to takeoff, every digital touch point you have should be mobile optimized. Whether you have a responsive design website, app, social channels or emails—personalize whenever possible. Personalization can be achieved on a website or in an email by asking consumers their interests in a pop-up, then customizing the content consumers receive. The more custom content you can deliver—the  better.

When mapping out your digital strategy, use the traveler expectation infographic to identify gaps in your current marketing and ways to optimize.

travel infographic3

What else have you done to ensure your DMO evolves with the dynamic travel marketing industry?

Written by Brittani Wood

Brittani Wood is an Account Supervisor and Digital and Social Media Manager for Tourism. Since joining DCI in 2008, she has worked with destinations from Finger Lakes Wine Country to New Mexico to Tasmania, creating traditional and digital communications campaigns that increase awareness of travel destinations among media and consumers.

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