Streaming Services and Destinations: Synergy

April 08, 2021

Good marketing is coming up with clear, effective messaging. Great marketing gets that message in front of audiences in creative ways. With so many traditional marketing venues on hold for the foreseeable future, we need to continue getting creative with advertising strategies Travel and destination marketers do not need to look far these days to find out where people are spending most of their time.

Just check out what’s happening on any streaming platform.

Services like Netflix – but also Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and a slew of other platforms – are powerful marketing tools for destinations who are able to tap into them. Over the last year, viewers have traveled virtually from the Ozarks to Paris, even making short layovers for a trip to Scranton, Pennsylvania, thanks to reruns of The Office. Eyeballs are glued to streaming services.

Taking advantage of a show or series that highlights a destination for marketing purposes, however, isn’t just about sharing it on social media or shouting it out on a webinar. Think critically about what a specific show can do for your destination, and consider how the link between the two will work for your needs.

Have an intern start binge-watching to scout Netflix filming locations and then think critically about the potential.

1. Keeping you top of mind

A show about your destination might just be a simple way to keep your already popular destination top of mind. We may not be watching Bridgerton thinking about traveling back to old timey London, but it keeps London on our radar all the same.

Tapping into these pop culture phenomena are fantastic ways to gain the attention of TV viewers who will soon be trading in their laptops for in-flight entertainment systems.

Not every destination is going to be able to create this sort of brand awareness from a TV show, of course. Still, destinations may want to begin paying more attention to production schedules and locations to see what’s in the pipeline for upcoming series. And remember it’s not just television. Films, documentaries, cooking shows, and all other sorts of content stream online.

2. Create itineraries

For destinations featured in popular series, there is the opportunity to create itineraries or at least buzz around iconic places featured in popular films and series.

This is nothing new – anyone who ever took a Sex and the City tour of Manhattan can confirm – but the amount of new content on streaming platforms makes it a more interesting prospect for destinations looking for some attention.

It could be an iconic hotel from The Queen’s Gambit or someplace where Fran Lebowitz and Martin Scorsese visit in Pretend It’s a City! And that’s just considering Netflix. Destinations need to know where they appear on the small screen and play a role in engaging fans with popular places featured in these shows, films, and documentaries.

Creating campaigns around these places or repurposing them somehow on social media are just the tip of the iceberg to how marketers can exploit this potential.

3. Create familiarity

OK, so no one is going to the Ozarks to follow in Laura Linney’s steps, but the show of the same name on Netflix does create a familiarity that local DMOs can exploit. Emily in Paris might not be introducing anyone to the French capital, but smaller shows about lesser known destinations will do just that.

Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, for example, are filming a new Netflix film in the greater Cleveland area this summer – is there potential to hype up the destination? Of course! Ohio’s tourism industry might not currently have the same appeal as Florida or the Caribbean, but an injection of pop culture could be the jolt needed to ignite some latent interest.

4. Introduce people

For destinations saying that no series or films revolve around their destination, don’t discount the many documentaries and cooking shows that feature places around the world. From comedic shows like Travels With My Father to whatever Zac Efron was trying to do on Netflix, there are series that introduce viewers to real people living in destinations.

Other shows like Chef’s Table do a great job of introducing local voices around the world while highlighting both place and culture. Destinations will want to take heed to see how locals are sharing messaging about their homes and what viewers think of it all. There is marketing crossover potential here that has yet to be tapped.

5. Spark a debate

Of course not all shows generate immediately positive reactions – and Emily in Paris has made that very clear. While controversial in its depiction of the American expat life in Paris, it ruffled feathers, some might say on purpose, to get people talking about the iconic city.

For those adopting the “any press is good press” mantra, however, sparking a debate about a destination through a show at least helps keep it top of mind, even if the reasons are questionable. It would be difficult, however, to think that people will choose not to visit Paris because of poor Emily, but the point remains.

Not every show holds such potential, but destinations need to make sure they have their fingers on the pulse of how their cities and countries are being used in streaming services. We may hate being on our computers all the time, but for destination marketers, there’s a very bright silver lining to consider when it comes to streaming services.

With reduced capacity at movie theaters, the big screen is not the place to be these days, but both movies and series streamed across the ever-growing spectrum of options are fertile ground for destinations looking to market themselves like never before. It might seem silly to spend time on such efforts, but streaming usage is way up, so it’s time to get with the times.


Wondering if your destination has any pop culture appeal, or if it will in the near future? DCI has 60 years of experience making sure destinations find every key to unlocking their marketing potential. Get in touch with Karyl Leigh Barnes at [email protected] to learn how your destination fits into the pop culture landscape.