The rise in “Local” is making an impact. One of the three big trends shapingmarketing today – So Mo Lo ( Social, Mobile and Local), “local” tends to be an afterthought in conversations that focus on the rise of mobile and the impact of social networking and marketing. But “local” is a big deal to tourism marketing and is changing the way the industry does business.
The focus on local has a couple of great benefits for tourism:
- Local product and services build a “sense of place”.
- “Local” tends to highlight differentiated product and so creates competitive advantage.
- A good “local” story creates benefits for the whole tourism system. There’s a reason hoteliers are talking about “local” – exciting, interesting and attractive local destinations add a “brand halo” that supports hotel marketing objectives.
- “Local” is great for the economy. It reduces economic leakage and increases the value of tourism to the destination community.
- “Local” celebrates and spotlights local culture and heritage.
By the Way: Yes – supporting the growth in “local” is a sustainability strategy that improves the Triple Bottom Line.
This trend towards celebrating “local” – culture, arts, crafts, food, lifestyle – is being embraced in a creative ways by members of the tourism system. From boutique hotels, to farmers markets, to an increased interest in regional foods – its all about the what makes the destination unique and special.
So who is promoting local ? Hoteliers , Travel Media and Skift has a new trend report that looks at the Evolution of Local in Hospitality.
“A brand is no-longer what we tell consumers it is. It is what consumers tell each other.” Scott Cook – Founder of Intuit.
While Cook’s experience as a software developer may seem far removed from tourism, this insight is having profound impact on Destination Marketing. At a time when destination branding is becoming more important, there is a greater realization that branding is not just a function of “Promotion” – great advertising, PR, online advertising, etc – another of the 4 P’s of marketing is taking its place in the spotlight: P for Product.
This makes a lot of sense – my brand experience of Apple is in using my ipad or iphone – not their advertising. My brand experience of Starbucks is in my visits to the “third place” – not from their (limited) advertising…. and yet for a long time we have talked about destination branding as though it was about finding a “magic message”.
Marketing is more than “promotion” and the time has come for DMOs to place more attention on “product”. The heavy lifting of brand development is being undertaken by a new breed of “customer experience managers” and DMO leaders engaging with city leaders and developers to ensure the destination product reflects the destination brand ideals.
Most DMOs have very limited budgets and building brand through advertising has little impact in a marketplace awash with messages. Destination Brand equity is created by consumers sharing with their friends, family and extended networks that the destination actually delivers on the promise. It probably always has been like this – its just that it is more obvious now.
DestinationNext, DMAI’s strategic road map for the future of destination marketing captures growing focus on ensuring the destination is managed to maximized benefits of tourism. The Destination Next theme,”Building and Protecting the Destination Brand”, recognizes that destination brand building includes being a cultural champion for the destination, supporting responsible and sustainable development and connecting visitor experience to resident’s quality of life. For many DMO’s that’s a very different “to do” list from years go past…
DMOs that invest in the visitor experience are using their branding resources in the best possible way…
Sustainability and Social Responsibility are are the driving force behind the Top 5 trends in restaurants in the U.S. according to the National Restaurant Association. The top food trends, according to the National Restaurant Association Culinary Forecast 2015 are locally sourced meat, seafood and produce and environmental sustainability.
Why do DMO managers need to know this ? Because this trend is helping them meet their goals of improving the economic and social well being of their destination communities.
We are all becoming familiar with infographics touting the economic benefits of tourism. An important way to improve the economic impact is to reduce what economists call “leakage” – the money that leaves the community. Locally sourced restaurants and “farm to table” restaurants keep money in the community ! The money tourists spend at “farm to table” restaurants does “leak away” – it stays close to home. These trends is helping raise the economic impact of tourism in many communities.
DMO managers spend a lot of time attracting new visitors to their destination – but strategies to improve the economic impact of visitors as less common. Leveraging these important trends is a way that progressive DMO management can get the most for their communities from visitor dollars.