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.
The idea that tourism is a system has been around for a while. Morrison and Mill wrote the first edition of The Tourism System in 1985 – and they weren’t the first to recognize the concept. Since then there have been advances – Louise Twining Ward – added that tourism was a Complex and Adaptive System and Noel Scott and his colleagues have done great work on understanding the dynamics within these networks.
So – if we know its a system – why don’t we treat it like one ? Why is it that when so many industry leaders talk about tourism they tend to assume top down, hierarchical decision making? You can’t just tell a system to do something…
Systems thinking is one of the important skills of Destination Managers. Networking, collaboration, negotiation, knowledge management, partnering, political skills…these are the tools for success in the tourism system.
Seth Godin nailed it (again) with this short post. In a couple of words he describes the reason for massive changes in destination marketing and management. Marketing used to be …
Most destinations marketers are familiar with the principles of target marketing. Targeting the right message to move a specific group of consumers through the buying process is standard operating practice at most DMOs.
It is surprising how few DMOs use the same principles of targeting their message to specific groups within the destination. Often the communication with these stakeholder groups is “one size fits all”. Of course, “one size fits all” normally means that no one is getting what they need.
This point was made clear to me during a recent research project led by my colleague, Dr. Mick La Lopa. In this project we examined the adoption of sustainable tourism practices in a specific destination and the results were clear. There were three distinct groups within the businesses we surveyed: one group that was “on the fence” and needed specific suggestions and assistance to get things moving, one segment that was “on board” and needed support and encouragement and a final group that wasn’t thinking about sustainability and needed to be introduced to the concept and convinced of its importance. The strategies needed to support these three groups are very different – one size does not fit all.
As DMOs grapple with their role in product development “internal marketing” is becoming more important. Targeting the message to the folks at home is just as important as targeting the message to consumers.
Want to read the article?
La Lopa, J., & Day, J. (2011). Pilot study to assess the readiness of the tourism industry in Wales to change to sustainable tourism business practices. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 18, 130–139. DOI 10.1375/jhtm.18.1.130