Going for Epic Tourism

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu

Time for Tourism to engage

Destination promotion is changing at a very fast pace.

A new post-crisis consumer is appearing along the Millennials with new expectations and new consuming habits. On the crowded and very competitive global marketplace, loyalty building in the tourism sector has never been so challenging and important. As the Loyalty Marketers Association mentioned it in a recent 4Hoteliers post, engaging customers will be the top priority of many destinations and tourism promotion organizations in 2011.

Going for Epic Consumer Experience

How can destinations engage in this changing Word of Mouth (WOM) world ?

Delivering epic consumer experiences based on the best products & services and effective online promotion taking advantage of the latest information technology.

Providing the right content on demand is a good first step. Just consider MySwitzerland‘s recent successful Snow Report app. This awesome app gives for every Swiss ski resort the snow conditions and weather.

In this WOM world building an online community for a destination is crucial to communicate with its increasing number of connected fans. Crans-Montana, a famous Swiss ski and golfing resort in Valais, is particularly active this winter promoting its Facebook & Twitter communities with a comics-based storytelling & QR-code campaign in lifts.

Another very innovative way to engage customers is by playgrounding your destination, the way Vail Resort does it with its new Mountain Location Game EpicMix that promotes consumer participation by using social media and location based services to make an epic experience people can share with friends.

This engagement strategy is even more interesting if you consider that you can apply the same principles to all sorts of touristic activities and turn a destination into a giant playground. Conscious of this potential, brands like Nokia & Burton Snowboards are preparing similar services.

Don’t forget the Loyalty Building basics:

Matching product – service quality with customer expectations !

These three examples just show some of the many innovative possibilities available to promote destinations. Two elements are nevertheless crucial to the success of any action:

  • Post-crisis customers are looking for relevancy and meaning. Specially important also for the Millennial Generation, destinations must show social responsibility for the  global sustainability and other coming challenges.
  • Critical & connected customers are also looking for the real life quality and value they were promised online. Destinations and hospitality businesses must pay particular attention to ensure te best quality as new consumers have the means (Twitter , TripAdvisor, …) to report with great ease & speed to their related communities any “failed” experience. This stresses the increasingly important role of destinations community managers that must stay in touch and react.

For many destinations in Switzerland, Europe and America the journey has already begun although launching an app or managing a fan page on Facebook is just not enough. An integrated professional approach at every customer touchpoint (online and in the real world) is crucial to engage tourism consumers and build loyalty.

Do you have interesting examples you would like to share ? Don’t hesitate to comment. I’d be glad to have your comments !

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