Destinations all around the world invest millions of dollars in attracting visitors each year. You see commercials with celebrities inviting you to California, or families enjoying the beaches of Florida while most of the country is waiting for the next winter storm. Attracting conventions and visitors to your city means more economic growth, not just in tax revenue, but in increase revenue for local businesses including hotels, restaurants, attractions, and so forth.
Over the years, as more people spend the majority of their time with digital media and travel planners have begun to conduct all of their research online, destination marketers have moved their marketing messages to optimized websites, blogs, and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. But is simply moving your content from one media platform to another the best approach? Of course not.
When new platforms are introduced, marketers need to be quick to seize new opportunities. Consider when radio, once the major media platform, was usurped by televisions in people’s homes. Did communicators simply switch their message from one platform to the next without looking at new opportunities that they could explore in the new medium? No. Now that people are carrying around the entire interactive world wide web in their pocket, marketers need to rethink not just how they will communicate but what they can communicate and how their communication can impact the experience of their audience. Based on Google’s recent algorithm updates, we also know that the more useful and timely your content, the more your content will show up in search results.
The best way to market your destination is through word of mouth. The best word of mouth comes from people have had an amazing experience. The best way to help your visitors have an amazing experience is to empower them to feel at home in your home – to be able to experience your city like a local. Here are 4 ways to refocus your content from marketing to attract visitors to empowering your visitors.
I can guarantee that you have people in your city who are quite knowledgeable about the best places to visit and they love to share their in-depth knowledge with friends and strangers alike. In The Tipping Point, journalist Malcolm Gladwell referred to such people as “Mavens.”
What makes leveraging the content of such Mavens so powerful in your marketing mix is that your audience will recognize the passion they have when sharing information and the authenticity of their advice. Their words are based on beliefs and experiences as opposed to a marketing message that is trying to sell something.
Many of these Mavens have already leveraged digital media sites to share their stories and have already built a significant audience. By working with your local Mavens not only do you get to share great their stories with your audience but you also get to tap into their audience.
What is common knowledge to locals is often completely foreign to visitors? On my first visit to NYC, I did not understand that “No Standing” signs were no parking signs and I spend my first night in the city getting my car out of the impound. This is not a good experience. I am a local in Atlanta and fortunately know when to ignore my GPS when it tries to get me to turn down a one-way street, an unfortunate GPS glitch that will get locals in some serious trouble. On a recent visit to New Orleans my son spent 5X surge rate on an Uber because he did not know how to catch a taxi or navigate through the transit system.
By creating an arsenal of insider insight guides that can be linked to within relevant content on your site, share within a library, and promote on social networks, you can empower your visitors to become “mini citizens” of your city for a few days or weeks.
Visitors needs to know breaking news happening in the city that is specifically related to their experience. The local news that is covering who was murdered and what store was robbed is not where your visitors need to be tuning in. Instead, they need a news outlet that tells them the weather information and what some alternate plans that they can make if the weather has interrupted their day. They need to know what shows are playing or games that are going on where they can still get tickets. They need to know what streets or highways to avoid during certain hours and alternative ways to get around the city.
When you switch your marketing from just trying to showcase all that your city has to offer to offering insights on how to experience your city, not only does your marketing become more useful, but it will develop into a rich story about the many characters that make your city great.