Against all expectations in our constantly squabbling tourism industry, a sort of consensus seems to be emerging about how ably the majority of tourism marketing organisations are representing their clients: not really all that well, especially when it comes to today’s swiftly changing travel climate and to representing the interests of local communities and travellers keen on interacting with them.
What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? We’re running a short (eight-question) survey about it and are very eager for your opinion.
Personally, I have to agree, especially as I sit in a curious place, a busy information juncture fed by multiple data streams involving the active and growing local-travel segment of the industry.
At the heart of the WHL Group, the largest local-travel company in the world, I have an ear to the ground in hundreds of destinations thanks to partnerships with scores of tour operators expert in their locales.
As a co-instigator of the Local Travel Movement, a slow-simmer not-for-profit platform founded by people with a passion for local travel and commitment to local travel values, I get wind of even more incredible often-under-the-radar local goings-in.
At the helm of The Travel Word – this very blog of local voices showcasing responsible, sustainable and local travel – I work hard to share useful, inspirational, meaningful and otherwise-hard-to-find information sourced from local experts or visiting travellers.
And as a staff writer for Travelllll.com, a travel-blogging and media news site, I have been helping to trumpet the importance of raising the bar of excellence in travel content by focusing on choosing a content leadership path, examining the ethics of blog disclosure and providing advice on the development of both a travel blog media strategy and travel blog media kit.
Directly relevant to – but distressingly absent from – almost everything in which I am engaged are all of the special entities officially charged with promoting destinations, whether a town, city, region or country. These include destination management/marketing organisations (DMOs), convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) and private public relations agencies.
Alarmingly, at a time when consumer demand and industry-driven changes are moving at lightning speed, and growing attention is focussed on keeping things local (think SoLoMo), most of these promotional bodies (with a few admirable exceptions) often appear, at best, out of step. At worst, they seem downright retrograde, relying on and responding to outmoded marketing practices and expectations. By and large, at a time when so many industry stakeholders – bloggers, local tour operators, global service organisations and more – are actively searching for new and viable solutions to improving market reach and brand visibility in tourism, established promotional bodies have too often positioned themselves as part of an entrenched circle-jerk of a problem, one whereby local operators criticise writers who criticise editors who criticise advertisers who criticise marketing firms who criticise large travel suppliers who criticise tourism boards who criticise local operators.
What’s Actually Happening?
In search of a broader sense of whether this perception is accurate and what to do about it, three entities – the WHL Group, the Local Travel Movement and Planeta.com, a pioneering website focusing on conscious travel around the globe – have joined forces to determine how good you think the tourism marketing really is where you live.
Through a short (eight-question) survey, we are endeavouring to understand how localities are promoted, to review how satisfied (or not) you are with processes in place and then to curate good practices and suggestions for improving tourism promotion.
Are you involved in tourism in your locale? Do you have a strong feeling about the nature and quality of your locale’s marketing and promotional efforts? We are very eager to hear from you. Your participation is completely voluntary (of course) and your survey responses will be held in strict confidence. The results will be shared online, but only anonymously and/or in the aggregate, thus protecting your identity.