As we venture into 2018 and beyond, the new trend word in Destination marketing is: “authenticity”
For some regions authenticity is easy to find, as they still have remnants from the past that are alive and kicking in this day and age. For example, in India many people, especially the women still dress in traditional garments on a daily basis. Or in Germany, where beer brewing is a very strong part of their culture and every region, city or even village has its own beer, and everyone is so proud of it, that they prefer their own over imported bigger brands.
Yet for regions that have been developed and modernised beyond historical recognition, it is sometimes hard to find things that can be considered authentic. Globalisation is not helping either. So what can they do to still find authenticity within?
Of course one can look for modern popular culture and market it, but in my opinion globalisation leads to promoting things such as: street art, local shopping etc.; which can be found in any major city. Street-art graffiti in London will not differ that much from street-art graffiti in Houston Texas. A funky specialty coffeeshop in San Fransisco is not really that different from one in Hamburg Germany.
However, history, is unique and not transferable and impossible to copy. And the good thing is…..there is a lot of “undiscovered” or unused history which destinations can use.
1 – Research
Get a team or a person that is interested in history, culture and other related topics to spearhead the project. On the internet, there is a lot of uncovered history available. Especially now that many institutions around the world are digitalising old documents and images of artists, it is easer to track them and connect the dots of stories and timelines.
One example I can share is that I watched an online documentary via youtube about the actual first longterm European settlement in what is now the USA. It was about St. Augustine in Florida. It indicated that the Spanish actually settled the west coast of the USA before the Mayflower arrived in Virginia.
2 – Physical evidence
Based on the results of the research, set out to fid out if there is still some physical evidence out there. This can be buildings, archaeological findings or artefacts. if the buildings and archaeological findings are still visible and accessible for people it is even better. Maybe it needs to be developed to host tourists and travellers. But this can be seen as a great opportunity. If there are already museums available showing artefacts, great. just make sure they get more attention and they are very important in bringing to life the next tip.
3 – Storytelling
Now that you have uncovered some “forgotten” history, found the physical evidence and artifacts to back it up and bring it to life, starts the exchanging marketing part: storytelling
Aside from authenticity, the new trend is also storytelling. Many if not almost all DestinationMarketing Organisations (DMO) are increasing efforts in developing stories. This happens by collaborations between traditional PR, copy writers and content creators. People are looking for authentic experiences that are backed up by a good and true story. This will entice them to consider travelling to the location and re-live it or experience it for themselves.
These stories are slowly replacing “traditional” advertising campaigns by using the same communication channels. Mainly online these days. One of the most popular methods is “Blogging”. Back up by some solid SEO and perhaps SEA, these blogs are found by the right people and replace you traditional online ad.
A random but nice example is a blog posted by the BBC about the Dance Soucy Palace in Haiti (if you knew about this historical place, hats off, you are a fan)
4 – Merchandise
All of the above costs money. Besides the time and effort invested by people developing al this, DMO’s increasingly have to look for new ways of funding. For this, we can grab back to some old-school marketing tactic which is good ‘ol merchandising.
A good historical story that enables a destination to showcase itself as having something authentic will have an emotional effect on people. It is of course up to each destination to determine how far they are willing to go, but I have seen many examples around the world where smart use of merchandising can really add to the experience of the visitors by giving them an opportunity to own a part of the experience. while at the same time provide important revenue streams to the DMO and the destination.
In my opinion a good example is the shop of the Johannes Vermeer museum in Delft, The Netherlands. Vermeer might not be as popular as Rembrandt, yet is is part of the authentic experience when in The Netherlands and especially when visiting the lesser known city of Delft.
Have fun with it, and likeminded travellers and tourists will come and look for you.
Need some help getting started? feel free to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org