The Power of Random in Toursim Marketing

Tomorrow I’ll be speaking at the SoMeT — Tourism Symposium in Loudoun, VA. I’m really excited about this presentation because I’ll largely be addressing client side tourism marketers. I’m looking forward to hearing their thoughts on my hypothesis that their content calendars might actually be hampering the effectiveness of their social media and content marketing efforts.

I’m going to challenge them to consider the power of random because the results of my two-year Mardi Gras social media experiment (which I’ll be sharing with them) have convinced me that there is truly power in embracing the randomness of travel, vacations, and cities/events. This video that I captured during Mardi Gras 2010 really drove home the power of random in terms of capturing and sharing cool content. There is no way I could have forseen I’d see Top Chef Hosea and even after I did, we still had to quickly improvise a cool reason to get him on tape.


For the last two years I’ve shared my Mardi Gras with fans and followers. In 2009, I invited everyone to Mardi Gras as My Tweet. Each day I’d get up with no clear idea of what I’d cover/share that day. I embraced the randomness and the results of my brand perception change experiment where impressive. Again in 2010 we pushed randomness further — inviting a handful of bloggers to come to Mardi Gras and help us share it with the world via Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LiveStream and our very own blog. Again, we gave them no content calendar per se, instead asking them to just cover/share whatever seemed interesting. And again, the results were positive — we not only created a positive brand shift for Mardi Gras but we even created positive movement in things like Intent to Purchase of our sponsor brands Tabasco and Sheraton Hotels.

I understand why tourism markets and pretty much most content marketers embrace the Content Calendar. It’s safe. It’s trackable. It’s comfortable. But it is still a holdover of traditional advertising centric thinking. Content Calendars are like media plans — they tell us what we’ll say/cover/share and when. It’s about controlled messaging. It’s about planning and reporting but not about (necessarily) authentic discovery.

Randomness on the other hand is about embracing the true power of discovery, which in the tourism world, is IMHO the most powerful and memorable part of travel. We remember that which we didn’t intend to find. In other words, we like to find what’s around the corner when we visit new destinations. So why not embrace that power to create real-time, real life, immersive virtual experiences that bring the true essence of a destination to life for a consmer to experience and desire? Why not bring the unique, random and cool everyday things to light?

Would that begin to change your mind about a destination? Would that maybe get you a bit more interested in visiting there?

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About Tom Martin

Tom is 20+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry with a penchant for stiff drinks, good debates and digital gadgets that helps digitally challenged companies create innovative and effective digital marketing strategies. He is the founder of Converse Digital , author of The Invisible Sale and a contributing writer for Advertising Age. Tom guides clients through the digital marketing maze and helps companies teach their sales force how to Painlessly Prospect their way to more sales. Connect with him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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