August 31

Leveraging Social Media To Grow Tourist Traffic To Your Destination

Today I’m off to Curitiba, Brazil, a city I’d never heard of prior to being invited to come there and speak about using social media to alter brand perception for destinations and festivals. But what makes this even more interesting is what you find when you virtually visit Curitiba as I did with my kids last night.

  • According to the American magazine Reader’s Digest, Curitiba is the best place to live in Brazil.
  • In 2010 the city was awarded the Globe Sustainable City Award which was set up to recognize those cities and municipalities which excel in sustainable urban development around the world.
  • And PBS’s Frontline did a story on Curitiba’s public transit system, which has been studied by communities around the world as a model of urban transport planning.

Not to mention, the place is downright beautiful, full of greenspace and inspiring architecture. So why is it that I’ve never heard of this place? Well I think you can find the answer by thinking of the city I most likely link to Brazil — Rio. Human beings use shortcuts. And for me, my shortcut to Brazil is Rio. It’s the vision in my mind’s eye, it’s Carnival is a major visual/cultural touchpoint in my perception of the country and it’s population. And for better or worse, it is the only city that I have ever considered visiting in Brazil.

And that’s why I think the future of tourism and hospitality marketing for “2nd tier” destinations, those that are not the automatic tourist must visits, is about to undergo a radical change that will fully integrate and leverage the power of social media platforms and conversational marketing strategies. While I’m in Brazil, we’re going to spend time talking about four key ideas that I think will play a major role in accomplishing this transformation.

The Discovery Platform
If you look at most tourism and hospitality social media programs today, you’ll find the requesite blog, Twitter and Facebook pages. While a necessary component, these platforms are often judged by number of followers or fans and raw traffic. However, regardless of how good the social marketer behind these platforms is, I think it unlikely that you’ll ever see a huge number of fans/followers or consistant traffic to the blog because a) I’d only find these sites if I was actively looking for them. Thus, if I’m already in the mindset to travel to a destination, these platforms might be helping me plan but they are not serving any realy acquisition role. b) Ask yourself, why would you follow a destination on Twitter or Facebook? If you were traveling there often then yes, it might be helpful but if let’s say the destination was a 2nd tier — one that was off the beat and path so to speak, why would you fan or follow?

What’s missing in this social media equation is the Discovery Platform. A discovery platform would be a place where consumers can go to find information on lots of 2nd tier, off the beat and path destinations. Where they could start their journey of discovery and ultimately find and follow/friend destinations. It’s the top of the funnel and the social media platforms become content channels designed to move the consumer down the purchase funnel. But it’s not an Expedia or TripAdvisor. No, we’ll talk about creating something more akin to a Japanese Keiretsu, where “ownership” of the platform will be decentralized and the platform is actually a series of interdepentantly linked objectives.

The Immersion Platform
Currently this is likely the destination’s blog. But unlike the traditional blog, which tends to be text focused, we need to combine the best of a destination’s website (photos/video) with blog (current/content rich/alive) to develop a living, breathing web destination that immerses the prospective traveler in the destination. During my talk we’re going to think about creating a place where the consumer can go beyond discovery to truly uncovering what makes this destination special and why they’d want to place it on their bucket list of places to travel. Specifically, we’re going to talk about telling the story of your destination — one breadcrumb at a time.

Your Most Important Reader
Google is your most important reader. Build a living, breathing site with lots of high quality, constantly updated content and Google will come back to read often. Best of all, Google loves to tell his friends about you when they ask. So it we’ll talk a bit about the kinds of stories Google likes to tell.

Measurement of Social Media Efforts
And lastly, we’ll talk about ROI – Return on Investment – and what my previous experiments have shown. For instance, we’ll talk about how long a tweet lasts. How many tweets can we expect a consumer to read over a certain period of time. What kind of brand perception movements can we hope to see? How much can we hope to move those perceptions? And a few more that I’ll save for the crowd in Brazil.

So what do you think? Am I leaving anything out? What else should I talk about while I have the stage? Any suggestions — for the talk or heck, for a couple of good books I can buy for the rather long plane ride there and back? 😉

BTW, does this sound like a webinar you’d like to hear or maybe you’d prefer a private workshop on this topic for your marketing team? If so, drop me a line with your preference and I’ll follow up with you when I get back.

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branding, social media

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