Lessons Learned at Georgia’s 2018 Governor’s Conference

By Stamp

Lessons Learned at Georgia’s 2018 Governor’s Conference

We recently had the opportunity to attend the annual Georgia Governor’s Conference and network with like-minded tourism professionals. Topics ranged from 2019 tourism trends to influencer and content marketing strategies—all with the underlying goal of learning how to become a more memorable destination. Here are 4 key takeaways. Read time: five minutes

Attending industry conferences is not just a great way to network. It also offers attendees a glimpse at external perspectives that might elude them otherwise and provides insight into emerging tourism trends. Engaging in conversation with other tourism professionals about challenges that impact the industry can offer reassurance that the obstacles faced by your DMO are not isolated issues. Conferences and events are great opportunities to learn from the mistakes and successes of other destinations and brainstorm innovative ways to address your own challenges. Several Stamp team members recently attended the annual Georgia Governor’s Tourism Conference. The agenda was packed full of great speakers, topics, breakout sessions, and fun events. Topics ranged from 2019 tourism trends to influencer and content marketing strategies—all with the underlying goal of learning how to become a more memorable destination. To give you a glimpse of useful information you can expect to glean from similar travel industry events, here are a few takeaways that may prove useful to you and your team.

The Power of Social Media

Social media continues to grow as a powerful driving force behind traveler preferences, and it can serve as a valuable source for visitors to learn about your city. With all of the insight a good social media strategy can provide, it’s still surprising how many destinations are just winging it. Posting organic content and featuring social ads on a rotating schedule are great ways to generate buzz about your destination. But the true power of social media lies in your choice of social imagery—especially as it relates to user-generated content (UGC). UGC is marketing gold with a reported 52 percent of Facebook users gaining travel inspiration from travel photos shared in their social networks. Combined with trending hashtags and your own professional photography, curating UGC is a great way to build rapport with your target markets. More now than ever, digital and social media marketing programs are claiming larger portions of DMO marketing budgets. Conducting a comprehensive assessment of your social strategy is an important step towards evaluating the performance of your social media marketing efforts, identifying areas for improvement and ensuring you're keeping in step with tourism trends. The bottom line is this: travelers are turning to social media for travel inspiration and recommendations, and connecting with them requires a robust and strategic social media plan.

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Emerging Technology

Artificial Intelligence is emerging as a potential game-changer for the tourism industry with the potential to impact everything from FAM tours to providing travelers with helpful information. Chatbots were specifically mentioned as a service that travelers are starting to expect from DMOs—and they’ve proven effective at engaging visitors as they explore destinations. Simply pre-loading a Facebook Messenger bot with answers to the most frequently asked questions can prove invaluable to the trip-planning process as well as to a visitor’s experience while in your city. 80% of all smartphone users use mobile messaging apps, with Millennials particularly preferring the use of chatbots to help plan and enhance their travel experiences. Investing in this technology is important for DMOs who want to remain relevant and continue evolving with tourism trends.

Own Your Unique Selling Point

“Blending in” is not an effective marketing strategy. Capitalizing on what makes your destination unique is. We were reminded of Austin’s Keep Austin Weird as a great example of how embracing what makes your place unique can shape your destination’s identity. People travel because they need a break from the ordinary—they want to experience something completely new and authentic. So embrace what makes your city unique, and target travelers with that message.

The Power of Teams

While this may have fit well into the sports theme for this year’s conference, the message is valuable no matter the circumstance: all the effort you put into your marketing efforts is only as successful as the team behind it. While every DMO differs when it comes to how many people they employ, recognizing the value of each team member and capitalizing on their strengths is central to your success. There will always be unforeseen obstacles and circumstances that can’t be controlled. But you can control the quality of the team behind your marketing efforts—recognize each person’s unique offerings and take good care of them so they will take good care of you.