Attending tourism and travel industry conferences is a great way to network with your peers and take in new perspectives on destination marketing and management trends. Stamp team members attended several tourism and travel conferences in the last year, and at a recent conference many of the themes we have been hearing in the last year came together under one roof. So, we put our heads together to summarize what seems to be resonating in the times we live in.
1. Kindness is essential.
We were all taught to be kind from an early age, but along the way we learned phrases like “no” and “I can’t do that.” Juliet Hall with Own Your Opportunities spoke about reactivating your human kindness and encouraged us to work on saying “yes” and “I can do that.”
Humans have basic needs; to feel valued, to be acknowledged, and to belong. By being kind, we can each help fulfill these needs in others. There have been numerous kindness studies that have shown that being kind to others has all manner of side effects including producing oxytocin which can aid in lowering blood pressure and help increase our self-esteem and optimism. And kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This feel-good chemical helps calm you down, increase courage, heal your wounds, and make you happy!
2. Love your city.
Peter Kageyama, co-founder and producer of the Creative Cities Summit, spoke to us about how to encourage emotional engagement for our own town. He encouraged us to have fun at work and to ask ourselves often, “where’s the fun?” in our place. People want to have fun when they travel.
Along with the topic of placemaking in general, Peter showed us several cities that had interactive public art murals on the side of old brick buildings, cities that had adult playgrounds featuring adult-sized swing sets and cities that had dog parks convenient to visitors traveling with pets—he even explored pets’ increasing influence on travel trends. Lastly, Peter emphasized the need to enlist co-creators from our own city in the process of engaging locals and visitors. Individuals who can impact change, often without the restrictions enforced by government or elected officials. These individuals often only see Can Do vs. Can’t Do. And, of all our neighbors, they are the most likely to ask for forgiveness vs. permission.
3. Ask the right questions.
Mike Jordan, Thrillist Atlanta; Megan Miller, Atlas Obscura; and Betsy Riley, Atlanta Magazine discussed “Tips, tactics, and ideas that lead to content marketing success.” Content marketing strategies they covered included frequently asking yourself “who are you talking to?” And when you begin working on an idea or project, ask yourself “does anybody care about this topic?” When you have confirmed there are potential visitors who do care, you are also pretty far along in determining to whom you will promote this topic to help drive occupancy.
The content distribution channels you choose are also one of the key elements in creating highly favored and engaging content because the channel drives the visual display, links, frequency, and tone of voice. A well-timed post with a well-photographed image of an attraction, natural resource or asset in your destination on Instagram can achieve great results. Frequent short posts and links on Twitter can have results that are equally as good through very different methods.
4. Find your WOW.
Kate Delaney, host of the Kate Delaney Show on NBC Sports Radio, made the parallel between tourism and travel and sports radio: What’s your story? What are the things that you have that are different? Things that no one else offers. From dirt roads to a ring-tailed lemur colony on St. Catherines Island in coastal Georgia, there’s so much to love about our own places. Get out there and figure out what is different about your place and lift it up.
Kate also touched on the three biggest technology opportunities that she feels will impact destinations the most in the near future:
- Virtual Reality (VR) — Defined as the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment such as a helmet, screen or glass. Kate believes VR has the potential to impact the tourism and travel marketing industry the most of any other emerging technology. Destinations who leverage this technology could allow meeting planners or prospective visitors to get a taste of the destination or get familiarized with a place. And delivering that experience correctly has huge potential to impact prospect conversion rates.
- Augmented Reality (AR) — Defined as a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view. This technology has hit the tourism and travel industry already, but the biggest challenges are that most AR functionality is available when visitors are already in your place (so it has less impact on their decision to visit), and the technology typically requires software or an application on a user’s mobile device which many people are hesitant to use.
- Robots — Robot-staffed hotels are not mainstream yet, but they could become so. Robots delivering room service, providing concierge services or assistance at hotels and airports are all potential technology innovations of the future. It’s hard to predict if robots will become mainstream for the tourism and travel industry, but we can all agree we would welcome an electronic robot suitcase like this one from Travelmate.
5. Leaders: find your why.
Shana Young, Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, talked to us about how to Get the Big Things Right – because your future depends on it. We watched this video from Simon Synek —“Find your Why”. Take 5 minutes and watch this video—it will change the way you think about leadership. The future of your organization depends on your vision as its leader. Creating a mission plus a strategy to achieve that mission and sticking to it will help you reach your goals. This mission will also help you to say no to requests that are outside of your mission and your goals.
We hope these five themes from recent tourism and travel conferences have given you food for thought. If you would like to chat about these or anything travel and tourism marketing and management related, please don’t hesitate to call me at 334-244-9933.