When you live and breathe tourism, you are often given the opportunity to hear from industry masters. And that’s exactly what happened when we were invited to attend a lecture by Daniel Pacchioni, Creative Content Strategist with Universal Orlando’s marketing department. Daniel provided timely, insightful advice on how to engage in the creative process when branding your destination, in the pursuit of meaningful, effective results. Here are 6 key takeaways from his presentation.
- Be present: The stories and experiences that shape your place are right in front of you. Don’t get so caught up in the day-to-day routine that you neglect to think like a visitor. It’s easy to grow overly familiar with your destination, and as a result, overlook what makes it truly unique.
- Know your audience: Dig deeper than demographics, life stages and buy cycles. What do they value and appreciate? How can you connect with them on an intrinsic level? Understanding the psychographics of your target market—personality, attitudes, values, behaviors—is integral to helping you develop a message that resonates with them.
- Be Brave: Daniel noted, “It’s your job to push the boundaries, it’s someone else’s job to stop you.” Explore what makes your destination interesting and different—what gives you your unique perspective and voice. Own your distinctions, and don’t be afraid to push boundaries with your messaging. Every destination is competing for the same tourism dollars, and the best way to elevate your brand is to craft a message that is unique, memorable and supported with courageous creative.
- Everyone is creative: As you establish your destination’s narrative, remember to consider multiple perspectives—if you simply brainstorm with the same group of people, you may struggle for new ideas. Consult your staff, local stakeholders, residents, etc. Broaden the discussion to include a variety of lived experiences. Embracing a diverse range of perspectives can help you hone into your destination’s character and establish meaningful connections with your target markets.
- Be vulnerable: Ask yourself, “who are we?” While it’s important to evaluate the competition, be careful not to imitate them. Your unique, defining qualities are your biggest draw. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people.
- Use social media strategically: Social media is not the end-all, be-all of a good marketing strategy, but it’s the best place to connect with travelers and get to know them in a semi-controlled environment. Social media is more about interaction than promotion, and one of the best ways to generate brand awareness and loyalty is to engage frequently and directly with your target markets. Social media affords you that opportunity.
At the risk of sounding cliche, Daniel’s main point was this: Be the best version of yourself that you can be. Visitors will be attracted by your authenticity, your quirkiness, your distinctions. And by tapping into the love that locals have for your city and incorporating that into your brand messaging, you will have a better chance of standing head and shoulders above the competition.