When marketing tourism destinations we consider what we have to offer and what we intend to offer local, regional and international visitor markets. We examine distribution chains, contact linkages and influencer networks.
We distil transport, accommodation, restaurant, attraction - natural and cultural, festival and event options in the light of all the above.
Listening to and incorporating feedback from customers, wholesalers, incoming agencies, tour operators, carriers and travel agents is an important aspect of this procedure.
The process is no different when it comes to marketing destinations for incentive travel, added only are a host of new abbreviations such as DMC (destination management company), PCO (professional conference organiser) and CVB (convention & visitor bureau).
But what stories do we as destination marketers want to tell incentive travel planners & their participants - before, during and after their visits?
In today's social media marketing jargon - which content do we wish to present, how, where and when?
Which partners could we get on board to enhance and support us in our our efforts?
And which audacious stories will we tell when our current tales have already been told?
Blogger Jeff Hurt published an article on “Event Profis as Content Strategists and as Curators”. In it he stated that “it is critical for meeting professionals to create conference experiences that have purpose, are contextual and spur discussion”.
He suggests that conference and events’ organisers might follow in a museum curator’s steps in that they should approach content as a medium that needs to be strategically selected and placed to engage the audience in question, convey a message and inspire action.
This is sound advice indeed and got me thinking about the incentive- and group travel sectors in particular. These have a lot in common not only with museum curators, but also with theatre directors and movie producers - in their thinking and in their approach. Content, presentations and locations should, as Hurt suggests, be juxtaposed against one another to create meaningful experiences, spur active engagement, generate excitement and deliver both enjoyable and rewarding experiences.
Incentive travel planners’ goals, for example, concerning content and location selection could involve:
- Creating narrative stories and themes that can be followed through from the initial announcement of, to the very end of an event / trip
- Creating desire by carefully distilling key sales messages in the light of what has been learnt from partners & customers
- Evoking imaginative responses from participants – prior to, during and after events / trips
- Communicating messages in all manners, media and forms
- Inspiring contextual learning and interpersonal exchanges in fun, relaxed and interactive manners
The lesson being:
Move from WHAT you are doing now to WHY you are doing it, WHAT you are planning to do and WHY, and WHY incentive travel decision-makers and planners (current and potential customers) should WANT to do it with you!
Prepare a concise "3W Sales Pitch" for your incentive travel destination marketing sales presentations
Select simple core ideas which focus listeners' attention - credible ideas and stories which are easy to understand and remember and that strike an emotional chord - and above all ideas, stories or suggestions which listeners are able to act on.
- Why your country? (accessibility, Business Case, trustworthy, efficient, reliable)
- Why your city / region / locality? (infrastructure, expertise, stories, friendliness, success)
- Why you? (people, skills, references, professionalism, service, delivery, value for money, client satisfaction - what makes you different to your competitors, what is your UVP - your unique value proposition?)
This, of course, is easier said than done but I find that it is an effective exercise and a fun way to focus the mind to achieve concrete business results - the ultimate object of which may be formulated for incentive travel destination marketers as follows:
UX = E x (TD1 + TD2 + TR)
User experience equals the emotions generated by trip design (context), trip delivery (functionality) and trip reception (feelings)