Saturday 9 February 2013

Tourism Marketing Is Storytelling

All too often travel and tourism marketers miss the point: travelers love travel stories; stories about people, places, things to do, where to stay and what rooms, apartments and villas they may stay at. 

Learn from Review Sites
Travel marketers don't on the whole tell stories but create pitches and promotions, which are often just plain boring.  Largely they all sound alike.
That's why travelers use review sites; they are not pitches but a story of what someone thinks about a real experience, with real, unfiltered images, video and photos of places.

Travel is a story, but told by hotel and tourism operators, it loses much in translation. Hospitality providers can be storytellers; usually they are good raconteurs, but they are not credible when talking about their own property. It just isn't a story when we say how wonderful our own place is. That's why video is a great option. It delivers a visual of the place; its resources, dining, beaches and rooms.

Rooms Often Not Emphasized
When I look around at hotel websites, I see lovely videos, but many of them spend little time on the rooms. This is even true of villas, where you would think every owner would want to show it all off. What is seen is a rushed nod to the families and a peek inside the room. Why not show the entire bedroom, closets and all? And certainly show the view, accessibility and all facilities. (see example of a simple video below- also see the blog and story at the end)

Comments Add Proof
Now the real storytelling will include guests' comments; how they loved something about the room, flat or home they stayed in. Failing that, the owner can say why this room is great for families; not just because it has two bedrooms, but because it is on one floor, safe and away from stairs, with a large open terrace that children love to play in.

What's in a Name
All too often we do not name units attractively with compelling descriptions. "Villa number one" for example is not helpful. Call it the Nook, Den or "Roof Top Terrace Villa" as Poinsettia in St. Lucia did. Number 6 with two terraces is "The Garden Terrace Villa," number 5, "Poolside" and the unit tucked under the terrace and between the pool and gardens, is "The Nook."

As owners, we often fail to see our accommodation options as all having distinct character. But that is where the story lies. Write about it, get your guests to offer their own comments and create a page for every unit: where it is, how far from the pool, the beach and the office; what is special about it.

As hotel owners and managers, we group accommodation into a common category and that too we treat with drab generalities lacking character and distinction. We don't do videos of each unit, thinking that they are all the same. And if they are, what an opportunity we have missed not to build character into our product.

Video: Affordable and Essential Marketing 
You don't have to spend a fortune on videos to get the message across. See the example above. It is a simple video of film and still images with music and text; no voice-over. It is a visual story of a single villa-apartment at In the page it is displayed on, a short story of the accommodation gives good information that is helpful to the traveler. Each of the units at Poinsettia Apartments is unique with its own personality. The campaign will create a video and blog story for each of seven one and two bedroom apartment-villas at the hilltop resort on Vigie Cove, Castries St. Lucia.

You don't need a professional actor and a glitzy movie to be authentic. In fact, for a great majority of travelers, glitz is a put off. Many want to know who the manager, owner or host is. A video of a real person who will be there to welcome them is far better than a professional voice. Don't be intimidated by your voice. It is real and no actor or smooth talker can really represent you. Speak from the heart and you will create an authentic and real connection. We suggest that our clients use a combination of text, image, voice over and music only videos.  It's good to alternate and sometimes it is important to have that professional voice carry a message. But save the sales letter and the mission statement for your own voice and remember it does not have to be perfect.

User Generated Content Sells                                                                                  
In the recent Destination Marketing Case for Canada , emotional engagement and user generated content helps drive customers to purchase. Canada is a vast and beautiful country but why go there when you could go to California or the Caribbean? Emotional engagement can make the difference.

The implications to hotel and tourism marketing is that user videos resonate. Hotels tend to create high-end videos when travelers want to see the real deal;  the manager/owner or host and not an actor!

Be Where You Need to Be - Be Everywhere
Today p
eople move fluidly between desktop, mobile devices, tablets, television, broadcast services and print. To be present at the right time and place means we have to deliver a consistent brand experience across channels and a system to update posts and maintain a presence where your guests are.  

Example: StoryTelling Travel Marketing at Poinsettia

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