Never waste a crisis: Make destination marketing meaningful

For business tourism to recover, society must recover first
July 8, 2020
Strategies for Sustainable Recovery
Meetings Industry Knowledge Group discussion
July 20, 2020

Never waste a crisis: Make destination marketing meaningful

LONG THINKER PANEL

By Elke Dens, Chairman of European Travel Commission Marketing Group and Marketing Director of VisitFlanders

 

Destination marketing has been in a deep crisis for a few years. We realized we couldn’t continue to do marketing, (read promotion) to stimulate growth, because the invisible burden of this seemingly endless growth had become visible.

We were losing our social license to operate in a few popular cities in Europe and in vulnerable islands in the South Pacific.

 

So, we tried to do better by inventing ‘destination management’ and involving more stakeholders, including residents, in tourism policies, to regain trust and make clear why tourism (money?) is needed. Thanks to COVID19 the whole world is aware of the vulnerable economic importance of tourism.

 

Thanks to COVID19 the whole world is aware of the vulnerable economic importance of tourism.

 

The same crisis teaches us how much values have changed. The reactions to COVID19 are amplifications of the dynamic that drives other social and ecological crises – and this question is also key to tourism (marketing):

“do we use resources to maximise exchange or to maximise life?”

 

Old school marketing is aimed at maximizing exchange by stimulating sales and consumption. Thereby optimizing the 4 well-known P’s (price, product, place and promotion). So, you will soon see destinations doing the craziest promotions, to stimulate travel to their place to have maximum exchange even in COVID19 situations. Smart destinations will ask for a higher price for a slightly adjusted experience. It’s a classical marketing intervention and a way to continue to exploit the ecosystem of tourism to the fullest extent – as long as we can.

 

Smart destinations will ask for a higher price for a slightly adjusted experience.

 

Or you can do a better job as destination marketeer. It all starts with the acknowledgment that marketing is not about sales, but about (changing) values. How can you as a destination marketeer create the highest possible value for your place, people living, studying, working or visiting, and for the society on the whole? Marketing has evolved from the 4 P’s to the 4 W’s contributing to economic wealth, but at the same time to environmental wellness, social well-being and human wisdom

So, why don’t we all start making destination marketing more meaningful marketing?

 

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VisitFlanders is the official guide to Flanders & Brussels.