Marketing Emerging Destinations: How to Brand?
By definition, tourism is the most global of all industries. To ensure a successful branding campaign behind your destination, marketers must understand the needs, wants and purchase intents of potential visitors across continents and cultures. As marketers today, we face challenges in attracting visitors while aiming to increase the popularity of the destination. Considering the stiff competition among destinations, marketers need to sustain their current client base (repeat travelers) and find other avenues of attracting new visitors.
The challenges of an industry as global as tourism — whose stakeholders are disbursed throughout the world — include our understanding of what drives the travelers’ behavior as well as our knowledge of their purchasing and decision-making criteria in order to analyze their loyalty motivations.
Although ‘branding’ in general has been investigated from various angles and perspectives, the ‘destination branding’ process as a category does not get enough attention. In particular, it applies to the role of a destination image branding for emerging countries. Since the positive country image is essential for travelers’ loyalty, it effects visitation while making a significant impact on the country’s economy.
Brand identity of a destination is a relatively new area. In order to create and sustain a clear destination brand, there has to be an understanding of the country’s essence. Many destinations around the world position themselves in very similar ways, failing to identify differentiation points.
Most countries focus on external audiences while employing advertising tactics that present clichés around overused icons — nature, beaches, families, and couples all having fun. However, some destinations have developed a clear, unique positioning by branding the destination experience rather than the physical attributes of it, capturing the travelers’ attention with a more compelling and urgent reason to visit. The challenge is to understand and identify the positioning processes involved in development of successful tourism destination brand and to apply these findings to branding practices for emerging destinations. The secondary challenge is to review the branding methodology of the emerging destinations. Can they apply the same practices?
As a destination marketer, ask yourself the following questions in branding process:
- Who are the major stakeholders in the destination branding process? What are their roles?
- How does public and private partnership affect successful brand building campaign?
- What is the economic and political impact of successful brand positioning of destination?
- How does success of established destinations affect the branding exercise for the emerging ones? What is the methodology?
- How does globalization affect the branding practices for destinations?
- How often destinations need to re-brand themselves based on the travelers’ perception, political situation, competitive landscape and other aspects?
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