The advantages of using mobile apps for Destination Marketing

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Figure 1. Mobile apps (CoColombia, 2016)

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are now in a changing world, where mobile marketing becomes increasingly important. These days almost everyone is in the possession of a smartphone. With the appearance of mobile marketing, DMOs are forced to engage in mobile marketing to respond to current trends within its visitor markets. But how does mobile marketing affects the role of DMOs within their business?

In order to sophistically respond to the needs and wants of its customers, DMO websites as iAmsterdam and CoColombia, (City Marketing Organization and Destination Marketing Organization) directly segment their target marketing in conventional and business markets. CoColombia even launched three different mobile apps, created for their three different target markets; conventional travellers, divers and business travellers. They used a label strategy to better adapt to the demands of each specific target group. However, despite the fact that DMOs use segmentation techniques to segment their most prevalent target markets, personalization (one to one marketing) is still found very difficult within the industry of DMOs. Personalization or one to one marketing, is that knowledge acquired before, based on the customer’s preferences the product, can be tailored to the customer’s specific needs.

Apps have many advantages, as they are more user friendly and create better usability than when visitors are only having the accessibility to the website of the DMO on a smartphone. Within these apps all information is viewed in detail but well-structured to enable visitors to find all the information they want in an easy way. Within these apps, DMOs also launched very strong campaigns where sound and vision strengthens the sensory experience, which can all be viewed from a small and compact application. By making use of these benefits, DMOs already engage the customer within the destination, and all information can be easily obtained (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). The ease of use and download, can provoke visitors to create the so called “rippel effect”, or word of mouth.

Instead of only promoting the destination as a place for business travelers, DMOs could also offer the services of their stakeholders through a mobile app. Most DMOs already enable visitors to book activities and accommodation through their website, but apps do not offer these services yet. Often visitors use apps of or Hostelworld for these services. DMOs should also use apps to go beyond acting solely as a platform where visitors can get inspired, but also get involved and engaged within the destination by already planning their trip. It is the future of DMOs to also start selling direct to their visitors, instead of only sharing information about the destination. In this way, DMOs could also track the interests of the visitor and create a loyalty program. In this case, DMOs could offer other services and products targeted to the needs of the visitor, based on the product history of the customer.

Hence, DMOs should become more involved in Mobile Marketing as visitors do not always travel with computer devices but with smartphones they do.



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The way cross-selling is applied within DMOs and how this can benefit them

The use of cross-selling within Destination Marketing Organizations is yet in its early stage. Cross-selling can be defined as; “the sale of products to current customers who are already purchasing one or more products from the supplying company” (Peelen & Kowalczyk, 1999). When applying effective cross-selling, a range of data needs to be acquired in the first stage. The example of the DMO of Fjord Norway explains how they used cross-selling within their business.

Within cross-selling, several cross-selling analyses could be conducted to acquire the information needed. An exploratory analysis could be conducted to determine the economic significance of cross-selling. In this analysis DMOs can indicate the amount of purchases made by visitors, the amount of turnover and profit. Some potential visitors make frequently purchases and these visitors are important customers for the DMO. Stratification of visitors could indicate the importance or value of the different visitors for the DMO. The rule extraction algorithm technique, explains that the cross-selling probability is a certain percentage depending on the combinations of customer profiles and customer history. This technique is used to determine the probability that a visitor responds to the cross-selling product, offered by the DMO. Ultimately, it could be indicated which product categories have the highest probability of a cross-sell, as one product needs to be chosen for conducting a cross-selling analysis (Peelen &Beltman, 2013).  As this is often the more expensive product, this could be an exclusive city tour that is offered via the website of the DMO.

Fjord Norway, the DMO of Western-Norway used a ubiquitous approach of omni-channels, where the DMO appeared on social networks as Twitter, Facebook and their own website. Moreover, with its partnership with Trekksoft, an online booking system, Fjord Norway created a network with other tourism suppliers that were all using the same system of Trekksoft. It created stronger positioning for the region, as all tourism entities within the region collaborated. Through this system, visitors could book accommodations through their website. Subsequently, the visitor’s email address is registered and visitors will receive emails to enhance their stay to book activities to combine with their stay. Moreover, visitors are in the Customer Relationship Management system and will receive emails about interesting discounts and inspiration on which places there are more to explore. Within the CRM system, all information of the visitors is gathered; product history and customer profile). In this way Fjord Norway uses cross-selling to engage their customers in more purchases based on their product history and customer profile. As visitors can already get inspired and excited about the destination by the information provided on the DMOs website, it will be more likely that the visitor books these services offered on their website. This makes the information and offered services coherent and will create a better experience for the visitor. The purpose of executing different cross-selling analyses for companies is to make more effective cross-selling efforts to its customers. It creates insights for DMOs to indicate how visitors could be better targeted to increase cross-selling probability.






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How can DMOs apply customer engagement management more effectively on Social network sites? – the example of Sweden

Customer engagement on social network sites has strong benefits for Destination Marketing Organizations and their potential visitors. User Generated Content is often shared through Facebook so friends can see it for their own entertainment or informational purposes (LeadShift, 2014). Also online Word of Mouth (EWOM), has become very popular, and is a key aspect in the awareness process of the customer’s journey. DMOs make use of omni-channels of social networks, where they promote a certain destination. However, by making use of these social network sites, DMOs should first ask themselves which target segments they want to focus on. Based on this information, DMOs can create customized posts which are adapted to the needs and wants of the target group. They can use a differentiation strategy to segment their market. When looking at online marketing of DMOs, it is essential to address all the target groups through different channels.

One pitfall within online marketing of DMOs is that they often fall short in customer (brand) engagement. DMOs share their value proposition, but there is not always interaction with the customer. A good example is the DMO of Sweden,, which has a social platform on Facebook where it posts interesting posts or links of articles about Sweden, its value proposition. It gives the reader a good idea about Sweden and what the country offers. The images are all integrated in their marketing strategy and illustrate Sweden’s authenticity and what it stands for. However, despite its very effective and strong marketing efforts, customer dialogue is lacking, as followers don’t have the ability to get in direct contact with the DMO. Moreover, all posts are posted by, rather than posts created by its own followers. Instead, DMOs should stimulate followers to share their own experiences, for example when experiences are still fresh in the mind of the follower, the moment right after returning from a holiday. It would be interesting for DMOs to ask followers or via friend-of-follower” connections on Social network sites to post their experience with the destination.

Involving visitors subsequently creates more customer engagement relationships. It refers to the Customer Knowledge Value, which means that followers can add value to the company by helping them understanding customer preferences, while also participating in the knowledge development process (Kumar et al., 2010). As followers post the pictures and visuals they prefer, they are trendsetters, who can persuade other followers to also buy these services or products (Kumar et al., 2010). Moreover, it would create narrative content, deducted from different perspectives, making the content more credible for other followers and more likely to generate buzz. Customer engagement could be reached by using co-creation and co-development, by using visitors’ own posts for new marketing material for the DMO to promote Sweden as a tourist destination. This creates E-WOM as followers share their own experiences, which makes visitors aware of all the value propositions of Sweden. It is the customer value which creates loyal followers, and ultimately more visitors to Sweden.




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Customer Engagement Management within DMOs

Customer Engagement Management is highly focused on loyalty and the effectiveness of word of mouth. It is a term which is nowadays applied in many businesses to nurture the relationship with customers. However, how is CEM applied within destination marketing? (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

CEM is dependent on the trends and developments in the visitor market, requiring DMOs’ close attention in order to be up to date with the changing market. Social media is one of these trends which became a very important element of customer engagement management, where DMOs try to engage their visitors within a social platform. Furthermore, destinations, places and cities are developing all the time and compared to decades ago, more places have developed itself into modern and interesting places to visit. Various cities and destinations that offer more or less the same experience are of course each other’s competitors, and that is why DMOs especially need to focus on the unique selling points of every individual destination to gain customers’ trust. It is among others the task of DMOs to promote all the unique aspects of the place and provide information on differences between certain cities that are new to the customers and not easy to find.

An interesting example is the case of Amsterdam, that adopted a differentiation strategy for the city. The city marketing organization, iAmsterdam launched a city re-branding campaign in 2005 of a sculpture consisting of the 3 dimensional letters; iAmsterdam, to see the effect of customer to customer marketing. Visitors made pictures with the letters and shared it online via social platforms as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. DMOs stimulated visitors to share these pictures and comments, and showed visitors that they do care about what they say and think. The figure was even the most photographed item within Amsterdam, with over 8,000 shots taken by visitors on a sunny day. Hence, the goal was to make visitors share stories with their peers about their experience with Amsterdam. It is a way of engaging visitors within the marketing process in a creative way, so it creates also a fun experience for the visitor. In this way visitors are stimulated to create their own creative content, and share these experiences online. iAmsterdam is a brand, which wants to create brand awareness and loyalty towards their brand, by means of engaging their visitors by means of word of mouth (Eye for Travel, 2014).

Hence, within CEM, customer to customer marketing is one of the most important aspects and where customers are engaged, and get involved within the marketing choices of DMOs. Hence, DMOs aim is to gain customers who are loyal to their brand, but what would be the best way to reach that goal? DMOs should adopt a customer driven approach specifically based on a targeted and personal communication using digital as well as personal contact. This means that throughout the customer journey, the customers will be engaged based completely on their own needs and wants, while being guided by the DMOs.



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