Social media; an important tool in Destination Marketing

8583949219_d565d18edf_oSource: Flickr

Social media is defined as applications or websites that allow users to share and post content. Social media has become a very important base for marketing in today’s world, including for a destination marketing organisation. “Social media provide a great array of online venues for destination management organizations (DMOs) to distribute information and communicate with others” (Popesku, 2014).

The most important activities on social media for a Destination Marketing Organisation are:

  • To build communities that have an interest in their destination, for example online forums or blogs.
  • To collect “user-generated content” such as pictures and videos people posted who have visited the destination.
  • To display photos and videos on for example instagram and Flickr to give an image of the destination.
  • To distribute news about the destination.
  • To emphasize upcoming events and promotional programs.
  • To “encourage word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Finally to collect feedback, for example by conducting surveys (Popesku, 2014).

However, as Peelen and Beltman state in their book ‘Customer Relationship Management’: “one should also determine which platforms are most suited for the marketing goals that are set” (Peelen, 2013). There are many different platforms one should consider, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more. How does a Destination Marketing Organisation choose which is the most important platform to focus on?

Nearly every platform is important when marketing a destination, however, each platform has a completely different use and a different level of importance. Let’s start with Facebook, Facebook is an online networking site that allows users to upload videos, pictures and text to share with family and friends. Facebook has grown to become one of the most popular networking sites of all time. Thus it is important that Facebook is used to market a destination. It can be used to share blogs of individuals who have visited the destination and have written a blog about it. Facebook could also be used to share news, upcoming events or offers of the destination. Facebook is an important platform to build up a customer basis.

Another important Social Media platform is Instagram. People tend to forget about Instagram, but Instagram is a growing platform with 300 million active users since December 2014 (Fiegerman, 2014). Instagram is an online mobile networking application that allows users to take picture, throw a filter on them and then upload them to either instagram or other social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. Instagram can be used to upload pictures or videos of the destination and communicate with customers. For example, a DMO could upload a picture of the destination and engage the instagram customer base by asking a simple question in the caption. This will engage the customers more and help to create better relationships.

Other social media channels are Twitter, Flickr and LinkedIn. Twitter is an online social networking channel that lets users upload small messages called ‘tweets’ to their account. Twitter can be used to again share news or upcoming events. It is also a great channel to upload a picture once in a while or to ‘retweet’ messages of individuals who have visited the destination. Flickr is a great platform for DMO’s as it allows users to upload high quality pictures. Finally LinkedIn is a more professional platform, LinkedIn is a social networking channel which is Business-oriented. LinkedIn is also important for a DMO as it allows them to keep in touch with other businesses on the island and build their business customer base.

In my opinion, Instagram is a very important networking channel to market a Destination Marketing Organisation. Instagram shows potential customers the beauty of a destination whilst at the same time engaging the customer. The audience of a DMO wants to see the place they are visiting which is exactly what instagram does. Moreover, a DMO can post user-generated content on Instagram which builds relationships and trust. However, there are many positive and negative sides to each channel, I would love to read other people’s ideas on what the most important channel is for a DMO.

References

Fiegerman, S. (2014, December 10). Instagram tops 300 million active users, likely bigger than Twitter. Retrieved October 9, 2015, from http://mashable.com/2014/12/10/instagram-300-million-users/#0RVD_ff66Pqc

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BV

Popesku, J. (2014). Social Media As A Tool Of Destination Marketing Organisations. Sinteza. doi:10.15308/SInteZa-2014-715-721

 

Web-usage mining; a tool to optimize the customer experience

“The new generation of information systems provide a novel ways to identify the most relevant information, greater decision support, greater mobility and ultimately, greater enjoyment of the tourist experience” (Alzua, 2014).

In the book ‘Customer Relationship Management’, web mining is defined as “searching and processing data on the internet” (Peelen, 2013). There are three types of web mining, web-structure mining, web-usage mining and web-content mining. Web-structure mining is the process of viewing the network websites make with the pages they contain, this process leads to the hyperlinks between the main subject and other websites. Web-usage mining analyses browsing behaviour by searching IP addresses and visiting histories. Web-content mining is about searching the World Wide Web for useful information. This is done by gathering relevant search terms and inputting them in different locations such as communities and blogs (peelen, 2013).

Analytic processes such as web mining better help organisations such as DMO’s to “better understand the business environment and potential customers” (Alzua, 2014). Thus it is important for a Destination Marketing Organisation to practise web mining to provide the best experience possible for a potential customer. Web-usage mining is especially important for a Destination Marketing Organisation. Web-usage mining allows a DMO to become aware of the common paths clients click through, this helps to show what path is the most common. Moreover, it is possible to buy a google analytics package, as shown in the screenshots below (Analytics, 2015).

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Google analytics helps to analyse the search history, key words and any other relevant information needed to optimise the experience. The data extracted from this process shows what keywords are used most often and how to keep the customers coming back.

Finally, web-usage mining shows what prospects are looking for, can be used to website improvements and search engine optimization. For example, a student did their placement at a DMO in Germany where they used a program that analysed the visiting history of customers. They used imx.cms which is a content management system and put the data found from web usage mining into SEO.

In conclusion, web mining is a very useful tool to understand new and old customers and help keep customers coming back. Web mining helps a DMO understand their customers better and create a better experience.

References

Alzua, A., Gerrikagoitia, J., & Rebón, F. (2014). Tourism Destination Web Monitor: Beyond Web Analytics. Retrieved October 2, 2015, from http://3ws1wk1wkqsk36zmd6ocne81.wpengine.netdnacdn.com/files/2014/02/enter2014_RN_136.pdf

Analytics. (2015). Retrieved October 2, 2015, from http://www.google.com/analytics/

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BV

Customisation within a Destination Marketing Organisation

By providing customized products, a company is able to create better relationships with their customer. In a Destination Marketing Organization it is important to understand a customer’s needs and tailor to those wishes. Thus it is vital that Mass Customization is implemented by the management of a DMO.

Mass Customization is defined as an approach to make adjustments in either the product or the products representation to be tailored to a customer’s specific needs. There are four different approaches based on the customer’s needs. The four approaches are Cosmetic customisation, transparent customisation, Collaborative customisation and Adaptive customisation.

In the book Customer Relationship Management by Ed Peelen and Rob Beltman, they state that “the first way to implement mass customisation is to make a simple adjustment in the product’s exterior (representation). This is also referred to as cosmetic customisation” (Peelen, 2013). It is important that a DMO implements cosmetic customisation as it is an easy adjustment but still helps make the customer feel special. This approach can be implemented by sending all customers who have an account with the DMO, an offer for the destination addressed personally to the individual.

When a company adapts the product but not the representation it is defined as transparent customization. Transparent customization is when the “product’s adaptation is made invisible by giving all the different customised products the same appearance” (Peelen, 2013). By tracking the behaviour of customers over time, a DMO could have an advert of the destination the customer was looking at pop up, the next time the customer comes online. This is how transparent customization could be implemented by a destination marketing organization.

Collaborative customization is adapting not only the product but also the representation. Thus, each adapted product can be recognized by its different representation. A DMO should implement this approach by offering a system which allows customers to plan their own trip. For example, on the official page for tourism in Lanzarote, individuals are able to plan their own trip. Below in the screenshot from the Turismo Lanzarote website, it shows that you are able to organize your trip, create your personal site, choose dates, places, excursion and which hotels to stay at. This allows each customer to create a personalized product completely tailored to their own needs (Plan Your Trip, 2015).

Turismo Lanzarote

Finally the fourth approach of Mass Customisation is Adaptive customisation. Opposed to Collaborative customisation, adaptive customisation is an approach “in which neither the product nor the representation is adapted” (Peelen, 2013). A company offers a standard product which is designed in a way that consumers can adjust it to suit their own needs. A DMO could offer a package including all excursions, however, the consumer is then able to choose out of a variety of excursions each day. These excursions are all very standard and are offered to each consumer, however they can choose the excursions they want which makes it suitable to their own needs.

By using Mass Customisation a DMO is able to reach more people and have a broader audience. There are many types of customers and they all have a different way of planning/buying their trip. Customising the products to fit each individuals need could result in better customer engagement.

References

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BV.

Plan your trip. (2015). Retrieved September 26, 2015, from http://www.turismolanzarote.com/en/

A Destination Marketing Organization as a trustworthy platform

Deciding which destination to visit is a difficult choice in today’s world. One major factor in deciding on a holiday is the online experience. How easy is it to find information on this destination? How trustworthy is this information? Today, customers expect a quick and seamless visit to a website to tell them exactly what they need to know. As Adam Goran, director of customer engagement at Grass Roots Group, stated “Brands Cannot afford for customers to have a great experience when they visit their website or mobile app, only for it to be fundamentally different when they visit a store” (Best Practice in Retail Sets Example for Others, 2014).

When a customer visits a Marketing Destination Organization’s website, they expect the information and pictures to be exactly what they will find when they visit the destination itself. When visiting the website of the organization they are expected to trust what they find and hope for the best. A customer cannot find pictures of lovely white beaches when at the destination itself no white beaches can be found. “According to a Concerto Marketing Group and Research Now survey, when customers trust a brand, 83 percent will recommend a trusted company to others and 82 percent will continue to use that brand frequently” (Adams, 2014).

A Marketing Destination Organizations needs to help make this step easier for a customer. The information displayed on the website for a destination needs to be easy to access and trustworthy. For example on the official tourism site for Lanzarote they have a page called ‘visitor images’. This page shows the pictures that visitors have taken on different parts of the island. This section makes it easier for a customer to trust the organization and it allows the customer to see the island through the eyes of other consumers. In the screenshot I took of the Lanzarote Tourism website below, the page with the map of Lanzarote and the pictures of visitors are showed (The Images of Visitors, 2015).

Images of visitors

Moreover, for a destination marketing organization to have a great online and offline experience, the right contact details should be displayed. For example, on the official destination website of Colombia it is possible to live chat with one of the employees, to contact them via a form, to find other customer experiences or to find frequently asked questions. As the article ‘Best Practice in Retail sets Example for Others’ states “it means customers see relevant marketing materials in the right location and find staff on hand in the right area at the right times” (Best Practice in Retail Sets Example for Others, 2014). By allowing the consumer to contact the business anytime, anywhere, they are creating a relationship with the customer and making their own business a more trustworthy platform.

References:

Adams, M. (2014, April 22). Three Ways to Build Customer Trust. Retrieved September 18, 2015, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2014/04/22/three-ways-to-build-customer-trust/

Best practice in Retail sets Example for others. (2014). Raconteur, 7-7. Retrieved September 18, 2015, from http://np.netpublicator.com/netpublication/n54494776

The images of visitors. (2015). Retrieved September 19, 2015, from http://www.turismolanzarote.com/en/panoramio.jsp