DMO’s and Social Media – the example of VisitBritain

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Within a short period of time Social Media changed the Internet massively and transformed it into a “place where people interact, create and share” (Peelen, E. & Beltman, R., 2013).
Social Media enables destination marketing organizations to engage with its customers on a whole new level. Although many DMO’s recognize the benefits of implementing social media into their marketing strategy, most of them still struggle to use social media to its full extent (Gonzalo, 2014).

However, one destination that clearly knows how to do it right is VisitBritain.
The DMO accepted the challenge and created its global marketing strategy around its digital and social media platforms. This move to focus on the two engagement arenas evenly and interrelate them was rewarded with several awards for the DMO in the last few years. Therefore, it is interesting to have a closer look at their practices and see whether other destinations could learn from it.

VisitBritain has one of the strongest destination marketing websites worldwide. It was visited by 13 million users in 2013/14 and was nominated as the World’s Leading Tourism Authority Website at the World Travel Awards (VisitBritain, 2015). As the DMO states correctly the main purpose of a destination’s website is to be a “valuable hub for people looking to find out about (…) a destination” (VisitBritain, 2015). On visitors can easily access a variety of information about the destination through texts, pictures and videos. Furthermore, a search box is centrally located at the start page to facilitate the website experience for the visitor. Finally, the organization recognizes the high importance of the omni-channel approach. Therefore, they implement a real-time overview of all its social media channels on the start page. The user is able to easily switch to one of the social media channels and continue his encounter with the company on a different platform. “Share” and “Comment” buttons invite the visitor to actively engage with the company.

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Beyond their website, the DMO also extensively connects with more potential customers through social media. For their social media strategy, the DMO decided on a multichannel approach. Next to their Facebook and Twitter accounts – which rank first and third amongst their key competitors -, VisitBritain includes Weibo, the Chinese biggest microblogging website to attract the attention of the Chinese market and engage with them more efficiently (VisitBritain, 2015). Through Pinterest and Instagram, VisitBritain cooperates with different Britain-related industries and governments in order to create more original content (VisitBritain, 2015). The DMO’s YouTube and Google+ accounts are used for the “Love GREAT Britain” campaign. In addition to the ordinary social media platforms, VisitBritain also created a “LoveWall”. Its purpose is to “inspire visitors to discover Britain through compelling images and videos, allowing people to develop their own personal itineraries (VisitBritain, 2015).

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To conclude, the example of VisitBritain shows that investing in a well thought-out website and a comprehensive social media presence is key for being successful in destination marketing. Before starting to implement, however, it is important to fully study your visitors. With the insights gained, the DMO can then decide on the most efficient social media platforms (in this case Weibo as an addition to the more popular ones) and their structure and content. In order to be at the cutting edge it is also wise to add a unique platform or blog to your ordinary social media channels.


Gonzalo, F. (2014). Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing. Retrieved from

Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BVVisit Britain. (2015). Retrieved from

Visit Britain. (2015). Retrieved from


RFM Segmentation in destination marketing

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Customer engagement management is all about getting the most profit from your customers.
A destination marketing organization, like any other business, needs to know the answer to the big question: How profitable are my different customers?
Therefore, it is important for them to segment their customers based on their past purchase behavior. With the help of the Recency – Frequency – Monetary Value (RFM) segmentation DMO’s get a clearer picture of the value of each customer.

The RFM suggests that the value of a customer can be determined by his/her past purchase behavior. During the analysis the business has a closer look at the last purchase date (Recency), the purchase frequency (Frequency) and the amount spent (Monetary Value) by each customer (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).

One way of getting the RFM of your customers is to purchase one of the various data-mining tools that generate ready-made RFM classification reports. Another way is to perform the RFM segmentation yourself. Unlike many other techniques, RFM segmentation is easy to perform as it is based on past customer results.
You create a list ranked from highest to lowest recency and segment it into five equal segments. Then you repeat the step with a ranking of highest to lowest frequency for each recency segment. Finally, you do the same for monetary. The result is an overview of 125 segments with RFM scores ranging from 555 to 111 (Dodwell, 2015).

Now the DMO can take the outcome as a starting point to address the different RFM segments with the right marketing activities. Particularly two segments might be of high interest for your company:

Segment #1 “High Recency, High Frequency, High Monetary”
This is your DMO’s most valuable and loyal customer segment. Make them feel special! As they probably already know the destination very well, try to surprise them with a unique offer. To assure the they have never done something similar before, you might want to create a new offer – and maybe add a little discount…

Segment #2 “High Recency, Low Frequency, Low Monetary”
This segment comprises your newest customers. Appreciate their recent attention to your destination with a nice welcome offer e.g. in form of a discount for the next trip. You as a DMO might also want to ask the customer for feedback about the first touch points with the company to assure that you can fully address your new customers needs in the future.

To conclude, RFM segmentation is an easy-to-perform and very helpful data mining technique for destination marketing organizations. It gives a clear overview of the profitability of all customers and therefore helps DMO’s to efficiently address each segment with the appropriate marketing activities.


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

Dodwell, A. (2015). Effective Email Marketing Strategies – Segmentation RFM. Retrieved from

Customer Engagement Value in Destination Marketing

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Embracing the concept of customer engagement value can give destination marketing organizations a huge advantage over their competitors. As nowadays the competition between destinations is greater than ever, the ones that include their customers and recognize their value for the organization’s operations will get an important step ahead of the others. The value of customer engagement can be divided into four dimensions: Customer lifetime value, customer referral value, customer influencer value and customer knowledge value (Kumar & al, 2010). This framework suggests that there is more to customer value than just the purchase of a product by the DMO’s customer.

The customer influencer value (CIV) is the customer’s behavior to influence other existing customers as well as prospects. DMO’s can use this concept by involving their loyal customers in their marketing operations. Organizations can encourage people that have already been to the destination to share photos and videos and write blogs. This user-generated content can– of course with the customer’s approval – be displayed on the website or other social media channels of the organization. By applying these practices, the DMO’s get effective, customer-appealing content without investing time and money on gathering it themselves.

A bold example of recognizing and using the customer influencer value is the destination marketing organization of Lanzarote. On their website, they implemented Panoramio, a website which allows users to put photos on a Google Map. With this feature, the DMO encourages travellers who have already spent their holidays on Lanzarote to share their holiday pictures. With this user-generated content, the DMO of Lanzarote is able to show its customers pictures of other visitors’ impressions of the destination. This is a very strong advantage, as a lot of research has shown that people who search for holiday destinations trust other travellers’ opinions far more than just the promises of the destination organizations.

Next to the customer influencer value, DMO’s should also consider the customer knowledge value (CKV). Tracking the customers after they have visited the destination can provide the DMO with a lot of insights in customer preferences. DMO’s need to engage with customers after they have returned home from the holiday in order to get feedback about the holiday, the destination itself and also the services provided by the DMO. With this information, the DMO can improve its operations as well as create new products for its customers. Research conducted by Fuller, Matzler and Hoppe (2008) also revealed how strongly brand community members are interested in the product as well as how extensive their brand knowledge is. So why should DMO’s not save time and money and let their customers generate new product ideas?

The DMO of Thailand is a good example for these practices. On their website they display the category ‘community’. On this page the organization encourages everyone who feels “as a member of the tourism Thailand community” to engage in several “community features” such as “discussion topics”, “blogosphere” and “polls”. Especially the poll feature can be seen as a way to make use of the customer knowledge value. By filling in polls and surveys, customers give insights into their experiences as well as attitudes towards the destination of Thailand.

To conclude, identifying and using the customer engagement value is crucial for a successful DMO. Only if it engages its customers in influencing others as well as sharing their knowledge and experiences, it can stand out of the crowd of destinations.


Kumar, V., Aksoy, L., Donkers, B., Venkatesan, R., Wiesel, T., Tillmanns, S. (2010). Undervalued or Overvalued Customers: Capturing Total Customer Engagement Value. Journal of Service Research, 13(3): 297-310.

Lanzarote – Portal Oficial de Turismo. Retrieved September 2015, from – The official travel information website for tourists visiting Thailand. Retrieved September 2015, from

Engagement Marketing – A destination’s chance to beat its competitors

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The world of travelling has evolved enormously. The rapid rise of technology innovations and the advance of the globalization created a completely new platform for the consumers. Information sources seem to be infinite. Thus, nowadays the costumer is better informed about the sheer diversity of vacation opportunities than ever. This calls for destinations to stand out of the crowd and distinguish themselves through excellent customer relationships with a high focus on customer engagement.

A model aiming at getting the most value out of your customer is the “5 Principles of Engagement Marketing” by Marketo. It suggests connecting with people…

… As individuals. Destination marketers need to find out as much information about potential customers as possible. Only if they know what the prospect seeks to experience at the destination, they can identify indicators and then for example tailor offers on their website accordingly. This strategy also helps to assure that the customer receives the best offer at the right time.

… Based on what they do. By knowing the customer and his preferences in searching for a destination, the DMO’s will be able to interact with each individual customer successfully. A DMO needs to know the customer completely in order to make the right decisions: When should we send the offer to the prospect? Via email or is it better to start a personal dialogue on the webpage? What are the specific features that the client is searching for in his vacation and how can we lure him with them?

… Continuously over time. Only by flooding the customer with information, the destination marketers will not succeed in satisfying the customer. The prospect wants to be addressed in a personalized way when gaining information. This indicates that DMO’s have to closely track the clients in order to then engage them in a logical stream of messages.

… Directed towards an outcome. This aspect is especially relevant for destination marketing as a lot of prospects only use the DMO for the information search stage and afterwards switch to the hotels and transportation companies to finalize the holiday purchase. DMO’s need to work on this problem. They need to fully understand the journey of their customers in order to push them to the next desired step: the purchase of the offers or the recommendation of the destination to other people in their network.

… Everywhere they are. Destination marketing cannot solely rely on a single webpage. Even if it is well structured and interactive, the destination needs to market itself through a variety of channels. The new phenomenon of “being omni-channel” is especially applicable for destinations as they need to use pictures and storytelling to enable the prospect to build a relationship with the destination.

In the future, more and more travellers will consider a wide range of holiday destinations. Therefore, DMO’s, which focus on these practices in engagement marketing, can profit from their customers more efficiently and thus gain competitive advantage.


Marketo (n.d), The 5 Principles of Engagement Marketing

Peelen, E., Beltman, R. (2013), Customer Relationship Management, 2nd edition, UK: Pearson