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 VisitBritain.com 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.
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).
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 http://fredericgonzalo.com/en/2014/07/31/social-media-challenges-in-destination-marketing/
Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management (Second Edition). Amsterdam: Pearson Education Benelux BVVisit Britain. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.visitbritain.org
Visit Britain. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.visitbritain.org