Indirect feedback via travel blogs is not relevant for a Destination Marketing Organisation

There are many people writing blogs about their travels and their experiences within a certain destination. These blogs are seen as online diaries where people express ideas and experiences. These writers are called local journalists, who report freely without being hindered by any kind of limitation. This includes often good and bad opinions about a certain place. This makes that they can break or make a destination’s reputation and indirect a Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO). But is it truly like that, that indirect feedback via travel blogs would not be relevant for a DMO? I will describe some pros and cons and draw a conclusion at the end (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).

At one side, a DMO could say that the content of a blog is not relevant for them, because it is not addressed to them whilst a review on their website or a comment on their Facebook page is. A blog is often directly addressed to relatives and friends to inform them about their experiences. However, strangers can find the blog on the internet and read them as well. This off course will influence a person’s opinion about a destination based on someone else experiences. A DMO could also say it is time consuming and costly, because you need staff to evaluate the blogs and they need to get paid for that. Lastly, why would you need this kind of feedback when you receive reviews on your website and via social media? Especially, when it is time consuming and costly.

At the other hand, why should a DMO actually consider the feedback via travel blogs as relevant source of information? There are a few different type of answers available. The first one is that they could use the blogs to gain more insight in the following contexts:

  • Task environment – to gain insight in travel behaviour and the actual purpose of the trip
  • Social context – to gain insight in what they are doing at the destination and with who
  • Physiological context – What is the person actually doing during its stay, what kind of efforts are made in order to be there and do certain activities
  • Mental context – what is someone’s mood or attitude during his/her stay at the destination
  • Spatio-temporal context – Is the person touring around within the destination, passing through, or just staying at one place? Within what kind of timespan?
  • Environmental context – what are the physical locations visited within the destination? Where did they stay, near what facilities and infrastructures (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)?

This leads to useful information for A DMO, using it to adapt their information sources based on what people are interested in and actually do when visiting the destination. It is also an indirect way of receiving feedback in order to improve the services and information sources of a DMO. People will write about what they liked and didn’t like about the destination. A DMO could use this by promoting the good parts even more to other people and improving the not such good parts of the destination when possible. This off course depends if there were people involved (especially companies), and what kind of bad experience it was. Maybe it was with friends, but when it was with a tourism company providing accommodation or activities, a DMO could communicate with them in order to improve certain things to increase someone’s overall experience.

It also enables a DMO to post/share personal stories of people who visited the destination, like the DMO of Lanzarote did with a great blog about Lanzarote, written by Satanna.

Lanzarote.png

People interested in Lanzarote can read about someone’s personal experience of Lanzarote. This results into a few benefits. It is word of mouth and people value this kind of information more compared to information that is available on a DMO’s website. This means that sharing a blog written by a visitor has a stronger influence during the decision-making process of other customers interested in visiting the destination. Furthermore, you create a feeling of proud by sharing a person’s blog resulting in engagement. Sharing someone’s story that will be read by other people will result in feeling proud on what they have written and increases the experience value. This could lead to returning to the destination and/or becoming a more knowledgeable person who helps other customers by answering questions or offering tips.

To conclude, indirect feedback via travel blogs is an interesting and relevant for a DMO in order to increase the personal touch of people’s experiences, word of mouth and to learn more about people’s interest and travel behaviour within their destination.

The Analysis Process: The importance of formulating a problem for a destination marketing organisation

In my last two blogs I wrote about a customer engagement strategy for a Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) and how to implement a service design framework. However, in order to do this we need information of the customer in order to address the right needs and wants. Therefore, I give a deeper insight in the importance of formulating a problem within the analysis process.

Having the right data available as an organisation is essential to approach the right customer with the right offer at the right time. But how do we achieve that? This information needs to be analysed, which can be done in different ways. There are several methods available that enables you to analyse the right data suitable for your organisation. However, before you decide on the right method, you need to know what type of information is relevant for your organisation in order to address your customer correctly, because each analysis method researches only a certain part of the information that is available. In order to define the type of information that is essential for your organisation is to organise for example brainstorm sessions, or write out what you think you need to know in order to sell your product. For a DMO, I held a brainstorm session and the figure below indicates what is important to know as a DMO.

Figure 1

Based on the type of information you need, you start considering the different methods that are available. The following types of formulations are relevant to consider in order to analyse the right information:

  • Segmentation and selections – enables a company to create homogeneous customer groups and to create a list of names, addresses and age information per person. Take in mind that segmenting is only needed when sending out brochures for example and not with online marketing. This type of analysis can be interesting for a DMO in order to know what kind of market you attract. Where do they come from? How old are they? With who do they travel? This information is relevant in order to promote the destination in the right area (country). Furthermore, it enables a DMO to decide on what kind of attractions and trips to promote to the right target market.
  • Acquisition analysis and selections  – focusses on acquiring new customers. Whenever a DMO has new customers interested in the destination, this type of analysis helps to determine if the customer is a potential customer for the long-term or not. It creates a selection in what kind of customers there are and who will visit the destination once of more. This enables a DMO to focus more directly on the right potential long-term customer target group.
  • Customer analysis and selections – focusses on retention of the customer as in the early identification of determining a relationship, as well as relationship development. A DMO could use this type of analysis to gain insight in who returns to the destination and who will not return to the destination. This enables the DMO to target their promotions to the right people. Why spending money on people who will not return to the destination after they have been there?
  • Analysis to determine the effectiveness of the customer approach – focusses on response of marketing campaigns. This type of analysis is extremely useful for a DMO, because of their marketing activities. Using this analysis will help a DMO to determine whether a campaign has been successful. This can be all kinds of campaigns as in online or offline, within a certain area or targeted at a specific group of people. It enables a DMO to indicate if the campaign has been useful and what to improve next time.

Based on these four type of analysis, you can decide which type would be the most relevant to use for you as an organisation. It is important to decide on what kind of analysis you want to choose in order to define your research question (Peelen & Beltman, 2013).

Bibliography

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.

Destination marketing organisations should implement a service design framework

The service design framework helps an organisation to (re)design a customer brand experience. It also provides an insight in the needs and wants of customers. This is important, because a customer expects to be understood by a company by offering the right service. A Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) could implement such a framework by offering a “plan your own trip” program. To create your own trip, the customer must create an account first. Saving the trip so enables to customer to access it from anywhere they are and change/adapt it in case that is needed. This also makes sure that the DMO learns more about what the customers’ wishes are, the timeframe of visiting the destination and any other preferences among customers. An organisation is proposed to implement the following steps when they would like to apply this kind of framework.

Insight – With insight, you identify the customers’ promise and create understanding about the customers’ expectations. Within this stage it is important to provide the right information to your customer. This results into feeling understood by the organisation as a customer. To be able to make sure that the customer finds the right and accurate information within this program, the DMO needs to make sure that they know what customer seek within the destination.

Design – Within this stage, a blue print must be designed, which should provide the optimal customer experience. This kind of experience should include rational and emotional needs. Furthermore, you should provide the right information from the consumers’ point of view. This program also must provide the information in the right order, like the picture added to this blog. A customer plans his/her trip from the beginning until the end. Therefore, the DMO must make sure that the right information is available, but the customer does basically make his/her own blue print that should provide him/her with an optimal brand experience.

Implement – Implementing the blue print design should deliver an optimal experience to the customer. Especially, when the customer created his/her own blue print, you would expect that the experience level would be high. However, when the customer planned too many activities on one day, this could lead into a negative experience. Therefore, it is essential to create such a program that enables the designer to implement only a certain amount of activities per day, depending on the type of activity.

Refresh – Since the customer creates his own brand experience, it is crucial for a DMO to evaluate on the process, program, the experience itself and available information. This stage makes sure that the customer provides feedback to the DMO and shares their stories. Implementing a reminder for the customer to provide feedback and another tool where they can write their story about their trip, makes sure that the DMO gets feedback in return. This feedback can be used to adapt the program and to check if the right information is available on the website based on the customers’ building- and implementing experience. Furthermore, based on this information the DMO can adapt the available information to create this understanding customer feeling in the first stage of this framework.

Implementing this framework as a DMO, you make sure that you gain insight in the needs and wants of a customer regarding the destination. Additionally, you receive feedback about your organisation and the service you offer as well as on the destination itself. Having this type of information, the DMO is able to adapt the available information to make sure it addresses the preferences of the customer by offering accurate information based on previous customer experiences (Crawford-Browne, 2013).

Bibliography

Crawford-Browne, S. (2013, March). Designing a branded customer experience. Opgehaald van GFK: http://www.gfk.com/uk/documents/thought-pieces/branded%20customer%20experience.pdf

Using a customer intimacy and offensive strategy within DMO

Customer engagement plays a crucial role within today’s world. It used to be customer relationship management, where organisations satisfied customers in order to build a relationship. A next step needed to be taken which led to customer engagement management. Developing an engagement with a customer is essential for developing a strategy to manage customer engagement (Peelen & Beltman, 2013). By choosing an offensive strategy and applying customer intimacy, Destination Marketing Organisation’s (DMO’s) can develop a better engagement relationship with the customer.

By implementing an offensive strategy, a DMO focuses on the current market share and gaining new customers. Offensive strategy is well-known as a typical marketing strategy, used by many companies according to Ed Peelen and Rob Beltman (2013). DMO’s are all about promoting the destination towards travellers. Within an offensive strategy there are several possible value categories and one of them is customer intimacy. Customer intimacy means that an organisation focuses on customer needs and expectations. Based on the customer preferences, an organisation offers a product/service that suits the needs and wants of the customer. Offering a custom-tailored product or service often results into a long-term relationship. This is what you as a DMO are interested in, having a relationship with customers who return to the destination, but also promote the destination to other people. In order to reach this stage, a business needs to have a profound knowledge of their customer’s wishes.

But how could a DMO use the offensive strategy and customer intimacy within its organisation? A DMO could develop partnerships or co-operation agreements with other companies within the destination. Together they attract a bigger market and the DMO can fill gaps where the company might fall short. For example, a hotel offers excursions within the destination, but has no accurate information available regarding a certain excursion. The hotel contacts the DMO for the correct information and gives that to the customer. In such cooperation agreement or partnership it is important that both organisations promote each other. Providing the right information to the customer makes the customer aware that there is a DMO of the area. Realizing as a customer that the DMO provides all kinds of information, it will visit the organisation and learn more about the offers of the DMO. Finding out that they offer tailored information to clients leads to customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is a competitive advantage, as it often results into repurchase and lower price sensitivity. Customers become less price sensitive, as they know what the company offers (2015).

References

Customer relationship management assignment on starbucks. (2015). Opgehaald van Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/ShaMeedBaksh/shameed-scm-028811-individual

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Consumer relationship management. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.