Thursday, 8 October 2009

eDestination Marketing Secrets

What is a viable online strategy for destinations in the era of the social web? What channels and platforms are relevant to reach the target customers? And which are best practice examples that can be easily adopted by other destinations?

Martin Schobert, Head of R&D at the Austrian National Tourist Office (ANTO) in Vienna, shared his vast experience in eDestination marketing with Master students in my course eTourism today. These central questions are not only important for a National Tourism Organisation but for any Destination Management Organisation (DMO) likewise.

The way how web users utilise the WWW nowadays has also triggered a shift from a web of pages to an aggregated web of connected data and services in which content distribution and syndication will become more and more effective for creating brand awareness and brand affinity online (see also my post on Internet and TV Equally Effective for Video-Spots).

Martin suggests that the DMO's role should shift to content aggregators and content brokers, the latter meaning that online branding happens "off-site" on other websites which are used as communication and information channels by the target customers (see illustration below, click on picture to enlarge).

Martin identifies 3 tasks as most important for DMOs in the era of the social web:
  1. "Listening" to what people publish online (text, videos, photos etc.), i.e. monitoring and opinion mining.
  2. "Talking" to and with the Internet community, i.e. initiating a discussion and exhaust network effects for viral marketing.
  3. "Supporting" the visitors online by means of personalised information and quality online services.
Furthermore, destination managers need to be aware of that users in different markets also use different platforms and channels. Facebook for example is very popular in European countries and in the USA, whereas in Japan Mixi is the most popular social networking platform (10 million users and an 80% share of the social networking market). Thus market research and market monitoring are vital in order to find out what platforms and channels are the most efficient ones for reaching the target audience online.

Thanks a lot Martin for sharing the ANTOs eDestination strategy with us! Maybe other NTOs will follow your positive example and consider sharing their "secrets" and best practice examples with us, too!

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