Get people to talk about your destination is the first rule of Destination Marketing.
I watched Seth Godin’s presentation at Google yesterday. It made me think about my trip to Prague and Destination Marketing.
Seth’s philosophy is that the only way to spread the word about an idea is for that idea to earn the buzz by being remarkable. The old “TV Industrial Complex” model, where mass media (TV commercials) are used to drive sales, is dead. The new model is enabling the power of word of mouth..
I have no research about what has happened from a Tourism perspective in Prague since the early 90’s, when communism ended, and Czech borders opened for tourism. But I do know that almost immediately, everybody started talking about Prague. And everybody who went there told me they loved it and that I should go “before it becomes a tourism trap”. This was true when we lived in Europe and continued when we moved to Canada. I’ve never seen a TV commercial from the Czech or Prague tourism board. I’ve never seen a newspaper of magazine ad. I can’t recall reading an article about Prague. I couldn’t even tell what some of Prague’s highlights were. Yet Prague was high on our shortlist.
When we finally visited Prague a month ago, I was shocked about the number of tourist, and the resulting tourism infrastructure. I’m convinced the success of Prague’s tourism is primarily a result word-of-mouth. Every visitor who returns from Prague is an ambassador for Prague, because Prague is remarkable, resulting in even more people wanting to visit. And as more people visited, the infrastructure developed, and as interest grew, tour operators noticed and started adding Prague to their product mix.
It doesn’t take much for a destination to get on somebodies shortlist. Forget mass advertising, a friend’s recommendation is often enough, so make sure every visitors experience is a remarkable experience. The hard part of a destination marketer’s job is moving somebody from there to the actual visit.