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Experience Design, Marketing, Travel & Tourism

Cascading influence in tourism marketing

By William Bakker | 05.16.12 | 4 Comments

I’m not a foodie. But I like food. I like cooking. I like to eat good food. I like authentic experiences. I like holes in the wall. I once drove 5 hours to eat deep fried cheese. And when I was in LA last month I drove an hour to visit the Kogi food truck (photo). But I don’t really watch food shows, read food blogs or base every restaurant I visit on reviews on Yelp or Tripadvisor.

I have friends for that.

My friend Stephanie is a foodie. She tries crazy recipes and knows about all the new and hot restaurants in town. And beyond. There aren’t a lot of cities I travel to where she doesn’t know of someplace amazing.

Stephanie is not a big food influencer. She doesn’t blog, doesn’t take photos of her food, she doesn’t pin food recipes. She does influence her friends though. In person or on Facebook. And if she recommends a restaurant, I’m going.

I’m not a foodie. But I’m influenced by one.

Stephanie in turn, is influenced by a host of people who share her obsession with food. She’s part of a passionate community of foodies. A lot of her friends are foodies, she watches Food TV, reads a lot of food blogs, is active on Chow and follows celebrity chefs on Twitter.

Stephanie is a foodie. She makes her decisions based on information from influencers in the foodie community.

The example above is the essence of modern tourism marketing. Restaurants will get people like me in the door because I’m influenced by a foodie, who in turn is influenced by leaders in the foodie community.

As a marketer, you need to approach this in reverse. Activate the influencers who connect with the passionate community, who in turn connect with consumers at large.

This works for any kind of niche. Hiking, skiing, modern art, theatre, gambling, roller coasters, etc. There are thousands of passionate communities and each community, large or small, has influencers. It’s just a matter of activating it.

As a tourism marketer you need to identify your niches and ensure the delivery of your experience is remarkable so people will recommend your destination or product. It will start a cascading effect that produces long term results.

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