Destination Marketing: Why do tourists like a destination?

By Sara Fedele Marketing Communications Manager , USI Università Della Svizzera Italiana | April 29, 2012

Which reasons make a destination worth visiting? Is there a correspondence between how tourists perceive a destination and how the Destination Management Organization (DMO) promotes it? The main purpose of this research is to identify the reasons that make a destination - in this case, the Republic of Malta - worth a visit from the tourists' perspective. The study aims on one side, at recognizing and analyzing the main arguments used by tourists - the demand side - when reporting on their experiences on a specific destination, and on the other side to compare the found arguments with those used by the DMO - the supply side - to promote itself.

The arguments have been identified through the analysis of User Generated Contents on the destination, in the Travel forums of Trip Advisor. The results make it possible to identify strengths and weaknesses of the destination, and additionally to get information on what the DMO should focus on to improve its performances.
The understanding of opinions, preferences and perceptions of tourists is a valuable starting point for the development of more effective online marketing strategies by DMO as, before speaking, they need to listen carefully to their visitors!

Where to go on holiday? This is the first question which arises when planning a trip. The answer to this question can influence positively or negatively the performance of that "couple of weeks" that are considered sacred by so many workers around the world.

Today, most of the travelers who have Internet access look for online information and tourist services, frequently asking for help and suggestions to travelers who have already been in a destination.

Recent studies have highlighted that travelers, before choosing a destination or tourist service like a hotel, prefer to receive recommendations from those who have already experienced that destination or hotel. They tend to check more and more online comments and opinions that can help them to make the right choice, trusting more the word-of-mouth by people having their same "status" of travelers than suggestions by professionals. Besides this trustworthiness, another reason of preference is that such information is cheaper and faster.

Because of the personal relation involved, word-of-mouth is viewed as a more reliable source of accurate consumer information than marketing information obtained through mass media (Pan, McLaurin, Crotts 2007). Travelers want to talk about their good or bad experiences and share their travel know-how on one or more social websites and blogs.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.