It’s pretty easy to fall in love with the ‘timeless beauty and high-grade distractions’ of the tourist destinations of Northern Ireland (Lonely Planet). Unspoiled and other-worldly, we count marvels such as The Giant’s Causeway, The Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, and the Mourne Mountains as part of our small country. Rated as the best region in the world to visit by Lonely Planet 2018, it seems that the combined efforts of marketeers throughout the province have delivered real results.
We have a soft spot for Tourism Destination Marketing here at ASG & Partners. Having created brands for ‘rural’ Derry & Strabane Council, Tyrone & Sperrins Tourism, Causeway Coast & Glens Council, Visit Derry and Cathedral Quarter Belfast, we have invaluable experience under our belt and with each successful campaign, we become more enamoured with the sights and scenery of NI. Our integrated campaigns have focused on breathtaking imagery and video to truly showcase the region in its best light and to offer the audience a glimpse of the experience in a way that words alone cannot portray.
Unlike product marketing where brands are delivered to consumers through distribution channels, destination marketing encourages consumers to travel to the destination. A very different request and one that requires significant research into your customer groups, their preferences, their goals, their budget and their behaviours. In addition, the nature of destination marketing is that it covers not only the specific location (the hotel, the restaurant) but the region as a whole. Finding a way for many operators in one destination to work collaboratively to promote the region as well as the individual destinations therefore makes a crucial difference.
A solid tourism destination marketing strategy is essential to staying competitive. When a large majority of travelers use the internet to search their locations, share findings with friends, and review their experiences, unless you have a marketing strategy attached to your destination, the location will quickly be overtaken by others who do. Establishing what your destination offers in terms of Attractions (natural, cultural, events), Accessibility (roads, trains, airport), Accommodation (hotels, B&Bs) and Activities (sports, culture, food, and drink) will help you secure your position. Combining your customer research with the unique offering your location presents, the next step is then to develop a strategy to get your message in front of the target market you’ve identified. Choose from contextual ads, search engine advertising, social media or SEO to ensure that your message is strong, speaks to the needs and wants of your audience and is delivered for their attention.
Through a fully integrated approach, we use a combination of the push and the pull. Proactive and targeted blogger and vlogger engagement with UK, Irish, and International influencers has created first-person, user-generated content which has a mighty pull for the online travel-audience.
The beauty of Tourism Destination Marketing is that the championing of locations like Northern Ireland is genuine and easy. These are living, breathing places of natural beauty and it is a pleasure to find ways to communicate this with our audience. Northern Ireland offers a wealth of experiences for visitors enjoy, uncontrived, genuine locals who love to tell their stories and a myriad of places, as yet not quite on the tourist map but ready and waiting to be discovered. A challenge we are ready and willing to take on!
By Karen Barr