How two DMOs are using content to sell and why this hybrid model is the future

How two DMOs are using content to sell and why this hybrid model is the future

Two destinations have announced two very different but both very eye-catching approaches to marketing themselves in the past week. But at the heart of both Visit Sweden’s country takeover by Airbnb and Visit Jersey’s Find Your Freedom campaign is what is increasingly known as “content”.

Destination marketing organisations (DMOs) like Visit Sweden and Visit Jersey as well as others such as Visit Cornwall and Tourism Australia are recognising that their role is changing.

In the past, the role of the tourist board was more like that of a supermarket, giving consumers access to a select range of goods whose producers paid for shelf space. Supermarkets would advertise their brands and people would choose which one to go to on the basis of location, convenience, price and lifestyle fit.

Increasingly, this model is looking broken as the public money on which many relied has fallen away and the outlets through which they previously promoted themselves – glossy adverts in newspapers and magazines in particular – are now seen as far less effective than the track-everything world of the internet.

The new role that DMOs are having thrust upon them is as publishers of content – or good stories as they used to be known in the days when print rather than content was king.

The content in both the Sweden and Jersey campaigns has a common theme – people. As any print journalist will tell you, people make the best stories.

In Sweden’s case, it shares the reasons why famous Swedes, such as mountaineer Renata Chlumska and Christoffer Collin love their country’s Freedom to Roam law  that lets you walk and camp pretty much anywhere. The campaign video below explains the idea and tells its own story.

Jersey, in contrast, shares the stories of ‘real’ people: Keith, the surfing grandpa see below, Rosie, the hiking hipster and Lottie, a firefight who loves food. The campaign has been put together by PR and content agency One Green Bean.

The content in both is beautifully done, with some inspiring imagery, words and, inevitably these days, video. Where the two DMOs have gone beyond the traditional publisher model is marrying this content with the ability to book the experiences these people are talking about. Sweden has “turned the entire country into an Airbnb listing”. In practice, it has listed a number of natural places around the country that are free – clifftops and river banks where you can pitch up free of charge. It’s a gimmick, of course, and Airbnb also lists other Swedish Airbnb listings of a more traditional type alongside.

Jersey meanwhile offers bookable products, in the form of tour packages and individual hotel stays, alongside its stories.

I predict this hybrid model, combining a content publisher with an online marketplace for local travel and tourism businesses is going to be the model of choice for a growing number of DMOs in the future. The channel is owned by the destination so it will always be on-message and crucially for the businesses that have to fund DMO’s activities in place of public money their return on investment is eminently trackable.

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Mark Frary is co-founder of Travel Perspective, a social and digital consultancy working with travel companies and tourism organisations to create successful marketing campaigns He is an author and writer specialising in travel, social media and technology. He writes regularly for The Times and has written for many other publications including the Evening Standard, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Express, Food & Travel, ABTA magazine, the easyJet magazine and Teletext.  Mark also gives expert advice to leisure and business travel companies on their social media and communications strategies and is the co-founder of Social Travel Market, an annual conference on the use of social media in travel at World Travel Market. He is the author of seven books including The Origins of the Universe for Dummies and is currently working on a biography of the ski pioneer Erna Low. Mark lives in Ampthill in Bedfordshire, UK with his wife and three children.

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