Marketing a destination is an exciting, yet tricky task for a marketer. First, he or she should present something that a particular place has to offer, something special and unique. Second, it’s important to know how to capture and hold the users’ attention to the destination. Third, developing a strategy, choosing tools, and measuring the results effectively requires subject knowledge and significant expertise in the field.
The aforementioned points are significantly pre-defined by a website that promotes a destination. The role of web portals is changing these days which should be considered and used to gain all the possible benefits.
Fact #1: Travelers Go Mobile
People use different platforms while doing pre-travel research, visiting the destination, and writing reviews and comments after the trip. This fact is true for the American travel market, still, the trends are clear.
“Mobile will represent 31% of digital travel sales this  year. That number will climb to 46% by 2019.”
– as eMarketer forecasts.
Therefore, a mobile version of the website should be attractive on iOS and Android as well as on the traditional Mac or Windows desktops. The users should have the best experience with a mobile-responsive site or else they are likely to start searching for another option.
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Fact #2: Content Matters as Always
Destination marketing sites should do their best to hold visitors’ attention and encourage them to come, try different things, and get a positive experience. It’s important to add a feature to stand out and make people have a unique online experience.
For example, add an ‘Ask a Local’ section, as Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau did to promote the city and attract others to come. Check out how it looks like here. Cyprus has a number of audio guides about different attractions available for download in mp3 and pdf formats. Moreover, these materials are available in 5 languages.
Fact #3: Users Want Personal Experience
There is a need to approach each and every user personally, so web developers, designers, and site administrators should opt for using behavioral data and geolocation to speak directly to different segments of visitors. A personalization strategy results in higher page views, prolongs the time spent on a site, and usually converses in sales, but what is even more important – it affects the user experience in a positive way, e.g. each person receives content that is as relevant as possible.
A good example of providing a personalized approach is a “Nearby airports” option on expedia.com. This helps a client pick the cheapest flight at the airport that is the closest to him or her at the moment and he or she may even don’t have an idea about such a possibility.
Fact #4: Cultural Differences Influence Brand Perception
A destination without a well-recognized brand can hardly be promoted successfully. When creating a brand or doing a re-branding, keep in mind that people who represent different cultures have different personality traits associated with the most successful brands. We studied the results of the Millward Brown agency research to find out some amazing things, for example:
• The Americans value trustworthy and desirable both equally important and also appreciate in control, wise, and generous traits.
• The Spanish value desirable more important and also appreciate creative, assertive, and brave traits.
• The Thais find trustworthy more important and also value caring, wise, and straightforward traits.
Such nuances should be considered in the site’s design as well as in the content.
Fact #5: Destinations Innovate Today to Benefit Tomorrow
One of the pillars of an effective destination marketing strategy is an innovation which should be both offline and online effective. The website experience should evolve so that its visitors would receive something new over the time. If nothing changes for a while, visitors won’t keep engaged with the resource. The strategies may differ from using a series of promo options to creating a virtual tour.
“360-degree and virtual reality videos let travelers decide what they want to see and how they want to see it. Travel brands just need to ensure that they’re really selling themselves and portraying one-of-a-kind experiences, which most of these videos seem to do.”
Surprisingly, it doesn’t matter much whether you’re marketing a country, region, or a small town. Either way, your website is often the first point visited by a person who is interested in your destination. Therefore, it should be attractive, engaging, and fun. From a technological point of view, the website should follow the major trends and use the latest tech solutions to make the user’s experience pleasant and unforgettable.
Staying on top will ensure that a destination website not only informs but also drives conversions.