Regional tourism and destination marketing is a really important aspect of the long-term quality of life in a community. While some may disagree, marketing a region is an important component of an area. But it has so much more reach than just having people come and stay in the hotels for a few days.
When a destination effectively markets itself it tells the world about the highlights of the area. Everywhere you go in these United States there are highlights whether that be mountains or lakes or man-made structures. When I lived in LowCal Watts was one of those areas that really suffered from Rodney Dangerfield syndrome, no respect, but people still made the trek to go see the Watts Towers.
Every somewhere has some reason to go visit.
It’s very important that each tourism region have a voice and that those businesses within that region sing along with the choir to some extent. For example, if an area has a themed month or a community celebration or a seasonal promotion it’s a powerful tool for individual components of that destination also share the word about that event or promotion.
The reasons for this is that it reinforces the theme or promotion more, giving it more value, and also adds to the number of reasons that your individual property counts as reasons to visit. Pretty powerful. For example, I’m putting on a car and boat show this weekend and there are restaurants and hotels that have partnered with us to offer specials to participants in the show and make those participants feel special.
I have encouraged the partners not to offer discounts, but instead offer something the visitors will value that is relative to our event. One of those partners is a hotel where they offer secured parking for high-value boats and cars rather than a discount, per se. Discount marketing is not marketing in many cases.
When our area has fishing tournaments or bicycle races or a sea plane splash in the smart businesses are the ones with signs in their windows or posts on their social media that welcome participants of these events. It’s not even difficult to do but it really makes a huge impact to the visitors to see this.
But what happens when a community stops its marketing altogether? What if the voices go silent or the vision for telling the story of an area is gone?
The obvious things are that the hotels and restaurants start to see a slow down. This season isn’t as good as last season. And the following season is worse still. Those are the obvious things that happen.
But then a few years down the road the negativity that is part of so much of the Internet starts to take hold and the words people speak about a region start to also get more negative. The reputation of an area starts to falter and pretty soon those few negative comments become the words people associate with a region.
By the time this happens it’s not just the hotels and restaurants that are suffering but it’s the whole community. Think about a doctor or a peace officer or a firefighter having the choice of ten different communities to work in. Do you think that they want to bring their invaluable skill set to a community whose reputation is lousy? If they even consider coming to the community their friends will wonder out loud about their decision.
Destination marketing is the job of everybody in the destination but there has to also be a leadership role that is usually the voicing of a tourism board or a government agency. A strong, visionary voice in the role of destination marketing is critical for a destination both from a long- and a short-term standpoint.
Furthermore, if your destination is located next to others that have a great tourism destination team and yours doesn’t, there is no spillover. The negativity and bad publicity that is yours is yours, period. That neighboring tourism board might even be adding a little bit of gasoline to the fire that is your demise.
For anyone in a destination it’s part of your job to help be the voice of that destination both in person and in the world of marketing. This isn’t just because of room sales and restaurant tickets, but it’s a factor in the long-term wellbeing and quality of life in a community. So wherever your local tourism marketing board or body is, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon or light a fire under their butts. The business you save could be your own.