Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) face a critical question: Why should travellers choose your destination among hundreds of others? Your visitors’ Facebook and Instagram feeds are already filled with inspiring photos of trips their friends and family have taken. They seek advice from strangers on TripAdvisor and countless travel blogs. Their research will help them answer their own difficult question: What makes a destination special enough to visit? As a destination marketer, finding your destination’s unique selling proposition (USP) is an essential step in matching a visitor’s specific travel desires with the product you offer. The right USP will give visitors the compelling reason they seek to visit your destination.
What makes your destination unique?
Some DMOs rely primarily on generic visitor information found in phone or airport exit surveys to guide their strategy. The temptation is to interpret this data in a way that justifies providing something for every segment of the population, but this approach is too broad. To focus on the individuality of your destination and attract visitors who will appreciate that unique quality, an improved focus is needed.
The best way to find your USP is by working with your local community, ambassadors and businesses to build it from the bottom up. Because your community already lives and breathes your USP every day, it’s in their DNA and it’s the reason they continue to inhabit and experience your destination.
For example, Toerisme Gelderland has defined their USP in a way that adds value for the visitor. Their brand tagline (translated to English) reads, “Gelderland offers you beautiful regions.” While this message isn’t specific enough to communicate a unique experience, it became the starting point to define what really makes them special. By engaging the local community and stakeholders, it became clear that Gelderland offers four unique experiences, one of which includes 5,000 km of high-quality biking paths. This shift has allowed Toerisme Gelderland to narrow their marketing focus and target a specific audience with a tailored message to increase tourism.
What would the world miss if your destination didn’t exist?
By working with your local community stakeholders to answer this question and find your USP, your destination can begin to attract travellers to the experiences that are specifically relevant to them and valuable to everyone involved.
Related reading on branding and niches: Round table discussion: Responses to Harvard Business Review’s “Branding in the Age of Social Media”