Andrew Hardeman of the media and marketing site Mumbrella advises that marketers “need to focus more on improving the customer experience rather than emotional storytelling at scale, […] because – despite what we may think – most consumers don’t care about having an emotional connection to brands.”
A strong destination brand isn’t built through advertising either. In essence, a brand is made of two things: the experiences people have with your product and the stories they hear about that experience from others.
Hardeman further argues that a positive customer experience is more important than an emotional connection with a brand:
“While emotion may be seen as a point of differentiation now, a superior customer experience is competitive advantage for the future. And, it pays. A recent study conducted by Avanade (the leading digital innovator on the Microsoft platform) found every dollar invested in improving customer experience generated three dollars in return. In addition, they expected to see an 11% increase in revenue over the next 12 months.”
How can destinations find the competitive advantage that Hardeman describes? Destinations can build brand by investing in the experience. Improving the product goes hand in hand with promotion, because positive experiences lead to positive word of mouth. Destination marketing organizations are in the unique position where they can monitor and measure the entire destination experience and lead stakeholders to improve it.
Look for ways to create more emotional connections during the experience that lead to an improved visit, positive feelings (see Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index for inspiration) and finally, word of mouth.
This means pausing to answer important questions:
- What is our mandate and what do stakeholders expect of us?
- What is the biggest impact that we can have on our destination?
- What skills does our team currently have?
- How are our budgets being allocated?
- Are we investing more in branded communication, or in managing and amplifying word of mouth?
- How are we leading our stakeholders in experience development?
Is your DMO focused more on improving the customer experience or on emotional storytelling at scale?