We do lots of work with destinations to help them really differentiate themselves and identify their unique sense of place.
In our workshops we help people describe their place without using tourism cliches and hyperbole – focusing instead on the real, place-specific experiences and special qualities that make somewhere worth travelling to.
It’s harder than you’d think. Listen to Radio 4’s Word of Mouth on Travel & Tourism and you’ll hear numerous destinations at the World Travel Market using what presenter Michael Rosen calls “flogged-to-death words” to promote themselves. “Spectacular”, “Heritage”, “Culture”, “Natural”, “Friendly People”, “Authentic”, “Diverse” and “Cosmopolitan” are so ubiquitous it’s comical.
Yet studio guest travel journo Simon Calder seems to suggest consumers need these reassuring verbal cues.
And Josef Schmitt – a specialist in the Semantics of Tourism – talks about how some travel marketing tells us how to feel about a place so effectively and powerfully that it becomes an internal reality when we visit, and helps us to experience the positive, transformative effect of travel.
So the challenge for place marketers is to reassure and differentiate at the same time. And place marketing has to paint a picture that will stir the imagination and shape perceptions – before, during and after the visit. A tall order – but that’s what makes this job so fulfilling!