The voice of the visitor: how to make yourself heard

By Phoebe Wynne

Word of mouth is the way forward.  Consumers seem to be getting more cynical, becoming less and less likely to ‘fall for’ traditional marketing techniques.  So, how do you make yourself heard when the consumer's stopped listening?

One way is to start marketing their voice rather than your own.  According to recent ALVA data, word of mouth is increasingly influencing people’s choice of how to spend a day out, whilst the influence of PR and marketing has fallen.  In response, attractions have begun actively encouraging people to check in, tweet, or update their stories to maximise their word of mouth recommendations.

However, directly sharing consumer voices carries inherent risks: a tweet may be a complaint, an uploaded picture may be blurry, and a Snapchat story may not be a true reflection of an offer.  Attractions and destinations are tackling this challenge by actively encouraging visitor generated content before selecting the best responses for use in their marketing.  They get to show off the genuine appeal of their offering, but consumers don’t feel conned or brainwashed.

There are several attractions and destinations that have done this extremely well; you’ve probably seen their campaigns without even realising it. Remember that viral home video of a little girl squealing with excitement because her parents just told her they were going to Disneyland? You might have seen it on Facebook or Twitter, or even been sent it directly.  Well, that home video was actually part of a Disney marketing campaign.   In 2011 and 2012, Disneyworld and Disneyland used the promotional theme of ‘Let the Memories Begin’ to encourage visitors to share videos of their Disney memories, with the chance to be featured in a series of television adverts.  By using real life videos, Disney demonstrated the ‘magic’ of a trip to Disneyland using a real, ‘word-of-mouth’ method.

Iceland’s tourism organisation ‘Promote Iceland’ has likewise used consumer generated content. Their 2010 ‘Inspired by Iceland’ campaign was created to combat a blow to their tourist industry after a volcanic eruption created safety concerns and negative publicity.  They set up a dedicated website featuring videos of famous Icelanders and live webcam streams from top tourist destinations, and the ‘Inspired by Iceland’ social media campaign was launched on Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo and Tumblr.  Icelanders were encouraged to post content portraying the country’s beautiful landscape and welcoming people to visit.  Within one day of the campaign launch, 27% of the population had shared content with overseas contacts. As a result, perceptions of Iceland improved and the number of tourist visits beat the annual forecast.

There’s a lot to learn from the wisdom of Disney and the creativity of Iceland; they used positive, consumer generated content to create sincere but effective marketing campaigns.  In a world where visitors are more inclined to believe the words of their peers, successful attractions will echo the voice of their visitors.

For more guidance on how to make yourself heard, drop us a line.

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