This content was originally presented as part of The State of the American Traveler - Destinations Edition webinar presented in March 2017 by Miles and Destination Analysts with support from the Southeast Tourism Society and Destination West.
While research identifies what types of content resonates with travelers when they’re making destination decisions, it’s how we, as marketers, creatively develop and execute this content that really connects with those travelers and inspires them to choose your destination.
That is why it’s so important to have a rich collection of inspirational content –words, photos and videos that connect with travelers on an emotional level and offer the “why” and the “wow” of the place in addition to the “how” content such as partner listings, maps and deals. This type of inspirational content is how you position your destination to potential visitors so that they select you over anywhere else they may be considering.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at a few examples of inspirational DMO content from around the world. Some of these are destinations that we work with here at Miles, and some are not.
Content Type: Articles
First let’s look at some specific content types, such as articles. This Secret California Bars article on the Visit California website does a great job of combining large visuals with well-written content. You can easily scroll through the article and just read the highlights of each bar, or click the orange “Expand” button to learn even more, including the history, how to get in and what to order. This feature is particularly nice on the mobile experience.
Visit the page at: http://www.visitcalifornia.com/feature/secret-california-bars
Content Type: Lists
Lists are another great content type that resonate with travelers today. Just look at how popular Buzzfeed has become. What I like about this “12 Reasons Kids Love Branson List on the Explore Branson” website is that they’ve used real traveler photos as the basis for this list, and that adds a nice layer of authenticity today’s travelers appreciate. The latest State of the American Traveler report showed that 65% of travelers use UGC to plan trips.)
Visit the page at: http://www.explorebranson.com/article/12-reasons-kids-love-branson
Content Type: Itineraries
Itineraries are particularly helpful for travelers when they’re trying to get an overview of the destination and understand what can be experienced in a weekend or a few days. This Memphis Travel example is especially nice because it not only combines a mix of what looks like produced and authentic photography, but presents trip ideas in a more conversational way so you don’t automatically feel locked into an hour-by-hour schedule. Links to learn more are easy spot if site visitors want to dive deeper into any one place.
Visit the page at: http://www.memphistravel.com/trip-ideas/four-fun-filled-days-memphis
Content Type: 360 Videos
By now we’ve all heard about and hopefully seen a 360 video. If you haven’t, I highly encourage you to check one out. (Even better if you can view them in a VR headset for a truly immersive experience.) Australia.com has a great collection of 360 experiences and it’s truly an innovative way to immerse potential visitors in your destination.
And this new technology is really changing the way we tell stories. I was recently in Gatlinburg helping to produce a new 360 video and, because the camera literally takes in everything all around you, you have to make sure your story, and what you’re filming, takes every angle into account.
Also not that 360 videos are a complement to your overall content strategy, and should not be used in replacement of regular online videos. In fact, this most recent State of the American Traveler highlights the importance of video in destination planning.
Visit the page at: http://www.australia.com/en-us/things-to-do/aquatic.html
Content Type: Social Media
Social media usage has grown seven-fold over the last eight years, and the new State of the American Traveler research highlights the importance that recommendations from friends and other travelers play in the destination decision. That’s why having a strong social media component on your site is so important. It not only adds a layer of authenticity but encourages past travelers and locals to share their own travel photos, essentially empowering them to become ambassadors for your brand.
On the new Michigan.org, the social feed is seasonally relevant and a natural progression of this page’s winter activities-focused content. The social feed pulls from the #PureMichiganSnowDay hashtag, which is an example of how granular you can get with social feeds.
Visit the page at: http://www.michigan.org/winter
Rich, Engaging Experiences
So now let’s look at how some DMOs are combining a lot of these different content types into rich, engaging, digital experiences.
Gulp Coast Craft Beer Trail
Visit St Pete/Clearwater created this dynamic Gulp Coast landing page for the area’s new Craft Beer Trail, and it combines video, written content and an interactive map that moves as you scroll down through the trail sites. Each brewery shows featured brews, directions to get there.
The UX of the page –such as the slow load of the background – contributes to the immersive experience. It adds a really nice element of surprise. Overall the site does a great job of tying big-picture inspirational content to planning content so travelers are served everything they need to get inspired and book a trip. (And the Uber promo at the end of the page ensures they’ll get home safely after enjoying their brews along the Gulp Coast.)
Visit the page at: http://www.visitstpeteclearwater.com/gulp-coast-craft-beer-trail
Sightseeing in Mammoth Lakes
VisitMammoth.com does a really nice job of presenting themed page collections around certain activities and interests. The design is clean and crisp, and translates really nicely to mobile devices. The page has a nice wealth of written content mixed with videos and photography, and as you move down the page you get into more details around specific sightseeing trip ideas and related events.
Visit the page at: http://www.visitmammoth.com/sightseeing
Louisiana Culinary Trails
We know that culinary travel has become a huge trend over the last few years. I don’t know about you, but one of the first things I do when I plan travel is figure out where I’m going to eat.
The Louisiana Culinary Trails is a great collection of culinary content about the Bayou State. You can check out restaurants, different culinary experiences around Creole and Cajun cuisine, watch short recipe videos or order a culinary trails guide. As you move down the page you can jump off into individual culinary trails all around the state and learn more about eating your way through Louisiana. There’s no way you’re not hungry after looking at this page.
Visit the page at: http://www.louisianatravel.com/culinary
Golf in Ireland
This Golf page on Ireland.com even makes me want to golf, and I’m no golfer. It combines beautiful, scenic photography with inspirational quotes from the pros and celebrity golfers, and links to top courses around the country. Scrolling through the immersive page feels like a preview as to what you can expect when you’re teeing off on Ireland’s famous greens, and it does a great job of weaving in pro tips, insider information and links to make the content more actionable.
Visit the page at: http://www.ireland.com/en-us/what-is-available/golf/
There are so many more great examples of DMO content that is inspirational and engaging, and I would encourage DMOs and other travel marketers to look around and see what your colleagues are up to. I think it’s also important to note that your content should be equally inspiring on mobile – more than half of DMO traffic is now coming from mobile devices, and we know that people want to be inspired on smaller screens as well.