Man that was fast! 2014 seems to have come and gone in our industry and now it is time to look forward to the many things that 2015 will bring us. As you may recall, last year my counterpart Joy Lin and I wrote a post where we attempted to predict the future of destination marketing in or Ten Things to Look Out for in 2014.
This year however, we decided to switch it up as far as the format of the post. We still want to convey some of the areas of potential growth and what better way to do that then to leverage the amazing brain trust of resources available to us by our partner DMO's and agencies. The thoughts and insight below are from some of the brightest minds in the destination marketing industry so be sure to take notes!
- Katie Cook, Director of Digital Marketing at Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau
"Personalization: The travel industry will continue to find ways to personalize the visitor experience...in the inspiration, research, planning and booking phases as well as in market."
- Sarah Best-Wilson, Principal at Sarah Best Strategy - Social Media and Content Strategy, Freelance Writer, Artist and Curator
"Video - the technology keeps becoming more affordable and accessible, there's more support for ad spends around video, and many forms to choose from micro-video on Instagram and Vine to longer form videos."
- David Serino, Founder and Strategist at TwoSix Digital
"Audience Profiling and Segmentation in Ad Targeting - each day we have the ability to learn more about our audience. There is a wealth of data that can make marketers more efficient in developing new audiences or segmenting deeper targets within their current audiences. It will be required knowledge to be efficient and fiscally responsible in future social & online ad campaigns."
- Leslie Saint McLellan: "For smaller destinations in particular a key will be working with bloggers to help those with limited budgets spread their message. And if possible, working with niche bloggers would be even better for the destinations."
- Mark Rudyk, Director of Digital Marketing at Visit Newport Beach: "Utilizing NFC technology in combination with mobile apps to deliver a more immersive experience in the destination. Being able to arrive at a destination "waypoint" where the mobile phone in your pocket can interact with the push of a single button and start a multitude of interfaces for the consumer in your city. With NFC chips now in all iPhone 6, and the fact that Android phones have already had them for some time, the % of phones capable of this will only increase and 90% of phones by 2016 will have this technology built in. Proximity and interaction can launch a host of things, from informative videos, interactive maps, spoken narratives."
- Gathan D. Borden, Director, Brand Marketing & Advertising at Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau
"I believe that consumers will want a more personal connection with brands. DMOs will have to learn to be more personable and time-sensitive across all facets of the organization; sales, service and marketing. Being able to peel back the layers of the brand to make yourself more authentic and connect with consumers in a personal and emotional way will be key. And directly related to meetings, I think the key is personalized service over sales, meaning that DMOs will have to find a way to make meetings and groups have successful shows and move beyond the rates, dates and space talk. Meeting planners will rely on DMOs more than ever to make their shows and attendee experiences a success, starting with the initial planning phases once that group is booked. So, as you can see...I'm with Katie - it's all about personalization."
- Mo Sherifdeen, Digital Brand Strategy & Publishing at Travel Oregon
"Agree on the personalization & segmentation comments. Also, I'm hopeful it will be the year DMOs think beyond the day-to-day commodity tactics of marketing and focus instead on how the promise of that marketing is executed on the ground (e.g. visitor friendly communities, customer service, quality tourism products, quality info, sustainable tourism infrastructure etc.)"
- Joe Vargo, Interactive Marketing Strategist at Experience Columbus
"I think 2015 will be about the increasing convenience of the sharing economy. Why rent a hotel, when you can rent a great house for less money in a better location? Why rent a car when you can Uber? How can DMOs work with consumers and these companies to ensure that visitor experiences are excellent and appropriate taxes are collected? Those who figure this out will be ahead of the game."
- Jessica Lawlor, Communications Manager at Visit Bucks County
"In 2015, I believe destinations will get smarter about not only curating content, but also re-purposing it and using it in their own branding across platforms, both print and digital. Brand ambassadors has been a big trend in years past, but I see it evolving with this emergence of working smarter, not harder, by leaning on already created and authentic content."
- Tom Martin, Founder at Converse Digital
"I'd say Social Recon -- forward thinking DMOs will realize that the biggest opp in social media (now that we're in a pay to play world) will come from mining all that conversational data for big marketing insights. I also think we'll finally see a shift from the click to the conversion -- historical KPIs such as Likes, Comments, RT's, etc will fall by the wayside in favor of conversions (read $$$$). This will cause a major shift in how social media marketers plan and execute in 2015. Lastly, social selling will take hold -- we've seen it in other industries but I'm seeing the DMO community finally get really excited about learning more about social selling, investing in training to get their Sales & Marketing teams ready. 2014 started the movement and interest and in 2015 you're going to see that interest shift into action... IMO"
- Andrea Robyns, Marketing Technology Director at Experience Grand Rapids: "Supporting the self-educating consumer with good/helpful information, content, experiences, options, etc in the buying process. I echo Katie and Gathan about personalization but I think there's going to be a shift in data collection, the use of that data and automating (to a point) that personalized services/experiences based on the collected data."
Bonus: "This one kinda goes with the video aspect and can be combined, but it will be a pivotal year for the evolution of 'drone' technology - either it will flourish in the travel segment or the FAA rulings in 2015 could put a tight clamp on it. But regardless aerial video has opened up affordable and all new ways to view a destination."