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How to build destination loyalty through DM

How to build destination loyalty through DM

By Ian Bates, Creative Director, Entire

You’ve heard it all before. The world is getting smaller. We’re living in a global village where one destination is but a hop, skip and jump away from the next (albeit via a six-year ordeal negotiating the luggage lottery at Heathrow).

Flights are getting cheaper, previously uninhabitable lands are now boasting all-inclusive complexes and everyone is a frustrated traveller – not happy unless their facebook showcases them wrestling a lion, jumping off a clip or scaling a pyramid.

So, if distance is no longer a barrier, then where are the boundaries? How do people choose between a week in the highlands and a month in the outback? We’re a big fan of using direct marketing – it’s personal, it’s targeted and it takes anywhere from Trinidad to Timbuctoo into the hands of a consumer. And we’re pretty picky about how we do it too.

Ban clichés

At the end of the day - clear the deck, batten the hatches down, wipe the slate clean and chuck out those clichés. They’re not big, they’re not clever and nobody’s impressed by ‘breathtaking scenery’ anymore.

Fact. Marketers that use phrases like ‘stunning vista’, ‘picture postcard perfect’ or ‘trip of a lifetime’ don’t deserve to represent the world’s most fantastic locations. And they won’t engender loyalty or inspire commitment.

For a creative, travel is one of the most exciting, dynamic sectors to work in. Culture, climate, history and the people will provide you with the tools you need to engage with potential visitors.

Find your destination's true USPs

So how do you get round the clichés and come up with something that will drive visitors to come back for more? Work with what you’ve got. Just like humans, destinations have good points, bad points and characteristics that aren’t hugely obvious on the surface.

So, at the risk of sounding hypocritical on the cliché front, dig deep and go back to basics. Find your destination’s personality. Recognise that people always come back from holiday with a story, a pivotal moment, a unique experience. This automatically differentiates the destination and delivers the uniqueness of the brand.

Don’t be a one season wonder

An adequate agency will encourage a client to leverage DM to drive destination awareness and target cold prospects – probably at the start of the holiday season. A good agency will suggest you follow up that contact and go for conversion through follow-up communication. An exceptional agency will introduce you to your clients, spark a compelling conversation and ensure that you keep in touch throughout the year.

The right agency will be like that organised friend who is the social cohesive between you and your mates, ensuring you meet up a few times a year. Commit to a range of segmented communications Don’t wait until May to target your customers – nobody likes a fair-weather friend.

Know who you’re talking to

There’s a 95-year old bungee jumper in Queensland, Australia. There’s a 3-year old chess champion in China. Good for them. Whilst they’re undoubtedly jolly happy bouncing and checkmating, and why shouldn’t they be, they’re probably not representative of your average 95 or three year old.

The average 65 year old possibly won’t be charmed by flashy shots of the ‘buzzing nightlife’, just as the average 16 year old won’t be titillated by the Saxon pottery museum. Probably. But the best destinations, (in the words of one of my favourite destination clichés) will have ‘something for everyone’.

So work out who you’re talking to and speak to them in the right way. Don’t invite a hardcore Dorset enthusiast to ‘Come down to Dorset – see what you’ve been missing’. Don’t tempt a young family with the million mile walk part of the Inca trail. Know who you’re talking to and showcase the right parts of the country for them.

And lastly, none of this is worth a dime, euro or peseta if the people involved don’t care. We’re convinced that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

Of all the things to market, travel is one of the best. It stirs emotion, sparks nostalgia and opens minds. Direct marketing has the power to put all of that into someone’s hands, so use it wisely.

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