The year 2020 is going to be remembered for many things. But beyond the obvious negative connotations, there appears to be a shimmer of light beyond the clouds for the hospitality industry.
The UK’s tourism industry is expecting a ‘staycation’ boom this year as more Brits decide to holiday within their own country than travel abroad. It’s a trend that has been steadily growing for a number of years in the UK and is why 81% of its tourism consists of domestic travellers.
It’s a similar story across the world, with Lonely Planet even suggesting that staycations are likely to be “the saviour of 2020”.
However, if the staycation boom is to be taken advantage of, it’ll rely on a form of branding that many hotels, restaurants and other operators in the hospitality sector are yet to explore: destination branding.
What is destination branding?
If you're looking for a destination branding definition, you need to take a step back and look at destination marketing.
This is the process of promoting your business by talking enthusiastically about the area in which it is situated. The branding element is when the business shares their brand identity with that of the destination.
Done right, destination branding is incredibly powerful because it gives tourists a reason to visit a hotel or restaurant because they recognise the intrinsic link it has with its surroundings.
Destination branding examples
Before we consider how you can apply destination branding to your hospitality business, let’s look at some of the best examples of it in action.
Glasgow is a proud city, and that can be seen in this brilliant promotional campaign which features the almost infinitely usable slogan “People Make Glasgow”. Tail it with words like ‘home’, ‘creative’ and just about anything else you can think of and it’s a slogan which is hard not to fall in love with.
In St. Louis, Illinois, you’ll find flags on virtually every street corner proudly displaying the Italian flag colours. It’s subtle, but apparent everywhere - even on fire hydrants.
Effective destination branding is all about knowing your audience, and that’s where Colorado scores highly with their Come to Life campaign. The messaging is designed to resonate with high-altitude outdoor enthusiasts and adventure-seekers and takes advantage of the allure offered by the region’s natural playground.
Who says cities can’t have logos? The logo design for Paris is fun, playful and indicates that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Kinda makes you want to visit, right?
There are countless examples of destination branding in action. You only have to watch a couple of ad spots on TV to witness it in action; who’d have thought we’d regularly see adverts for locations like Tunisia and Ireland which aren’t linked specifically to holiday companies?
How can I use destination branding in my hospitality business?
It doesn’t matter where you’re based - if you run a hotel, restaurant, bar or cafe, there will be something about your area that can help you bring in more customers.
Start by listing all the things you love about your destination. Ask yourself these questions:
- What makes it unique?
- What experiences does it offer?
- When your friends and family visit, where do they like to go?
- How does the area make you feel?
- What’s on the destination’s calendar this year?
- What heritage does the area have?
- When you think
what are the first three words that spring to mind?
Destination branding at its best will help you generate what is known as ‘emotional recall’ among your guest. This creates a powerful memory about the place they’ve visited and makes them want to return. The result for you is a potential new loyal guest.
Be under no illusion that destination branding takes plenty of work and dedication, but here are the steps needed if you want to take advantage of it.
Step 1: Do your research
Answers to the above questions in hand, start investigating the local area further.
Websites like Wikipedia will help here, but there’s nothing quite like getting out there and talking to people, too. Visit other local businesses and ask them what they love about the area, and conduct a straw poll on social media or among existing guests to see what lingers in their mind when they think about your destination.
Step 2: Make social media the focal point of your efforts
Destination marketing is effective through most marketing channels, but it’s particularly suited to social media.
Get your hashtags and messaging right, and platforms like Instagram and Twitter are by far the best places on which to gather an audience who might be interested in your destination.
Draw them in with awesome facts, stats and news about the area and slip in the occasional special offer or note of your latest menu to see if they bite.
Step 3: Create a destination page on your website
Countless hospitality businesses miss this brilliant trick.
Why haven’t you got a page on your website about the destination in which your business resides? It’s the perfect place to extol the benefits of visiting and will feed the curiosity of anyone who visits your website.
Adding a destination specific page to your website also presents lots of search engine optimisation (SEO) opportunities to rank for tightly defined search terms relating to your locality.
Step 4: Include the brand identity of your destination within all offers and information
Now that you fully understand the brand identity of your destination, you can put it to work.
This can be done by including subtle (and not-so-subtle) references to it within your offers and guest information. It’ll demonstrate that you’re in tune with your surroundings and understand the benefit of visiting.
Remember - people need more of a reason to book a room, table or experience at your venue, and the destination may be the clincher.
Recommended further reading
We cover a huge range of marketing topics on this blog. Here’s a few choice picks that are great companion pieces for destination branding.