The travel industry is evolving, especially in Africa where destinations are beginning to wake up to the opportunities at their fingertips. Marketing destinations can’t be easy in this time of tech changes, traveller demands and market trends.
Travellers are over the popular sites and are looking for lesser known, unique experiences to fulfill their travel needs. Successful destination marketers promote destinations through storytelling to focus more on people, culture and heritage.
African destinations have so much to offer but it does have a few challenges:
- Healthcare safety – While many diseases and infections are preventable, there is always a risk of consuming unclean water or food. Most of Southern Africa is plagued by mosquitoes which carry preventable diseases like Yellow Fever and Malaria.
- Crime safety – Like everywhere in the world, Africa is not immune to crime against tourists. Some countries like South Africa have faced negative impact on tourism due to public violence.
- Political and Economic unrest – Countries like Zimbabwe have endured a painful transition of political leadership and financial constraints. This makes visiting the country expensive and less welcoming.
The Destination Marketer’s role is to focus on winning the hearts of travellers before earning their wallets. To thrive in the “experience economy,” the strategy should focus on what makes the traveller yearn for that experience. Storytelling focuses on sharing entertaining and emotional stories across digital media. The beauty of using digital platforms is that you have the ability to analyze performance and optimize based on the data.
Top 5 Considerations for Destination Storytelling Ideas
- Unique selling points of the destination as jumping off point for stories
- Evaluating the latest trends in tourism
- Talking with local businesses, entrepreneurs, and creatives
- Consumer research (e.g. consumer search queries help to discover what experiences they are looking for)
- Looking at what similar destinations are producing
How to Promote Destinations Through Storytelling
- Don’t get caught up in viewing your destination’s brand the way it’s always been seen. Create stories that separate the experience in different, nuanced ways.
- Reflect on how your destination makes travellers feel. Then, engage the right creative team to interpret these abstract thoughts into something otherworldly.
- Start with the goal, which must be data driven. Creative is great but it must come from a place of wisdom founded on data.
- When it comes to creating authentic destination stories, desk research is not enough. Go into the community to have deep, thoughtful conversations with people to discover the culture and traditions of the place.
- Make the effort to truly understand who your visitors are — or could be — and what drives them to travel, then find ways to show them that your destination has what they’re looking for and more.