27th September was World Tourism Day, this year making its theme “Digital Transformation” – a UN-backed initiative to see a more democratic, inclusive and community-empowering approach to worldwide tourism.
Here in the Falkland Islands, the Tourism Board’s Jo Muncaster got behind the day and its theme with a programme of talks on our local approaches to the digital - plus some less tech-based activity like harbour launch trips, and smoko.
FIDC’s Strategic Projects Manager Gordon Ackroyd was at the FITB Visitor Centre to present the tourist business community with a short talk on how the Development Corporation is supporting this digital transformation here.
A briefing on FIDCs recent and well-received “Digital Marketing for Beginners” training workshop, plus a note on how the Development Team work with their clients on ‘facing the wider world’ – and a look at the Corporation’s own digital platforms SAROS and Skills Match – was followed by a more detailed training session on digital marketing channels.
Gordon explained how the digital domain has opened up huge opportunities in new marketing channels - compared to the ‘old days’ limited palette of print and broadcast media, direct marketing, PR, and sponsorship.
The real change, he points out, is how today communication is two-way, and that the brand is no longer solely defined, or even controlled, by its creator. As his talk made clear:
“This digital transformation empowers more individuals in their selling of tourism products. But, let’s not overlook the BIG change - it also animates the consumer, the buyer, in a really new way – and it is this we need to consider in development and communication of our brands, products, and services.
Now, brands are stories, and people ‘out there’ i.e. beyond your business and the efforts of its promotional agencies, are the storytellers.
You, and your brand, can and must engage in the new communications channels of digital media (Paid; Owned; Earned; Promoted; Shared). You have to ‘activate’ your message (SEO techniques). You must see that the brand story is ‘socialised’ – growing organically as it is shared and given a life by its consumers”.
So, Gordon concluded – markets and consumers ‘own’, adapt and adopt brands. The risk, if we see it that way, is that your brand is more malleable, in the hands of others; the mitigation? that we have to construct our digital marketing communications such that our message is going to engage the customer, that they ‘socialise’ that message on your terms, and that the “brand conversation” is reflected back to us – to measure and work upon.
Food for thought for the Jetty Centre audience… as well as that hearty FITB smoko…
FIDC will be running its Digital Marketing course again in the new year.