‘Digital Tourism’ refers to how technologies might be employed to boost the success of tourist-attraction initiatives and businesses in that sector, from hotels through specialist tour operators.
Harnessing the ‘Outlander Effect’
There are a wealth of resources that tourism businesses agencies can utilize to promote themselves online. For example Digital Tourism Scotland provides a detailed library of guides like how to better use SEO and Google Analytics to apply digital marketing best practices.
A key dynamic is the relationship between TV media and social media, providing the context for tapping into global markets.
For example VisitScotland in particular focuses on the TV hit Outlander, and how the huge viewer popularity is translating into tourism traffic, describing it as the new ‘Braveheart of tourism‘. They have even packaged an ‘experience’ tour around this theme.
A smart Airbnb entrepreneur has even tailored their apartment!
40% of visitors to the #UK are inspired by a film or TV series – with Outlander being the most mentioned for people visiting #Scotland .
Learn more about set-jetting at our new industry website https://t.co/vhBVxZthWH #TapIntoTourism pic.twitter.com/fXT8jsGbMt
— VisitScotland News (@VisitScotNews) July 17, 2018
This highlights the key insight to begin thinking about online marketing for tourism.
Yes there is a need to be on the booking sites for the transactional elements, from Airbnb through Booking.com, but prior to this stage consumers engage heavily in online research, to decide first where they want to go and critically, what type of experience they want to have. This is the best opportunity to influence them towards Scotland, and ultimately to your destination.
“Did you know that 90% of travellers research their holidays online and 80% book their holidays online? Digital channels play a huge role in the visitor experience. From dreaming up their ideal trip to sharing it, good digital marketing is essential for any business looking to get the attention of today’s visitors.”
During this research stage tourists aren’t necessarily interested in the logistics of the trip, the hotel bookings et al, instead they are seeking a stimulating experience. Hence the Outlander Effect, it is the story that has captured their attention, and so the right type of online marketing for this can be described as ‘digital storytelling’ – The use of blogs and other visual media, like this site, to share those stories.
Blogs are ideal for this and moreover are better for promoting through tools like Facebook advertising, they are far more eye catching than yet another price comparison site, can be deeply SEO indexed and encourage community engagement through commenting and so forth.
Digital Tourism as Catalyst for Economic Development
Towns and local authorities can also harness this effect for overall economic development of a region. A great example is the town of Lanark, an epitome of the economic challenges faced across Scotland whole.
However today the town is symptomatic of these broader economic difficulties, with the high street a showcase of deprivation, such as the derelict Royal Oak hotel and similarly run down old Regal cinema across the road.
Walk in the Footsteps of William Wallace
Digital Tourism can act as the catalyst for igniting a wholesale rejuvenation of Scotland’s towns like Lanark, by using the latest social platforms and all they offer.
Yes VisitScotland lists the town, and the town has a web site, but these can be described as “Web 1.0” approaches, flat web sites that only provide static information. In this day and age a web experience is formed through an aggregation of Twitter feeds, Instagram picture sharing, Youtube travel blogs and so forth, a rich media and community interaction engagement.
It also needs to embrace and utilize all the traditional tourism marketing assets, for example the William Wallace story is locked away in a PDF document, as is the heritage map. There is also a paper pamphlet available that describes a walking tour of the history of Wallace that you can follow to visit all the related attractions.
However of course you have to actually be in Lanark to pick one up, and so digitizing all of these offline assets is the essence of a Digital Tourism strategy. As described above the goal is for this content to engage potential visitors before they choose their vacation.
All kinds of fun digital innovations could be achieved, creating interactive maps, treasure hunts, curating Youtube travel blogger visits and so on.
Action Plan – Local Digital Economy Accelerator
Helping towns plan such a Digital Tourism strategy is one of the primary foundations of an overall Local Digital Economy Accelerator service we offer.
A well developed strategy can provide the leverage for securing an overall investment into the region. For example the funds to rejuvenate the hotel and cinema buildings described above, with a view they will be keystone components of the overall visitor experience.
With plans to better capture more of the massive tourism inflow to Scotland, towns can invest around this growth. As the Scottish Government reports tourism is a booming trade and with the right strategy, they too can harness the Outlander Effect to inject a massive boost into their local economies.
“Rise in overseas visitors coming to Scotland.
“Overseas visitors from North America spent £732 million in the 12 months to the end of June 2017, a 48% jump compared to £495 million in the previous 12 months.
There was a 38% increase in visits from North America, with more than 707,000 choosing Scotland as a destination in the 12 months to the end of June 2017 compared with the previous 12 months. Across all international markets, there was a 11% increase in visits in the 12 months to the end of June 2017 with spending rising too by 19% to more than £2 billion.”