Stine Selmer is a business consultant at the business development organisation Sermersooq Business Council that manages destination development, branding and marketing for Nuuk, the capital of Greenland. The DMO has existed since 2012 and the Colourful Nuuk brand is only a few years old. At #DTTTGlobal, Stine will be taking the stage to present the journey of establishing Colourful Nuuk and working on transforming the destination through business development and digitalisation – all within an organisation of 5 employees whereof only one person is dedicated to tourism.
Greenland in itself is a fairly undiscovered destination with few tourists and for years it has been expected that if you wanted to travel Greenland you basically had to go on a survival expedition. In that context, Nuuk has had a reputation of being a boring industrial town and “not the real" Greenland – and that is why Colourful Nuuk was invented. Sermersooq Business Council as a DMO developed the brand in cooperation with Visit Greenland to push the destination further and showcase Nuuk as an Arctic metropolis. Nuuk is home to 1/3 of Greenland’s population. It is here where the national cultural institutions lie, where the youth go to get educated, where business thrive, where there are 5-star conference facilities and where you can explore a capital nestled in the second biggest fjord system in the entire world. Colourful Nuuk is the heart of the nation with services ranging from extreme adventure to shopping local brands and exploring the history of both Inuits and Vikings – and with only around 20.000 visitors a year, you can have it almost all to yourself.
Building the Brand and Digital Channels
Building the brand started in 2013 but digitalising the brand was intensified in 2015 – and because we are a small DMO with a suitable budget we had to do most of it in-house. We first renewed the design profile of Colourful Nuuk so it supported the values of the brand and was suitable for digital platforms. So the logo, design elements and colours had to work on social media platforms, on screen solutions as well as on future digital solutions like an app. Our strategy then moved onto re-organising the tasks and budget priorities within communication and marketing, so re-establishing, updating, maintaining and developing the online identity is always first on the to-do list. This was done in close collaboration with local operators who could tell us, what their customers asked for or was challenged by. Getting input from international partners like the #DTTT Expert Team was also an important factor because it connected the hands-on experience from local operators with international tourism and behaviour trends, that made it possible to optimise the focal point of information, flow and content. So building this brand has been successful through collaboration, content creation (and sharing) as well as gaining the necessary knowledge and competencies within the organisation to establish, maintaining and developing the digital brand.
Biggest Challenges in Digital Marketing
The biggest challenges for us is to manoeuvre in the ocean of opportunities that digital marketing offers. We need to find the right social media influencers, the good content creators, efficient Adwords strategy and so on while still paying attention to the fact that tourism in Greenland is a niche-market. That means we have to do a lot of research and have a lot of knowledge within a very slim organisation – and that can put pressure on the actual projects.
Key Lessons learned in Building a DMO
There have been many key lessons and the most important is, that you have to be patient and sometimes you need to let chaos rule in order for creativity to flow. It takes time to build up a solid organisation as well as establishing local support and a brand audience. You have to find your own identity within the brand that has to be accepted by the local community and still engage your target audience – it takes time and that can be frustrating. It also means that you make mistakes and have to put out fires, and those times are when you need to get creative to pull through – and that is where the most important lessons are learned. Therefore I would strongly recommend scheduled evaluation sessions, that make it possible to reflect on the processes and results so they can be adjusted. Another important notion is, that when you are a small organisation with few employees and a large number of tasks, you need to optimise the organisation so the workflow becomes as smooth as possible – that includes implementing and spending money on tools that can make your employees better and more efficient.
Working with Local Businesses
One of the first activities we ever did was to start up a cluster for tourism businesses. It was set up as a meeting every two months and the invitation was sent to all potentially interested parties. The first year we did not get more than 4-5 businesses to participate but now we have around 20-25 each time. That means that we have a forum where we can get feedback on new projects, communication and marketing as well as the businesses can network and give their advice to us. This has lead to numerable new collaborations on products, projects and also support to the Colourful Nuuk brand. Additionally, we do development projects for tourism companies and entrepreneurs like the incubator Tourism Boost we started in 2017. We also do sponsorships, collaborations on events and advise companies. So we are a free go-to spot for companies who need support or consultancy.
Business Support & Incubator
Our incubator Tourism Boost was started in February 2017 designed to be a boot camp for product development and network in the industry. The participants varied from complete new entrepreneurs with non-established products to mature companies who had existed for more than 20 years. This meeting between new and experienced operators helped each participant to push forward and get a new view of their business and products. On top of this, the internationally renowned facilitators managed to dig into each and every single company’s challenges and set up a scene where the participants would help each other solve it.
The result of this has so far created 4 completely new high-scaled products to launch in the 2018 - among which is a winter bathing and wellness club as well as a food lab and a welcome-centre with a digitally based fjord museum. It has been the stepping-stone of an independent cluster for tourism entrepreneurs and helped the bigger sales companies to implement new products from upcoming operators.
Projects & Plans for 2018
Our goal for 2018 is that all our marketing will be digital! Also, we are going to focus on making our seasons longer – especially the winter season. The summer is the prime season, but it is short and intense. Therefore it can be problematic for our operators to go through the whole year with a sustainable economy. They will usually have to take new jobs, which then will collide with the next season. So we work with the companies in trying to have more winter products and showcase these activities more. So off course creating shareable social content and focusing on new SoMe-campaigns will be a high priority.
Why should attendees not miss your talk at #DTTTGlobal?
Well, the attendees can look forward to a down to earth and honest talk about how a small organisation works with developing and market a niche destination. You will hear our good stories, but also the truth about challenges, mistakes and experiences with teams, brand support, identity crises and much more.
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