The case study discusses the initiative of Montreux Riviera Tourism to tap into the growing demand for truly local and authentic experiences.
Montreux is an affluent district in Switzerland and as a DMO, Montreux Riviera Tourism benefits from a substantial marketing budget. Over the years, Montreux Riviera has developed a strategy that is dynamic, unique and that most significantly, puts locals at the centre.
Montreux is an affluent district in Switzerland and as a DMO, Montreux Riviera Tourism benefits from a substantial marketing budget. Over the years, Montreux Riviera has developed a strategy that is dynamic, unique and that most significantly, puts locals at the centre. Through the initiative 'Be My Guide' the DMO has managed to create a completely new way for tourists to interact with locals, creating free, memorable experiences. A famous saying says that "the best things in life are free”: in today’s experience market, this could not be more fitting.
Over the last few years, there has been a growing demand for truly local and authentic experiences which looks set to continue rising throughout 2019, and the Be My Guide initiative from Montreux Riviera simply taps into this trend perfectly.
If you're interested to see more about the role of local guides and curating experiences, you can check our #DTTT Circle on this interesting topic.
The basis of the strategy involves focusing on local people, their stories and passions for the destination, and delivering this through effective digital strategies to inspire and engage the visitor. Consumer behaviour has shifted significantly from visiting a destination to truly experiencing it, seeking a deeper connection with the people and the destination itself.
Here at the #DTTT, we have seen many DMOs successfully incorporate this concept into their digital marketing strategy: Singapore Tourism Board, Helsinki Marketing and Cape Town Tourism to name a few. As a result, the experience market is becoming an increasingly competitive space throughout the industry with third-party platforms also growing, such as TrekkSoft, Get your guide, Bokun and Evaneos.
Be My Guide was a project created several years ago, and we’re proud to say that it was inspired by DTTT Global. Following the second-ever DTTT Global in Barcelona, Grégoire Chappuis, Vice Director and Head of Marketing at Montreux Riviera, discovered the latest trends at the time involving local guides in the tourism space, that he was excited to apply to the DMO strategy. This then developed into ‘Be My Guide’.
A free service in any industry is rare, particularly in the tourism industry and a luxury region such as Montreux. Offering a free service is a strong USP to Montreux Riviera’s strategy, and we believe this really sets them apart from the competition as similar models, such as the one adopted by Airbnb Experiences, usually charge for the experiences. While this is, of course, great for visitors, it is also strategically aligned with today’s experience-led travel market, as memorable experiences are priceless.
As a tourist destination, the Swiss Riviera of Montreux offers a diverse landscape of scenery and activities to enjoy. Located on the shore of Lake Geneva and at the foot of the Alps, visitors can enjoy exploring lakes, hiking through vineyards, skiing in the mountains and of course the famous annual Montreux Jazz Festival. While these attractions and events are undoubtedly enjoyable, the real value comes from the people you meet, the stories you hear and the experiences you remember to build lifelong memories. Herein lies the heart of the ‘Be My Guide’ strategy; connecting locals with visitors, facilitating first-hand engagement and building communities.
Firstly, a standalone website was created, acting as a very user-friendly platform for both guides and visitors. What stands out here is how the website reflects the service perfectly: the message is clear, the design attractive, inspirational and filled with rich content, and the process to find or become a local guide is simple and straightforward.
Visitors can easily click through and select a local guide based on their specific needs and interests, for free! The region now has almost 50 local guides and it looks as though it is set to continue growing.
The role of Montreux Riviera is simply to coordinate and facilitate this contact between visitors and locals, by way of social media content and the website. We find this really interesting as this makes the experience as organic and natural as it could be, creating the best possible experience for both parties.
Montreux Riviera is active on all social media platforms, however, it’s important to note here that it employs a different strategy for each platform. Social media is essential to any digital strategy and we believe there should be a level of presence on all. However, it is important that brands are aware that each platform is individual in terms of goals, audience and objectives, therefore the strategy should always reflect this.
In this case, Instagram and Facebook are the key platforms for visitor engagement, Twitter is less popular and LinkedIn is used primarily for Congress and business conventions. Each platform has its own community which is why Montreux Riviera action community management and segmentation.
Research and insights help to determine information about the audience; who is following which platform, what they want to do, and how they interact. Knowing this essential information helps the brand to segment-specific audiences in order to curate the right message and product for each, building key relationships and communities.
Another key ingredient to fostering a strong community is hashtags. Montreux Riviera created two key hashtags for this campaign, and encourage visitors to use them.
Hashtags promote engagement, make your content discoverable and also facilitate the use of user-generated content. Click here for more detail on a UGC strategy.
The team explores the destination on a regular basis to curate and share authentic content, continually adapting and optimising the strategy. Not only is the content engaging, but it also translates to live and bookable experiences. We think this is very effective as it allows visitors to plan and book in one easy process.
For example, Facebook is used extensively to coordinate and promote upcoming events, and it is linked directly to the destination website or ticket booking platform.
The primary goal is to develop the social network side in order to grow Be My Guide further. Currently, the service is only possible through the website, however, Montreux Riviera plans to choose the correct platforms to facilitate easy communication between the guides and visitors, and to effectively create a real community. Platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger will be incorporated into the strategy to facilitate this easy and direct contact.
Montreux Riviera also plans to collaborate more closely with partners and locals to continue evolving and expanding product development. In addition to this, the destination would like to explore the opportunity of transforming the website into user-generated content only, positioning the destination as a truly authentic place to visit.
Passion is evident throughout Montreux Riviera’s strategy which we believe is an essential element of any business. Grégoire is very passionate that travel is all about the experience, and not everything has to cost money. He explains how simple exchange and building relationships is one of the fundamentals of tourism, and business and strategy aside, memorable experiences are truly priceless.
Be My Guide started as a free service and it is still free today. In addition to this, all the local guides are incredibly proud to show off their home, build new relationships and help visitors to discover true stories and experiences. This passion and authenticity directly translate to the visitor experience, and the beauty of this comes down to the basics of humanity and putting people to the fore.