Storytelling is a great way of inspiring visitors to explore new things, activities and experiences in a destination. For destinations, it is important to show off the uniqueness of a place through storytelling, conveying stories in words, sounds and images. Storytelling in itself is nothing new, however, with digital tools and technologies, destinations now have more ways to create, share and tell the unique destination stories.
Destinations use storytelling to strike an emotion with travellers, using powerful narrative and authentic content to resonate with their target audience.
Storytellers that are successfully conveying the destination stories spark curiosity and the desire in people to learn and find out more. Destinations need to identify the themes and stories that make them unique and convey these stories in a powerful and authentic way to visitors. Consumers are not only interested in the lead story that the destination is aiming to share with visitors but also authentic and underlying storylines that make up the DNA of a destination. Visuals are an ideal tool for storytelling and many destinations are taking advantage of powerful images and especially videos to tell a DMO’s stories. For DMOs, storytelling is an important aspect of their destination marketing, uncovering unique and authentic stories and telling them in an engaging and emotionally powerful way. With visitors seeking real, authentic destination experiences, many DMOs are using video storytelling as a means to showcase their destination stories.
Here at the #DTTT, we follow how destinations are using storytelling as part of their marketing mix, uncovering and featuring powerful stories as part of video series, involving ambassadors and locals in a variety of content pieces that together form an authentic destination story. Some of the most interesting examples of destination storytelling are featured below.
Visit Phoenix is actively identifying personal stories and experiences to be featured on their website. The tourist board recognise the importance of featuring not just the official opinion on Phoenix as a destination but also showcasing a range of perspectives. To educate people on what the city has to offer and enable consumers to plan their next visit or stay, it is critical to tap into the wisdom and knowledge of locals. Visit Phoenix dedicate a section on their website to feature PHX Stories written by people that call the city home. This is a great way of inspiring consumers and probably the only way to find out about all of the different things that are happening in the city, as the tourist board would not be able to do the city justice by itself. Each of the stories is personal and authentic content that consumers are looking for and gives ideas on what locals do and where to go.
The Soul of PHX videos is an addition to storytelling content on the website, featuring eight locals talking about where the Soul of Phoenix is for them. Having lived in Phoenix for many years, each of the locals share the personal stories of what made them put down roots in the city. Following their passion, each of the 90-second long stories from different business owners is a great addition and representation of the city.
- PHX Stories show consumers what locals do and recommend
- Soul of PHX videos – explore the soul of Phoenix and people’s passions, deciding to make Phoenix their home
- Work with passionate locals to convey unique stories
Montana Tourism is another great example of a destination working with local people and businesses to identify key stories that reflect what the destination is all about. Featuring 18 video episodes as of August 2017, Montana Tourism are adding new stories regularly, showcasing different activities, businesses and areas within the State. What stands out is the approach to invite passionate individuals and locals to tell stories in a rich and immersive way, sharing insights with viewers that are intriguing and invite consumers to plan and research more about what Montana as a destination has to offer.
Each of the videos varies in length from around 4 to 10 minutes and is an authentic reflection of unique visitor experiences or adventures travellers can have in the destination. While the video stories might not be considered something special by themselves, it is the rich storytelling approach that Montana Tourism follows that allows consumers to watch all episodes they are interested in, often surprising the viewer, as each story is informative and inspiring at the same time. By featuring the latest episode directly in the website header, consumers are automatically drawn to watch the video and explore additional episodes.
- Series of video episodes to showcase what Montana has to offer
- Rich and immersive storytelling featuring real people, businesses and experiences
- Latest episodes are featured in the website header to draw consumer’s attention
Travel Wyoming included a stories section as a menu item, highlighting the importance for consumers to be able to read about stories told by real people from the State. Wyoming Stories is a dedicated section of the website, collecting time-relevant blog articles as well as video stories, each focusing on a different topic. So far, Travel Wyoming features ten different That’s WY video stories, each around 2 minutes long focused on a personal story and life in Wyoming.
What makes each of the video stories so interesting is the way in which the individual stories are told and what insights consumers get when exploring what life in various parts of Wyoming is like. Each of the topics is also really relevant and interesting for consumers, focusing on ‘Women of Wyoming‘ as an example of a unique story. It is clear that it is critical for US destinations to work much more with storytelling as a key driver of inspiration rather than utilising traditional content. Destinations such as Travel Wyoming need to keep adding new video stories to the site enabling consumers to explore content in a more in-depth and personal way.
- Wyoming stories featuring ten video stories so far
- Unique insights into life in the State
- Short but personal video storytelling
Visit Toronto is a four-part video series focused on Torontonians and their unique connections to this city. Same city but different stories help consumers to discover Toronto through the eyes of locals who know and love it. From bloggers to entrepreneurs, each of the video stories give unique insights into what life is all about in Toronto. Visit Toronto use video storytelling to provide content that is particularly interesting for the Millennial consumers, interested to experience a destination like a local, wanting to go beyond the known to find experiences that are unique, highly shareable and out of the ordinary.
Stories from the 6ix are featured on the website as a great entry point to hear and see the city through locals eyes. Using the tagline ‘the views are different here’ Visit Toronto showcase a visual introduction to each of the four individuals through content on the website. Being asked what a favourite day in Toronto looks like, each of the videos focuses on a unique Toronto story, sharing what they love about the city. The use of music, fast paced shots in the videos and a modern style make it really appealing to Millennials wanting a more personal introduction to the different neighbourhoods based on personal passions and interests. Each of the individuals that are profiled as part of the 6ix story series are people that consumers can easily relate to, making the content very interesting, as it goes beyond what consumers already know about the city.
- Storytelling series targets Millennial consumers
- Profiles showcasing people’s interests and passions
- Video content is modern and produced to resonate with Millennial audience
Czech Tourism’s Baroque microsite is a good example for a destination, working with storytelling to communicate a specific theme, in this case Baroque, in a more rich and visual way. The website enables consumers to explore Baroque stories in a unique and visual way. While Czech Tourism use storytelling to amplify the message of their Baroque theme, it shows that there are different approaches to storytelling and highlighting stories. Catering to specific target groups, it is important to take into consideration what type of content and format consumer groups prefer.
Czech Tourism also created a dedicated app containing useful information on the ‘Land of Stories‘ that travellers can take with them on a trip or browse through to get inspired about exploring Baroque stories across the destination.
- Dedicated website to showcase Baroque Stories in the Czech Republic
- Visually appealing and informative website
Cape Town Tourism
Cape Town Tourism is a great example of storytelling, actually highlighting unique stories from ambassadors within different neighbourhoods. Through rich video content, consumers can get a sense of what the destination has to offer, exploring specific aspects through a series of local stories. Cape Town Tourism are using a series of six video guides that are highlighting neighbourhood stories through the eyes of a local. These local stories are particularly powerful, as they deliver an inside scoop on the hidden gems in the city. Cape Town Tourism’s insider stories to Cape Town is an entertaining and immersive way of getting to know the destination, covering the neighbourhoods, perspective and stories inside-out.
Each of the neighbourhood stories features locals and businesses that share personal stories and highlight what makes Cape Town so special as a destination. Letting locals tell the story for the DMO is a powerful use of storytelling.
- Creative storytelling through video guides
- Focus on locals telling the story on behalf of the DMO
The Vienna Tourist Board are using their social media presence to engage in storytelling. With a focus on communicating different perspectives and experiences, it adds positively to the existing perception of Vienna as a city and travel destination. The tourist board produced a series of city guides that are using on their social media channels and overall city marketing efforts for storytelling purposes. ‘Vienna Now’ is a series of 12 video guides in English that feature in-depth city stories on topics such as coffee, a night out in Vienna or explore culinary highlights. Each video is about 10 minutes long and showcases different attractions, restaurants or cafés in Vienna and highlights what is special in various parts of the city. The video guide shows off the city in a different way, highlighting some of the hidden gems and things that locals like to do in the city. To make the videos more interesting for people, the narrator meets different business owners and people to add to the overall story with personal perspectives, tips and recommendations.
Each video is about 10 minutes long and showcases different attractions, restaurants or cafés in Vienna and highlights what is special in various parts of the city. The video guides show off the city in a different way, highlighting some of the hidden gems and things that locals like to do in the city. To make the videos more interesting for people, the narrator meets different business owners and people to add to the overall story with personal perspectives, tips and recommendations.
Vienna’s approach is a nice way for them to work on city branding and their image, moving away from being considered a relatively traditional city to being perceived as a more quirky and exciting city to visit where tradition meets modern city life. Storytelling is the ideal tool for them to achieve that.
- Use of video stories for storytelling
- Immersive stories in addition to website content
Zürich is another interesting example and can indeed be considered as a dark horse among European cities. The newly designed website features a range of interesting content. With a focus on telling the different stories about the city, Zürich is also tapping into the power of emotional and people content. Letting others tell the story of the city is a powerful way of presenting Zürich to potential visitors. Zürich is ‘The City of the Locals’, showcasing over 20 local stories that each provide a different perspective.
The seamlessly integrated video content enables website visitors to learn more about different people, lifestyles and aspects of the city and ultimately learn all about the city from its locals who can share experiences and their unique perspectives. For each local story, Visit Zürich is including some local picks presented on a map, including some tips and recommendations on where to go in the city.
- Focus on local picks and city ambassadors
- Stories as central part of website content
- Variety of city ambassadors
Discover LA is not only featuring highly engaging, snackable and magazine-style content on their website but has also incorporated neighbourhoods as a core part of the LA experience. Visitors can browse through information and video content to learn more about the city and type of experiences across the city. Overall, the Discover LA website is conveying contemporary city vibes through a fresh design and editorial content that is appealing primarily to Millennial travellers.
Another great example of Discover LA’s approach to marketing the Greater LA area is their #LostinLA campaign, providing 24, 48 and 72-hour guides that give visitors a deeper insight into the vibrant and multicultural neighbourhoods. The city tourist board is actively encouraging visitors to share their #LostinLA stories and is using storytelling as a tool for visitors to immerse themselves in unique destination experiences.
The wealth and depth of stories help visitors to explore not only the A-story of Los Angeles as a destination but also underlying stories that add to the overall perceptions of the city. Through the use of video content, consumers are drawn into the experiences through immersive storytelling.
- Authentic content
- Working with highly engaging storylines
- Crafting suitable content around the story
Visit Nevada’s entry point on the website is focusing directly on the diversity of Nevada as a destination, asking visitors to select real stories and experiences that they relate to or are interested in. For each of the four stories, Visit Nevada have included a short overview video; that highlights why Nevada is well known for its food, tradition, wanderlust or adventure. By following a consistent approach throughout each story, a visitor can quickly immerse into more and more content, getting a clear picture of what the destination has to offer.
Visit Nevada’s approach demonstrates how authentic people and stories are the best ambassadors for a destination, enticing visitors to find out more and get below the surface of the destination stories and experiences.
- Authentic stories, real experiences
- Four stories as entry point to the website
- Taste, wanderlust, adventure and originals as key storylines