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Talia Salem

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On November 30 and December 1, 250 top destination marketers from all over the world gathered in a colorful amphitheater in downtown Brussels for DTTT Global Conference. The sixth annual conference focuses on real-work examples, insights, change management, lessons learned, and more. We showcased how destinations can be more effective in digital in a fast-changing world. Destinations from as far as Helsinki, Finland to San Francisco, California to presented how they are dealing with today’s marketing, political and other challenges, and how they are moving forward. While there was so much to take in, here are some of the insights that came out of the conference.

1. Foster a Shared Vision: When you are trying to affect change in your organization, make sure you start with a shared vision. Don’t assume people are on board or they won’t support your proposed changes, no matter how great the ideas are.

2. Content is Still King: Storytelling is the lifeblood of destination marketing, and this was a through line throughout the conference. Destinations need to spend time mastering this before they overextend themselves as this is foundational to digital marketing.

3. Champion Effective Processes: Always have a good process in place, especially when it comes to content creation. This allows you and your team to react quickly to challenges, take advantage of opportunistic moments and pivot because the mechanics of content production are all worked out. This allowed Dan Rosenbaum and the team from San Francisco Travel to quickly react to the rhetoric from President Donald Trump and create a welcoming content strategy. If you are getting caught up in the workflow of content marketing, take a break, map out your strategy, processes, approvals etc. before you move forward.

4. Focus on Content Quality: As content production increases across the internet, consumption decreases by users. Focus on creating high-quality content that is uniquely yours instead of high content volume to reach your audiences.

5. Anchor Messaging in a Sense of Place: Global travel competition is fierce so we must produce content that is instantly recognizable as your destination. As Eva Kwiecinska from Visit Scotland said, other places have castles and say they can make whiskey, how do we make this immediately recognizable as Scotland.

6. Understand Pathway to purchase: There are pathways to purchase not just one path. Consumers are unpredictable and they all plan differently. Luca Romozzi from Sojern highlighted the importance of micro-moments in destination planning and to personalize the message at each stage of their unique journey.

7. Mobile-first consumer: You customers are shopping and researching on mobile to an increasing degree. If you are not mobile ready you should be, this does not just mean a mobile site this means content that is appropriate for mobile consumers who are on the on the go.

8. Be Helpful and Relevant: Consumers prefer to receive relevant content over advertising. Make your content useful to build trust with consumers when they need, Romozzi says.

9. Effective Data Management: Destinations are drowning in disparate data sets. Curate your data and bring your data sets together in a dashboard to inform your overall strategy, and team strategies. Dashboards can turn data into actionable information that different teams can use to inform their decision making and measure success, says Philip Favre, DTTT Expert and Project Manager of Marketing Department - ‎Geneva Tourism & Conventions.

10. Keep it simple: Even though you now having amazing assets, keep your websites simple and let them know where they need to go. Colorado Tourism highlights an example where they made their website overly complicated and users didn’t really know how to use it.

11. Be Patient and Invest in What’s Working: Long-tail campaigns can yield great results, give your campaigns enough time to grow. Brian Harte from Tourism Ireland shared how his DMO invested in their multi-year Game of Thrones campaign, which improved over time, and has yielded long-lasting results.

12. Staff Up: If you want to be on the cutting edge you need the talent to bring you there. Visit Denmark shared how they restructured their marketing team to hire for the skill sets they needed to execute their vision and added specialists in media, content, data and more to have an effective digital strategy.

13. Look to the Future: Don’t get stuck in a rut, keep your eye to the future. DTTT Expert Alex Bainbridge shared his insights on self-driving cars and how DMOs can be ready for them. You don’t know what is going to change your business. Be ready to adapt to change.

Want more? Check out conference highlights on twitter using #DTTTGlobal or stay tuned for more recaps. DTTT Global will be held in Helsinki, Finland, click here for details. Interested in sharing your destination’s triumph or case study? Send speaker requests here

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