#DTTT Blog

#DTTT Global kicks off in Helsinki between 29 – 30 November, and to celebrate the countdown we wanted to introduce our challenger brand speakers. They include host, Helsinki Marketing, Australia’s Tourism Northern Territory and The Netherlands’ Eindhoven Marketing, plus insight from Banff & Lake Louise Tourism. At Global, we’re talking to them about the stories behind what they’re doing to pioneer the future of tourism in their respective destinations.

First up, let’s determine what challenger brands in the wider marketing community so that we can better understand what they in relation to DMOs.

What are ‘challenger brands?’

Things that determine a challenger are:

  1. The state of the market
  2. Their state of mind
  3. And their rate of success

State of the Market

In the context of the wider marketing industry, a challenger brand is one that sits on the competitor spectrum between the market leader at one end, and the fledgeling start-ups at the other. A challenger brand as one that is neither the market leader or a niche brand.


We never considered Virgin to be ‘big business’. We’ve always seen ourselves as the underdog, and we quite like it that way.

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group

State of Mind for Challenger Brands

Whether intentional or not, being positioned right in the middle of the market spectrum allows a challenger brand to be readily open to change and react quickly, like a startup. That being said, a challenger brand probably has access to a slightly more comfortable budget and the further benefit of probably being more well-known, like the market leader. Typically, challenger brands adopt the mindset as having ambitions beyond conventional resources and a desire to change the industry.

Rate of Success

Challenger brands generally experience significant and or rapid growth, particularly if they’ve successfully demonstrated their ability to change the industry. Such examples would be the likes of Airbnb and Uber, who have opened up the market and made the market leaders, ie hotel chains and taxis to be more competitive. Other examples of challenger brands outside of DMOs are Virgin Atlantic, BrewDog, Tyrells and Innocent.

The DMOs that embody the ‘challenger brand’ ethos are the ones that are rejecting the industry status quo and are really pushing the boundaries of what’s expected of them. They’re the ones ignoring traditional thinking, probably due to limited budgets, and are challenging industry perceptions. These DMOs are reinventing themselves and showing ingenuity and resourcefulness in order to achieve the same results as bigger DMOs, the ones with those generous budgets. Joining us at  #DTTTGlobal in Finland and telling us about their experiences are:

  • Helsinki Marketing
  • Eindhoven Marketing
  • Tourism Northern Territory
  • Banff & Louise Tourism


Helsinki-logo-2017Helsinki Marketing

Helsinki Marketing is our main partner at #DTTTGlobal this year. As a DMO challenger brand, Helsinki is rapidly growing into a pioneer for innovative technology, especially in the travel industry. If you want to find out about creating rich, seamless campaigns and connect with local experts to better your visitors’ trips, this is one keynote you won’t want to miss.

Speaking at #DTTTGlobal is Laura Aalto. Appointed CEO of Helsinki Marketing in September 2017, Aalto previously worked as Development Director in the same company and led the company’s transformation in tourism marketing, city branding and the marketing organisation as a whole. At the summit in November, Laura Aalto will be introducing us to the real people of Helsinki and how their local knowledge has the pioneered the visitor experience.

Eindhoven Marketing

Using data to form a content strategy and tell stories is taken to a whole new level with Eindhoven Marketing. This DMO worked with content creators to produce video campaigns that focused on showing off the energy of the city. Peter Kentie is the Director of Eindhoven Marketing and also joins us at Global between 29 – 30 November, where he’ll be telling us about this project and its success.

Interestingly, Eindhoven uses digital media technology to connect their smart society and citizens to relevant audiences; the formula for success being the sense of shared ownership of the city among the creators involved.

Among joint-ownership of the city, it’s worth noting that the key values of this brand are sharing, enriching and collectivity among each other, which mimics the mentality of a challenger brand. Team this with innovative thinking and an embrace of technology, Eindhoven is definitely onto a winner – which we’ll learn more about in November.


Tourism Northern Territory

Another challenger brand joining us in Helsinki between 29 – 30 November is Australia’s Tourism Northern Territory.

With a unique destination brand, Tony Quarmby, General Manager of Marketing, has worked at crafting a motivating story that appeals to engagers. Tony heads up the Creativity to Create Impact and Traction keynote and aims to drill down on some of the successes and challenges of running a campaign that requires you to be a bit more resourceful. For example, where some consumers might have seen distance and isolation as a barrier, this DMO has used messaging that poses these factors as opportunities for discovery and exploration.

A true challenger brand, Tony notes that Tourism Northern Territory has the challenge of a limited budget and lowest number of people than any other state in the country to cut through the noise.

One such key to success has been having meaningful, one-to-one conversations with consumers. Furthermore, using Aussie humour to appeal to younger travellers, while equally not isolating their older audience has been a key driver of success. It's a tricky market, but their work demonstrates that hard work and resourcefulness goes a long way.

Tony’s work at Tourism Northern Territory involves crafting a unique destination brand into a motivating story that’s available to a multitude of channels and resources in order to make emotional connections with international consumers. To find out more come and see him in Helsinki this November.


Banff and Lake Louise

Diane Bures from Banff and Lake Louise Tourism join us at #DTTTGlobal all the way from Alberta, Canada. Diane currently leads the Consumer Marketing team and has over 21 years of experience in building global brands.

One of the key issues facing this particular challenger brand is the ethics of tourism and the responsibility of being sustainable and environmentally friendly. Diane and her team have worked closely with Parks Canada to drive tourism to the town and support local businesses while encouraging tourists to its nearby surrounding areas of natural beauty. Both parties have made a conscious effort to not disrupt and disturb the fragile ecosystem.

At this year’s Global event, we’re excited to hear how the brand used data to create display ads that were targeted at visitors with the intention of inspiring their itinerary. The interesting thing – these ads were targeted in the heart of the National Park! Diane will also cover how the use of conversion pixels and the launch of a Hyper-Local Mobile strategy have been key in identifying and establishing success in this keynote.

In case it wasn’t mentioned, these industry experts are joining us in Helsinki between 29 – 30 November 2018 for #DTTTGlobal and will be sharing their learnings, challenges and successes.

Regardless of whether you’re a start-up, a fellow challenger brand or the market leader, we can all stand to be more adaptable when it comes to our strategies, and #DTTTGlobal promises to provide a platform that inspires and enlightens us to do so. This year’s event theme centres around the future of destination marketing and will look at how industry experts are already preparing for, or in fact using, technology and are working in innovative ways to meet visitor needs.

Tickets are on sale and if you sign up now, you’re able to qualify for our early-bird special – but hurry, it runs out soon!

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