Puerto Rico is an island located off the coast of Florida in the heart of the Caribbean basin, known for its idyllic beaches and blue waters. For a number of years, Puerto Rico has faced multiple challenges and significant changes, culminating in the DMO you see today and a truly extraordinary comeback story.
Most significantly, in 2016 Puerto Rico suffered an outbreak of the Zika virus and in 2017 the island was devastated by two colossal hurricanes. Since 2017, Discover Puerto Rico has been responsible for managing all global sales and marketing efforts, promoting both leisure and business travel to drive tourism to lead economic growth on the island.
With such significant challenges posed against it, how did the destination go about rebuilding itself to welcome visitors back to Puerto Rico? And not only for its beautiful beaches.
While the destination initially had a lot against it, the newly established and privatised DMO Discover Puerto Rico, was now in a position for great growth potential with the unique opportunity to reset and relaunch as a brand new destination brand, with everything from a new website to a new narrative.
A New Narrative
Following such natural disasters, the biggest challenge first and foremost was to establish Puerto Rico’s powerful brand story, and to communicate this effectively to potential visitors. This involved shaping the marketing message beyond beaches, and focusing on the heart of the destination; its people, culture, art, history, music. Digital marketing efforts were used to elevate the brand of Puerto Rico to demonstrate the transformative power of tourism to benefit not only visitors, but all the people of Puerto Rico.
The second challenge was to tackle the image portrayed in the media and online, to manage and change the perceptions held by potential visitors. At the time, images when searching places on Google were largely out of date and misrepresented the true Puerto Rico, post-hurricane. This would, without doubt, reinforce any negative consumer perceptions so it was essential for this to be updated.
This issue was not only for leisure travellers, but for business travellers, and re-establishing Puerto Rico as an active destination to host successful meetings and conventions. Understandably, there was apprehension and uncertainty in this area. Here is how Discover Puerto Rico responded, and this is a really fantastic insight into the challenging situation, and how the DMO overcame it.
Data & Content
Here at the #DTTT, we have seen multiple destinations utilising data insights at the core of their digital strategies. Banff and Lake Louise aims to enhance the visitor experience through a data-driven approach and Buenos Aires utilises valuable data from multiple touchpoints in the visitor journey to shape the destination experience and understand tourism flows to manage the destination's tourism supply.
Puerto Rico needed to learn what the brand’s present position was within the marketplace and the only way to do this was by undertaking extensive research.
This involved reviewing data regarding different elements of the journey in potential target markets across the U.S. and two international markets including; brand perception, website usability, visa vue, (visa cardholder data of people who visited the island) creative messaging, Google and Facebook analytics.
Together with Google, Discover Puerto Rico started developing new content around the island, in the form of 360° videos and new images. Beyond visual content, they also carried out workshops throughout the island to educate stakeholders on how they can update their own Google listings to strengthen the destination’s image as a whole.
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