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Nicholas Hall

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Every day this week Nick Hall, founder and CEO of the Digital Tourism Think Tank, is going to release one emerging digital trend to watch out this year. Today’s trend is all about content. Sign-up to get more trends in your inbox.

2016 Biggest Trends to Watch in Tourism

What are the biggest trends to look out for in 2016? This is surely not the first trend prediction you’ve read this year but with my top tips coming in February, it may be the last. Take careful note, I’ve tried here to sidestep the obvious and focus on the five that I believe every DMO should write with a permanent marker on that office whiteboard.

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Streamlining New Approaches to Content

Ok this trend isn’t quite as sexy as virtual reality and 360° video (that was to draw you in 😉) but it is no less important. I love the term ‘Content is King’ and yet I also hate it as it sounds so cheap and tacky and is something surely better left in a ‘Marketing for Dummies’ book, but like it or loathe it, content really should dominate your marketing strategy.

Over the past few year’s I’ve heard many interpretations of ‘old approaches’ vs. ‘new approaches’ to content. An image that was a little over presented from one of our competitors is that of a woman laying flat with pebble stones down her spinal cord overlooking a turquoise Aegean see. Proclaimed to be ‘passé’, for promising something unbelievable and lacking in authenticity, many destinations took the plunge and went ‘all-out’ on user generated content.

Today we see that most destinations have clawed back their own content. From embracing social media euphoria a few years ago, throwing in the towel on in-house content creation and handing everything over to fans, to now understanding their critical value as curators of amazing content and directors of powerful destination stories.

It is true the age old glossy brochure images don’t hold much credibility amongst today’s consumers, but the opportunity to create incredibly moving, carefully crafted aspirational brand images is more of an opportunity today than it has ever been before.


Here’s one of my favourite from the past year, “Challenge what you think you know".

When we work with destinations, we talk to them about the need to create ‘perspectives’ through content on how their destination brand is communicated. This starts by capturing imagination in the early "awareness stage" with powerful heavily crafted content creating a compelling image of the destination with the right focus and message. Once the spark has been triggered, it develops into a deeper awareness through rich long-format media, storytelling, evocative and multi-faceted content, again video playing a huge role here. Finally keeping the destination top-of-mind is where social channels really come into play. Seeding and re-posting ‘on-brand’ content, snippets of daily life, insights, tips, behind the scenes, travel experiences etc. It’s also where the conversation takes place.

We know that across the spectrum influencers and bloggers have a huge role to play. Gone are the days when DMOs hire copywriters who just churn out SEO friendly articles. Today we have to seek talented creatives who can connect with an audience through content, who can help tell a story, share an experience or go deeper, full of authenticity.

I’ve dropped in a clip from the 7 Wonders of Oregon, a definite favourite in my book and a DMO to look out for in 2016, with big things to come.

Estonia different approach doesn't exactly represent the authentic real visitor experience but, in my opinion, demonstrates that marketing doesn’t always need to be user authentic - it can also excite people with a type of escapism that the brand creates.

The skill of a DMO is in knowing what they want and how they want others to tell this story. It is the reason we have put together a global team of the most talented creators to help do that and why we believe the future of content marketing needs creative flare and the ability of DMOs to direct and curate. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about this.

The ‘streamlining’ part of this trend is key as the new approaches I’ve highlighted here also require a totally different way of working. It’s no longer about following a straight-forward editorial line and then ‘knuckling down’ with the writing. We have to shift to flat structures within our teams and build a more creative and collaborative work environment. It is important our procurement rules aren’t overly cumbersome in limiting our ability to select and hire talent and that we have the confidence to replace admin heavy teams with colourful creative visionaries, who might not produce the content but have a strong view on how the brand should play out.

Master your content strategy in 2016: Learn how to plan, schedule, identify and analyse content. Join the Seismenaut workshop at #DTCC2016

We’d love to hear about your content marketing strategy? How are you approaching the process of content creation? Comments in the box below welcome!

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