How have the Nordic countries responded to the crisis? At the #DTTT, we have seen different approaches throughout the Nordic region and wanted to find out more. In a highly insightful interview we brought together the Tourism boards representing the capital cities of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark to discuss their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion specifically focused on their marketing strategies, sustainability, digitalisation and local communities.
We’d like to thank our contributors to the call, Anne-Signe Fagereng, Director of Marketing at Visit Oslo, Laura Aalto, CEO Helsinki Marketing, Karin Mäntymäki, Director of Market Development at Visit Stockholm and Tine Kastrup-Misir, Director of Communication and Marketing at Wonderful Copenhagen
The focus has shifted to the national and neighbouring markets
All the capitals are different in nature, but the societies are similar. As a region, the Nordics are more aligned in their strategy and ideas. Oslo, as the epicenter of the pandemic in Norway, has shifted focus from the international to the national market. Slowly reopening whilst developing products on a remote level. For the short-term, Visit Oslo is focused on the staycation and getting other regions to travel to Oslo. shift focus from hyper local to national.
Helsinki Marketing which has been closely following Norway, has changed all its marketing activities for this year. It’s recovery plan is on three levels. The first is what they're doing now, the second is focusing on this year, changing their strategy from international to national marketing, and the third is supporting growth for the future. Finland is not dependent on one market, and their marketing efforts will be focused on neighbouring countries and repositioning in markets close by.
Sweden has been seen by the world to take a different approach. Nothing has been closed but there are no visitors. Visit Stockholm’s strategy is to take things step by step, shifting focus to local, regional and national markets. They are preparing for when it’s ok to travel. Foe Sweden, their focus is hyper local, they want to invite people to discover their own cities.
Wonderful Copenhagen, as a city destination is finding its product difficult to market with everything closed, is also focused on domestic tourism. In Denmark, they have shifted focus to the local market, and feel it’s a huge opportunity to connect with the danish community and rediscover the country and also the neighbouring countries.
Adding value to local businesses is key to recovery
During the pandemic, each country is keen to support and add value to local businesses. Visit Stockholm is doing more digital work and helping businesses apply for grants in the region. Wonderful Copenhagen is waiting for the Danish government to provide insights on stage two of reopening Denmark. All the Nordic DMOs agree that adding value to local businesses is key to helping them recover, whether it’s through helping them with funding or marketing. The DMOs are in a great position to support their local businesses by offering guidance and solutions. Strengthening partnerships with different sectors is key to recovery.
In Copenhagen, they are rethinking the business model. Businesses are looking to them for a marketing platform. It is their responsibility to combine local initiatives with safety and social responsibility, ensuring they are giving them right information at the right time. For the Nordic DMOs, the pandemic provides them with an opportunity to build the bridge with local businesses, partners and stakeholders.
Creating a digital platform for attractions to keep the brand alive
With local businesses at the forefront of each country’s recovery strategy, the Nordic DMOs have been in close contact with their stakeholders, to see if they can help with their management. For example Visit Stockholm is helping attractions go digital, in order to keep the awareness and brand alive. Promoting them but being socially responsible and keeping the dialogue going.
For Helsinki, the crisis became an opportunity to do something new, and “Virtual Helsinki” was born. It was a project that had long been in the making, based on an open data source and 3D modelling. A sophisticated virtual city experience was brought to life. “Virtual Helsinki” was not a response to the pandemic, it was Helsinki envisioning the future of travel and making it real. The platform is now being used for the local community to increase social cohesion. Helsinki has created something exciting for people who are at home. It is a progressive city, focused on envisioning a virtual future, its people and services, to improve the city.
Build trust through a consistent message and value based communication
Each country is subject to its national guidelines which are applied to B2B and B2C activities. As DMOs are seen as a reliable and trustworthy source of information, they need to project a consistent message in order to build trust. It is important for them to maintain a responsible image to build confidence and responsible behaviour around guidelines. It is apparent that there is a need for a clear, consistent and coordinated message around safety, regulations and reassurance. Responsible behaviour around guidelines. The Nordic DMOs have been in close communication with local businesses and activity providers, but they have also taken a bigger role in influencing local authorities. Where there are no government guidelines, the DMOs have to provide guidance.
The strategy for the Nordic DMOs to strengthen their brands is not through direct marketing, but rather with a focus on value based communication. The message needs to be directly relatable, relevant, real, authentic and have value. Global challenges are solved on a city level and DMOs are part of the solution.
The future of travel will be purpose-driven
The Nordic destinations are aligned in believing that the future will be all about purpose, visual innovation, forward thinking and sustainability. Customer behaviour will change, there will be a demand for more value based travel. Destinations must create a more in depth connection with their visitors, as travel will be driven by purpose, not by attractions.
Industry trust will be built on good initiatives, which will matter more in the future. Visit Copenhagen suggests building a new digital platform focused on sustainability and the environment to inspire visitors, ensuring they leave the city more enlightened. Visit Oslo believes that this is a good opportunity to build value based brands that can achieve high international engagement which help build the brand when the city reopens.
Post COVID-19, people will want to do things of value and there is a sense of society and social consciousness which is particularly strong across the Nordics. The Nordic DMOs are now very much focused on creating an experience of real value for people. By creating something more purposeful, and highlighting people such as key workers as ambassadors for their countries.
At the #DTTT, we feel that with value based marketing, the Nordics are in a great position for recovery. They demonstrate forward thinking, innovation and social responsibility. Their response to the pandemic has been a best practice example of a region that works together to find solutions amongst the challenges whilst adding value to the lives of local communities and visitors alike.
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