Dadi Gudjonsson is a project manager for tourism & creative Industries at Promote Iceland. He has been involved with tourism and marketing for the last 10 years and his main interest involve branding, marketing strategy, graphic design, social media and online marketing.
Promote Iceland is a platform for cooperation between public and private parties, established in 2010 to stimulate economic growth through increased export. It’s designed to improve the competitiveness of Icelandic companies in foreign markets through competence building and inspire interest in Iceland and Icelandic products through varied promotional efforts, and participate in the promotion of Icelandic arts and culture abroad. Promote Iceland is the developer and the executive of the Inspired by Iceland campaign, the country’s tourism promotional effort.
Here’s a fun fact: Every single month since January 2011 has been a record breaking month for Icelandic tourism. We have seen a huge shift in perception towards the country as a destination and in 2015 we had the lowest recorded seasonality in Icelandic tourism ever. In every region of Iceland, foreign visitor guest nights have increased 18% - 31% on average, every year and tourism has become the country’s largest export revenue generating sector. The success of Icelandic Tourism has been phenomenal in terms of growth and forecasts predict that this trend will continue for the foreseeable future.
This has also been an interesting time for Icelandic tourism promotion. 2010 marked a new era for marketing in Icelandic tourism. Eyjafjallajökull (that Icelandic volcano) went off and the Inspired by Iceland campaign was founded as a way to mitigate the negative effects of large-scale volcanic eruption on tourism in the country. Budgetary restraints and short lead time forced us to adopt unconventional methods for promoting a destination, focused on maximizing participation and engagement in a short time frame. Today we are still using those same methods and it seems that more and more DMO’s are implementing this way of thinking.
WISDOM OF THE VIKINGS: “MAÐUR ER MANNS GAMAN”
“Maður er manns gaman” is an old Icelandic saying that dates back to times when Vikings roamed these waters a thousand years ago. The saying literally translates to “man is man’s joy” and comes from a line in a collection of ancient poems called “Hávamál” where the storyteller is none other than Odin Alfather, the highest of the Nordic gods. In these poems Odin shares his infinite wisdom on how to live life and prosper and be happy. The poem from which the saying comes deals with Odin’s travels, and how he found out that travel is best enjoyed in the company of others. One thousand years later, this is still true.
Since 2010, Inspired by Iceland has built campaigns founded on that stellar Viking inside. Man is man’s joy. We have found that our most successful campaigns come from putting people in the forefront. Connecting people with other people. Telling stories of people. Have the people tell the story of us. We are a people-powered brand.
Why is it important to be a people-powered brand?
We’ve learned that in a world where brands have voices, strong voices, people are more likely to trust other people, rather than brands. We’ve recognized the need for authentic and real connections through people’s voices, instead of conventional broadcast-led tourist campaigns.
That being said I have to admit that we have an unfair advantage over traditional brands. It’s not like we are selling a soda drink, we are promoting our country. People take pride in their country and travelers forge strong connections with places they visit, which means that the passion is already there before we do anything. But our main work is inspiring those storytellers to tell a focused story that meets our objectives.
For Iceland it’s to create awareness about the country as a year-round destination, which offers more than just nature to explore. So, rather than target tourists, stimulate your storytellers to share their inspiring stories with the world. You will be more successful and your audience will make more real and lasting connections with your brand.
The launch film from Inspired by Iceland’s latest campaign, Ask Gudmundur:
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