Here at the #DTTT, we have a long tradition of looking at which destinations are standing out from the competition and are becoming digital leaders in the industry. Especially for cities, the website competition in recent years has been high and it has become increasingly difficult for city tourist boards to stand out online. Consumers are often faced with an information overload, making it difficult to decide which sources of information to choose. For us, city websites still play an important role in city marketing, as every tourist board is ultimately the authority on their destination, knowing about all its hidden gems and being best suited to 'sell' the destination experience.
However, things have undoubtedly become more challenging and cities have moved away from solely promoting the 'how to get to the city' and 'things to do' but are taking a leap into using content to showcase different layers, aspects and facets of their city. Changes in the city marketing mindset have also meant that website designs, content, editorial and social media are now being approached differently than ever before. These are exciting times for city marketing! Here at the #DTTT, we think this is a great opportunity to showcase some cities that we consider to be best in class; each 'get digital' and understand how game-changing trends are impacting on their organisation.
Fans of London
The Fans of London website is not actually the official visitlondon.com website but a microsite for the spring initiative celebrating blockbuster events (Harry Potter and the cursed child), exhibitions (world's first exhibition of the Rolling Stones) and anniversaries (90th Birthday of the Queen and 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's legacy) taking place in the capital. Coinciding with the launch of the campaign, Visit London launched four super fan videos, that are featured on the page and give viewers an insight into more personal London stories as part of a series of once in a lifetime trips to the city.
For us, the video that features the personal story of Alex, a Rolling Stones super fan from New York, is a prime example of city storytelling. The video dives deep into Alex's tour around London, exploring Rolling Stones history with a focus on featuring things that are off the beaten track. Although the video is over five minutes long, the vibes and pace of the video along with Alex's personal journey make it an immersive experience for the viewer. The microsite is a great way of promoting all things worthy of a repeat visit, exploring London in a different way, going underneath the main tourist attractions and exploring some of the true DNA and stories of London.
The Discover LA website is a prime example of a city that is approaching destination marketing differently. Rather than having a navigation heavy website, the landing page is focusing on providing a visitor with magazine-like editorial and content. This is ideal content for Millennial travellers that are searching for Instagrammable moments, experiences and things to do that are out of the ordinary. Incorporating this philosophy of delivering out of the box experiences is something that Discover LA is focusing on. Aspects such as 'what to do', 'how to explore' and 'where to stay' are still featured and offered as options for users but other editorial content such as a post on 14 reasons why Instagram will make you want to come to LA is equally adding value and building the destination picture.
Discover LA is not only featuring highly engaging, snackable and magazine-style content on their website but has also incorporated neighbourhoods as a core part of the LA experience. This is a big trend among cities at the moment. Visitors can browse through information and video content about the different neighbourhoods and learn more about the city and type of experiences across the city. Overall, the Discover LA website is conveying contemporary city vibes through a fresh design and editorial content that is appealing especially to Millennial travellers. Discover LA is also sharing Snaps and stories on Snapchat every day, adding more storytelling content that adds to the overall destination image and appeal.
Zürich is another interesting example and can certainly be considered as a dark horse among European cities. The newly designed website features a range of interesting content. With a focus on telling the different stories about the city, Zürich is also tapping into the power of emotional and people content. Letting others tell the story of the city is a powerful way of presenting Zürich to potential visitors. Seamlessly integrated video content enables website visitors to learn more about different people, lifestyles and aspects of the city and ultimately learn all about the city from its locals who can share experiences and their unique perspectives.
In addition to localised content, Zürich has also incorporated a chat function into the website, allowing visitors to chat to somebody from the tourist board, asking for help, advice and hidden gems. The chat is a straightforward tool for users, allowing for a more personal interaction with someone working for the destination. Having tried the chat, specific questions can be asked and the person responding to the questions can share links directing the user to relevant information, providing specific tips and recommendations. During office hours, the chat is manned but even when nobody is available to answer straightaway, questions can still be submitted and answers can be shared via email.
Last but not least, the team at Wonderful Copenhagen have put a tremendous amount of work into creating engaging content on their website and for their communities on social media. The depth and variety of content are very interesting for other destinations to look at. It is particularly interesting to have an editor's choice featured on the landing page which shows some personal recommendations of things and activities to do. Browsing through the website, it is clear that the team is very passionate about the city and what is has to offer, delivering a huge amount of up to date, deep level content. Wonderful Copenhagen is delivering a full overview, competing easily with other city guides by being an authority on all places, activities and things related to Copenhagen.
Wonderful Copenhagen is a great example of a city that is thinking more en par with what people are looking for, delivering informative and visually appealing content. Rather than using stock photography, all images show instagrammable moments and experiences that people relate to when browsing through the website and variety of content. Wonderful Copenhagen's website is both visually appealing and also demonstrates how a city can approach its marketing and communications more creatively, staying on top of consumer needs and expectations.
This is very much in line with an overall change in mindset that has taken place at Wonderful Copenhagen, thinking much more like a news, media and communication business, moving towards a digitally connected world and focusing on the rapidly changing consumer behaviour. This is certainly working well for them.
So what can cities learn from these best in class? Content is without a doubt the most important currency for cities and the creative development of immersive and engaging content is on top of mind for city marketers. New and creative approaches to digital marketing are needed to remain competitive as a city and demonstrate the added value of having a dedicated city marketing team. Each of the above examples are interesting and show different approaches, content and focus of the city's digital marketing efforts. However, it is clear that creativity and innovation are two essential components for city marketing success. Cities have the opportunity to shine and meet consumer needs and expectations, being the ultimate authority on the destination.
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