Stage 2. The Visitor Cycle

This is a strategic assessment of strategic positioning considering message, channels and touchpoints.

What is the Visitor Cycle?

Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically in the last years, fuelled by digital technologies and a mobile-first world.

What is the Visitor Cycle?

Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically in the last years, fuelled by digital technologies and a mobile-first world.

Technology has shaped the new digital visitor and their ability to find inspiration, plan, book and share their travels before, during and after their trip passing through different phases or moments in which they prepare and live the tourism experience.

Consumers have changed and will continue to evolve according to the availability of new technologies and digital platforms in which they navigate to book their trips.

Considering all of this, the role of the DMO has to be relevant and own each stage in the visitor journey, knowing how consumers behave along the visitor cycle and how to help them make their decisions.

So let's guide you first through different approaches and models from researchers and DMOs and try to understand why it's important to understand and describe all these phases the traveller passes through.

In this chapter, you're going to learn about some of the key developments and considerations in the visitor cycle, with great examples from:

  • Visit Copenhagen
  • Visit Greenland
  • Visit San Diego
  • Dubai Tourism
  • Amsterdam Marketing
  • Ljubljana Tourism
  • Google
  • Sojern

With this pack, you will be able to;

- Start a full digital transformation of your DMO
- Work on the role of your DMO in each phase of the cycle
- Use templates to map your visitors
- Understand the phases of the Visitor Cycle

Why is the Visitor Cycle Important: Adopting a Strategic Approach

Why is the Visit Cycle Important: The history of the Visitor Cycle

Many researchers in geography, first, and in tourism and marketing after, created models and charts to depict both the physical movement in space and the behaviour of tourists before, during and after their travel.

Leiper (1979) explained that tourists move from their home, point A, to a different location, point B, to go back to A when they finish their travel experience.

Mill & Morrison (1985) with their model of “the tourism system” were the first to include the role of marketing and the relationship tourists have with the market. They were the first to design this model as a cycle and to represent the different elements involved. These elements are

  • the market, represented by tourism suppliers and competitors;
  • marketing, the promotion and selling of services at the destination through distribution channels;
  • the destination, where tourists go;
  • travel, representing flows and modes of transportation used.

After Mill & Morrison (1985), another interesting model was created by Murphy (1985), who envisaged a three-oval “pie”. The outer part represents “the destination’s (promotional) point of view”, the middle part “tourists’ point of view” and the inner part an “outdoor recreation experience model”.

From this model onwards, time starts to also be encompassed in the cycle and five main temporal moments are identified: pre-travel, travel, on-site experience, travel back and recollection of the experience. If we include travelling in the experience itself, the key temporal moments are three: before, during and after the travel experience.

Why is the Visitor Cycle Important: Visitor Cycle Models Explained

Fast forward to the new millennium, with the inclusion of the Internet and the multiple touchpoints, increased by the emergence of online information and booking platforms, we now have a more defined visitor cycle that encompasses new phases.

Google depicted a clearer image of today’s travellers and how they plan their travel. It is acknowledged that today’s consumers spend more time online and do extensive online research before buying. The consumer journey is increasingly starting online nowadays, at the same time connections through mobile are rising and so is the number of moments and touchpoints through which companies can influence consumer buying behaviour.

Google identified 5 stages of the traveller’s journey:


  1. The Dreaming phase is the one in which the traveller is inspired by stories and images he/she has seen somewhere online/offline or that were told by peers who already lived the experiences or other people talking about it.
  2. The Planning phase is the moment in which the traveller is actively looking for information about products, services and attractions in one or more destinations in view of the travel experience.
  3. The Booking phase is the moment in which after active research and comparison of different prices and services, the traveller purchases tickets to travel, accommodation and other services that will compose the travel experience.
  4. The Experiencing phase is the actual travel to the destination and the sum of all the experiences made at the destination.
  5. The Sharing phase is made up of the moments in which the traveller shares the travel experiences created before, during and after the trip.

The succession of these phases can be drawn on a temporal line, as all these phases usually come one after the other in chronological order. Nowadays, nonetheless, the Sharing phase is becoming more and more cross-temporary as it can happen simultaneously with the others.

Among these examples of visitor journey models we described, the Google model is the one getting closest to the idea of the phases crossed by consumers while planning their travel experiences today.

But how do DMOs relate to these models? Do they make their own based on their consumers of reference?

Visit San Diego is one of the DMOs that created their own visitor cycle and use it as a basis for their strategies. The DMO of San Diego identified this cycle as the Consumer Decision Journey, encompassing 6 stages:

  1. Awareness Trigger. In this stage, media is used to spark the initial awareness of the destination in the minds of consumers and starting to build interest.
  2. Inspiration. Media and promotion are used to create an emotional stimulus that drives a desire to travel to the destination.
  3. Consideration. Consumers are reached through advertisement and campaigns aimed at engaging them at the early stages of their research and consideration of the potential travel to the destination.
  4. Active Evaluation. In this stage all the efforts of the DMO are put into providing the right information to drive conversion, to help consumers plan the experience and decide which services to book.
  5. Booking/Purchase. Consumers are actively comparing prices and are being targeted at the moment they are about to purchase.
  6. Experience/Sharing. This final stage is the actual travel experience and their subsequent sharing of the best moments collected with the consumers’ peer circle.

This model is efficient from a DMO perspective because it highlights the channels used in the different phases of the cycle and all the marketing efforts that have to be carried out to influence travellers along their journey to purchase.

Why is the Visit Cycle Important: Doug Lansky's Talk about the visitor cycle and the travel experience

Why is the Visitor Cycle Important: Understanding the visitors, markets and audiences

Get started with a sprint 🏃🏾‍♀️

A sprint is a great way to rally all your teammates around a big idea or produce great results by concentrating the team on a specific need over a short period.

  1. Print the attached worksheet in large format (A1 is best!)
  2. Find a great communal space, such as the canteen, to stick it up (double-sided tape!)
  3. Invite team members to scribble their thoughts and ideas on the wall
  4. Organise a stand-up session, where several members can express their thoughts
  5. Take a snap, keep it posted or even better 'scan the wall' and digitise into Mural

It may feel like a hassle to print large format and rally the team around, but you'll be pleased with the results when you get everyone thinking collectively.

What is this sprint about?

This is a board that provides the first basis for the identification of the different touchpoints, messages, channels and strategies used by your DMO to reach consumers along the visitor cycle.

Each of the phases of the cycle has to be carefully assessed in order to understand which are the key moments and places in which consumers can be reached in their top, middle and full-funnel stages, through the use of specific messages on specific channels.

On the right of the board is also a grid made to help the DMO assess the trend opportunities and demographics of potential markets and segments as well as to map the needs, the key influences and interests of audiences.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Consistency & building awareness

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Terri Scriven from Google explains Micro-Moments

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Visit Copenhagen and Norwegian on Interest Generation

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Best Practices on Top Funnel

When talking about the top funnel, the early stages of the visitor cycle, we are talking about the moments in which consumers' attention is caught and retained through inspirational content and tools that help them craft in their minds the idea of travelling to the destination.

The DMO website should provide every possible information and tools that can raise interest and help consumers choose the destination for their travel.

Very good tools used in this case are itineraries in and around the destination, with inspiring descriptions and content, as well as planning tools that can help consumers really start planning their travel.

These are few examples of the DMOs who really mastered the use of itineraries and planning tools to inspire travellers in the early stages of the visitor cycle.

Continue to discover more about:

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Itineraries

Itineraries are an important aspect of a destination website to support consumers in their planning process. Destination marketers understand which points of interests, activities, and experiences consumers should not miss in their destination. However, destinations are often not the sole provider of travel itineraries and face competition from other travel information providers. It is, therefore, really important to provide itineraries that are informative, interesting and visually appealing for the reader.

Itineraries deliver detailed information to help consumers plan for a holiday, providing a list of places to visit and giving a more concrete plan of travel routes or activities that consumers can take advantage of in the destination.

Although itineraries are a fairly traditional content component of a website, it is still important to keep itineraries up to date and relevant for the modern-day traveller. Itineraries are no long lists of things and places to visit but need to communicate stories and be relevant for the changing needs of travellers. Although itineraries can be followed and used to plan trips, consumers can also use them as the basis for inspiration when planning their custom holiday in the destination.

Destinations are including itineraries to provide ideas and inspire consumers to experience something different in the destination based on seasons in the destination, occasions, interests and the duration of a visitor’s stay. This is helpful information for consumers wanting to learn more about the destination, understanding what others are visiting in the destination. Itineraries and their content need to be presented visually appealing, including a range of content to deliver inspiration and in-depth information to enable consumers to plan further or book a trip based on an itinerary.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Visit Scotland's Approach to Itineraries

visit-scotland

Visit Scotland have 22 itineraries on their website, providing in-depth information on a variety of trips in Scotland. Each itinerary varies in length and consumers can dive deeper based on short teasers and information. It is interesting to see how Visit Scotland are also differentiating the itineraries by transport mode, giving visitors the choice between travelling by car, bus, rail or on foot.

Each day in specific itineraries is mapped out by an overview, followed by more detailed information about the specific days, experiences and stop covered as part of the itinerary. Maps, imagery and links to additional information enable consumers to dive deeper, find out more about the stops and places included in the itinerary. By browsing through the list of different itineraries, consumers can map a picture of their trip to Scotland, choosing from a range of itineraries and experiences.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Amsterdam Marketing on Packaging

amsterdam

Amsterdam Tourism is offering custom itineraries that are based on visitor needs, inspiring consumers about different options on a stopover, 24 or 48-hour stay. In addition to that, it is important for Amsterdam Marketing to encourage more consumers to travel outside of the city, dispersing visitors across the wider Amsterdam area. Different itineraries are, therefore, featured to provide useful information about trips outside of the city rather than visiting Amsterdam’s major points of interest only.

This is a great way of supporting consumers with relevant content and insider knowledge, enabling them to have a unique experience and unique itineraries when visiting the city. Each of the itineraries provides concise information but could be more visual and could include more video content to inspire consumers further.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Planning Tools

Supporting consumers in planning their trip to the destination is a critical aspect of ensuring that consumers are pushed through the visitor cycle. After delivering inspiration both through social media channels and the website, it is important to ensure that the destination website also delivers valuable information that can support consumers in planning a trip. Consumers are expecting to receive useful information that is detailed enough to help them plan and make their mind up about accommodation option, activities, experiences and specific locations in the destination.

Destinations have a clear focus on delivering highly visual content as part of the awareness and inspiration stage, however, for the planning stage, consumers are still expecting to be inspired so a visual approach is critical. There are different approaches that destinations have taken when providing planning tools. The most popular option among destinations is the provision of relevant content and information.

Many destinations are considering quite carefully what content and information consumers are looking for, moving away from basic destination information to including maps, itineraries, neighbourhood guides often through a grid overview. This gives consumers an opportunity to browse through relevant content and take advantage of specific planning tools and searches that can identify things that consumers might want to consider as part of planning a trip.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Tourism New Zealand's Travel Guides

Tourism New Zealand understands the importance of supporting visitors in planning their trip to the destination. Being a long-distance destination for most visitors, it is important to deliver inspiring but concrete information about what visitors can expect in the destination. For basic information about the destination such as weather, seasons, currency, transport, tours, domestic flights and accommodation, Tourism New Zealand have created a dedicated page and travel guide that supports visitors with some basics they need to know before booking, travelling and when they are in the destination. Although the information on the page is not something everyone will need, it is presented visually and in a way that is easy for consumers to navigate.

In addition to the travel guide, Tourism New Zealand also focuses on communicating what New Zealand is all about through a dedicated ‘Our Stories‘ page that gives readers unique insights into New Zealand, its people, land, and stories. Each of the pages gives consumers unique perspectives on the destination itself and experiences on offer and is supported by big imagery, videos and supporting information. Although there are quite a few pages to choose from, each page is a quick read and delivers information in a short and engaging manner. New Zealand Tourism is successfully supporting the planning trip stage and have even incorporated a wishlist, enabling consumers to save pages and information they may want to get back to.


new-zealand

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Visit Iceland

On Visit Iceland’s plan page, the tourist board is focusing on four key areas to help visitors plan their Iceland adventure which are accommodation, travel to Iceland, getting around and tour operators. With Iceland being quite a unique destination to visit, there are many things for visitors to consider. Each of the pages provides useful information, links and gives insights that visitors need in preparation for booking a specific trip and experiences when visiting Iceland.

iceland


Apart from the plan page, Visit Iceland have also invested in their Iceland Academy campaign which is an online course that consumers enrol in and complete to be in the chance of winning a trip to Iceland. The idea behind the academy and its engaging video content is the promotion of sustainable travel to Iceland. One of the key issues for Iceland as a tourism destination is its increase in visitors and the responsibility of providing a more sustainable experience for visitors and for locals. Each of the classes is a fun way of learning more about Iceland and at the same time teaches important things such as learning how to pack warm, capture the Northern Lights or drive in Iceland. Each course is highly visual, short, fun and features real locals taking consumers through the topic and has a quiz at the end to complete the course. This is a great example of adding more experience and engaging content to the destination website, supporting visitors in planning their holiday to Iceland.

iceland-academy

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Mapping out the Visitor Buying Cycle

In this template, we are looking at what we here at DTTT have identified as the key stages of the Visitor Buying Cycle, Awareness, Interest, Planning, Conversion, Experience and Sharing.

This template allows your team to walk through each of these 6 stages, discussing how you engage with your visitors at each step, and coming up with new touchpoints to help keep your potential visitors engaged at each step of their journey.

Using this template can be helpful to re-think current approaches and activities towards being ultra-efficient and effective in targeting and engaging with consumers along all stages of the visitor cycle. Few questions you might find interesting to answer are: how can you leverage each stage of the visitor cycle and tap into opportunities to succeed? How should you develop your brand and brand stories? What is your role in delivering visitor experiences? What is the impact of your DMOs reputation? How can you be more socially engaging and creative in your overall approach?

Use the first side of the column beneath each stage to ideate new ideas, and then the second half of the column to vote together on the final five actionable ideas that your organisation can put in place.

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Omni-channel conversion funnel

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Sojern and New Zealand's path to purchase

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Dubai Tourism on Driving Bookings from New Markets

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Best Practices on Middle Funnel

The Middle Funnel is the collection of moments in which the conversion happens when consumers are deciding to travel and actually book their tickets for transportation, accommodation and any other product and service that will compose their travel experience.

It's in the Middle Funnel stages of the visitor cycle that tourism service providers, as well as DMOs, play a fundamental role in transforming an interest into an actual conversion, a purchasing behaviour.

The tools and strategies used to create conversion are many, and we would like to focus here on the importance of having booking tools integrated on the DMO website to play two roles:

  1. Booking tools are used to show the great offer in place at the destination
  2. Booking tools are great to stimulate conversion because they provide an immediate link from inspirational content to the purchase.

DMOs play different roles according to law and their statute. Some DMOs can sell services, while others can only provide information and promote the destination.

We collected a couple of examples to show how DMOs are playing their role in the middle stages of the funnel when travellers buy their tickets and services to experience at the destination.

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Booking Tools

There is a big divide among destination marketers about the importance of booking tools as part of destination marketing and management activities. Traditionally, destinations would offer consumers the opportunity to book accommodation directly through the destination website, often by filling in an enquiry form, and the tourist board checking availability. Although some destinations have been successful in offering accommodation booking services, for many DMOs, sales decrease annually due to the emergence of big players such as Hotels.com and booking.com.

Destination websites still play a major role in providing valuable information for consumers and some destinations, especially cities are continuing to offer booking tools and services. In general, it is a question where destinations can add value to a visitor’s planning and booking process. Among destinations, there are interesting viewpoints emerging and different booking tool approaches. Here at the #DTTT, we have picked some of the most interesting booking tool approaches from selling experiences, rooms, activities, city cards or merchandise.


Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Geneva Tourism's new booking tool

As part of their website redesign, Geneva Tourism decided to include booking functionalities, providing not only a full destination guide to what the city has to offer but also supporting consumers in booking accommodation. As the city tourist board, Geneva Tourism is the authority on all things relating to the destination. By working closely with the local accommodation industry and overall service providers, Geneva Tourism can offer the biggest choice at the best price, without having to charge a booking fee. For the launch of Geneva’s new booking tool, Geneva Tourism gave away 1,000 hotel nights as part of a competition, encouraging consumers to redeem their free night and book an extended stay in the city. This is a great way of introducing consumers to the new booking tool and enticing them with a great deal.

Consumers can easily search for accommodation options and a range of activities through special offer packages. Working closely with the accommodation industry, Geneva Tourism can offer an unbeatable price, competing directly with mainstream booking providers. As consumers are interested in unique experiences, Geneva Tourism is offering weekend packages, dedicated to themes such as outdoors, wellness, gourmet, shopping or glam experiences. This has worked quite well for them so far.

geneva

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Ljubljana Tourism's experience selling

For the last two years, Ljubljana Tourism has worked extensively on the idea to become the go-to hub for Ljubljana experiences. What started out with selling a small selection of tours and trips through the website and payment when being in Ljubljana is now a fully dedicated part of the overall destination offering. The team at Ljubljana Tourism have recognised demand from visitors wanting to buy tours and activities and are now offering them as a link between local businesses and visitors. A list of all experiences, tours and activities can be accessed and is updated on a regular basis, adding more variation to the already existing 100+ activities.

Ljubljana Tourism is focusing their booking tool on enabling consumers to book tours of Ljubljana, boat cruises, culinary tours and trips, day trips around Slovenia, trips in central Slovenia, organised experiences, group tours and outdoor activities. For consumers, there is a wide range of things to choose from, providing plenty of variety of experiences and activities. Being the only provider of such a bookable collection, Ljubljana Tourism is increasing its bookings continuously. Having optimised the booking process and enabling credit card payments directly through the website, Ljubljana as a destination is offering a credible booking tool.

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Getting started with Assumptions Mapping

Each project you are working on is technically an experiment unless you are replicating something you have done before. When developing a new campaign, concept or product, it is a valuable exercise for teams to look at their ideas and product in more detail, noting down all assumptions. In the template, we focus on three areas to identify whether a new product or concept is:

  • Desirable - looking at whether consumers will buy into it, focusing on the consumer and problem
  • Feasible - seeing whether the destination can achieve or do this and if how sustainable the product is
  • Viable - taking into consideration whether the product makes business sense

Each of these three areas is equally important. The idea of the template is to write down assumptions around each area and question on different coloured sticky notes. This way it is clear which area they refer to. We recommend to write down full sentences rather than just words to make it clear what the assumption actually is. Once all assumptions have been added, you can work on placing them on the grid on the right-hand side, mapping them based on how known, unknown, important or unimportant they are.

By mapping all assumptions, you will see which assumptions might need further evaluation or which areas need a lot more information in order to understand them fully. Assumptions in the top left can be considered as facts and need checking against your plan, whereas assumptions in the bottom left can be easy distractions for your team and are things that should not be followed up on at this time. It is important not to follow products that feel easy and safe, as these will not lead to the impact or progress you want your destination to achieve.

It can be really useful to revisit assumptions placed within the map regularly in order to identify new product ideas, move and follow up on these. In your next product or concept development meeting, make sure you take another look at the filled-in assumptions mapping to identify how things have changed or progressed, removing no longer relevant sticky notes and adding new ones.

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: The Visitor Experience

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Amsterdam Marketing on the visitor card

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Best Practices on Lower Funnel

The Lower Funnel or Full-Funnel refers to the last stages of the visitor cycle when consumers are living their travel experience at the destination. Visitors in this phase are physically travelling to the destination, staying at selected accommodations and living the destination itself consuming goods and services like eating at restaurants, visiting museums, shops and the likes.

In these last stages of the cycle, DMOs should focus all their attention on customer service, being present for the consumer and inform them about the possibilities in place at the destination. Visitor Centres are very important in this stage since travellers refer to them when they are looking for specific information about the destination. But also DMOs websites are fundamental in this stage to inform consumers even more than in the first stages, it is not only about inspiration here, it is about real action!

We would like to show you here a few examples of destinations and companies who master their activity in these stages of the cycle, providing smart and innovative ways to inform tourists about the tourism offer. This happens through the use of neighbourhood and experienced guides as well as with proximity marketing strategies needed to engage with visitors at the destination as well as creating conversion at the moment of the visit.

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Neighbourhoods and experience guides - Best Practices

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Proximity Marketing

Proximity marketing through Beacons or iBeacons can enable destinations to target people through their mobile devices as part of events, in attractions, airports and hotels as part of their visitor experience.

Beacons are small transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate with beacon enabled devices to transmit data when a consumer is approaching, in or leaving a specific location.

Beacon technology is powerful, as it can locate devices even when there is no mobile phone signal in a destination. Beacons are small devices that can easily be attached to surfaces such as walls, vehicles or even people. In the last years, beacon technology has become more and more affordable and especially in the retail space, many businesses are already working with beacons. In a retail context, beacons are used in retail outlets to provide consumers with product information, notifications about specific offers or deal or even to speed up checkout through contactless payments.

For Destinations, there are many use cases for beacon technology, especially to support visitors with their in-destination experience. For instance, beacons can help visitors to navigate to free wifi spots, get notifications about transport connections, guide them around events, attractions or even an entire city.

Consumers engage with beacons to enhance their in-destination experience by receiving additional information and guidance as part of their visit to a destination or attraction.

Airlines (KLM or easyJet) and airports (Amsterdam Schiphol or Brussels) are already using beacon technology in combination with their respective apps to notify consumers about airport relevant information, guide them around airports and send push notifications when a consumer is in close proximity to a beacon. Museums and attractions are often combining mobile guides with beacon technology to enable consumers to access an additional layer of content in the form of videos, images or information when they explore the attraction or museum. Beacon technology is also increasingly used for crowd management, notifying visitors about useful information, highlighting alternative options or things as part of events or as part of their visit an attraction.


Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: ‘This is Queensland’ beacon-enabled app

Tourism and Events Queensland decided to provide a more personalised experience for its visitors through location-based technology using 150 BlueCat's beacons. This is Queensland app allows users to bookmark attractions before their visit and receive alerts when being in close distance to beacons placed around Queensland. In fact, Tourism and Events Queensland have created a beacon network in collaboration with digital partners BlueCat's and Speedwell, the creators of the app ‘This is Queensland’ which was launched in 2015.

The app serves consumers as a travel companion, enabling consumers to use maps to find nearby events, restaurants, accommodation and things to see and do. Through location-based services, the app sends notifications to alert visitors about things to see and do nearby, inspiring them with suggestions and ideas. Live content from social media (videos and images) can be viewed and the app also includes a WiFi finder tool to help visitors to stay connected. Location services and beacon scanning must be enabled for the app to work at its full potential in the destination. As notifications can interfere with the overall user experience, users can limit the number of notifications per day.

queensland

From the user perspective, the Queensland app is easy to use and rich in content, as it provides descriptions about the different points of interest, maps, images and interactive tools to plan a personalised journey in the destination. The app also integrates information about the variety of services, from accommodation to car hire and free wifi spots.

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: The Netherlands, Amsterdam Beacon Mile

In March 2015, the city of Amsterdam launched its first beacon-guided city walk, the Beacon Mile, stretching along a 2-kilometre route from Amsterdam’s Central Station to Marineterrein. The objective was to provide tourists with relevant information and content while they explore the city.

The Beacon Mile is a public network of LoRa managed beacons and sensors which allow developers to accelerate emerging Internet of Things innovations. Partners of the project include the City of Amsterdam, Glimworm Beacons, KPN, JCDecaux, Yenlo, Intel, IMB, SODAQ, Amsterdam Economic Board, Emerce, Appsterdam and Amsterdam Smart City. Points of interest along the Beacon Mile are the NEMO science museum, the maritime museum and the new public library. The beacon technology is enabled through the Amsterdam Beacon Mile Explorer App.

beacon-mile

The Amsterdam Beacon Mile is an initiative that is part of the Smart Cities project and throughout 2015, the mile was extended and more beacons were distributed throughout the Amsterdam city centre. The city of Amsterdam is also organising regular Hackathons working with the development community and creative industries to work on solutions and create app solutions to be used in a smart city context.

The city of Amsterdam is also making investments into supporting its public transport infrastructure by deploying thousands of beacons in trams, metros, and buses in the city. Working with Google’s beacon platform, the city of Amsterdam is working on becoming a data-driven, real-time city. The beacon network in Amsterdam is associating data with beacons, making it available to developers. This allows the development community to develop powerful proximity-based experiences for visitors and locals in Amsterdam.

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Designing the Tourist Information Office of the future

Tourist information centres provide a range of information on the destination for visitors and are one of the few places where destination representatives actually meet their visitors. Over the years, destinations have moved away from providing paper guides, maps or leaflets towards looking at new and innovative ways of designing and reinventing the use of the tourist information centre and actual space. With destinations becoming more digitally focused on their marketing approach, it is important to assess the existing needs and setup of tourist information centres and plan for the future.

We have seen different approaches from destinations when reinventing their tourist information centre from closing the physical centre to introducing mobile destination greeters or helpers that can meet and support visitors in various places around the city. This has proven quite successful, being able to support many visitors, especially during the high season where it is useful to spread resources across a wider area in the city.

If your DMO is planning to revisit the setup and offer of the tourism information centre, whether introducing new technology, such as touch screens and 3D displays or allowing visitors to research, get inspired and browse through what the destination has to offer, it is important to rethink the strategy from scratch mapping out customers’ needs and expectations, thinking about the resources and people you have and which kind of technology you would use to make the experience valuable and useful.

This template will help you designing the TIC of the future and re-thinking the purpose, setup, needs and future plans of your TIC based on your visitors. Use it with your team to brainstorm about the possibilities.

Trends & Future Changes in the Cycle: From top to full-funnel

Staying up to date with the latest destination website trends is hard, especially as things change fast. To help, we have sourced examples that illustrate eight key website trends and how destinations are utilising them to deliver a great customer experience on their platform. So if you need to re-design or re-work your destination website or are simply interested to see what is out there, we have sourced some great examples to show where things are moving in the destination space.

Here at the #DTTT, we are really excited to see how destination websites are putting content and storytelling at the forefront of the user experience and product messaging. What started out with a DMO website being focused on showcasing its brand has now shifted towards communicating the offer in a more experience-driven manner, also taking into consideration the power of tapping into overarching themes and mega-trends such as personal fulfilment. Those destination websites that put the consumer at the forefront of everything they are doing succeed by delivering on user expectations, combining outstanding content with a unique brand, product and functionality.

While no destination website is perfect, it is interesting to reflect on eight key website trends to identify where there are opportunities for your destination to deliver better on the brand experience, inspire through innovative content or embrace new styles and techniques. Based on an extensive destination website benchmark, we have identified the following trends and game-changers in the destination website world:

  • Personalisation
  • Visitor Experience
  • Experiential Content
  • Maps and Regional Product
  • Trip Planning
  • Search
  • Chatbots & Automation
  • Data & Intelligence

What is the Visitor Cycle?

Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically in the last years, fuelled by digital technologies and a mobile-first world.

What is the Visitor Cycle?

Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically in the last years, fuelled by digital technologies and a mobile-first world.

Technology has shaped the new digital visitor and their ability to find inspiration, plan, book and share their travels before, during and after their trip passing through different phases or moments in which they prepare and live the tourism experience.

Consumers have changed and will continue to evolve according to the availability of new technologies and digital platforms in which they navigate to book their trips.

Considering all of this, the role of the DMO has to be relevant and own each stage in the visitor journey, knowing how consumers behave along the visitor cycle and how to help them make their decisions.

So let's guide you first through different approaches and models from researchers and DMOs and try to understand why it's important to understand and describe all these phases the traveller passes through.

In this chapter, you're going to learn about some of the key developments and considerations in the visitor cycle, with great examples from:

  • Visit Copenhagen
  • Visit Greenland
  • Visit San Diego
  • Dubai Tourism
  • Amsterdam Marketing
  • Ljubljana Tourism
  • Google
  • Sojern

With this pack, you will be able to;

- Start a full digital transformation of your DMO
- Work on the role of your DMO in each phase of the cycle
- Use templates to map your visitors
- Understand the phases of the Visitor Cycle

Why is the Visitor Cycle Important: Adopting a Strategic Approach

Why is the Visit Cycle Important: The history of the Visitor Cycle

Many researchers in geography, first, and in tourism and marketing after, created models and charts to depict both the physical movement in space and the behaviour of tourists before, during and after their travel.

Leiper (1979) explained that tourists move from their home, point A, to a different location, point B, to go back to A when they finish their travel experience.

Mill & Morrison (1985) with their model of “the tourism system” were the first to include the role of marketing and the relationship tourists have with the market. They were the first to design this model as a cycle and to represent the different elements involved. These elements are

  • the market, represented by tourism suppliers and competitors;
  • marketing, the promotion and selling of services at the destination through distribution channels;
  • the destination, where tourists go;
  • travel, representing flows and modes of transportation used.

After Mill & Morrison (1985), another interesting model was created by Murphy (1985), who envisaged a three-oval “pie”. The outer part represents “the destination’s (promotional) point of view”, the middle part “tourists’ point of view” and the inner part an “outdoor recreation experience model”.

From this model onwards, time starts to also be encompassed in the cycle and five main temporal moments are identified: pre-travel, travel, on-site experience, travel back and recollection of the experience. If we include travelling in the experience itself, the key temporal moments are three: before, during and after the travel experience.

Why is the Visitor Cycle Important: Visitor Cycle Models Explained

Fast forward to the new millennium, with the inclusion of the Internet and the multiple touchpoints, increased by the emergence of online information and booking platforms, we now have a more defined visitor cycle that encompasses new phases.

Google depicted a clearer image of today’s travellers and how they plan their travel. It is acknowledged that today’s consumers spend more time online and do extensive online research before buying. The consumer journey is increasingly starting online nowadays, at the same time connections through mobile are rising and so is the number of moments and touchpoints through which companies can influence consumer buying behaviour.

Google identified 5 stages of the traveller’s journey:


  1. The Dreaming phase is the one in which the traveller is inspired by stories and images he/she has seen somewhere online/offline or that were told by peers who already lived the experiences or other people talking about it.
  2. The Planning phase is the moment in which the traveller is actively looking for information about products, services and attractions in one or more destinations in view of the travel experience.
  3. The Booking phase is the moment in which after active research and comparison of different prices and services, the traveller purchases tickets to travel, accommodation and other services that will compose the travel experience.
  4. The Experiencing phase is the actual travel to the destination and the sum of all the experiences made at the destination.
  5. The Sharing phase is made up of the moments in which the traveller shares the travel experiences created before, during and after the trip.

The succession of these phases can be drawn on a temporal line, as all these phases usually come one after the other in chronological order. Nowadays, nonetheless, the Sharing phase is becoming more and more cross-temporary as it can happen simultaneously with the others.

Among these examples of visitor journey models we described, the Google model is the one getting closest to the idea of the phases crossed by consumers while planning their travel experiences today.

But how do DMOs relate to these models? Do they make their own based on their consumers of reference?

Visit San Diego is one of the DMOs that created their own visitor cycle and use it as a basis for their strategies. The DMO of San Diego identified this cycle as the Consumer Decision Journey, encompassing 6 stages:

  1. Awareness Trigger. In this stage, media is used to spark the initial awareness of the destination in the minds of consumers and starting to build interest.
  2. Inspiration. Media and promotion are used to create an emotional stimulus that drives a desire to travel to the destination.
  3. Consideration. Consumers are reached through advertisement and campaigns aimed at engaging them at the early stages of their research and consideration of the potential travel to the destination.
  4. Active Evaluation. In this stage all the efforts of the DMO are put into providing the right information to drive conversion, to help consumers plan the experience and decide which services to book.
  5. Booking/Purchase. Consumers are actively comparing prices and are being targeted at the moment they are about to purchase.
  6. Experience/Sharing. This final stage is the actual travel experience and their subsequent sharing of the best moments collected with the consumers’ peer circle.

This model is efficient from a DMO perspective because it highlights the channels used in the different phases of the cycle and all the marketing efforts that have to be carried out to influence travellers along their journey to purchase.

Why is the Visit Cycle Important: Doug Lansky's Talk about the visitor cycle and the travel experience

Why is the Visitor Cycle Important: Understanding the visitors, markets and audiences

Get started with a sprint 🏃🏾‍♀️

A sprint is a great way to rally all your teammates around a big idea or produce great results by concentrating the team on a specific need over a short period.

  1. Print the attached worksheet in large format (A1 is best!)
  2. Find a great communal space, such as the canteen, to stick it up (double-sided tape!)
  3. Invite team members to scribble their thoughts and ideas on the wall
  4. Organise a stand-up session, where several members can express their thoughts
  5. Take a snap, keep it posted or even better 'scan the wall' and digitise into Mural

It may feel like a hassle to print large format and rally the team around, but you'll be pleased with the results when you get everyone thinking collectively.

What is this sprint about?

This is a board that provides the first basis for the identification of the different touchpoints, messages, channels and strategies used by your DMO to reach consumers along the visitor cycle.

Each of the phases of the cycle has to be carefully assessed in order to understand which are the key moments and places in which consumers can be reached in their top, middle and full-funnel stages, through the use of specific messages on specific channels.

On the right of the board is also a grid made to help the DMO assess the trend opportunities and demographics of potential markets and segments as well as to map the needs, the key influences and interests of audiences.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Consistency & building awareness

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Terri Scriven from Google explains Micro-Moments

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Visit Copenhagen and Norwegian on Interest Generation

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Best Practices on Top Funnel

When talking about the top funnel, the early stages of the visitor cycle, we are talking about the moments in which consumers' attention is caught and retained through inspirational content and tools that help them craft in their minds the idea of travelling to the destination.

The DMO website should provide every possible information and tools that can raise interest and help consumers choose the destination for their travel.

Very good tools used in this case are itineraries in and around the destination, with inspiring descriptions and content, as well as planning tools that can help consumers really start planning their travel.

These are few examples of the DMOs who really mastered the use of itineraries and planning tools to inspire travellers in the early stages of the visitor cycle.

Continue to discover more about:

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Itineraries

Itineraries are an important aspect of a destination website to support consumers in their planning process. Destination marketers understand which points of interests, activities, and experiences consumers should not miss in their destination. However, destinations are often not the sole provider of travel itineraries and face competition from other travel information providers. It is, therefore, really important to provide itineraries that are informative, interesting and visually appealing for the reader.

Itineraries deliver detailed information to help consumers plan for a holiday, providing a list of places to visit and giving a more concrete plan of travel routes or activities that consumers can take advantage of in the destination.

Although itineraries are a fairly traditional content component of a website, it is still important to keep itineraries up to date and relevant for the modern-day traveller. Itineraries are no long lists of things and places to visit but need to communicate stories and be relevant for the changing needs of travellers. Although itineraries can be followed and used to plan trips, consumers can also use them as the basis for inspiration when planning their custom holiday in the destination.

Destinations are including itineraries to provide ideas and inspire consumers to experience something different in the destination based on seasons in the destination, occasions, interests and the duration of a visitor’s stay. This is helpful information for consumers wanting to learn more about the destination, understanding what others are visiting in the destination. Itineraries and their content need to be presented visually appealing, including a range of content to deliver inspiration and in-depth information to enable consumers to plan further or book a trip based on an itinerary.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Visit Scotland's Approach to Itineraries

visit-scotland

Visit Scotland have 22 itineraries on their website, providing in-depth information on a variety of trips in Scotland. Each itinerary varies in length and consumers can dive deeper based on short teasers and information. It is interesting to see how Visit Scotland are also differentiating the itineraries by transport mode, giving visitors the choice between travelling by car, bus, rail or on foot.

Each day in specific itineraries is mapped out by an overview, followed by more detailed information about the specific days, experiences and stop covered as part of the itinerary. Maps, imagery and links to additional information enable consumers to dive deeper, find out more about the stops and places included in the itinerary. By browsing through the list of different itineraries, consumers can map a picture of their trip to Scotland, choosing from a range of itineraries and experiences.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Amsterdam Marketing on Packaging

amsterdam

Amsterdam Tourism is offering custom itineraries that are based on visitor needs, inspiring consumers about different options on a stopover, 24 or 48-hour stay. In addition to that, it is important for Amsterdam Marketing to encourage more consumers to travel outside of the city, dispersing visitors across the wider Amsterdam area. Different itineraries are, therefore, featured to provide useful information about trips outside of the city rather than visiting Amsterdam’s major points of interest only.

This is a great way of supporting consumers with relevant content and insider knowledge, enabling them to have a unique experience and unique itineraries when visiting the city. Each of the itineraries provides concise information but could be more visual and could include more video content to inspire consumers further.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Planning Tools

Supporting consumers in planning their trip to the destination is a critical aspect of ensuring that consumers are pushed through the visitor cycle. After delivering inspiration both through social media channels and the website, it is important to ensure that the destination website also delivers valuable information that can support consumers in planning a trip. Consumers are expecting to receive useful information that is detailed enough to help them plan and make their mind up about accommodation option, activities, experiences and specific locations in the destination.

Destinations have a clear focus on delivering highly visual content as part of the awareness and inspiration stage, however, for the planning stage, consumers are still expecting to be inspired so a visual approach is critical. There are different approaches that destinations have taken when providing planning tools. The most popular option among destinations is the provision of relevant content and information.

Many destinations are considering quite carefully what content and information consumers are looking for, moving away from basic destination information to including maps, itineraries, neighbourhood guides often through a grid overview. This gives consumers an opportunity to browse through relevant content and take advantage of specific planning tools and searches that can identify things that consumers might want to consider as part of planning a trip.

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Tourism New Zealand's Travel Guides

Tourism New Zealand understands the importance of supporting visitors in planning their trip to the destination. Being a long-distance destination for most visitors, it is important to deliver inspiring but concrete information about what visitors can expect in the destination. For basic information about the destination such as weather, seasons, currency, transport, tours, domestic flights and accommodation, Tourism New Zealand have created a dedicated page and travel guide that supports visitors with some basics they need to know before booking, travelling and when they are in the destination. Although the information on the page is not something everyone will need, it is presented visually and in a way that is easy for consumers to navigate.

In addition to the travel guide, Tourism New Zealand also focuses on communicating what New Zealand is all about through a dedicated ‘Our Stories‘ page that gives readers unique insights into New Zealand, its people, land, and stories. Each of the pages gives consumers unique perspectives on the destination itself and experiences on offer and is supported by big imagery, videos and supporting information. Although there are quite a few pages to choose from, each page is a quick read and delivers information in a short and engaging manner. New Zealand Tourism is successfully supporting the planning trip stage and have even incorporated a wishlist, enabling consumers to save pages and information they may want to get back to.


new-zealand

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Visit Iceland

On Visit Iceland’s plan page, the tourist board is focusing on four key areas to help visitors plan their Iceland adventure which are accommodation, travel to Iceland, getting around and tour operators. With Iceland being quite a unique destination to visit, there are many things for visitors to consider. Each of the pages provides useful information, links and gives insights that visitors need in preparation for booking a specific trip and experiences when visiting Iceland.

iceland


Apart from the plan page, Visit Iceland have also invested in their Iceland Academy campaign which is an online course that consumers enrol in and complete to be in the chance of winning a trip to Iceland. The idea behind the academy and its engaging video content is the promotion of sustainable travel to Iceland. One of the key issues for Iceland as a tourism destination is its increase in visitors and the responsibility of providing a more sustainable experience for visitors and for locals. Each of the classes is a fun way of learning more about Iceland and at the same time teaches important things such as learning how to pack warm, capture the Northern Lights or drive in Iceland. Each course is highly visual, short, fun and features real locals taking consumers through the topic and has a quiz at the end to complete the course. This is a great example of adding more experience and engaging content to the destination website, supporting visitors in planning their holiday to Iceland.

iceland-academy

Top of Funnel: Building Awareness: Mapping out the Visitor Buying Cycle

In this template, we are looking at what we here at DTTT have identified as the key stages of the Visitor Buying Cycle, Awareness, Interest, Planning, Conversion, Experience and Sharing.

This template allows your team to walk through each of these 6 stages, discussing how you engage with your visitors at each step, and coming up with new touchpoints to help keep your potential visitors engaged at each step of their journey.

Using this template can be helpful to re-think current approaches and activities towards being ultra-efficient and effective in targeting and engaging with consumers along all stages of the visitor cycle. Few questions you might find interesting to answer are: how can you leverage each stage of the visitor cycle and tap into opportunities to succeed? How should you develop your brand and brand stories? What is your role in delivering visitor experiences? What is the impact of your DMOs reputation? How can you be more socially engaging and creative in your overall approach?

Use the first side of the column beneath each stage to ideate new ideas, and then the second half of the column to vote together on the final five actionable ideas that your organisation can put in place.

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Omni-channel conversion funnel

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Sojern and New Zealand's path to purchase

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Dubai Tourism on Driving Bookings from New Markets

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Best Practices on Middle Funnel

The Middle Funnel is the collection of moments in which the conversion happens when consumers are deciding to travel and actually book their tickets for transportation, accommodation and any other product and service that will compose their travel experience.

It's in the Middle Funnel stages of the visitor cycle that tourism service providers, as well as DMOs, play a fundamental role in transforming an interest into an actual conversion, a purchasing behaviour.

The tools and strategies used to create conversion are many, and we would like to focus here on the importance of having booking tools integrated on the DMO website to play two roles:

  1. Booking tools are used to show the great offer in place at the destination
  2. Booking tools are great to stimulate conversion because they provide an immediate link from inspirational content to the purchase.

DMOs play different roles according to law and their statute. Some DMOs can sell services, while others can only provide information and promote the destination.

We collected a couple of examples to show how DMOs are playing their role in the middle stages of the funnel when travellers buy their tickets and services to experience at the destination.

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Booking Tools

There is a big divide among destination marketers about the importance of booking tools as part of destination marketing and management activities. Traditionally, destinations would offer consumers the opportunity to book accommodation directly through the destination website, often by filling in an enquiry form, and the tourist board checking availability. Although some destinations have been successful in offering accommodation booking services, for many DMOs, sales decrease annually due to the emergence of big players such as Hotels.com and booking.com.

Destination websites still play a major role in providing valuable information for consumers and some destinations, especially cities are continuing to offer booking tools and services. In general, it is a question where destinations can add value to a visitor’s planning and booking process. Among destinations, there are interesting viewpoints emerging and different booking tool approaches. Here at the #DTTT, we have picked some of the most interesting booking tool approaches from selling experiences, rooms, activities, city cards or merchandise.


Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Geneva Tourism's new booking tool

As part of their website redesign, Geneva Tourism decided to include booking functionalities, providing not only a full destination guide to what the city has to offer but also supporting consumers in booking accommodation. As the city tourist board, Geneva Tourism is the authority on all things relating to the destination. By working closely with the local accommodation industry and overall service providers, Geneva Tourism can offer the biggest choice at the best price, without having to charge a booking fee. For the launch of Geneva’s new booking tool, Geneva Tourism gave away 1,000 hotel nights as part of a competition, encouraging consumers to redeem their free night and book an extended stay in the city. This is a great way of introducing consumers to the new booking tool and enticing them with a great deal.

Consumers can easily search for accommodation options and a range of activities through special offer packages. Working closely with the accommodation industry, Geneva Tourism can offer an unbeatable price, competing directly with mainstream booking providers. As consumers are interested in unique experiences, Geneva Tourism is offering weekend packages, dedicated to themes such as outdoors, wellness, gourmet, shopping or glam experiences. This has worked quite well for them so far.

geneva

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Ljubljana Tourism's experience selling

For the last two years, Ljubljana Tourism has worked extensively on the idea to become the go-to hub for Ljubljana experiences. What started out with selling a small selection of tours and trips through the website and payment when being in Ljubljana is now a fully dedicated part of the overall destination offering. The team at Ljubljana Tourism have recognised demand from visitors wanting to buy tours and activities and are now offering them as a link between local businesses and visitors. A list of all experiences, tours and activities can be accessed and is updated on a regular basis, adding more variation to the already existing 100+ activities.

Ljubljana Tourism is focusing their booking tool on enabling consumers to book tours of Ljubljana, boat cruises, culinary tours and trips, day trips around Slovenia, trips in central Slovenia, organised experiences, group tours and outdoor activities. For consumers, there is a wide range of things to choose from, providing plenty of variety of experiences and activities. Being the only provider of such a bookable collection, Ljubljana Tourism is increasing its bookings continuously. Having optimised the booking process and enabling credit card payments directly through the website, Ljubljana as a destination is offering a credible booking tool.

Middle Funnel: Driving Conversion: Getting started with Assumptions Mapping

Each project you are working on is technically an experiment unless you are replicating something you have done before. When developing a new campaign, concept or product, it is a valuable exercise for teams to look at their ideas and product in more detail, noting down all assumptions. In the template, we focus on three areas to identify whether a new product or concept is:

  • Desirable - looking at whether consumers will buy into it, focusing on the consumer and problem
  • Feasible - seeing whether the destination can achieve or do this and if how sustainable the product is
  • Viable - taking into consideration whether the product makes business sense

Each of these three areas is equally important. The idea of the template is to write down assumptions around each area and question on different coloured sticky notes. This way it is clear which area they refer to. We recommend to write down full sentences rather than just words to make it clear what the assumption actually is. Once all assumptions have been added, you can work on placing them on the grid on the right-hand side, mapping them based on how known, unknown, important or unimportant they are.

By mapping all assumptions, you will see which assumptions might need further evaluation or which areas need a lot more information in order to understand them fully. Assumptions in the top left can be considered as facts and need checking against your plan, whereas assumptions in the bottom left can be easy distractions for your team and are things that should not be followed up on at this time. It is important not to follow products that feel easy and safe, as these will not lead to the impact or progress you want your destination to achieve.

It can be really useful to revisit assumptions placed within the map regularly in order to identify new product ideas, move and follow up on these. In your next product or concept development meeting, make sure you take another look at the filled-in assumptions mapping to identify how things have changed or progressed, removing no longer relevant sticky notes and adding new ones.

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: The Visitor Experience

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Amsterdam Marketing on the visitor card

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Best Practices on Lower Funnel

The Lower Funnel or Full-Funnel refers to the last stages of the visitor cycle when consumers are living their travel experience at the destination. Visitors in this phase are physically travelling to the destination, staying at selected accommodations and living the destination itself consuming goods and services like eating at restaurants, visiting museums, shops and the likes.

In these last stages of the cycle, DMOs should focus all their attention on customer service, being present for the consumer and inform them about the possibilities in place at the destination. Visitor Centres are very important in this stage since travellers refer to them when they are looking for specific information about the destination. But also DMOs websites are fundamental in this stage to inform consumers even more than in the first stages, it is not only about inspiration here, it is about real action!

We would like to show you here a few examples of destinations and companies who master their activity in these stages of the cycle, providing smart and innovative ways to inform tourists about the tourism offer. This happens through the use of neighbourhood and experienced guides as well as with proximity marketing strategies needed to engage with visitors at the destination as well as creating conversion at the moment of the visit.

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Neighbourhoods and experience guides - Best Practices

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Proximity Marketing

Proximity marketing through Beacons or iBeacons can enable destinations to target people through their mobile devices as part of events, in attractions, airports and hotels as part of their visitor experience.

Beacons are small transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate with beacon enabled devices to transmit data when a consumer is approaching, in or leaving a specific location.

Beacon technology is powerful, as it can locate devices even when there is no mobile phone signal in a destination. Beacons are small devices that can easily be attached to surfaces such as walls, vehicles or even people. In the last years, beacon technology has become more and more affordable and especially in the retail space, many businesses are already working with beacons. In a retail context, beacons are used in retail outlets to provide consumers with product information, notifications about specific offers or deal or even to speed up checkout through contactless payments.

For Destinations, there are many use cases for beacon technology, especially to support visitors with their in-destination experience. For instance, beacons can help visitors to navigate to free wifi spots, get notifications about transport connections, guide them around events, attractions or even an entire city.

Consumers engage with beacons to enhance their in-destination experience by receiving additional information and guidance as part of their visit to a destination or attraction.

Airlines (KLM or easyJet) and airports (Amsterdam Schiphol or Brussels) are already using beacon technology in combination with their respective apps to notify consumers about airport relevant information, guide them around airports and send push notifications when a consumer is in close proximity to a beacon. Museums and attractions are often combining mobile guides with beacon technology to enable consumers to access an additional layer of content in the form of videos, images or information when they explore the attraction or museum. Beacon technology is also increasingly used for crowd management, notifying visitors about useful information, highlighting alternative options or things as part of events or as part of their visit an attraction.


Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: ‘This is Queensland’ beacon-enabled app

Tourism and Events Queensland decided to provide a more personalised experience for its visitors through location-based technology using 150 BlueCat's beacons. This is Queensland app allows users to bookmark attractions before their visit and receive alerts when being in close distance to beacons placed around Queensland. In fact, Tourism and Events Queensland have created a beacon network in collaboration with digital partners BlueCat's and Speedwell, the creators of the app ‘This is Queensland’ which was launched in 2015.

The app serves consumers as a travel companion, enabling consumers to use maps to find nearby events, restaurants, accommodation and things to see and do. Through location-based services, the app sends notifications to alert visitors about things to see and do nearby, inspiring them with suggestions and ideas. Live content from social media (videos and images) can be viewed and the app also includes a WiFi finder tool to help visitors to stay connected. Location services and beacon scanning must be enabled for the app to work at its full potential in the destination. As notifications can interfere with the overall user experience, users can limit the number of notifications per day.

queensland

From the user perspective, the Queensland app is easy to use and rich in content, as it provides descriptions about the different points of interest, maps, images and interactive tools to plan a personalised journey in the destination. The app also integrates information about the variety of services, from accommodation to car hire and free wifi spots.

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: The Netherlands, Amsterdam Beacon Mile

In March 2015, the city of Amsterdam launched its first beacon-guided city walk, the Beacon Mile, stretching along a 2-kilometre route from Amsterdam’s Central Station to Marineterrein. The objective was to provide tourists with relevant information and content while they explore the city.

The Beacon Mile is a public network of LoRa managed beacons and sensors which allow developers to accelerate emerging Internet of Things innovations. Partners of the project include the City of Amsterdam, Glimworm Beacons, KPN, JCDecaux, Yenlo, Intel, IMB, SODAQ, Amsterdam Economic Board, Emerce, Appsterdam and Amsterdam Smart City. Points of interest along the Beacon Mile are the NEMO science museum, the maritime museum and the new public library. The beacon technology is enabled through the Amsterdam Beacon Mile Explorer App.

beacon-mile

The Amsterdam Beacon Mile is an initiative that is part of the Smart Cities project and throughout 2015, the mile was extended and more beacons were distributed throughout the Amsterdam city centre. The city of Amsterdam is also organising regular Hackathons working with the development community and creative industries to work on solutions and create app solutions to be used in a smart city context.

The city of Amsterdam is also making investments into supporting its public transport infrastructure by deploying thousands of beacons in trams, metros, and buses in the city. Working with Google’s beacon platform, the city of Amsterdam is working on becoming a data-driven, real-time city. The beacon network in Amsterdam is associating data with beacons, making it available to developers. This allows the development community to develop powerful proximity-based experiences for visitors and locals in Amsterdam.

Lower Funnel: Experiencing & Sharing: Designing the Tourist Information Office of the future

Tourist information centres provide a range of information on the destination for visitors and are one of the few places where destination representatives actually meet their visitors. Over the years, destinations have moved away from providing paper guides, maps or leaflets towards looking at new and innovative ways of designing and reinventing the use of the tourist information centre and actual space. With destinations becoming more digitally focused on their marketing approach, it is important to assess the existing needs and setup of tourist information centres and plan for the future.

We have seen different approaches from destinations when reinventing their tourist information centre from closing the physical centre to introducing mobile destination greeters or helpers that can meet and support visitors in various places around the city. This has proven quite successful, being able to support many visitors, especially during the high season where it is useful to spread resources across a wider area in the city.

If your DMO is planning to revisit the setup and offer of the tourism information centre, whether introducing new technology, such as touch screens and 3D displays or allowing visitors to research, get inspired and browse through what the destination has to offer, it is important to rethink the strategy from scratch mapping out customers’ needs and expectations, thinking about the resources and people you have and which kind of technology you would use to make the experience valuable and useful.

This template will help you designing the TIC of the future and re-thinking the purpose, setup, needs and future plans of your TIC based on your visitors. Use it with your team to brainstorm about the possibilities.

Trends & Future Changes in the Cycle: From top to full-funnel

Staying up to date with the latest destination website trends is hard, especially as things change fast. To help, we have sourced examples that illustrate eight key website trends and how destinations are utilising them to deliver a great customer experience on their platform. So if you need to re-design or re-work your destination website or are simply interested to see what is out there, we have sourced some great examples to show where things are moving in the destination space.

Here at the #DTTT, we are really excited to see how destination websites are putting content and storytelling at the forefront of the user experience and product messaging. What started out with a DMO website being focused on showcasing its brand has now shifted towards communicating the offer in a more experience-driven manner, also taking into consideration the power of tapping into overarching themes and mega-trends such as personal fulfilment. Those destination websites that put the consumer at the forefront of everything they are doing succeed by delivering on user expectations, combining outstanding content with a unique brand, product and functionality.

While no destination website is perfect, it is interesting to reflect on eight key website trends to identify where there are opportunities for your destination to deliver better on the brand experience, inspire through innovative content or embrace new styles and techniques. Based on an extensive destination website benchmark, we have identified the following trends and game-changers in the destination website world:

  • Personalisation
  • Visitor Experience
  • Experiential Content
  • Maps and Regional Product
  • Trip Planning
  • Search
  • Chatbots & Automation
  • Data & Intelligence