After months of painful persuasion, you did the impossible. You finally convinced your board that your destination belongs on social media. It took every ounce of marketing clout your department could muster, but you talked those fuddy-duddies into a Twitter account, Facebook page, and your very own blog.
Now you’re reaching travelers where they’re comfortable. Young people love your snappy updates and comment on every morsel you offer up. You’re sending Tweets faster than Charlie Sheen on a late night bender. It’s been a long, muddy, uphill battle. But you, and your destination’s future, are the big winners.
That’s the good news. Now here’s some bad news. The battle for new technologies in destination marketing is just heating up. And those victories you’ve won? They’re just round one in an on-going war over the future shape of destination marketing. Here’s a glimpse at three new technologies your destination probably isn’t worrying about, but will be soon:
SEO: Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the practice of improving a website’s natural (or organic) search engine ranking. Say you’re a great destination for trout fishing. You’ll want to show up on the first page of Google results (and preferably in the first spot), whenever someone searches for “trout fishing.” SEO agencies optimize website copy, title tags, build links and assess the competition in order to move your website up.
Checking-in: Location-based software is the future for social media. To check-in, people use their GPS-enabled smart phone to connect with a local server, “checking-in” with a local place, which sends an update out to social networks. Check out this contest Gap ran a few months ago where they gave away a pair of jeans to people who checked-in with Facebook at a Gap store. Think about how your destination might use these check-ins for giveaways, promotions or even surveys.
QR codes: Again, a mobile feature, these codes can be scanned by newer generation smart phones. Once the code is scanned, the user’s browser can be sent to a website of your choosing. QR codes are already being used for scavenger hunts, coupons and even nutritional information.
Here’s the thing about new media: it’s still a giant question mark for destination marketers. Because even if you’re on top of the next big thing (like Facebook or Twitter), the thing after that (SEO, checking-in, QR codes or something completely off the radar) is coming. And it’s coming fast. Do you have someone on the lookout for it?