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With the democratisation of the Internet, brands and destinations need to attract people's attention and reach their hearts. They must be able to tell a great story and develop emotional connections, in order to stand out in a sea of content and advertising. In this overloaded content world, moving beyond standard listicles and product summaries, to content that truly unfolds a tourism experience beyond the destination narrative, is vital.  Put simply, tourism needs great story telling. 

Missed opportunities 

Much of today’s tourism content still suffers from ‘sameness syndrome’- a malaise spoken about at many a tourism conference in the past twelve months.  The conference party trick is to put up a series of similar images on the screen and ask the travel and tourism audience to suggest where they were taken. Of course the audience is invariably wrong in their suggestions and the message quickly gets across about how homogenous are many of our descriptions, how interchangeable are many of the images and how repetitive are the experiences.  We need to do better. Once you realise the brain is hardwired to prefer stories, you start to see the opportunity just waiting around the corner.

Discovering your ‘uniqueness’

Ours is an industry that is rich in potential stories; behind the scene anecdotes, larger-than-life personalities, intensely fascinating cultural reveals, heritage stories that speak to other peoples, times and view-points, lifestyles, learnings and adventures. We can’t all write like Hendry Lawson but we [industry, visitors and community], can tell stories from the heart and share the magic of the experiences.

“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic.”     Seth Godin


The Discovery

For many, the tricky bit is knowing or discovering their stories. There is still a temptation in tourism marketing to embrace promotional campaigns in place of revealing authentic, inspirational experiences; leaning towards an image or tag line shared by the many. Knowing your ‘ Why’ is fundamental; bringing it to life in a way that shows your uniqueness, is paramount. 

In some instances, destinations or travel operators have poorly designed experiences because they are starting with inadequate product. Yet others have great products, but have difficulty understanding the human emotion that glues the product together and provides the story. The bottom line is that it is next to impossible to have an appealing destination brand without having appealing destination experiences.

You Are Not The Only One Telling Your Stories

You may be challenged in finding your stories, but your stories are probably already being told by your visitors– to each other or through User Generated Content and indirectly, that may mean your brand is starting to be defined by them. Their experiences in your destination or with your product or service are the backbone of the stories they will tell and share.

Stories Differ Along The Customer Journey 

The stories you share at the various stages of their travel journey and the platform you share them on may differ e.g. at the dreaming stage you might reveal a story on YouTube or Instagram stories - at the planning stage you might share some of the cameo experience stories written by your past travellers. 

Remember that today, peer-to-peer influence is very strong and the stories your visitors tell will strongly impact how you are perceived.


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