Destination branding: what it is and in which way hoteliers can benefit from it

Hotels operate in a very competitive market and use several strategies in order to build their online presence and to strengthen their brand identity. Among these strategies, there are the social media management as well as the creation of an online blog. Anyway, by taking advantage of the communication and engagement potential of new digital technologies, any hotel should take the chance to benefit from the so-called Destination Branding.

What is it?

Destination Branding is one of the activities relating to Destination Marketing, which is aimed at promoting a tourist destination through the building of a linked brand. The purpose is to give value to  the destination, so that tourists or travelers are able to recognize and share the brand identity.

The impact of Destination Branding on tourists

The creation of a brand destination surely requires specific communication strategies that all the stakeholders such as associations, local companies and hotels should adopt.

Thanks to those tools, the final consumer’s perception of the destination will be depending on the images and/or the messages spread through both institutional and non-institutional channels. It is going to be the result of targeted communication campaigns as well as of researches which are carried out by tourists themselves on the Web and social media.

Thanks to the Web, the tourist is now an active person, who can decide among a wide variety of offers the best one that suits him/her. For this reason, all the stakeholders involved in the tourist and hospitality field should try to identify this target by creating a specific brand that offers an appealing image of the destination. Speaking of which, Destination Branding includes both an effective communication of the tourist offer of the territory and the identification of the correct positioning of this offer in one or more market segments that are looking for the symbolic and experience issues of that destination.

The importance of Destination Branding for tourism development

As you might have noticed, Destination Branding represents a key factor for the tourist development of a place. Its main aim is to create value on that destination, both from the point of view of the demand (tourists) and of the stakeholders (associations and businesses). The basis is obviously a new model of tourist consumption that involves the traveler as the main actor, as the one who is able to choose the best experience that suits him.

Through the creation of a tourist brand,  offers will be seen not just as a simple mix of goods and services, but they will be focused on the needs relating to their experience content.

In other words, tourist products are conceived on the basis of their ability to meet the real needs of the guests and to let them live a unique experience.

How Destination Branding can help hotels

Among all the stakeholders that operate in the hospitality field, hotels are the ones that can best benefit from Destination Branding, provided that they opt for the right strategy. Let’s think about your destination: which are the experiences and the feelings that they call to mind in people? This sort of feelings vary according to the several destinations, since they can be big cities such as Milan, Rome or Venice compared to the astonishing beaches of Sardinia or the hills in Tuscany. It does not matter whether the feelings one has about those places are right or wrong, the mere fact that they exist obliges you to take them into account when looking at the market offer.

It is not a case that all the Destination Branding strategies are based on the idea of taking advantage of the emotional recall from the place tourists are expected to visit. This type of strategy has turned out to be successful, even more when all the involved stakeholders adopt it.

Obviously, there can be obstacles, since brand messages are not always well-received and remembered. For instance, a communication stumbling block between the destination (the city/province) and the rest of the territory (region or country) could represent a major problem. For this reason, it is important that all the stakeholders have a real common share of interests. It will be therefore essential to identify the more effective emotional and strong calls and then to differentiate them from the competing destinations. Secondly, all the stakeholders must be involved so as to create strategies that support such intention.

Given the importance of hotels, the latter are required to adopt Destination Branding strategies. But why should hotels support the brand? Just because there are rather advantages than disadvantages! At this point you will probably wondering how to achieve this goal: here are some tips in order to maximize the Destination Branding advantages.

1 Carry out researches

The very first step is recollecting information about the surrounding environment, in order to become familiar with monuments, museums, the most popular areas, artistic and cultural activities, the , less renowned places, local products and handicraft, the biographies of relevant people who had once lived there and, last but not least, the folkloristic and gastronomic traditions.

2 Spread information through the media

Social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are the perfect tool to share pictures and information. The main purpose is get to your guests so as to let them know the characteristic of your destination as much as possible. This will definitely help you when your guests will be about to plan their next holiday, due to the fact that they are going to remember the posts you had published about the advantages of your destination. This could be enough to let them opt to stay at your property.

3 Create a specific page on your website

You are now fully aware of the crucial role websites play to attract and convert your potential guests. So, you might add a specific section on your website containing all the information about your location. Also, try to create a blog where to write about information relating to the weather, museums and main attractions. At the same time, you could give insider tips about the location or write about some ‘weird’ happenings that have taken place in your place or that concern your hotel. It will thus help your hotel ‘be found’ by those guests who are looking for that experience and then convert them into loyal customers.

4 Stress the importance of the brand identity of the destination in your offers

In order to best benefit from Destination Branding, it is important that symbolic and experience information of the brand identity of your destination are included and visible in your offers, through additional services and extra activities that best meet your guests’ needs. This strategies turn out to be useful both in terms of disintermediation, provided that the best offers are reserved for direct bookings, and in terms of a full satisfaction of your guests when they have decided to stay in your hotel. In this way, you will enhance your reputation and the loyalty to your brand.