WTM 2012: Destinations must embrace digital age to succeed, says panel

Destinations need to embrace online video and start seeing mobile as a core way to engage and sell to succeed in the era of digital commerce.

Speaking at a World Travel Market seminar on digital destination marketing held by the event’s technology partner Travolution, a panel of digital experts told the audience that the most innovative travel websites are seeing huge increases in traffic and working to increase the amount customers spend while they’re away.

Designate’s digital development director Dean Harvey told the audience that so far this year video-sharing site Youtube has had a trillion views and 20% of these are on mobile.

He said: “Users are looking for easier, more downloadable, more interesting information. Lots of text just doesn’t cut it anymore.”

Harvey cited the example of Vail Resorts, which has used a Youtube channel and video content generated by skiers and snowboarders to increase its presence on social networks and generate an 800% year-on-year increase in website views.

“Content should be useful, engaging and authentic; then you will succeed in social (media),” said Harvey.

Incite People founder Oliver Turnbull has just finished working on the newly launched Antigua and Barbuda Tourist Board website, that includes innovations such as customised home page content according to the user’s search criteria and video that can be used for joint or third party promotions.

The site has also been produced in eight different languages to ensure a global audience. Bookings for island activities and restaurants can be made through the site and people wanting to book holidays are referred to partners.

He agreed that mobile will be huge, saying next year the amount spent through mobile in the UK will be £12-£13 billion. The Antigua website also includes an iPad app.

“It gives us the chance to talk to people on the beach – what other medium does that?” said Turnbull.

Both Turnbull and Harvey agreed that using digital to push out corporate messages doesn’t work.

“There are a lot of brands still in an ivory tower saying ‘we are going to communicate our message to them’ and they need to produce content that’s more engaging,” said Harvey.

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