The marketing section of the Seychelles Tourism Board that has experienced unparalleled growth over the past two years, evolving from the humble beginnings from just one Facebook page and one website to become one of the trail blazing destination marketing campaigns must be bench marked by others, said top marketer, Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Industry/Commerce and Former Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Dr. Rohantha Athukorala when he addressed the Asian Diplomats at the Foreign Ministry BCIS training program at the BMICH.
The participants were foreign ministry officials from the government of india, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Cambodia, Bhutan, Nepal and Papua New Guinea who were in Sri Lanka on a two-week program.Dr. Athukorala highlighted that the current trend where most countries want to have a sexy ‘Nation Brand Building campaign’ but research reveals that the best route to achieve this end is by first launching a ‘Tourism Destination Marketing initiative’. One of the best campaigns that the world has seen lately is the campaign unleashed by Seychelles Tourism Authority, said the speaker. Apart from the traditional marketing program launched, the aggressive e-campaign uses a mix of twitter, instagram, wayn, vimeo, pinterest, google+, youtube, linkedin, and flickr in line to the sketched brand values that Seychelles as a country wants to wrap itself with. The campaign is ranked top of mind among subscribers and has created a social media revolution that has taken the world by storm in recent years which we must pick the learning, he explained.
Apparently the latest research by UNWTO reveals that more people on the planet are researching their hobbies, interests and holidays via hand-held devices and home computers which is why Seychelles Tourism set an objective to have a strong profile and high visibility tourism destination on this platform to be competitive. “This tells us that either we play the game hard on the fronts travellers engage or we will fall along the way given the entrenched competition in the leisure industry,” cautioned Dr. Athukorala who is an award winning marketer with over 20 years of brand management experience in British and American multinationals.
“Destination marketing apart from raising awareness over social media platforms must combine with below the line ‘push’ based marketing like what Seychelles has done based on a clear brand value proposition,” he advocated.
“Seychelles creating a raft of new websites which include not only a totally-revamped travel destination website, but also mini-websites for Seychelles Ocean Festival, Seychelles Secrets, Miss Seychelles, My Seychelles Experience, and both Chinese and Portuguese destination information websites which tells us the depth of thinking that a country needs to architecture when developing a brand footprint of a country,” he said.
The results achieved is also encouraging given that the increased traffic to Seychelles in comparison to just a few years ago such as Facebook following increasing from 4,200 (2013) to more than 500,000 in over 129 countries, across its two main marketing Facebook pages is activation at its best. Meanwhile, website visitors have grown to over 1.1 million unique visitors in 2015, up from 600,000 in 2013 which links well to the actual visitor arrivals the country has experienced between 2014-2015. All marketing investments must be ROI based, advocated Athukorala. “If not it is not sustainable and the private sector cannot build on the national campaign.”
“The e-marketing section of Seychelles Tourism has also produced an iPad/tablet app called the E-Travel Guide which visitors can download for information on events, islands, and activities, as well as an interactive map of the islands which is the engagement that a New Age traveller looks for,” voiced Athukorala. “An essential ingredient of visibility is filling the knowledge gap.”
Seychelles have done the homework based on the campaign unleashed as a tourism destination given that the product range of the destination is covered with a full range of services and products based on clear traveller insights than just intuition, said Athukorala.
“This provides the would-be holiday makers with the facts they need to be able to make a decision on their holidays and where to spend them, which is the new thinking required.” Specifically, the 10 action adventure and niche videos which have boosted views on the Seychelles Tourism Board’s Youtube channel to half a million views in comparison to a mere 20,000 in 2013 is a strong piece of work,” he said.
On a question queried by the Cambodian participant on the role of a typical foreign ministry when a scientific marketing campaign is launched, Athukorala said, “The Foreign Ministry of a country must support the respective countries’ tourism promotions bureau so that one line ministry compliments the work done by the other; which is how from destination marketing a country expands to Nation Branding.
Highlighting one promotional mix element which has really got traction from the Tourism Marketing campaign of Seychelles, Dr. Athukorala shared the ‘My Seychelles Experience Video Competition’ which has been running from July 2015 to January 2016, in which visitors upload their holiday videos to have a chance of winning an all-inclusive, VIP holiday to Seychelles which also increases Seychelles’ visibility across the globe and builds connectivity with target customers which are the type of profiling initiatives that cuts through the clutter and builds strong brand equity, he said.
Today’s destination marketing campaigns include the use of drones that are Go-Pro camera driven to take thousands of high-resolution images of a country like what Seychelles did which are been used to train trade partners across the world and to be showcased at Travel Exhibitions that the country takes part in which is how much the game has changed as against traditional marketing techniques.
“Hence we see the above the line, below the line and online digital marketing campaigns working in unison which is what destination marketing initiatives must achieve similar to FMCG brands,” voiced Dr. Athukorala.
See more at: FT