Marketing is moving in a responsible direction, where it’s not just about what travelers want to hear – it’s about influencing their demand and behavior towards stronger and more responsible contributions to local communities.

Signe Jungersted

Tijdens het MarketingOost symposium van afgelopen november is Signe Jungersted als keynote spreker goed ontvangen door het publiek. Naar aanleiding daarvan heeft Gertrude van Keulen (Marketingadviseur Pers & PR bij MarketingOost) een interview afgenomen.

Signe Jungersted is CEO en oprichter van Group NAO, een internationale organisatie die zich richt op transformaties over verschillende industrieën. Signe is een stevige leider in internationale bestemmingsontwikkeling, met een focus op een meer geïntegreerde benadering. Ze stond als ‘Director of Development’ van Wonderful Copenhagen in de voorhoede van Kopenhagen’s transformatie richting ‘people-based growth’ en ‘localhood’.

Volgens het WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) zorgt toerisme wereldwijd voor 1 op de 10 banen en genereert 10% van het BRP (Bruto Nationaal Product) – wat gelijk staat aan $8,8 biljoen. Veel van de verantwoordelijkheid voor het aantrekken van toeristen naar een regio ligt bij DMO’s (destinatiemarketingorganisaties).

Decennia lang concentreerden de taken van DMO’s zich rond adverteren, campagne-ontwikkeling en het promoten van onder andere attracties, accommodaties en restaurants van een bestemming. Mede door de opkomst van crowd-sourced informatie met behulp van social media hebben DMO’s nu een groter bereik. DMO’s hebben een breder zicht op mogelijkheden tot communicatie. In dit interview deelt Signe Jungersted haar kijk op de toekomst van DMO’s (FocusWire, 2019).

Do you think ‘destination marketing’ and ‘tourism organizations’ need to become management organizations or collaborative partners with their local communities and key stakeholders. Do you believe in the evolving – and expanding – role of DMOs?

“In today’s world, there are so many different parties that are attracting travelers to destinations. For example Booking.com, Google, Flight company’s, influencers, OTAs. And they are a lot bigger and more efficient in attracting visitors than the most DMOs so the main responsibility therefore lies not primarily on the board of DMOs. It’s an illusion to think that DMOs have control over the whole area. But the destinations responsibility is for the DMOs: how and who do we attract?”

“About the changing and expanding role: Yes, promotion has changed over the last years. I have very much been supporting a shift from primary focus on marketing to management. But I think in recent years that focus has been more nuanced. The promotional role has changed. And I think now there’s a very exciting shift in how you use marketing or promotion to both develop the destination responsibly, but also how you build expectations towards the travelers. In that sense marketing is moving in a responsible direction, where it’s not just about what travelers want to hear – it’s about influencing their demand and behavior towards stronger and more responsible contributions to local communities.”

“And then, in terms of the destination management, I have recently come to think that perhaps we should instead say Destination Leadership, because management is an organisational thing – where you have mandate to manage others, but in many ways the DMOs have little mandate to actually manage all aspects of a destination. That doesn’t change the fact that they have a big responsibility and influence, and that they can take the lead – hence leadership – towards better tourism management and integration in their destinations. In fact, I think, unless they manage to take that lead and demonstrate their leadership role in ensuring tourism as a tool for better communities, they will increasingly become irrelevant in many places.”

Most of the entrepreneurs in our field think that it is only our job to make brochures and promotions.

“I understand because most of the destinations feel the pressure of the stakeholders, because of the short term perspective. They want to fill the room. But who else than the DMOs would take the very long term perspective?”

Do you think it’s a MUST that DMOs today position themselves as a shared social value, with an integral role in increasing the reach of different target groups – both locally and globally? What strategy is possible to focus on local and international target groups at the same time? If you only think of the issues in the field of sustainability and over-tourism.

“Yes, I think it’s possible to serve both target groups in the strategy of a DMO, it’s the best you can do. From a business point-of-view: You expand your customer base.
The communication with the 2 groups of stakeholders and the product development is leading and different of course. Hotels for example can facilitate their activities also for locals, think about laundry service and gym relating to sustainable tourism.”

“About the Helsinki Marketing example: They do it very well now in that area. They launched some projects as an experiment and meanwhile – with a long term effort – they built up a very updated database. With creating own criteria from the data they rate products according to sustainability. And by being more sustainable they are more visible on the platforms. It’s both for locals and for international business. So it goes from both ways.”

“A great inspiration for experimental destination marketing in the world of changing challenges is Laura Aalto, CEO of Helsinki Marketing: “We can work with experimental solutions and test if it works or doesn’t work and we can scale it to other cities.” (Red. Speaking about opportunities offered to Helsinki’s tourism industry as a member of the WTCF, Aalto said the biggest opportunity is to gain insight into the Chinese tourism market.)”

How do you feel about the ratio of strategy to output by doing?

“You can also say: The strategy is to start with the experiment. The strategy sets the direction of your experiment. I would say: ‘ongoing strategy’ and ‘ongoing implementation’.”

Many believe we are leaving the “Transaction Era” of travel and are in the early stages of the ‘Experience Era’. How do you think – with all your years of experience – we will view ‘travel experience’ in the future? For example regarding the cultural institutions of Copenhagen.

“I think we are in the early stages of the Next Era of Transformation. I think we have been in the Experience Era for some time – in reference to the cultural institutions in Copenhagen – I think for some time, the focus has been on the experience part and era. In Wonderful Copenhagen, they have a project called Tourism+Culture Lab, which has been focused on how and where tourism and culture can mutually benefit from one another, specifically looking at making tourism more relevant and more approachable for cultural institutions, as a tool to sustain their cultural core and DNA.”

“I think the next step for a project like this will be to move further into the transformation era – where cultural institutions and experiences can be a way of introducing the values of the visited community. So not only with tourism as a tool for sustaining cultural institutions, but also cultural institutions as tools for making tourism and the touristic experience more transformational – adding meaning and value beyond the experience, showing the “intangible” or more difficult to access values of society to visitors and perhaps inspiring them to reflect and bring some of these reflections back home with them after their visit – and perhaps also contributing to the destination in return with their ideas and reflections. It’s perhaps more abstract, but in the end also much more interesting for all parties – our shared ecosystem.”

Thank you very much for your stimulating contribution to the symposium and new insights during this interview.

Yasmin van der Haven

Author Yasmin van der Haven

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