The Role of a Community Brand in Building Your Reputation as a Tourism Destination

It’s no secret or surprise that tourism is back. After a 74% decline in 2020, the United Nations World Tourism Organization reported that tourism increased by 182% in just the first three months of this year, compared to 2021.

More people are traveling the country and world again, with an added emphasis on quality of life. That’s likely to lead to even more travel and exploration in the future, and communities of all sizes that offer engaging visitor experiences need to be ready to compete.

Whether your city or county has a history of attracting tourists and you’re striving to recover post-COVID, or you’re aiming to build awareness of what your place has to offer for the first time, best practices for tourism and place marketing are essential.

At the top of the list is a defined and authentic community brand – as well as strategies to market it and bring it to life. Read on to learn how to develop and leverage a community brand for establishing, or re–establishing, your place as an ideal tourist destination.

Developing a Community Brand Geared for Tourism

A key lesson on community branding is that every place is the center of the universe of something. Your community brand should demonstrate what makes your place distinct, including what is ownable and unlike any other place in the world.

And one more important lesson: a community typically cannot manufacture what’s unique about their place. It’s there, but you have to find it, articulate it and bring it to the surface. Before pursuing a reputation for tourism, ensure you have uncovered those authentic characteristic(s).

Finally, if your community’s ultimate goal is positioning itself as a tourist destination, it needs a tourism-centric brand. A community brand that tells a broad story or offers a non-experiential call-to-action will hold less appeal.

A Strategic Marketing Plan for Your Brand

A brand is only as strong as its activation. That’s especially the case for communities seeking to attract visitors.

In a post-COVID world, many communities are creating tourism-centric marketing campaigns and leveraging their brands to bring them to life. Often, these campaigns are named differently than their brands’ taglines, yet include similar characteristics. While featuring the same look-and-feel as the brand, the campaign name should encourage action (in this case, visiting the community).

As with any marketing campaign, specific geographies and personas who are likely to find your place appealing should be targeted. Find the right messages, media mix and activations that fit your budget and will entice your audiences to inquire and visit.

Incentivize Travelers to Visit

Depending on your community’s awareness level and reputation among travelers, you might consider incentivizing tourists to visit your city or county. For example, some communities have offered to pay for travelers’ gas to visit, or a free night in a local hotel. Ensure the incentive you select makes sense for your budget and will be attractive to your target audiences.

The Power of Community Partnerships

Whether it’s organizing incentives or simply maximizing the reach and impact of your campaign, community collaboration and partnerships are a critical piece of tourism marketing. Most notably, working with hoteliers in your area enables you to track hotel stays as well as collect the contact information of visitors. Doing so enables you to foster an ongoing communication strategy that can lead to helping your place remain top of mind for repeat visits. Partnerships and activations with other hospitality stakeholders, such as restaurants, museums and other tourist attractions, are also valuable.

Travelers are Packing Their Bags – Don’t Wait

People are traveling the country and world more than ever. Places that promote a distinct brand and communicate their authentic story and offerings will earn their attention, visits and dollars.

Ready to get started? Let’s put your place on the map.