Tourism branding and destination marketing


Autor: Thomas Ramseier

«More courage for clear differentiation!»

The last couple of years have been pretty hard for Swiss tourism. But after years of stagnation the industry is seeing light on the horizon. The difficult years after the financial crisis are over and guests from near and far want to enjoy the beauty of Switzerland while on vacation. One might think, there is finally time to heave a sigh of relief, if it weren’t for the constantly increasing competitive pressure. An almost unlimited number of holiday regions are competing for the attention of potential guests.

Word has got around that a clear positioning and an attractive brand are crucial for tourism destinations. Hardly any tourism expert would argue against it. However, if you look at the exchangeable brand promises of many destinations, you have to ask the critical question whether these tourism experts have really understood the concept of positioning. Or how do you explain the countless ‘natural paradises’, ‘family regions’, ‘cultural cities’ and ‘ski El Dorados’ without any claim to differentiation?

Positioning means differentiating. And differentiation means finding that unique central theme that no one has yet occupied. And finally, as a consequence, to tell the story behind it through all channels.

Positioning must be understood as the superordinate strategy of the destination. The service providers are responsible for staging the brand promise consistently and coherently. After all, the guest does not judge a single product, but the holiday destination as a whole – with all the offers on site such as sports facilities, shops, restaurants, bars, etc.

Experience shows that developing a strong brand promise is not an easy process. Especially not for a holiday destination: diverging wishes and particular interests of tourism professionals, politicians, business developers and service providers such as funiculars, hoteliers, retailers etc. all too often lead to spiritless, exchangeable results with little relevance for the guest. Whoever wants to do everything right for everyone will lose the race for uniqueness.

Nevertheless, a positioning process for tourism destinations must never take place top-down. Only those who stand behind the positioning will implement it in their daily work. For this reason, all parties must be able to participate in a grassroots democratic way. However, the discussion must be accompanied by an experienced brand professional who never loses sight of the goal of clear differentiation in the competitive environment.

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