Have Passion, Will Travel
Recently I attended a presentation at Georgia Public Television by Rick Steves, who, if you don’t know, has the most popular travel series on PBS.
I witnessed someone with a passion for travel instilling that passion in others. His fans seek out genuine experiences – things off the beaten path and a door to “secrets” most travelers don’t get to walk through.
During the presentation, it struck me that Rick Steves had done something well ahead of his time. By finding, promoting and delivering amazing European itineraries via his tour books and TV show, he built a huge affinity group of loyal followers.
What took Rick Steves 20 years to accomplish is so much easier and certainly faster now because of social media. If you’re a destination marketer, which is my specialty, you have access to a worldwide audience of guests waiting to discover your unique, genuine experience.
Creating branded experiences for guests isn’t new. I’ve worked with attractions and destinations my entire career, creating experiences like Revolutionary Fun in Williamsburg, Virginia, which took the town from being a two-day getaway and transformed it to a week-long family vacation. Pit Pass Cabarrus turned a bunch of NASCAR team shops and Lowe’s Motor Speedway into a NASCAR Heritage vacation destination. The V8 Vacation stitched together Detroit’s vast array of automotive heritage sites.
Whether you’re building passion for a destination brand or other consumer product, here are four points to remember:
- Discover your story: Many of your customers have already figured out what makes you special. Learn from them.
- Brand your experience: Come up with a two- or three-word summary of your experience to telegraph its essence.
- Make it easy: Revolutionary Fun cut the number of steps it took to enjoy a Williamsburg vacation by two-thirds. The more barriers to entry go away, the more guests will visit.
- Create your own channel: Find out where like-minded individuals gather online or, better yet, create a compelling gathering point that brings this audience to your digital front door.
Rick Steves’ success is a wonderful example of how you can create brand ambassadors. The best news is that you can now do it in far less than 20 years.
Photo Courtesy of Dene’ Miles