, 1er journal des professionnels du tourisme francophone

Marketing Regions: “Don’t promote a region based on the client’s profile”

Tourism, a prisoner of clichés

For the third consecutive year took place the Digital Tourism Forum in Deauville. On March 23 and 24, 2015, 900 people have met up to debate on the future of digital tourism in the tourism sector. At the international conference that took place on March 24th, the themes were nothing new: tourism needs a new image and the right marketing that focuses on the human dimension. An opportunity to shake up preconceived ideas.

Rédigé par Ophélie Surcouf translated by Joséphine Foucher le Dimanche 29 Mars 2015

Rebuild an image is the new challenge that the tourism sector must take on. In Assassin's Creed Unity of Ubisoft, the Notre Dame Cathedral of 1789 is brought back to life in a virtual reality. A new image, towards a new type of tourism? (c) Ubisoft
Rebuild an image is the new challenge that the tourism sector must take on. In Assassin's Creed Unity of Ubisoft, the Notre Dame Cathedral of 1789 is brought back to life in a virtual reality. A new image, towards a new type of tourism? (c) Ubisoft
“Everybody says that the client has to be at the center of everything,” introduced Joël Gayet, Director of the Chair “Attractiveness and New Regional Marketing.”

“Not only do I disagree, but on top of it, I think it’s a catastrophe.

We must not leave from the client’s profile to promote a region.

In a store, we can move the walls, change the set-up, depending on what the buyer prefers. In a region, it is impossible to invent castles or history.

This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take care of the tourists, but promoting based on their wants and desires, that’s driving straight into a wall.”

A brand image

A provocative observation that goes hand in hand with a reflection on branding.

Because today, according to Joël Gayet, to survive, a region has to be a brand: having a symbol, a profitable ecosystem, attract private investments…

“What matters is the link. What Only Lyon did is incredible, for example,” cites Joël Gayet.

“It is possible to become an ambassador for Only Lyon and download a logo to insert in the email’s signature. You click on it, and you are redirected toward the Only Lyon portal.

We calculated that if they receive around 30 emails daily, that’s at least 100 million contacts per year… all completely free!”

Create a link to create value: the power is redistributed in a new model where the crucial part isn’t only to put in place a cooperation between all the players (citizens, clients, service providers, employees), but also to operate a synergy between public and private institutions.

In order to better promote a region, it is also clever to work together: the Saint-Etienne tourism office is affiliated to Only Lyon for exemple, all while keeping its own operations.

“But there are also regions that are simply not attractive,” regrets Paul Arseneault, tourism management professor at UQAM, University of Montreal.

“We have to accept that not everything is touristic, not all regions are equal.

Careful however: innovation is innovation…only the first time.

Copying a model is a conventional human behavior: but a specific technology adapted to a specific territory may not be the best investment for another region.”

Rebuild an image

So, what is the solution? For Pierre Croizet, co-founder of GMT Editions, one must first of all recreate an image: “We’re always bored of seeing the same things. Tourism only builds an image and rests on clichés.

Because having an image means being attractive. Why do we travel somewhere? Because we’re curious, because we have a preconceived image of the place we will see.

Such is the advantage of digitalizing. Because when we should spend millions of euros to build a monument with unique architecture, or completely reequip some sites with high-end technology…. digitalizing can create an ex-nihilo image.

Just take a look at the Paris of 1789 modeled in the game Assassin’s Creed Unity by Ubisoft. It is a much easier impact to control than the accidental boost of popularity of the Louvre due to the phenomenon of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

The Avignon 3D project is a project worth studying on the ways in which we can still reinvent an image. The video gives a virtual visit of the Avignon bridge in 1350.

It is the outcome of 8 years of scientific research: an image that we had never seen before, yet that is quite real.

Even if it is today just a relic, thanks to this augmented reality, this bridge has been brought back to life.”

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