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B2B and the tourism industry: The case against corporate propaganda

B2B tourism industry against propaganda

To conclude the series on how B2B companies can leverage digital strategy to capture a share of the revenue coming from the global growth in the tourism industry, I will focus on a key issue underlining and supporting all communications and marketing strategy: tourism and propaganda are not good friends anymore. Without a proper understanding of what this entails, a B2B company’s digital strategy and efforts to make it big in the tourism industry might very well be doomed to fail from the outset.

Let’s begin with some numbers. The UNWTO (UN World Tourism Organization) estimates the annual revenue growth of the global tourism industry to be 1.5 % and rising. For Northern Europe the growth of the tourism sector is estimated to be 1.8% a year, amounting to a spend of US$50.5 billion in 2011. B2B companies looking to capture a share of the tourism spend should be looking to influence the tourism sector in a positive way in order to capitalize on a stronger national tourism industry. Communication plays an important part and while the strategy, technology and media channels have to be up to date, so does the message conveyed.

Denmark provides a great example of the potential and what can be won by optimizing communication and marketing to better fit the current market’s needs. Under the heading ‘Massive Potential in Danish Tourism’ (in Danish) consultants from the Danish Chamber of Commerce recently estimated the potential gain in the Danish tourism sector to be a whopping 11.5 million visitors a year by 2030. However at the moment Danish tourism is actually shedding visitors and the sector has decreased 0.7 percent a year on average since the 2000’s. B2B companies interested in the tourism sector should take note as they and supporting organizations have access to the local and international businesses and organizations that in turn have access to the tourists. Through these connections, B2B businesses have a massive potential to shape both the trend in the tourism sector and how outsiders perceive the country in the years to come.

Corporate propaganda at national level

For Denmark a lot can be won by implementing best practices in communication – identifying the best stories to tell and telling them in a way that resonates with the market. Much of the Danish tourism material currently in circulation – whether circulated by B2C or B2B companies and organizations – is characterized by a misunderstood focus and naïve messages – the perceived results are unconvincing and easy to brush off as propaganda.

A strong focus on Denmark and especially the Danes permeate communications. A telling example is the widespread reproduction of dubious statistics listing the Danes as the most content people in the world. As a foreigner living in Denmark (and loving Denmark) I can’t help but think: “nice to hear (it truly is), but is this really the kind of marketing that will contribute to making the Danish economy (and the Danish tourism sector) more competitive? Will this message even make ‘destination Denmark’ more attractive?”

I don’t think so. This and similar communication amounts to what on this blog has been called corporate propaganda. Clichéd and superlative-laden statements (‘ground breaking’, ‘market leading’, ‘world class’, or ‘happiest in the world’) delivered from the company (or country’s) perspective. This does not further credibility and communications of this type will do little to turn around the current situation and help Denmark become a top tier business destination in the future.

The stories to boost the tourism sector

Tourists and business travelers are not coming to Denmark to marvel at the happiest people in the world. International B2B companies looking for opportunities to build a business in the tourism industry certainly aren’t either. They are motivated by facts and incentives that can shape the potential of the tourism sector and other hard sells. Business opportunities, service levels, prices – these are the themes that B2B companies looking to help strengthen Danish tourism and get their share of the tourism spend need to talk about.

Why is Denmark such a great country to do business in? Which services and support are offered to business travelers, and compared to pricing and price levels what makes these services competitive? (In Denmark things like a highly-educated and English-speaking population, well-developed translation services and a good business climate spring to mind.)

Through these and other stories that focus on Denmark’s unique selling points, Danish tourism organizations and companies have the potential to tell an altogether different narrative about what Denmark offers people and businesses – from the customers’ or clients’ perspective.

These are the stories that the B2B tourism sector should focus on telling – in a clear and honest manner. The potential, as has already been established, is massive. Let’s work smartly to transform the potential into reality.

Guest post by Angel L. Vidal. Angel has been involved with numerous businesses, government agencies and NGO’s as an entrepreneur and consultant and has invaluable experience from more than twenty years of working within the United Nations system. Did you like this article? Let us know in the comments and be sure to connect with Angel at Twitter or LinkedIn to continue the discussion.

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angel

Angel L. Vidal

I’m Angel L. Vidal, entrepreneur and cultural, internationalization and sustainability advisor at Copenhagen-based communication agency Eye for Image. The ideas I share are based in the experience I gained during my career in the private sector, NGOs and my more than twenty years work in the United Nations system.

3 comments
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