Warsaw, Chicago, London, and Beijing – these cities probably don’t need much introduction. 

The list of the most popular towns and cities worldwide is rather concise. Cities like Rome and Sydney do not really have to do a lot of advertising anymore to attract millions of people every year, compared to other, smaller ones. 

If you want your town or city to join that exclusive list and finally become a popular destination, this article is exactly for you. 

Destination branding – what is it? 

Destination branding is a practice of identifying your town or city’s most relevant strengths and weaknesses in search of its competitive advantage. Then, that competitive advantage is consistently and continuously presented to prospective visitors through integrated marketing communications.  

The aim of this type of branding is to encourage people to visit specific places, which brings many benefits for those places, including: 

  • increased popularity,
  • economic growth,
  • improved international reputation,
  • revitalized and invigorated communities. 

The growth of tourism over the past years is just incomprehensible, which creates many opportunities for cities and towns to attract potential tourists.

As estimated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), there were only 25 million tourists internationally in 1950. After 68 years, the number of international arrivals each year has increased to 1.4 billion. That’s an increase of 56 times! 

Source

However, when everyone was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020, the tourism industry experienced a total shutdown and restart all over the world.

Below you can see the world travel and tourism industry revenue, with a forecast all the way up to 2026, made by Statista

Source

With the borders getting closed and flights being canceled for months, now towns and cities are starting with a blank, completely fresh sheet. 

What better time to start properly promoting your city or town than now?

How to attract tourists to your town or city? 

There are cities that don’t need a lot of marketing since they’ve already built their worldwide recognition. Examples are Bangkok, Paris, London, Dubai, and Singapore. 

Top city destinations worldwide in 2018, by the number of overnight visitors (in millions). Source

If you’re looking to become one of these cities, there are a few steps you’re going to need to complete. Once done, the popularity of your town or city will definitely increase. 

What are the steps to making your city a more popular destination? Let’s find out.

1. Promote its strengths and fight weaknesses

A city or town’s brand identity consists of what is communicated to outsiders by that particular town or city. It’s important for you to communicate what it’s best at, strengths, and minimize what it may not be good at – the weaknesses. 

This will help your place create a competitive edge over other towns and cities.

For example, Edinburgh’s brand has been strengthened by playing up its Scottish heritage and accentuating its famous landmarks like the Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Glasgow’s brand was improved by emphasizing that it is Scotland’s largest city with the second-largest GDP per capita.

How to promote the strengths and fight the weaknesses?

There are many ways for cities to improve their brands by promoting themselves more effectively on a national and international scale, while also making sure that they have a strong online presence.

In order to promote your city or town’s strengths and fight its weaknesses, you need to know what those are in the first place. Then, you can work on improving them and use them as a selling point for your city.

For this purpose, you may need to undertake market research, together with SWOT and PESTLE analyses. Also, there’s a very useful tool you could use – a media monitoring solution such as Mediatoolkit

Such a tool could allow you for easy social listening by giving you reports on every mention about your city or town – both negative and positive.

From sentiment analysis and online monitoring, through powerful search filters, all the way up to rich data analysis dashboards and more – Mediatoolkit will provide you with details you never knew you needed. 

Having access to this type of information will let you identify your strong and weak sides effectively to ensure the best results of your place branding

2. Be active on social media

One of the biggest mistakes any business can make today is not using social media. This also includes people who wish to advertise a town or city. And we’re not talking just about Facebook and Instagram. Today’s possibilities reach far beyond just these two platforms. 

If you want your town or city to attract people, you must make it visible. And what other way to do it than promote it on various networking platforms? 

Think about Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and even ClubHouse. If you’re not using these platforms yet, you’re missing out on plenty of potential benefits, with the biggest one being: more tourists in your town or city.

Speaking of TikTok, did you know that Israel has an official TikTok profile with an astonishing number of 1.6 million likes? 

Israel is also active on Twitter and Instagram. Thanks to this, this country can be promoted on various platforms in a consistent and unique way. 

Although also not a city nor a town, Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs successively promotes this country on Twitter. Just look at these creative tweets:

Nothing is stopping you from creating a similar profile for your town or city, so what are you waiting for?

3. Stay consistent

Moving on, let’s talk about consistency. Most social media users are active on platforms like Facebook and Instagram pretty much every day, with the daily time spent on social media constantly increasing since 2012. 

Daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide from 2012 to 2020 (in minutes, among 16-64-year-olds). Source

We’ve reached that point in life where social media platforms have pretty much become inseparable elements of our everyday lives. And this couldn’t be any better news for you if you’re trying to promote your city or town. 

With people checking their feeds frequently, you have a chance to build a strong recognition of your place and embed it in people’s minds.

The key is to stay consistent and be systematic at what you do. Without it, the whole task will become much more difficult. 

To stay on top of your game, you may want to invest in a social media management tool with a content calendar feature. Such tools are great at keeping your content organized, relevant and all in one place. 

In addition, you get a nice overview of what type of content you publish so that you can make it as varied as possible. 

Finally, a content calendar will also allow you to schedule posts in advance. This means that during busy periods of time, you won’t have to worry about logging in and hitting that ‘publish’ button on top of all your other, more significant tasks at work. 

Thus, remember about being systematic and do consider setting up a content calendar if you want your town or city to become successful within the social media sphere. 

4. Use social mapping apps 

Does your city or town have something that people would absolutely love? The answer is most likely yes, so why are you not telling the world about it yet?

To expose your favorite place to potential tourists, even more, use social mapping apps

Social mapping apps aren’t just for tourists. These solutions are a good way to promote your city or town.

There are many apps that provide detailed information about locations, accommodation, public transit routes, restaurants, and tourist attractions. These apps are considered a great marketing medium for localities to promote their products and services as well.

The data generated by these applications can be used by city administrations to better understand their communities’ needs and expectations. They can also be used by businesses to evaluate where they should be spending marketing money in order to promote themselves the best way possible.

Don’t miss out on the potential this sort of platform offers and get your city on one of them now. 

5. Utilize various types of content for your travel PR

Being consistent is one thing, but you should also know that not every type of content will perform well. 

There are various ways to communicate your message: text, videos, graphics, gifs. The more varied your content is, the chances are that it will appeal to more people. 

Moreover, statistics don’t lie. 

Although your focus should be divided among various forms of content, video marketing definitely deserves most of your attention: 

  • Compared to text and image content combined, social video generates 1200% more shares. 
  • The average viewer retains 95% of a video message, compared to 10% from reading text.
  • About 86% of people would like to see more video content from brands.
  • Video marketing will account for 82% of all internet traffic by 2022.

As you can see, video marketing is very powerful. However, text and photos are very welcome as well. Not everyone may always want to watch the whole video, and sometimes pictures are easier to share.

Just look at this example from the official Twitter profile of South Africa: 

Thus, don’t limit yourself and never put all your eggs into one basket

6. Pay attention to feedback

It’s also important that you pay attention and respond to any form of feedback about your town or city. While not everything might be directly under your control, keeping your ear to the ground and being aware of what people think about it can turn out to be very helpful. 

Once again, a solution like Mediatoolkit will be very useful here.

With a reliable social listening and monitoring tool you can keep an eye on what people are saying about your city online, and whether or not what they’re saying is positive. 

With access to this sort of detail, you can effortlessly design a marketing campaign that will improve the reputation of your town or city and dispel any doubts people may have about visiting it.

The effectiveness of Mediatoolkit has already been tested by the city of Dubrovnik located in Croatia. 

Source

Another example is the Zadar Tourist Board which tracks mentions of this city and its cultural heritage in various languages. 

Source

You can be like Dubrovnik and Zadar marketing specialists and start taking advantage of the available solutions out there that will improve your tourism marketing efforts significantly. 

Over to you

You’ve reached the end of this article. 

We hope that you found some interesting and helpful tips. There are a number of ways to better promote your town or city and today we shared some of them with you. 

Whether it’s through social media, learning about your strengths and weaknesses, or paying attention to what people talk about your town or city – you should now better understand the concept of destination branding. 

Finally, if you agree that listening to feedback and analyzing your environment is important in travel PR, do make sure you take a look at Mediatoolkit – cities like Dubrovnik and Zadar are already taking advantage of its perks! 

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