The Destination Marketing Strategy

A detailed marketing strategy for a destination normally evolves from the broad recommendations of the Tourism Plan. It can be included either in the plan itself or as a separate document. It should flow from the tourism planning process and reflect the vision, goals and objectives of the main plan.

The importance of integrated product development and marketing cannot be over-stated. Marketing without product development is risky; product development without an accompanying marketing strategy is often futile.

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If an area does not have the right product for a particular market segment, no amount of promotion will produce the desired long-term result. The marketing strategy needs to objectively examine what the consumer is seeking and how the destination can fulfil that need. It needs to articulate the destination’s identity and positioning, as well as highlight its unique selling proposition.

The Destination Marketing Plan should consider and reflect the marketing direction of higher or complementary entities. This may involve integration with the regional tourism plan, the product region development plan, Tourism Victoria’s strategic plans, as well as, perhaps, plans of adjoining regions and special interest groups, such as vignerons associations and gourmet food groups. It should always be remembered that visitors do not recognise boundaries. They will travel through other areas to get to and from your destination, so collaborating with other towns and regions will not only acknowledge consumer behaviour, but can also be very cost-effective.

Special interest sector plans are particularly important if their product offering is, or is intended to be, a major part of the tourism destination’s proposed image. Similarly, it may also be worth considering the marketing efforts of any major events held in the area. The more marketing synergy that can be achieved between the various plans of local organizations, the greater the destination’s impact is likely to be in the marketplace.

The key processes in determining a destination marketing plan are as follows:

Determining the competitive advantage.

A tourism audit needs to be undertaken to assess the product strengths. From this, careful analysis must then identify which strengths offer superior benefits when compared to competing destinations and how these match with consumer wants and needs. In determining competitive advantage, remember, an individual product may have limited capacity to attract visitors, but when combined with a range of similar products, a competitive advantage can be developed


A positioning statement reflects how a destination is promoted to identified target markets. Positioning involves the consistent marketing of the competitive advantages of the area and should have an impact on all aspects of the promotion strategy.

Target marketing

Rather than applying a generic message to all markets, target marketing is the development of a specific message tailored to the needs and aspirations of certain market segments. Target marketing involves targeting the markets that will be the most responsive to the product offerings of the destination. Target markets need to be large enough and accessible enough to be viable. The key to successfully defining target markets is research

Communicating the right message

To maximise resources, communication strategies should be strategically planned and monitored. To be effective, marketing messages need to clearly emphasise the product strengths of the area – generic marketing messages such as ‘we have it all’ are no longer satisfactory.

Developing methods for evaluating performance

Benchmarks need to be developed upon which performance can be regularly measured. These may include visitor numbers, visitor nights, expenditure, satisfaction levels, traffic counts, room occupancy, awareness of the region and enquiries at VICs. Performance measures should focus on yield rather than sheer numbers.

The marketing plan should include the following ten key sections:

  1. Introduction: introduces the plan, sets the plan in context, gives the time span, methodology and addresses the key issues,
  2. Vision: where does the destination want to be within a specified time period; what does it want to be recognised for ?,
  3. Product strengths: what are the destination’s key selling features ?,
  4. Goals: defines the primary goals of the marketing program,
  5. Target markets: this section should provide a brief description of each of the target markets and the reasons why these markets have been selected; how does the destination’s product strengths fulfil the needs and aspirations of each segment?,
  6. Objectives: each marketing objective needs to be clearly stated,
  7. Strategies: each strategy designed to achieve the individual objectives should be detailed and costed (the organisations responsible for the implementation should be noted),
  8. Implementation: should show the timing of each stage of the plan, preferably in the form of a chart,
  9. Monitoring: this section should describe the method/s used to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing efforts,
  10. Budget: summarises the costings for the overall marketing plan.


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