For people unfamiliar with Durango, destination marketing creates an image about a community using tools like the website, advertising, vacation planner, editorial coverage or even Trip Advisor.
So without ever visiting Durango, people form an initial positive image in their mind about the community and the many interesting attractions that enrich the area. This is called “lift.” Sometimes image lift creates enough interest for a person to plan a first visit. We’ve all gone somewhere we’ve never been before because of destination marketing.
A different person also unfamiliar with Durango and with no image of the community in their mind may make their first trip for business purposes, to attend a special event or to visit friends or relatives. Sometimes Durango is simply a place on the map, located between where a traveler started and where they are headed. In any case, a first time actual visit to Durango also creates an initial lasting impression. (Fortunately, most people who visit for the first time really like our little community and that’s’ what generates the all-important personal endorsement called “word-of-mouth.”)
When the initial image of a community created by destination marketing is combined with an actual visit, the overall positive impression of a community exponentially increases. This is why most of us live here. No one moves to an area, goes to college, invests in a business, buys a second home or retires there without visiting a community first. It all starts with a first-time visitor.
This is why state level tourism offices are frequently placed under Offices of Economic Development because tourism marketing is community marketing. Economists will say that tourism promotion is actually a workforce attraction strategy citing research that says communities that typically attract visitors with quality of life attributes also attract the most college educated new residents. Entrepreneurs also prefer to invest in communities that boast quality traveler attractions.
One factor in determining how people view a destination is whether they deem it “a good place to live”. In this one single thought, they are looking at community with many perspectives such as: the area history and character, location and climate, quality of life and amenities, career possibilities, housing and cost of living, and schools and health care. They also assess whether or not the area feels like it is “rising” and has a good future.
Yes, it takes a first-time visitor to become a repeat visitor, a new resident here, to become part of the local workforce, to purchase a home here, to move a business here, to start a business here, to become a college student here, to buy a second home here, or to retire here.
Tourism marketing attracts much more than tourists and contributes more the economy than meets the eye. We work hard to fill and re-fill the funnel by creating positive images, and boasting about all that makes this a great place to visit.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Bob Kunkel is executive director of the Durango Area Tourism Office.