The world’s digital travel guide
Every destination only exists once in the world. Therefore, why should the digital images exist umpteen times? Why should the various travel guides of the big internet platforms show different information if they inform about the very same destination? And why does Google know destinations better today than the destinations’ own websites and apps?
The digitization proceeds in big steps – entire sectors are turned upside down. Familiar and analogue things are replaced by new and digital processes. One just thinks of the retail sector, payment methods and how we book our vacations. Only in regards to destination tourism, time appears to stand still. Here, there’s still advertising. Admittedly, these advertisements are nowadays increasingly digital (e.g. in the form of websites, apps, social media and online marketing campaigns), but it still is advertisement.
The big internet companies are already much further along. They all have gathered immense amounts of data and the trend continuous to increase: the volume of data from Google & Co. is growing rapidly. With this knowledge (in form of data) you know all your customers digitally! The combination of data (that users want to consume) and the personal data of users (that they disclose when they consume online), make it possible to create wonderful personalizations and to build great scalable business models. The growth of the large platforms can no longer be stopped. They are getting bigger and more powerful and their services for users are getting better and better.
What role could a DMO (destination marketing / management organization) play?
There are basically two possibilities:
1. To put focus on the big platforms in regards to online marketing:
You can reach half of humanity with online advertising on Google and Facebook. However, your own website will no longer play a role. But soon enough companies will only get visibility on social platforms and search engines in exchange for money. Whatever content is displayed to (potential) guests, is up to the platforms that collect their content online and have it supplemented by the users.
2. Switch to the driver’s seat and take care of data provision for all platforms and all other information channels:
The basis is a structured, semantically constructed database with all data of the destination. With ALL data. Every building, every opening time, every meter of footpath, every menu, every timetable, every price, every water temperature, every article in the shop, everything. Content of this database prevails if it is better and more up-to-date than all other online content.
How should the data be structured?
A destination is a part of the world. Every global platform builds a travel guide, because the world’s content needs to be sorted to the right place. Only with such a structure, global platforms are capable of showing users the content in the right context (I am currently at a place and I am hungry) or providing navigation:
World à Germany à Bavaria à Allgaeu à Oberallgaeu à Immenstadt
In every destination there are many kinds of data that all fit to various needs of the guest. If you are hungry, you need a restaurant. Maybe you want to eat something regional. Also, the food should be organic and the restaurant should be suitable for children. Of course, it should be open right now. All these data need to be structured in categories and characteristics and stored in the database. Thus, algorithms can find the right results such as navigation, search, filters or (language-) assistants in the database.
What – where
Most search requests of guests are based on: I want “what” in “where”. With this structure, content of a destination can be sorted into the huge database and easily found again.
Depending on how you use the term “destination” and from what distance you look at it, it can refer to anything from continent to country, state, region, municipality or places. The inside view and organizational form of the destinations tend to look at only one level or to think to on a small scale. From the perspective of a (potential) guest from the other side of the world, the name of a municipality is probably less interesting as he is more concerned with the entire country. Also from the perspective of a global-oriented platform, a data organization is worldwide at first and then begins to work its way down in the “where”-structure.
Thus, it is of existential importance that the database of destinations are not islands. It is not possible, technically nor manually, to put together a reasonable global data set. Even if you can use the geo-reference to sort the location of the objects to the right spot in the world, there are still many problems.
- The transition from one region to the next. Neither tourists nor search engines know the municipality or regional borders. If the data are not consistent, duplicates, contradictions and problems cannot be avoided.
- Only if the data organization in a country is hierarchically regulated and uniform, content is created at the lowest level by local people and “passed upwards” for display without creating a copy (Single Source of Truth).
- Various languages, names, units of measure, standards, scales of difficulty and other customs in different countries and regions do not only make travelling more cumbersome, but currently also put the platforms in front of a major challenge.
The travel guide of Outdooractive
The new Outdooractive product Destination is used as a global travel guide that is visible on outdooractive.com.
This means that all Outdooractive customers are already working in the global database system, even when maintaining their own data. The travel guides of the destinations contain all the information of all those involved in the platform, i.e. destinations at all hierarchical levels, other institutions (associations, nature conversations, cultural institutions, etc.), publishers and communities (residents and guests). So we’re all working together to build the world’s digital travel guide. Thus, we bundle all available forces to compile an interesting data set for all global platforms.
No fear of losing control
- Outdooractive’s Platform technology automatically takes care of positioning good content on top. Thus, insufficiently maintained content by the community or other sources is not immediately visible to users of the destination website.
- The community management of Outdooractive takes care of spams, legal violations and user requests of the community under the brand of the destination.
- The platform is permanently and centrally developed in terms of technology standards, internationalization, professional harmonization and data distribution.
- Do not be afraid to let go of the control of the display of your content website. From the global perspective of the platform and users, you currently don’t have any control anyway. Let us both switch to the driver seat and regain control again.