Lies, damn lies and … surveys?

If you work in marketing, you’ll know the value of research-based activity.

For VisitBritain, it is at the heart of our new strategy for marketing Britain and its nations and regions.

And while surveys can be very helpful, many are open to interpretation – just look at the number of differing results of surveys on the impact that sustainability or the downturn will have on tourism.

I agree with recent comments that in today’s competitive environment, destinations want to secure their ‘share of shout’ in a crowded marketplace.

Shouting “look at me, don’t look at them” helps create an environment in which those selling ‘the product’ can succeed.

In acting as this ‘enabler’, DMOs adopt many different strategies – some successful, some less-so. Is there an argument to be made that trial and error plays a part in the career of every entrepreneur and innovator?

I think so. In its work, VisitBritain is very aware that what works in one country will not work in all, and our network of offices overseas plays an invaluable role in getting an accurate picture of consumer demands in different cultures.

And anyone who’s been following news about our development over the last few years certainly can’t accuse us of not stepping out of our comfort zone.

Looking at the source of these posts particularly, the value of different sources of information is something we looked into last year.

We asked 1,000 online respondents in each of twenty separate countries to rank the reliability of twenty-one sources of information ranging from the cutting-edge to the traditional and more informal like conversations with friends and relatives.

While ‘conversations with friends and relatives’, scored well ahead of all the others, least reliable were considered to be radio and billboard/poster ads.

‘New’ sources such as video sharing websites, travel blogs and social networking sites engendered quite disparate scores, with roughly one-quarter giving this source a negative rating and one-quarter a positive rating.

The reliability of information sources can differ depending on your gender and age but especially where you live.

Three-quarters of countries placed ‘national tourism website’ among the top six for reliability, while eighteen out of the twenty placed travel guidebooks in their top three.

Three-quarters placed walk-in tourist information centres among their top five. At the opposite end, sorry online fans, but seventeen countries placed advertisements on a website in their bottom five for reliability.

If nothing else, marketing today teaches us that the mass audience is no more. Bespoke, niche, tribes, community is just some of the jargon of the moment.

For every one of us that Tweets, Stumbles, Diggs and searches, there will be anti-‘always-on’ individuals who deplore the mobiles, blackberries and laptops that rule our lives. Ensuring a place for all kinds of marketing. For now at least.

Elliott Frisby is press and PR manager for VisitBritain

More information:

* Is there an inherent problem with destination marketing? (Travolution Blog)

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