Destination branding and the way tourism marketing organizations operate need to be adapted to the changes brought in by social media, according to the outcome of the meeting of Ministers of Tourism and private sector leaders at the 9th UNWTO & World Travel Market (WTM) Ministers’ Summit on Tuesday.
Over 60 tourism ministers and leaders from Facebook, Expedia, Melia Hotels, Eurostar and the World Travel and Tourism Council meeting in London discussed how market changes and consumer empowerment has fully shifted destination branding. Participants recalled that the current social media landscape requires destinations to invest further in understanding and engaging travellers in social media.
The Summit, moderated by CNN International’s Richard Quest, addressed issues such the need for transparent, honest and swift action in social media in times of crisis, how to generate engagement with travelers and locals and transform them into destination ambassadors and how to maximize big data to develop targeted marketing.
Opening the Summit, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, underscored that “Today consumers have access to more information, more choices, and more opportunities to voice their opinions and can be the whistle-blowers for unethical practices or the biggest ambassadors for destinations and service providers. In this context, branding is an ever more complex challenge requiring destinations and companies to adjust their structures, their policies and their strategies“.
Speaking at the Summit were Nikolina Angelkova, Minister of Tourism of Bulgaria; Li Shihong, Vice Chairman of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA); Mauricio Ventura Aragón, Minister of Tourism of Costa Rica; Darko Lorencin, Minister of Tourism of Croatia; Nayef H. Al-Fayez, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Jordan; Dato Sri Mohamed Nazri Bin Abdul Aziz, Minister of Tourism and Culture of Malaysia; Edward Zammit Lewis, Minister of Tourism of Malta; Derek Hanekon, Minister of Tourism of South Africa; Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand and Walter Mzembi, Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Zimbabwe as well as Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive Officer of Eurostar International: Noah Tratt, Global Senior Vice President of Expedia, Inc.; Lee McCabe, Global Head of Travel for Facebook; Anthony Cortizas, Vice President of Global Brand Strategy of Meliá Hotels International and David Scowsill, President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).
GTP is an official media partner of WTM London 2015.