The power of brands in the destination economy

Destinations need to be marketed as brands with a differentiated image and a story to tell, says Emma Johnson

What is a destination? At its simplest, a destination is a place where people want to be. A destination could be a shop, a street, a city, a country or even a continent. But, in every case, destinations are special places that attract talent and create opportunities to generate prosperity. Destination status is not a rite of passage, it is a prized asset that requires nurturing and constant attention.

Our experience at The Communication Group, through extensive work with destinations around the world, is that destinations are an idea much discussed but which lack real insight. Through our report, The Power of Destinations and Cities: the Destination Identity, we have sought to address this by exploring the factors that make a demand destination and defining the marketing tools needed to create a destination brand. To understand the power of destinations more closely, we interviewed senior decision-makers in multinational corporations around the world, commissioned a YouGov ThinkTank panel of business leaders to provide their insights, and spoke to leading thinkers in destination marketing. We found that global forces are creating a standardisation of some locations, driving the establishment of similar hotels, shops and businesses. In addition, locations are falling victim to a pack mentality – looking the same, sounding the same and saying the same things.