Tourism is an industry deeply influenced by perception. The success of a destination isn’t solely about its attractions but also about how visitors feel about it. These sentiments play a vital role in shaping a place’s reputation, impacting everything from branding to communication strategies.
In this digital age, where opinions spread quickly, hundreds of destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and managers have recognized the importance of understanding visitor sentiment. This understanding is crucial for effective destination management. To assist in this endeavor, the Tourism Sentiment Index (TSI) has become an invaluable tool for destination marketers.
So, what exactly is TSI, and how do destination marketers make the most of it? Here are six ways TSI is helping shape the future of destination management.
1. Celebrating Success and Showcasing Investments
DMOs have embraced TSI to celebrate their destination’s accomplishments, highlighting what sets it apart. These acknowledgments not only boost local morale but also energize tourism stakeholders. Positive online sentiments provide concrete evidence of the value of investments in destination marketing, shedding light on the aspects that drive the destination’s success. For instance, Visit Sunshine Coast in Australia saw significant Advertising Equivalent Value (AEV) following its impressive TSI score announcement. The story was picked up by local businesses, the state tourism board, and mainstream media, all of which celebrated the region’s accomplishments.
2. Measuring Destination Brand
The destination brand is built on the stories people tell about their experiences. Being able to measure visitor sentiment about the destination is a game-changer. Word of mouth’s influence on travel decisions is substantial, leading DMOs to use TSI as a key performance indicator for their destination brand. For instance, South African Tourism now relies on TSI as their primary brand performance metric.
3. Tracking Destination Development
Many destinations have defined growth strategies for their visitor economies. By tracking and measuring visitor sentiment and positive word of mouth, they can be accountable for making progress towards their development goals. For example, Tourism Greater Geelong & The Bellarine aims to achieve a TSI score of over 55. Meanwhile, Queenstown, New Zealand, aspires to become the “most loved mountain bike destination in the southern hemisphere.” Both destinations use TSI to gauge progress towards their specific goals.
4. Assessing Campaign Impact
Some destinations use TSI to evaluate campaign performance. By analyzing visitor sentiment before and after a campaign, DMOs can provide deeper insights into traditionally important metrics like clicks, impressions, bed nights, and visitor spending. Campaigns aiming to impact a specific aspect of the destination experience benefit from TSI’s ability to measure sentiment across various asset categories. For instance, Discover Surrey in Canada analyzed the performance of its 2021 restaurant campaign, “The Spice Trail.” The campaign significantly increased visitor sentiment and positive word of mouth, showcasing its success to local stakeholders, council, and the provincial assembly.
5. Comparative Analysis and Identifying Development Opportunities
TSI helps destinations assess their performance relative to other places. This comparative analysis enables them to identify areas for development and enhance the visitor experience. By comparing with key cities worldwide, DMOs can promote their destination’s strengths and pinpoint opportunities for improvement. For example, Michelle Murphy, Visitor Economy Manager at the City of Melbourne, Australia, highlights how TSI helps her compare Melbourne with other key cities across the world, identifying strengths and opportunities.
6. Enhancing Funding Proposals
TSI is a powerful tool for securing funding. By showing how events impact visitor sentiment over time, destinations can build strong business cases for funding. For instance, numerous North American destinations have used sentiment data to secure recovery relief funding from government authorities due to unforeseen natural disasters. TSI data provides a unified and clear picture for all tourism partners, highlighting areas in need of support. This enables DMOs to allocate funding appropriately, improving the overall destination experience.
In conclusion, TSI is transforming destination management by providing invaluable insights into visitor sentiment and sentiments about a destination. By leveraging this data, DMOs can celebrate successes, measure their brand, track development, assess campaign impact, compare their performance, and secure funding more effectively. As the world of tourism continues to evolve, TSI is a critical tool in ensuring the success and positive growth of destinations.