Editor’s Note: Skift is publishing a series of interviews with leaders of destination marketing organizations where we discuss the future of their organizations and the evolving strategies for attracting visitors. Read all the interviews as they come out here.
This continues our series of CEO interviews that began with online travel CEOs in Future of Travel Booking (now an e-book), and continued with hotel CEOs in the Future of the Guest Experience series (which is also an e-book).
Once known as the most popular destination in Latin America, the allure of Argentina has in recent years fallen behind Brazil and its fast growth, and Colombia and its Silicon Valley-esque innovation.
However, the flamenco, Malbec, and mountains that once drew Evita fans is still present beneath the country’s more publicized and talked about political problems. Although scarce on specifics, the executive secretary of National Institute of Tourism Promotion in Argentina recently wrote to Skift about how his organization continues to promote travel to the South American country and its particular regions.
An edited copy of the interview can be read below:
Skift: Travelers today are relying more on their mobile phones, researching more heavily before a trip, reading UGC, following aspiration content produced by people and brands. How are DMOs evolving to adapt to today’s travelers habits?
Roberto Palais: We try to adapt our work to match the different countries and tourists that we work with. Our new website Argentina.travel is our most important tool, which shows all the information that tourists need to know about Argentina. We’ve also created different microsites and blogs that promote specific information about different products in our country. All of the sites can be accessed through mobile devices.
Our work in social media is one of the keys to getting in touch with all the people interested in our country. Our promotional campaign on YouTube shows the best of us to the world. We are also updating our mobile travel guide, which is a great app to discover Argentina and each one of its different possibilities. We also have our magazine, called “Che, a magazine about Argentina, in an app format that communicates the best of us in a new and different way with the world.
Skift: Is your consumer profile changing or evolving? What’s driving these changes?
Palais: The needs and expectations of tourists have grown with time and nowadays it is necessary to be ready and prepared to answer all of the travelers’ questions and needs.
In Argentina we believe that our online presence combined with the work of different representatives of the tourist industry around the world is key to keep growing and getting in touch with people.
Skift: What kind of industry relationship do you have with your Latin American neighbors? Are Chile, Peru and Brazil competitors or do you work together to raise awareness of the region?
Palais: All countries work really hard to promote their destinations and in many cases the tourists that visit South America travel around two or three countries. This is why it is very important for us to work together with our neighbors, especially in some destinations of the world, and promote South America as a land of possibilities and experiences.
Skift: Patagonia is a particularly interesting region. Do you promote it separately from the rest of the country? How do you work with Chile to create a comprehensive experience in the region, which spans two countries?
Palais: Patagonia is a very important touristic region for us. A great number of tourist attractions are located there and many people come to visit this region. In the last years the connectivity by plane from Buenos Aires with different cities of the Patagonia has allowed to promote new destinations and to welcome a lot of visitors per year.
Our communication strategy is the same for all the regions in the country. We try to convey to the tourists that are thinking of visiting Argentina all the experiences that they can live in our country, where to find them and which are the authorized agencies who sell these services such as transports, hotels, tourist agencies, etc.
We developed our Promotional Campaign called “Argentina, by you” that shows in more than 100 videos and 500 photos different experiences of actual tourists who have visited our country and recommend it to the world.
Skift: What trends are you seeing in terms of destination marketing including its tone, how it’s done, and how it’s communicated to travelers?
Palais: Our marketing strategy is based not only on destinations and attractions but also on all the experiences that tourists can enjoy in Argentina. Nowadays it is very important to satisfy all the travelers’ expectations and try to tailor our destinations to their different needs. That is why our campaign shows actual tourists living real experiences in all the provinces of Argentina. We strive to show that Argentina not only as a great picture in a poster, but also as a great meal, great tango lesson, great soccer game, great wine, and great experience that adapts to everyone’s interests.
We see this strategy of communication in different countries of the region also.
Skift: Destinations consistently struggle with funding. Do you see this changing in the next five to ten years? Why is it so hard for DMOs to get funding even as travel grows and its economic significance is better realized? What would be a better business/financial structure for the organizations?
Palais: In Argentina the tourism is an essential industry for the government and Inprotur gets all the support from the Ministry of Tourism and from the private sector. We believe that it is very important for all the countries to believe in tourism as a way to develop and to create new possibilities for the people. We are obtaining exceptional results due to the joint cooperation between the public and private sector.