Skift Take

As travel returns, destination marketing organizations are looking for new and innovative ways to connect with potential visitors. In this video, Dan Holowack, co-founder and CEO of CrowdRiff, shares why leveraging visual stories across the web is both a powerful marketing strategy for destinations and a popular channel for travelers seeking unique experiences.

This sponsored content was created in collaboration with a Skift partner.

As many destination marketing organizations (DMOs) emerge from the pandemic with tighter budgets and ongoing staffing issues, they’re looking for marketing solutions that balance innovation and cost-effectiveness. As they try to do more with less, a proven approach continues to be highly effective — engaging with travelers on mobile-first social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, where they’re already finding inspiration for their next trip.

These platforms are ideal for highlighting travel because the content is short-form, visually appealing, easy to consume, and highly experiential. More importantly, user-generated social posts often show real people enjoying authentic experiences, which help travelers imagine what it would be like to visit the destination.

SkiftX spoke with Dan Holowack, co-founder and CEO of CrowdRiff, a visual destination marketing solution, to understand how destination marketers can harness the power of visual storytelling to drive awareness and engagement. Here are the top three benefits:

1. Empowers Authentic Storytelling

Building a presence on social media platforms is crucial for DMOs to have an impact on travelers, but these efforts shouldn’t diminish or sideline attempts to create relevant, search-optimized web content. Localhood, a destination management solution that leverages Google Web Story technology, takes visual storytelling for travelers to the next level.

“Localhood Stories can be embedded directly into your DMO website, which means that your website can benefit from the easy-to-consume, authentic content that travelers already love on the apps and platforms they use today,” Holowack said. “These stories inspire with beautiful visuals, but travelers can also swipe up to get more information, like the opening hours of a location, the Google Maps location, and even a link to the relevant website.”

CrowdRiff launched Localhood in 2019, not only to help DMOs create compelling, evergreen content for their websites that is discoverable on Google and can be repurposed across their social channels, but also to engage with partners and local creators. “DMOs can easily collaborate with their partners, locals, and influencers to create and distribute content that resonates with travelers as more genuine,” Holowack said.

2. Increases Discoverability

Despite the benefits of distributing content on social platforms like Instagram Stories, there is a downside: The content disappears after 24 hours and is locked within the social networks’ ecosystems. Localhood Stories are evergreen, meaning they can live on the web indefinitely. They’re also discoverable on Google, appearing at the top of Google Search and on Google Discover, an increasingly visible mobile experience on the Google app that tailors content from around the web to a user’s interests.

“This is a huge opportunity for destinations to boost their SEO performance,” Holowack said. “By embedding Localhood Stories on their websites and tapping into Google Search and Google Discover, they can reach millions of people every day.”

Indeed, Google wants to keep users glued to its properties as much as possible, so it has adjusted its search algorithm to prioritize direct query answers and visual content like Localhood Stories.

3. Reinforces Partner and Content Ecosystems

In addition to boosting a destination’s content visibility, Holowack believes that “Localhood Stories can strengthen relationships with partners and stakeholders, who can weave together compelling stories under a unified theme, and deliver invaluable visitor data that can empower destinations to make informed decisions about marketing spend and resource allocation.”

Tapping into timely, word-of-mouth visual content can be a key driver of awareness for DMOs as they market their destinations — and a more genuine expression of a destination’s appeal than a tourism brochure or blog post. Utilized to their full potential, Localhood stories can coalesce into a cost-effective marketing network that drives meaningful results.

Visit Localhood to learn more about how your destination can collaborate with your partners and content creators to share authentic stories that inspire travelers.

This content was created collaboratively by CrowdRiff and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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Tags: CrowdRiff, destination marketing, destination marketing organizations, facebook, instagram, local, SkiftX Showcase: Destinations, social media, tiktok, tourism, visual marketing, Visual Storytelling

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