We often associate travel and tourism marketing with economic drivers – a boost for local businesses, job creation, infrastructure, and diversification. And, in fact, our industry does measure success in room occupancy tax increases as well as many other factors, including new and repeat visitation. However, while we are all focused on these important goals in travel and tourism, it may be easy to forget the power of joy that experiencing new or our favorite destinations brings.
At the recent Visit North Carolina 365 Conference, I had the privilege of hearing designer Ingrid Fetell Lee speak about joy as it relates to the industry. Her 2018 TED Talk titled “Where Joy Hides and How to Find It” has more than 2 million views. Ingrid told the conference attendees about the relationship between happiness and the environments we choose to spend time in – finding places of joy through activating the senses and emotion of people.
After hearing Ingrid, I began to think about joy and its role as a dominant motivator in branding destinations. Specifically, how this feeling and sense of delight could help create memorable experiences and reshape destinations and towns. Moreover, how can we take travel and tourism to a new level and support these experiences through the work we do? One particular measurement, called “intent to visit,” is strongly rooted in the emotional drivers that are vital to the larger economic development goals of any travel and tourism campaign. It is exciting to think about branding a region using immersive creativity to help travelers imagine themselves within the destination and what joyful experiences they will have and remember – experiences that we hope will bring them back time and time again.
Create Opportunities for Joy (and Share Them)
In the same way we recognize what makes destinations special to visitors, we also recognize the distinctness of the people with whom we are connecting and reaching. Joy, of course, manifests differently for different people. And by connecting with key mindsets and special interests, we can help create places for joy to happen through travel and tourism. The senses are tied to creating joy in a space. To an engaged explorer, joy might be uncovered through scientific and natural discovery encountered at the North Carolina Zoo. For someone who prefers authentic experiences, joy might arrive through the lens of matter-of-fact humor and raw adventure that comes with visiting a place like Boone, NC. The foodie or art seeker may be drawn to the family-run restaurants, life-sized art, or the country’s only whirligig park in Wilson, NC. Or joy might be found in the opportunity to be a part of something larger than ourselves, perhaps a community movement across the Southeast and Charlottesville, Virginia.
It is the branding ideas and strategies that help destinations capture those differences because not all travel is the same and not all people get the same experience from one destination. Joy is as diverse as each destination – and incredibly sharable. As we give a strong nod to National Travel and Tourism Week, let’s challenge ourselves to explore the essence of joy and the sharable moments joy brings.