Good Practice Stories: How Important for Sustainable Destination Brands?

How can joining Green Destinations Top 100 or other external promotional activities influence a destination brand? Does it give any substantial value to the destination? That’s what we asked our combined panel of place brand and sustainable tourism experts. Below their answers (alphabetically –  highlighted respondents are available for consulting or as speakers).

Our key takeaways:

  • Good practice stories help destinations to stay top of mind;
  • Evidence matters: stories need to be based on facts;
  • Good practice stories should support key brand values;
  • They help to differentiate and to demonstrate innovation and progressive development;
  • Good practice storytelling can inspire stakeholders and suppliers within the destination to become more sustainable.

Brian Mullis, sustainable tourism expert panel member

Brian Mullis

Speaker profile

USA | Destination marketers are focused on engaging their audiences as fully as possible. Due to ever-changing markets, they have to regularly review how they can achieve this while evolving their own brand voice and ensuring they keep the target domestic and international market segments top of mind.

Those destinations focused on sustainability and regeneration need to consistently publish good practice stories that not only resonate with a highly targeted audience that needs to know they offer experiences they can’t find elsewhere but also in the process illustrate the tangible results and specific ways in which travellers’ visit positively impacts the people and places they visit.

Fiona Jeffery, sustainable tourism expert panel member

Fiona Jeffery

Speaker profile

UK | Good stories offer insight into a destination, which over time may help develop a brand. No one story creates a brand.

Gunter Soydanbay

Günter Soydanbay

Consulting / Speaker profile

Canada | First, one needs to find good practice stories. For that to happen, destination branding cases should be able to demonstrate quantifiable improvement in their KPIs. Once you have a fact-based success story to tell, professionals around the world will be eager to listen.

Unfortunately, most place branding case studies still focus on the transformative part of the story, skipping the “achievements-results” part.

Jonathon Day

Speaker profile

USA | Good practice stories create “proof points” for brand positioning.

Kirsi Hyvaerinen

Speaker profile

Montenegro | Good practice stories should support the brand’s core values.

Todd Babiak

Speaker profile

Australia | Rely on the research.

Tom Buncle

Speaker profile

UK | Find great examples. Write them up. Communicate them widely.

Gianna Moscardo

Australia | I think incorporating positive sustainability stories is an important element of both reporting on a destination’s sustainability success and a tool for encouraging more attention to sustainability amongst the key stakeholders of the tourism businesses and staff, and the tourists. So that means including sustainability stories on destination websites and telling them in social media marketing.

Malcolm Allan

UK | In my experience a good destination brand strategy should be robust enough to be able to guide the development of a place over a reasonable period of time, e.g. for 5 years if not ten, recognising that unforeseen events can demand or stimulate the need for a strategy to be updated or amended.

In this context “good practice” requires the place to be “on-top” of such changes, both actual and predicted with a reasonable degree of certainty, in other words, to be “Anti-fragile” – capable of accommodating change and adapting to it. If it can, then there will be stories about how it is doing so or planning to do so.

Rachel Dodds

Canada | All good brands rely on a good story. Check out a famous brand such as Patagonia and you will see that they don’t sell clothes, they sell a value proposition. Your brand should reflect your story.

Richard Butler

UK | Better to find good practice, not just increasing tourist numbers, before writing about them, and branding should follow good practice.

Steve Noakes

AustraliaThe more good practice stories come from a particular destination, the more it adds to the collective authenticity of the destination brand. It also provides examples and leadership for other suppliers within the destination to aspire to improved sustainability performance.

Previous questions answered by the TPBO panel here.

Enjoyed this snapshot of expert views on how important good practice stories are for destination brands? Thanks for sharing!


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