Destination Marketing: Marvellous Marketing Ideas from Tourist Boards

In a recovering but still challenging global economy, event planning and travel businesses must pull out all the creative stops to have an impact and reinforce brand presence. Tourist Boards have, for a long time, had websites that role model Internet marketing best practices. More recently, they have mounted some of the most creative and effective campaigns integrating social media with the use of traditional marketing channels. For many Tourism Boards, social media penetration in this sector has surpassed other organizational categories. Event planners can find inspiration from some of the ground-breaking approaches used by Tourism Boards.

The Netherlands - Meet Mr. Holland

Mr. HollandI first met Mr. Holland on LinkedIn. I wasn't sure what to make of him. At first I thought it was a fake profile. He had a big beautiful smile and he looked like a grown up but still youthful version of a cross between Hans Brinker and the Dutch Boy Paints logo. Intrigued, I wrote to him and did some investigation.

Brand Ambassador

It turns out that Mr. Holland is the official face of Dutch Tourism.

Mr. Holland is a living symbol of everything this small but beautiful country stands for. His special suit, for example, speaks volumes. It’s typically Dutch to do things just a little different.

Mr. Holland's page on Holland's Official Meeting Site tells the story. If Holland was a man he would be accessible, compact, organized and diverse.

There are small photos of Mr. Holland in various poses and, when you click on them, you can learn more about Holland. Try it on these photos.

Mr. HollandMr. Holland

In a fully integrated face-to-face and social media campaign, Mr. Holland is everywhere. You can meet him at trade shows like IMEX. He is on Twitter. He is pinning on the Mr. Holland Pinterest. You can also see him in videos on YouTube.

The idea of giving a country a personality is out-of-the-box and an excellent example of how a brand can convey its unique personality.

Jamaica - From Flash Mobs to Webisodes

The Jamaica Tourist Board has been using creative marketing approaches for some time. There have been TV commercials with reggae music and some have featured Usain Bolt. The Jamaica Tourist Board was one of the first to have fam trips for bloggers. There have been flash mobs in New York and other cities.

Pon di Poad Webisodes - JamaicaWith respect to social media, Visit Jamaica Now and Ask Jamaica provide a strong and active presence on Twitter.


Last year, an online TV show called Pon di Road in Jamaica was launched. (Pon di Road means "on the road" in Jamaican Patois.) In its second season, Pon de road is a virtual road trip in which viewers follows a young couple, Calee and Stephen, from the time of their arrival in Jamaica. Each webisode, which is announced on Twitter and Facebook, takes viewers to a different part of Jamaica and features attractions in that area.

This is another marketing approach that helps put a face on a destination.

Here is a re-cap of Season 1:


Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has faced significant destination marketing challenges in the past year. Organizations in the event, meetings and travel industries that are fighting their way back from the downturn can find inspiration from recent news reports.

Road Shows

A number of factors have helped Japan recover strongly. There have been regular press releases. A direct approach, with seminars by the Trade Commissioner Service, took trade and tourism representatives to major markets, reassured prospective visitors and business travelers that most of Japan had not been affected by the 2010 disasters. By connecting with prospective business and leisure travelers where they were, Japan took the first step to re-building its brand.

Hosted Buyers

The 2012 "Meet Japan" Hosted Buyers Program gave delegations of 200 travel agents and media representatives opportunities to come to Japan and visit seven cities. In February, Blossom Japan, an annual luxury travel showcase, hosted buyers and media in Kyoto.


Finally, the 12th Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in Sendai and Tokyo (April 16-19, 2012) showcased Japan. A combination of strategies have been used to market Japan and consistently convey the strong message that Japan is open for business.

The take-away from this success story is that, in times of crisis, there is no substitute for giving prospective clients an opportunity to experience brands firsthand. Go where they are and give them opportunities to get to know your brand.

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