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Europe’s tourism destination landscape is under constant change. Travellers of all age group increasingly use digital technologies to explore, research, confirm and ultimately share their travel experiences. Mobile technologies, in particular the smartphone and tablet devices revolutionise the way how we access and consumer information, and intensifies the shift towards customer empowerment. A recent survey conducted by the Digital Tourism Think Tank and European Cities Marketing among national, regional and city destination marketing organisations provided a snapshot on how these digital developments impact upon their organisations.

ECONOMIC DOWNTURN IMPACTS STRATEGIES

The economic climate in Europe had detrimental effects on tourism businesses’ and public budgets alike. Despite the reported growth in tourism arrivals in Europe in 2013, according to the survey results the economic downturn is the factor that impacted most on destination’s strategies in 2013.

In addition the increasing proliferation of mobile technologies has a big impact on destination managers’ strategic decisions. In particular the large variety of choices regarding mobile solutions (e.g. apps, mobile sites, responsive design, etc) was raised as the second most pressing concern regarding strategic decision making.

SOCIAL MEDIA HAS BECOME MAIN STREAM

Social media has grown for DMOs into an established customer touchpoint. The majority of DMO’s consider social media either as the key ingredient to their strategy-mix, or at least as one of their main tools. The majority of those DMO’s that have not fully embraced social media in their strategies, are currently working on improving their approach. Hence, DMO’s in Europe clearly seem to acknowledge that social media are no longer in their infancy, and therefore (potential) visitors need to be served on these channels, which in turn requires a strategic approach.

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES FOR STRATEGIC COMPETITIVENESS

Overall the survey revealed that destination management organisations consider digital technologies critical for achieving strategic competitiveness. Given the tough economic climates, many destinations revert increasingly to different digital tools to maintain and strengthen their competitive positioning.

The full study will be realised soon on the website of the Digital Tourism Think Tank.

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