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Nicolai Mejlvang

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Wonderful Copenhagen is one of the cities that are true digital leaders and recently published their new 2020 strategy. With a bold statement, "The King is Dead! Wonderful Copenhagen concludes the Era of Tourism as we know it" their strategy is combining fresh digital & city marketing thinking ready to take on the digital era. We interviewed Nicolai Cohrt Mejlvang, Project Manager - Social Media & PR at Wonderful Copenhagen and he give you us an inside scoop of their new strategy and exciting direction as a city tourist board. 

#DTTT: Can you give us a brief introduction into Copenhagen's new 2020 strategy and its direction?

Nicolai: The main theme and name of the 2020 strategy is 'Localhood'. The idea behind Localhood is transformational, moving towards a different approach to travelling and tourism in general, where human experiences and relations are what makes a destination unique and special, and where future tourism growth happens in a responsible way across industries and across a bigger geography. One key point here is to start seeing visitors and locals as one, where they don't just co-exist but interact around experiences and sharing the destination, and where visitors become a form of temporary locals themselves.

The strategy is also concerned with our own organisation moving from a destination marketing organisation to a destination management organisation which covers a lot more ground than being a purely promotional entity of a traditional DMO.

#DTTT: How will you work with stakeholders in Copenhagen to make the strategy a reality?

Nicolai: From a communication standpoint, localhood is all about opening up new or lesser-known stories that resonate with the destination DNA. But instead of doing it on our own, we wish to enable other entities within the destination to share our destination as well – whether they’re companies working inside or even outside the tourism industry, influencers, or local citizens. One of the efforts we are undertaking in our team is to strengthen our work with local and international influencers, especially on Instagram, as visual communications is growing ever more important. This is something we have been doing for some years now, but now it’s really coming to its own and is getting the direction and resources needed for us to succeed in this field.

Another important factor is to explore the opportunities in working with new and existing partners and stakeholders in telling their stories and showcasing their products in the best way to an audience. A traditional approach would be to help them with exposure on VisitCopenhagen’ channels, giving them a window to an international audience. Although we are not abandoning that, we are expanding our focus to enabling partners to succeed with their own stories, on their own terms and platforms. This is a concrete initiative which we are already undertaking in 2017, where we’ll be working closely with cultural institutions in and around Copenhagen to help them develop better strategies to attend to international visitors.

#DTTT: What do you think is the impact that the 2020 strategy has on your day to day work?

Nicolai: For us, in the communications team, it is all about going from a purely marketing role to an enabling role. Instead of focusing on building content solely for our own channels, we are increasingly working with cultural institutions and attractions, helping them build better content and elevate their stories to an international audience. This is not something we have done to such an extent previously.

#DTTT: How are you helping them to make that a reality?

Nicolai: We are doing this through training, workshops, creative sessions or hiring external agencies or facilitators with attractions and cultural institutions. It really comes down to a case-by-case approach. An example could be to support a museum to narrow down some challenges and help with a more focused Instagram strategy or elevated storytelling.

#DTTT: Many destinations find it quite hard to figure out what content works for your target audience and what they want to hear from a destination?

Nicolai: This is a really good question. We find ourselves asking this question over and over again. What we have learned gradually over the last years, and it is still a learning process, is to stick to our guns in terms of the way we are talking about Copenhagen and the way our content looks. We center our own content around three distinct themes and approaches to Copenhagen that revolve around the mood, lifestyle, and icons of the city. This is based on a set of stories that resonate well with our audience. To put it into a general context, I would recommend to figure out what the stories are that make your destination special and stick to these in terms of telling these stories. Of course, you also need to make sure you tell them in new and interesting ways to keep people engaged but never taking it too far away from the destination brand or confusing the brand. This has been successful for us in terms of framing our destination’s brand in a specific direction.

#DTTT: Here at the #DTTT, we think that is a really good point and consider that Copenhagen as a city is really focused on qualitative content which is working well. Less is definitely more for you.

Nicolai: Yes, we would rather do a certain amount of quality content than doing a huge amount of mediocre content. A field that we are also venturing into on some of our channels is re-posting and re-using content which has become much bigger for us of late. We have been introducing a completely new article format for our website, list formats, such as 5 Things to do in Copenhagen on your first visit. These are good examples of re-using and re-shuffling content so it can be shared again with a new twist to resonate and engage with users. We are focusing on a small pool of quality content that we can distribute into different channels and formats.

#DTTT: So how many people work in the communications team?

Nicolai: The team is divided into different areas and the digital 365-days branding and campaign team is about five people. The whole communications team is about 18 full-time people.

#DTTT: Do you have a process to share knowledge and feedback in the communications team?

Nicolai: This is a continuous focus for our team to find the right kind of knowledge sharing, as the entire communications team covers a broad spectrum of activities. When our current approach was still fairly new, we did an extended session for the whole team in order to explain what we are doing on different channels, so everyone would get a glimpse into the engine room. We’ve also developed an annual work cycle, which covers seasonal events such spring time and the opening of Tivoli or sprouting of Cherrie Blossoms, among many other things. This provides an overview of what our partners and other people in our organization can expect to see on different channels and what we are planning to emphasize.

#DTTT: The strategy also emphasizes data and insights as an important aspect of the strategy - can you give an indication as to what you will be working on in this area?

Nicolai: One thing that we are undertaking in 2017 is to carry out a city-wide study which will identify potential bottlenecks and pressure points in the city that could create roadblocks and frustrations for visitors and potentially also for locals. In the longer term, this is about nudging visitors to explore a broader geography and not merely seeing the classical tourist sites such as the little Mermaid or Nyhavn. . Data is going to play a big part in doing that. One thing that we are looking at right now is geotagging data from international visitors on Foursquare, Instagram and Facebook to see where people check in and possibly where they are headed.

Another thing is social data and social listening - we have just invested in a new tool, Talkwalker, to do social listening on a much wider scale than before. The idea is to listen extensively into our own channels and also into broader conversations and do quite extensive keyword searches on social media. At the moment, we are outlining the potential in this. So these are two concrete approaches to how we will work with data moving forward.

We will also use the tool to monitor geographic conversations to see how sentiments about the city are changing before, during and after a campaign near a certain airport or in a certain market. This will help us in the future to tweak and optimize stories further, think about KPIs differently and ensure we are building on the city's brand.

#DTTT: What is the momentum internally about working on the implementation of the strategy?

Nicolai: One thing that helps provide momentum is that the strategy is divided into annual activities. There are many ambitious points in the strategy as a whole, however, so rather than saying we will do everything at once, we have mapped out 2017 activities on different levels. This gives us a concrete idea of the different projects and milestones in 2017. Everyone feels very optimistic about the projects and activities such as the data insights project or the development of a 365-day brand strategy.

#DTTT: How was the strategy introduced internally?

Nicolai: The strategy was characterized by a broad and involving process internally, being quite democratic, involving employees but also going further in involving stakeholders and citizens to suggest things that should be included and considered for the tourism development of the city in the future.

There were several seminars and focused sprint sessions with focus groups that were organised internally, with the aim to tackle specific problems, challenges, or opportunities and come up with concrete suggestions, projects and answers and many of these have found its way into the strategy. So it was really an open and involving process and a key part to how many of the initiatives within the strategy came about.

#DTTT: We really liked how different team members were quoted in the strategy.

Nicolai: The statements and quotes from the team are a nice touch underlining the human element of the strategy, not only how it is communicated but also how it will be implemented. It really is a human strategy, going right down to creating and launching the strategy, to the tone of voice, which is very human and perhaps less corporate than a traditional strategy.

Absolutely, this also helps to make everyone feel like they are part of the strategy and in implementing the key initiatives. We also like the fact that Wonderful Copenhagen made a dedicated website to host the strategy.

Yes, the idea behind the website is to give users a digital, immersive experience and flyover of the strategy but also a place where stakeholders and everyone that is interested can return to. At the end of 2017 or the beginning of 2018, we will be able to give an update in terms of new projects and initiatives in the pipeline. The strategy has room for adjustments along the way, as nothing in the future is certain and we want to be agile as an organisation to adjust certain points of the strategy in the future if needed.

So far, we had a very positive reaction to the strategy – both in terms of its content and its framing and launch, which was meant to be quite clear-cut and bold. It will be very interesting to follow this process and us implementing the strategy.

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If you want to learn more from the Wonderful Copenhagen team make sure to join us for the Focus and Consistency workshop at Content | Campus.

In this workshop, you can expect to deep dive on the subject of focus and consistency, looking at how to find the right 'tone of voice' for your for your brand and how to really master niche content marketing as a central driver in your content strategy. Led by the content team at Wonderful Copenhagen, Nicolai Cohrt Mejlvang and Dan Shou will take you on a journey exploring and delving deep into their content processes.

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