Tourism branding as a way of self-expression [By Rhoda Siu]

Wanderlust (noun): a strong desire or urge to wander or travel and explore the world.
Have you ever thought what fuels your wanderlust?

The contemporary characteristics of tourism consist of both the idea of seeing and looking. The history of tourism shows that even though people’s desired locations for vacation changes over time, what remains constant is the act of seeing. People desire to travel to certain destinations because the images they see of that place through photographs and videos feed their fantasies, day-dreams and plays on their imagination. Hence, the quest to travel and experience the place for themselves. Images that are presented via media platforms entice tourists to travel and stimulates a desire to replicate them.

Tourists are usually enticed to visit a place because they came across a beautiful picture of it or a movie which was set in that place and when they actually head down to that place, they get a thrill out of seeing the exact setting of the movie or image. To name a few examples, tourism videos from places such as Montenegro and California reinforce such notion. The national tourism of Montenegro video preys on fantasies such as exploring nature’s beauty via a helicopter tour, whereas California’s promotional video represents working there as play to tempt tourists in visiting the country. What is enticing about these places is that they are portrayed to be different from our mundane everyday life. The strong hook on emotions while consuming such promotional content transcends the travel destination product.

This emphasis on sights have gone from a mere travel destination product to a process of imagery consumption, from downloading a country’s information to a travel experience, from problem resolution to emotion seeking. Marketers in the tourism industry understand that top purchase motivators are usually emotionally driven. The cycle of emotional branding taps into tourists’ wildest imaginations, reaches out with a powerful connecting experience and develops a symbolic need that satisfies tourists in creating meanings of themselves. “A diamond is forever” has been so successful in creating that symbolic meaning of eternal love (material symbol) and now marketers are translating that to the world of tourism – “Travel wanderlust”.

The symbolic meaning of each travel destination product is not found in the destination per se, but in the act of traveling. This boils down to how tourists travel? The careful construction of tourist’s traveling style facilitates branding of one’s identity: the accommodation plans, itineraries covered and the meaning behind each destination. Tourism boards place the role of brand building partially into the hands of tourists. This category of consumers are interested in using traveling as a form of self-expression to endorse or reflect their travel personality. It is a hallmark of who they are and how they want to be perceive by others as they narrate their travel experiences. Branding by self-expression in the case of tourism is vital in influencing tourists’ desires to travel. The power of sight through emotions is reinforced through media and further stimulates tourists’ quest to translate those images into reality.

And now you are aware of the power of branding in creating your inner wanderlust!

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