Visit Wales Gets it Right for Family Vacations

One of the dangers in relying too heavily on traditional research to position a destination is that every destination does the same research, achieves similar results, and ends up chasing after the same “Top 10″ list of things consumers say they’re looking for in a vacation.

Leaf through your favorite travel magazine and count the number of destinations claiming to offer some combination of: variety, city and country adventure, world-class dining, shopping and luxury hotels. The classic tourism ad is a patchwork of images showing a couple in a restaurant, some sort of cultural activity (often dancers), a guy golfing and the exterior of a hotel. Fluff up the pillows and chill the champagne because we’ve nailed the top activities on the list and everyone’s going to be beating down our doors, right?

Wrong. Most often, in any category, the top criteria expressed by consumers are essentially the price of entry items. If you get a check beside each item they might take a look at you — of you don’t, they’re probably going to move on (unless you offer them something special that’s not even on the list).

The trap most marketers fall into is to try and be “better” than their competition at meeting the top 10 criteria.

But consumers, especially when they travel, are looking for something different, not just better. And when faced with the challenge of trying to discern which brand is “better” on a range of criteria, different will win out every time.

The other difficulty in judging yourself against a conventional set of criteria is that you may not, in fact, be very good at offering what’s on the list. And that can be a beautiful thing. Because if being better simply isn’t a choice, you’re left with no option but to be different. For many destinations, the decision to be different comes only after a long period of struggling and not being honest with themselves as they chase the same conventional criteria. But out of that despair can be born a beautiful truth.

That’s why I’m quite liking this new campaign for Visit Wales that positions a family vacation in Wales as a great alternative to “package tour” sun & sand destinations.

Click here to visit the website.

Click on the pic to watch the (longish but worthwhile) trip film.

The campaign carries on from where a previous effort left off and continues to put a penny in the Wales brand jar – a jar filled with brutal honesty, beautifully told.

Here’s a look at their previous campaign, which is one of my personal favorites:

I’ve never been to Wales and I’ve never really imagined there was much to do there. Conventional destination marketing would say that they should launch an energetic campaign to tell me about the wide variety of things there are to see and do in the North country. But the crafty Welsh were smarter than that. Rather than engage the consumer in an argument challenging their perceptions of Wales, they decided to leverage their perceived weakness and re-frame it as a benefit to the consumer and a wonderfully different experience.

Miles and miles of undeveloped countryside becomes a chance for a peaceful escape from the headaches of modern society.

A lack of “modern conveniences” becomes a statement of authenticity and cultural pride.

A less diversified retail scene becomes an opportunity for adventure and discovery.

Wales found the brutal truth in their brand and turned it into a differentiating brand position. Instead of trying to convince the consumer that they were as good as their competitors, they focused on what makes Wales special. Turning a seeming weakness into a competitive strength is counter-intuitive, but it’s sometimes the best place to look for your point of difference.


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