Creating Differentiation for Your Travel Brand

Creating a higher level of differentiation means taking the time to learn what makes your resort or attraction unique, and what it has to offer that is relevant and compelling to the travelers wanted as repeat, high value customers. All great positions are rooted in a nugget of truth, or a kernel of insight that helps you stake out an ownable space in the mind of the consumer that is unique, and that no other brand can co-opt, or invade.

Our experience shows us that there are four steps to uncovering truths that contribute to a believable, differentiating, relevant, memorable and deliverable promise of value for any destination.

Four steps to define your brand position

Peel back the onion – Examine your destination’s place in the world: where it originated, what value it offers, its past and current market position. What do people say, think and believe about it? View your business from an outsider’s perspective and be honest.

Analyze the competitive idea space – Reverse-engineer your competitors’ advertising and marketing to see how they position their destinations. How is their position different or the same? Is it true? This should give you a sense of where there is saturation and opportunity in the world of ideas.

Identify the true relationship drivers – Create a list of attributes in your category and do a gap analysis to determine which are relationship drivers for the category and for your destination. Are the drivers tangible or intangible? Which do you need just to be considered? Which offer the highest return on investment and which aren’t worth spending time or money on? Don’t be afraid to invest in some consumer research at this stage. Good analysis will support decisions for a decade or more.

Get intimate with the consumer – Among travelers who visit your competitive space, what are their current perceptions of the category, your brand and your competitors? What keeps them up at night? What makes them happy, and what can improve their quality of life? Focusing on the relationship building drivers, ladder up the list of attributes to the place that resonates with consumers emotionally. What are they willing to believe about your place that is somehow different and more desirable than the competition?

So where does that leave you?

If you do your homework and answer all these questions, you should have a good understanding of what your destination is all about, what it can realistically deliver, and how your brand experience really differentiates it from competitors in the market. This journey of introspection is key to defining your position and establishing your message.