Tag Archives: marketing

105 tourism slogans from around the world #WTM12

Country slogans and tourism taglines – how can they say so very little and yet sometimes so much? I’ve posted my bemusement with these fascinating little one-liners that marketers use to ‘sell’ or position a destination before (after snapping 44 slogans at the 2009 World Travel Market).

This year, I decided it was time for an update. So here, after wandering the vast length and breadth of WTM 2012, are 105 slogans, 26 country logos (or fonts) and 7 regional taglines collected at the World Travel Market 2012. Slideshow above, text below. I’ve bolded up the ones I like. Enjoy! Continue reading


Bhutan: Land of Gross National Happiness

Land of Gross National Happiness

After documenting 100+ tourism marketing slogans yesterday at World Travel Market (WTM) 2012, Bhutan’s is my pick of the bunch.

The catchphrase Gross National Happiness, or GNH, was apparently introduced by the King of Bhutan in the 1980s and it stands out as unique among the ‘wonders’ and ‘pearls’ of other positioning taglines. Perhaps it feels more authentic for its lack of marketing schmooze but it also still manages to tell us something: that this Himalayan kingdom takes its happiness seriously.

In fact, further research reveals Bhutan to be the only country to use GNH as both an economic measure, similar to GDP, and a guiding principle for its move towards modernisation.

It suggests a unique and fascinating place. But, yes, it also made me laugh – successfully upping GNH as it worked its sly slogan side-effects.

I’ll be posting the rest of the WTM 2012 country slogans… at some point soon.

The most amazing video you will ever see about Birmingham

This appears to have gone out on Sky 3, I’m not sure when, but is Pure Fried Comedy Gold.

Someone in my Twitterstream pointed it out a while ago but their video link seems to have been removed, so catch this one while you still can – it’s the only one I could find.


It features an amazing but quite scary cast of regulars of The Sportsman pub in Brum as they expound on their favourite pub subjects of cider, eating rabbits and lightbulbs, and falling off a bridge onto a railway and into the path of TWO trains.

You’ll have to watch it to get the visual punchline to the story.

Tourism slogan: “Visit Brum – if you think you’re hard enough.”


Birmingham’s UK City of Culture Bid 2013 is #intheroom but is it #inthebag?

Seven years ago, in 2003, I watched a news item on Birmingham’s bid to become European City of Culture on the tellybox. I wasn’t surprised when we lost out to Liverpool after listening to a list of big arts organisations ‘to name but a few’. It was a weak presentation that was all ‘tell don’t show’.

And, to be honest, the new bid to become the first-ever UK City of Culture in 2013 seemed to be going the same way.

I don’t pretend to know much about these Council-led things, but I do know that the Council and mainstream media seemed to be saying the same old things as in 2003. For example, while I like and admire The Dhol Blasters, they’re surely not news in terms of the city’s cultural growth – and yet here they are, rolled again yet again for local TV’s limited idea of how to demonstrate Brum culture.

But then today Brummies spoke up in their hundreds via the Twitter hashtag #intheroom. They wrote about what it was that they loved about their city, their cultural pioneers, their ideas about culture and why ultimately Birmingham should win.

Roughly 1,000 Twitter messages were pulled in throughout the day on the Birmingham Newsroom’s blog – and the coup was that they were to be seen live by the judging panel in Liverpool between 2 and 4pm this afternoon. (Tomorrow the panel decides, winner to be announced next month.)

Some of the posts were funny, some poignant, some statistical, some just lists of great goings-on. At times, the sheer volume felt quite emotional. People were still posting Birmingham’s good points via #intheroom when I checked at 11.30pm – long after the panel had gone home to sleep on their decision.

So even if Brum doesn’t win, it was kind of a unifying experience in that it let those who joined in see what it was that others saw in their city. It made us feel invested in something that could easily be seen as a city marketing exercise. It put the voice of the people directly in front of the judges and, I think, finally managed a ‘show don’t tell’ that was possibly more powerful and moving than that of an official document of evidence (good as I’m sure it was) saying that ‘Birmingham is very, very cultural indeed, thankyou’.

Birmingham DOES have a lot going for it. Take it from me who left for 20 years down to #thatlondon but is hugely enjoying being back in the city because there is simply so much more to do these days – like seeing the Birmingham Royal Ballet perform tonight with IamPete, or wandering through a staircase in Moat Lane Car Park last week as ExCathedra choir members harmonised with the brutalist architecture until it sang back, or joining in a game of Market Pong after the fruit and veg traders have gone home.

Check the Twitterstream for more examples of how Birmingham is thriving, or the Created In Birmingham blog, or More Canals Than Venice, or LiveBrum’s listings, or Traditional Arts Team stuff where I discovered a Balkan and Israeli folk dance night in the church at the end of our road that has been going since 1972!, or Getgood’s Digbeth Is Good blog covering the arty and alternative Digbeth area, or any of the other places people search for social-cultural goings-on…)

The #intheroom display was impressive. And it seems to have been noted. Someone on Twitter reported: ‘Just had word through from the Culture team they’re #outtheroom and blown away by the response online’.

We’ll see soon enough how blown away they were, I guess. But it may be that if Birmingham does win the UK City of Culture 2013 title, that it might just have been the people of Birmingham who have swung it for themselves.

Behind the scenes of a travel feature – pt 5: 101 romantic places around the world

Well, allegedly. Here, finally, is the source material that more than 100 PRs created via the TravMedia/Google Docs experiment. You can dip into it for reference or use it to create a whole new feature – just leave a link to your stuff in the comments so I can see it. (Also, scroll down for links to the rest of the series and the published articles):

The features

The deconstruction

Behind the scenes of a travel feature – pt 4: the results of the Google Docs experiment

Time for a quick review. After being commissioned to write two ‘top tens’ for Allaboutyou.com, I posted a PR alert and Twitter callout to help me find ‘romantic places’ in the UK and abroad – more on the problem with top ten lists in part 1. In part 2, you can read the travel editor’s original commissioning briefs, and in part 3, the seven tools of feature research are listed. Now, in part 4, the story continues…

So what happened next?

There was my blank Google Q&A form sitting out there in a load of PR and tourist board inboxes. The idea was that it would act as a collection funnel for the incoming data – and keep it off my email.

Answer: Google Docs went nuts.

Research results 1-50
Research results 1-50
  • Over 48 hours, the online Q&A form filled up with 98 responses.
  • The CEO of the African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA) – spotted the callout on TravMedia and reposted the request to 400 association members across Africa.
  • The PRs did all the hard work for me in preparing guide prices, product details, image sources and contact info.
  • Nearly every question was answered by each PR and boxes were filled in – although many wrote an essay where the simple location was asked for, which stuffed up the spreadsheet layout.
  • Reams of irrelevant material and spin were produced to make a generic place sound romantic rather than point out any actual romantic history, tradition or fact. Annoying although certainly not unexpected.
  • There were a small number of bang-on-target suggestions, which were siphoned off into a UK and a worldwide file as per the commissions.
  • Several places were suggested twice, eg the Taj Mahal. I ended up using both client details as I used information from both.
  • I DID receive emails – but only nine (annoying but better than 98!). Three PRs ignored my form and emailed text such as a ‘nestled castle in a perched village’ or entire Valentine press releases (all ignored). Another emailed for clarification – subtext: was it worth her filling in the form? Some PRs experienced firewall issues and couldn’t access the form due to Websense, which blocks personal storage sites. Another emailed after the deadline had passed. And one filled in the form with out of date information – oops!
  • My favourite justification for romantic credentials was this one: ‘My daughter was conceived there, so no better compliment to the romance of the ambience.’
  • Another PR threw in some language tips on what to say in Sardinia to your beloved: ‘Non posso vivere senza di te – I can’t live without you!’
  • Twitter feedback resulted in a few funnies but no major new ideas. It did have a supportive role when I had further queries, though – see part 3 for more on this.

On the whole, it was a spectacularly good response, though. What did I learn from it?

Some pros and cons…

There were issues: double postings, excessive writing, unfounded statements and opinions, clichés, spin and so on. (The original source material is to be published in the next and final post.)

But there was also great value in rooting out knowledge I wouldn’t have found otherwise, such as being able to wear a suit of armour to propose at Warwick Castle or the location of the original ‘Horse Whisperer’ ranch.

So I have to say to the PRs, a big thanks for taking the time to fill in the form rather than send generic press releases.

Some tips for PRs…

For those faced with a Google form or  journalist request, DON’T waste your time spinning your product to fit the journalist’s angle. Facts, evidence, relevance and concision are the things that stand out over pretty prose and just stating that something fits the bill. It took seven hours to plough through all 98 responses, and to copy and paste the potentials. Take out all the generic suggestions spun for romance and this could be reduced to just an hour or two.

Ultimately, it was the chancing of so many sort-of relevant ideas that made the Google Docs/PR alert route financially unviable – shoving me frustratingly over time and therefore budget.

Factoring in picture research…

Sourcing good pictures is also like entering a time warp.

The pic research for each of the 10 blurbs was another tipping point. Free tourist board or PR pics are desirable and usually great quality. But traditionally writers haven’t had to source them – picture researchers have. Now, though, gallery features make popular editorial pieces and sourcing can be part of the commission package. Even with a media library log-in, or the PR contact for images, the resulting workload – the back and forth of emails, selection and zipping of images, collating and sending to the travel editor – soaked up another half day.

Surfing for images on a stock library is faster but you can still while away many minutes looking for the right image to go with your copy.

My judgment on the Google Docs research method…

Ordinarily, this type of feature would take me 1.5 days to write, but the extra spreadsheet and picture sourcing brought this up to 2-3 days. So using Web 2.0 tools did make life easier but it also actually slowed down the work.

The Google Docs sourcing experiment is not for every time – you have to be pretty dedicated to go through this process – and it’s probably not targeted enough for general themed features like these ones. It would probably work much better for my next list piece on great rail journeys.

But I do think it is invaluable when you are stuck for inspiration and it takes only a couple of minutes to put together. It also throws up some great source material and new ideas. The likes of TravMedia and HARO offer a community of experts and the wisdom of the crowd.

Statswise, in the end 6 out of 10 of the UK’s most romantic places were sourced from the Google Docs form; 8 out of 10 of the most romantic places worldwide feature were.

An invitation to rewrite my feature…

To round off, I’m finishing this series by publishing the source material itself (the locations and romantic USPs only in order to keep it manageable and to keep individual PR’s emails and phone numbers private).

Again I invite readers to compare the finished articles (UK and global) with the sourced material – would you have picked out the same list? I also invite the romantic among you to look for further inspiration and make your own selection from the list. Meanwhile, journalism students or wannabe travel writers are free to use the material to create their own travel feature from the material – – just leave a link to your stuff in the comments so I can see it.


10 New Year’s travel resolutions for 2010

Me in KeswickChris Guillebeau over at The Art of Non-Conformity blog says to think big – and that’s why he’s set himself the monumental and not inexpensive task to visit every country in the world by April 7, 2013 (122 out of 192 countries so far.) He reminds me of a crazy Swiss backpacker I met on my own travels whose concept was to hitchhike across every country in the world.

Then there was the lovely Twitchhiker who I interviewed earlier this year at SXSW in Austin. He’d decided to travel as far from his hometown in Newcastle upon Tyne as possible in 30 days (which turned out to be an island off New Zealand), relying only on the kindness and direction of Twitter users.

The trouble is, knowing my sticking power with New Year Resolutions, I don’t want to be massively ambitious here and fail before I’ve even started. But I would like to do >something<.

Looking through the #decadeinstats (tomorrow is New Year’s Day 2010), it seems not many people are marking their big moments in travel terms but in terms of hatches, matches, dispatches, number of degrees and hearts broken. (Click the pic to see a snapshot.)

Screengrab of #decadeinstats

But some ideas are bubbling up, such as Lloyd Davis’s Tuttle train trip
to SXSW Interactive in 2010. And my colleague Katy Molloy’s New Year career break to go help fight child prostitution in Cambodia.

So here are my unthought-out ideas so far – see what you think:


1. Hometown tourism
I love travelling to other countries but by its nature this is often superficial – suppressed by time, lack of local knowledge and trying to do too much (or little). Sometimes the best stuff happens on your doorstep so I think it’s time to write up the stuff that makes my city special and fun for others to visit. Birmingham: It’s Not Shit, for example, is a rather ace Birmingham blog. The author Jon Bounds has just finished one project (11-11-11)  in which citizens board the 11 outer circle bus route for 11 hours on 11/11 each year. Next year he’s launching Dexy’s Midnight Run – a 5km run into town dressed as Dexy’s at midnight on June 21st.

2. Queen of the Bizarre
One of my travel editors once named me ‘Queen of the bizarre’ because of the less mainstream ideas I used to pitch to him. Maybe it’s time to return to that niche. Having recently come across the quirky calendar of eccentric English events for 2010, I’m tempted to either cover or perhaps even enter some of these. Think I’d be quite good at shin-kicking at Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpicks… It’s gonzo journalism and why not? If it’s good enough for Hunter S Thompson, it’s good enough for me.

3. More snow-shoeing
I really want to go show-shoeing! Someone please send me snow-shoeing! I did it in Slovenia for my 40th and it’s my favourite thing to have done outside of joining the opera this year. It’s great for the heart and aerobic fitness and it beats jogging round the block. How can I turn this into something a little more sexy though? Extreme show-shoeing? The New Year snow-shoe diet? Sponsored snow-shoe walk?

4. Transparent journalism
Journalists on press trips aggregate masses of information yet tend to generate only a few hundred words. I’m thinking ditch the polished prose (like there ever was polished prose) and blog what I’m going to pretentiously call the ‘vignettes of research’, from incidental little quotes and tips to insider trip photos that I collect along the way.

5. Blog my travel diaries
I have around 50 notebooks packed away in a trunk. I’m sure there’s some interesting highlights that can be edited out of there – with the power of hindsight etc. I also have some features that were commissioned and not published. I’m thinking I’ll publish them here under a creative commons licence. Hey, let’s play with copyright and see what happens.

6. Find the most boring holiday in the world
The problem with being a travel writer is that you can never switch off – there’s always something interesting to collect, note down, share, or someone to interview, or a new angle on a mass market place. My mission is to have a proper holiday in 2010 – and that means finding something/somewhere with zero write-up value. I suspect it’s impossible. Any ideas?

7. Career and holiday combined
My trip to SXSW Interactive in 2009 was a double work whammy of writing up tech stories and also producing a feature on Austin itself. I learned so much there and it has given me a whole lot of context for working on all the digital projects that came through my agency in 2009. This year I’m looking for a Content Strategy Conference holiday destination – presumably somewhere in the States but I’m open to suggestions. That’s right, I want to go on holiday to a conference.

8. Take more video (and find a media trainer)
I’ve started to take and edit video – here are my fledging attempts at World Travel Market 2009 – but ideally I’m looking for someone to do a skills swap with me, ie, help me learn best practice for producing multi-media content (especially mini interviews) and I’ll help you with anything from web writing/editing and spelling/punctuation to beginner’s guitar lessons. Maybe I’ll write your headlines for you or something. I like writing headlines.

9. Guest bloggers Q&A
I do like a good Q&A – or is it just me that gets sucked in by those pages in magazines that asks (the rich and famous usually) what have they learnt, what mottos do they live by, have they ever said ‘I love you and not meant it’, how would they like to be remembered, type thing. Maybe something like this would be good for travel, local knowledge, etc.

10. The big idea
I’m buying myself time with this one, but in the next 12 months I’m looking for a big ongoing travel project that I can document into something substantial. It might be photographic, it might be ultra-budget or first-class luxury, it might be historical, or it might be eccentric. This is probably the resolution I’m most likely to break but the idea of a sabbatical of some kind is on the agenda. I have the time if not the energy.

That’s it for now and for 2009. I’d love to hear your feedback or suggestions. Until then happy new year for 2010.