Here at TOPOSOPHY we believe that you can only take the best decisions when you can see the bigger picture – so we’re starting the New Year with in-depth analysis of the biggest trends emerging in global tourism and

Will the Apple Watch break new ground where other tech wearables have failed to do so?

Will this be the year when we see Airbnb take the leap and merge with a major online travel agent?

Will we ever reach ‘peak selfie’?

Will DMOs take more initiatives in community and economic development?

Discover our top 15 travel trends for 2015…

Want to know more about TOPOSOPHY? Find out here.

Smart City Branding

Cities of the future will have to be “smarter” if they want to succeed by providing better services and quality of life to its citizens. That is the reason why they will also have to manage their brands in a smart way.

The idea of ‘smart city branding’ will be covered by international academics and practitioners in the city design and city branding fields, during the ‘Smart City Branding” Forum which will take place in Barcelona on 25 &26th of September.

Among them Best Place Institute experts will present interesting cases from around the world. Juan Carlos Belloso will explain how the image of a place (city) is built and what is the right process for creating the place brand.  ‘Re-building Citizen Confidence and Identification: The case of Athens’ will be covered in the presentation of Manolis Psarros. Whereas Mihalis Kavaratzis will help to understand what are the existing city brand tools from smart city design perspective. At the end of the conference Magdalena Florek will give a lecture about “Smart Brand Communications”.

Amongst the very interesting sessions on brand building strategies, partnerships and tools, the section of Smart Citizen Engagement, will focus on how brands need to connect with the citizens for them to be successful. Citizen identification, engagement and activation are thus key for successful city brand building.

Understanding citizen characteristics, needs and aspirations are essential when defining the appropriate city brand strategy as well as involving and engaging citizens in city brand strategy and city brand building. This section will explain that today’s successful brands need to be ‘human brands’, with some examples from corporate and commercial world and its application to city brands. It will include a review of the cases of how brand Colombia and Colombian City Brands have been successfully built by engaging its citizens with the place transformation and branding process as well as the recent case of Athens on how to engage citizens in city branding and tourism promotion in difficult times.

The ‘Smart City Branding’ course is organized by by the CUIMPB (The Menéndez Pelayo International University Consortium of Barcelona – Centre Ernest Lluch), a University consortium composed of the Menéndez Pelayo International University (UIMP), the Barcelona Provincial Council, and the Barcelona Center for Contemporary Culture – CCCB), with the support of the Barcelona City Council.

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U.S. Special: Tourism Marketing at a National, State & Local Level

‘Discover America’ First US National Campaign

Brand USA, the new tourism marketing entity responsible for promoting the United States to international visitors, recently unveiled USA’s first-ever comprehensive marketing campaign “Discover this land, like never before”.

This tourism marketing campaign is the first time that the U.S. has marketed itself as a tourist destination internationally.

Before creating the campaign, JWT the the organization’s agency of record, who co-created the campaign with Brand USA, set out to understand the existing perceptions of the U.S. around the world. It was discovered that people love: the freedom America makes them feel; think everything is larger than life in the U.S.; feel unity in the diversity; and see it is a land where anything is possible. These insights helped develop an informed approach to bringing Brand USA to life through the lens of foreign visitors.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages will showcase country specific promotions and engagements and the newly re-launched website will act as visitors’ information portal for trip planning.

Brand USA will also extend invitations to musical artists from around the world to come perform their music in their favorite U.S. cities and towns, profiling their trips and favorite things about the USA online and through social media.


Connecticut is ‘Still Revolutionary’

Connecticut recently unveiled its new branding campaign, entitled ‘Still Revolutionary’. The campaign is part of a two-year, $27 million dollar initiative to bolster tourism to the state.

As stated in the campaign’s announcement, “Still Revolutionary speaks to Connecticut’s deep roots in the founding of this country and reminds us that we still have that independent, revolutionary spirit”.

Throughout the lead-up to the launch of this new campaign, the Connecticut team engaged more than 1,500 residents, soliciting advice and feedback. DECD’s “What’s Your Connecticut Story?” project, which invites residents and visitors to share what they love most about living, working, and visiting Connecticut, also helped inform the state’s strategic direction for the campaign.

Through their brand exploration, research and stakeholder discussions, DECD discovered that the unique experience Connecticut provides both residents and visitors alike is one of inspiration, as DECD stated.


Atlantic City Repositioning

Atlantic City has also just launched the largest tourism marketing campaign in its history as part of a rebranding effort aiming to elevate the city’s image and rebuild leisure tourism.

The effort by Atlantic City Alliance (ACA), the newly-created, non-profit entity funded and operated by local casinos, will seek to move the area beyond a gaming center to a premier, year-round destination which encourages tourists to take advantage of its diverse offerings, complementing the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s (CRDA) ongoing work to reposition the image of Atlantic City and improve visitor experiences by appealing to the fun-seeking consumer ranging from singles to parents and mature travelers.

Advertisements are based on the diverse array of unique, often unexpected experiences at your fingertips in Atlantic City and remind audiences in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore that just a short drive away is a place where the rules are different from everyday life. One point of distinction is that gaming is not featured in advertisements, which instead will showcase the City’s wide offerings for visitors, including world-class entertainment and fine dining, luxury accommodations, vibrant nightlife, and the famed beach and boardwalk.

Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority’s revamped website supplements the larger campaign and features enhanced trip planning tools to assist visitors in choosing among the wide variety of lodging, dining, shopping and entertainment options. The itinerary planning tools will enable the visitor to customize selections with personal preferences such as budgets and travel partners.


“The Most Social Cities” Index

“The Most Social Cities” Index is a unique initiative aimed at rating Internet social communities of cities.

The study is jointly being carried out by Best Place – European Place Marketing Institute in cooperation with TheStory. The first-phase findings are available at

Wrocław – the fourth in terms of population Polish city – has a stronger Internet community than London? Is it possible? “Utilizing the Internet for communication, including accessing social network sites and offering mobile applications, has ceased to be a luxury for the selected few, it’s become common” – says Adam Mikołajczyk from Best Place Institute.

In the first stage of the study, researchers conducted a quantitative assessment of city online communities on Facebook and AppStore. The findings can be viewed at: The figures show how active and strong a city’s Internet social community is, one where its members want to talk about, promote, or create applications for the city and thus invite to visit and build relations with the city.

“It is worth noting, however, that the number of Facebook fans or AppStore applications does not reflect the real strength of the city’s brand but it is an important indicator of how effective a city has been in promoting itself online” – explains Dymitr Romanowski from TheStory, a digital branding agency.

In subsequent phases of the study Best Place Institute and TheStory will address the methodology of the Index as well as look into other indicators. Findings will be posted on an ongoing basis on the website.


Mega Destinations! Place Branding for U.S., Europe & S.Africa

It seems essential-maybe now more than ever- for places, no matter their size to differentiate themselves from others and send the message that they are valued options not only as far as tourism concerned, but for people, investments, business and their economy in general. It is also important to remember that brand development is not just the creation of a logo, but a general destination-wide commitment to a long term focused strategy based on what distinguishes the destination and the brand identity, and a constant community-wide effort to effectively develop and communicate these unique products and experiences for consumers.

U.S.A Unveils First-Ever Unified Consumer Brand and Identity

The organization responsible for marketing the United States to world visitors just unveiled “Brand USA” America’s first-ever global consumer brand. Formerly known as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, but now doing business as Brand USA Inc., the group introduced its global brand positioning and strategy before an international audience of travel professionals and destinations in London.  The creation of America’s new global brand is the first critical step in the development of the nation’s first unified marketing effort. Brand USA Inc. will launch their first official advertising and marketing campaign in the spring of 2012 to invite world guests to visit America for leisure, business and scholarly purposes.

Although initially incorporated as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, the organization will now be doing business as Brand USA Inc. in an effort to more clearly align brand strategy and corporate messaging. “The United States offers a range of destinations and experiences that are unparalleled in the world market,” said Chief Executive Officer, Jim Evans.  “Now, through the creation of Brand USA, we are inviting the world’s travelers to come to visit us, and experience the limitless possibilities for themselves.”

According to Brand USA, the logo was created to be “fresh, welcoming and inclusive.” It aspires to remind the world that “the United States of Awesome Possibilities welcomes everyone.” It features a collection of dots joining together to compose the letters USA. The dots will serve as a vessel through which Brand USA can showcase diverse colors and images of people and destinations across America, emphasizing the boundless possibilities of the United States. It will not adhere to a single color scheme. The logo also displays the Brand USA’s official consumer web site.

“What is so compelling about the United States is that no one thing can explain who we are as a nation.  Each visitor and each experience helps create the fabric of American culture, and Brand USA embodies this spirit,” said Perkins.  “When we launch our global marketing and advertising campaign next year, we will be able to reach audiences around the world by showcasing the best of America and spreading the message that we welcome visitors with open arms.”

The United States first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing program was created by the Travel Promotion Act, federal legislation passed in March 2010.  A public-private partnership between the travel industry and the U.S. government, the Corporation for Travel Promotion – now Brand USA Inc. – was charged with increasing international visitation to the United States through marketing and promotional efforts to drive job creation and economic growth.  The organization is led by private industry with oversight from the Department of Commerce and U.S. Congress. The program is funded through a combination of private sector investment and funds collected by the Department of Homeland Security from international visitors who visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.  No U.S. taxpayer dollars are used to fund the program.

“Brand USA has arrived, and it is not just a tourism brand,” said Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman of Brand USA and Chairman and CEO of Diamond Resorts International. “It is a 21st-century global brand that will help reposition our great nation in the market for travel—and drive economic activity, including billions in new spending, tens of thousands of new outsource-proof jobs and much-needed tax revenue, to spur powerful growth throughout all corners of the United States.”


Three Cities Alliance by Cape Town, Johannesburg & Durban

Cape Town TourismJohannesburg Tourism and Durban Tourism have joined forces on the Three Cities Alliance marketing initiative after combined insights from 2010 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ reinforced the message that urban tourism and city brands are high on the agenda of most modern-day travellers.

The three organisations agree that cities are the leading brands for countries. Cities are globally recognised as the prism through which countries are viewed and are described as a country’s most durable assets. Cities have history, heritage that has stood the test of time and promising developmental futures.

Historically, messaging and marketing for South Africa has focussed on the country’s natural assets and scenic beauty, with less emphasis on South African city offerings as urban destinations. In today’s competitive world, and based on global travel trend insights, it is evident that scenic beauty and natural assets alone will not captivate and keep travellers returning to South Africa. The Three Cities Alliance hopes to see South Africa portrayed in a more holistic light, offering urban diversity of experience in combination with extraordinary beauty and natural assets.

The backbone of the joint marketing agreement consists of product and destination packaging, collaboration on events and trade shows as well as shared collateral and online campaigns. It will see collaboration on marketing and branding initiatives and knowledge exchange at an executive level.

In association with South African Tourism, an international marketing campaign is underway to attract a larger percentage of the urban tourism market. Negotiations with Discovery Channel and National Geographic have been concluded and a series of programmes have been agreed upon that will showcase the livability of the cities. In terms of domestic marketing, the three cities will collaborate to leverage local events and align our events calendars where possible, promoting each other’s events and short city break packages.

Lindiwe Kwele, CEO of Johannesburg Tourism said: “All three cities have the confidence to define themselves in the minds of our markets. Johannesburg is a frontier city and personifies urban chic, achievement and a sophisticated energy. Durban is diverse; a leading port city that exemplifies warmth and tradition. Cape Town is a city of inspiration, hope and freedom with a rich cosmopolitan culture set against the backdrop of unprecedented natural beauty.”

Phillip Sithole of eThekwini Municipality’s Business Support, Markets and Durban Tourism added: “One of the secrets of a winning destination is for cities to realize that we are brands; that we should harness our assets. Positive perception, unique identities, authentic experiences and a powerful story is the armoury of a successful city brand.  The joint marketing agreement is a formal recognition of our synergies and will go a long way to present a conducive and integrated city tourism experience for both domestic and international travellers.”

CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, concludes; “Cape Town Tourism and its partners are committed to working with Johannesburg, Durban and SA Tourism to showcase our energetic, dynamic cities – not perfect in any way – but cities in evolution that can be counted amongst the world’s cities of the future. In so doing, we believe South Africa and its urban centres can attract a much more substantial segment of the world’s urban travellers. Our three cities tell three very different and unique but compelling stories. I strongly believe that we add value to each other’s leisure and business tourism offering and I think that this will also go a long way towards providing the prospective international traveller with a seamless impression of destination South Africa. The time has come for us to use creative and innovative ways to maximise the domestic and international leisure as well as business tourism potential, for all three cities.”

Follow Your Roots: Visit Europe just announced the launch of their latest social media campaign and contest entitled, “Follow Your Roots: Visit Europe.” Hosted on’s official Facebook page, the contest invites fans to explore their European roots by sharing a family photo and description of the photo.

“Large populations of European descendants are found on nearly every continent,” says Jan Rudomina, Chairman of the European Travel Commission US Operations Group. “Our goal with this contest is to encourage our fans to explore their European heritage through photos and letters in an effort to inspire travel to Europe.”

Beginning today, fans of the Facebook page can upload their family photo and brief description (200 words or less) describing the person(s) in the photo and the significance of following his or her roots back to Europe for a chance to win a dream European vacation for two.

“Follow Your Roots: Visit Europe” is the third social media contests taking place on the European Travel Commission’s social networks over the course of the past year as part of a new digital and creative campaign to promote Europe as a tourism destination to the U.S. traveler.

Established in 1948 to promote Europe as a tourism destination, the European Travel Commission provides travelers with inspirational commentary on travel services and attractions to help vacationers plan their European journey. Today, , the ETC’s web portal along with its dynamic social networks offers travelers activities, tools and tips to help consumers organize their journey to Europe and encourages travelers to share their own experiences and read others while accessing photos, videos and social networks.


South Africa, CMO Council Team On Branding

As the first project in its new GeoBranding Center, the Chief Marketing Officer Council (CMOC) is partnering with South Africa to measure the impacts of the country’s branding efforts and co-sponsor a crowd-sourcing advertising contest leading up to the FIFA World Cup tournament this summer.

The council is forming the GeoBranding Center as a global knowledge resource center dedicated to the marketing of countries, destinations, places of origin, attractions, venues and locations. Geobranding experts and marketers will be invited to contribute insights, opinions, case studies and best practices, and a series of research initiatives will explore the impact of campaigns using B-to-C and B-to-B digital and traditional advertising and marketing campaigns. The center’s microsite will launch March 15.

South Africa’s investment of billions to host this year’s World Cup football tournament (June 11-July 11) and the country’s story of rapidly growing tourism, trade and economic development success represented a prime inaugural opportunity to deploy the new GeoBranding Center’s resources, says CMOC executive director Donovan Neale-May.

Working with the International Marketing Council of South Africa (IMCSA), which is responsible for defining and shaping the country’s image throughout the world, the GeoBranding Center will use PR Newswire’s worldwide monitoring to track and conduct monthly analyses on the tone, sentiment and prevalence of social media conversations, commentary and news about South Africa throughout the world leading up to the tournament.

The basic goal, says Neale-May, is to evaluate how the interaction and content/tone of billions of social media interactions influence country perception. Key determinants of the nation-branding value created by the event and the marketing surrounding it will include effective message management and clarity of brand positioning relative to the visitor/player experience, global media attention and viral online community conversations/content sharing, he points out.

“With the world’s eyes upon it as host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, South Africa is seeking to establish itself as a competitive and relevant nation brand,” said IMCSA CEO Paul Bannister. “We’re excited about the potential for social media channels to generate greater discourse and narrative about our brand from people who have experienced or researched our special place in the world.”

At the same time, the two councils are launching an open, global advertising contest, called “Get Wildly Creative About South Africa.” People ranging from current and aspiring creative professionals to digital media buffs to South African citizens, expatriates and visitors/tourists are being encouraged to come up with fresh, evocative and inspiring messages conveying the spirit of “a country that has gone from tragedy to triumph in less than two decades,” in Neale-May’s words.

The contest is being hosted on the “people-inspired” advertising platform, and interest and participation will be driven through viral communications, online conversations, blog postings and cyber chatter. The Zooppa contest center provides entry information, a creative brief on the assignment, and links to South African resources.

Cash and prizes donated by SA Tourism, in-country partners and creative technology solution providers will be awarded to the top submissions within each category, including best print campaign, best online banner campaign and best video segment or commercial.

Winners will have their work showcased globally to the CMO Council’s 5,000 members (who control more than $150 billion in annual marketing spend) and recognized at an IMC-hosted reception in New York City in early June. They will also win trip packages courtesy of SA Tourism and other travel, hospitality, lodging and merchandise partners in South Africa.

Overall, says Neale-May, the contest should benefit IMCSA by putting at its disposal a wealth of “democratically” generated ideas and creative to inform its “Brand South Africa” marketing plans and efforts going forward.