1st May 2012

Wales Coast Path communities shine with micro-destination marketing


In the guest post below,  Terry Jackson, a member of the Location Wales report team, explains how he thinks micro-destination marketing could be used to address some of the problems along the Wales Coast Path.

Micro-destination marketing on the worldwide web is a solution to key problems associated with accessible information, market communications and branding. It enables a level of market penetration unheard of before the Internet and we’re still only scratching the surface of possibilities that the semantic web will deliver.

It enables even the smallest Welsh community to shine in the tourism cosmos; deliver its unique selling proposition to world markets; gain sales in a matter of mouse clicks at truly affordable costs; take enormous community pride in the ability to do so, and be part of the national Wales brand.

Since publication of the Location Wales report I’ve become an advisor to Location Wales Online, developer of the Wales.info domain to market Wales as a world class tourism destination. My role as acting project co-ordinator for the Wales Settlements Project & WikiWales, and the iCoast Location-Based Mobile Network Project has enabled me to practice what I preach in that both projects needed a commercial business plan to attract seed funding from the public sector, then private sector funding to procure long-term commercial sustainability.

The Wales Settlements Project & WikiWales is a micro-destination marketing initiative exploring the semantic web and featuring each settlement and placename in the OS 1:50,000 Gazetteer. It advocates open data sharing; interoperable platform distribution; cultural, environmental and commercial product mashups of content from multiple sources, and creation of websites on the fly supplying just-in-time information salient to users’ locations and cloud profiles.

The iCoast Cymru Location-Based Mobile Network Project is similar save that it addresses the crucial issues of mobile Broadband coverage for delivering micro-destination marketing services in Wales coastal regions and along the Wales Coast Path, and the relatively poor uptake of digital technology by rural tourism businesses. The business model too is similar but with the added provision of services to help businesses improve their overall online presence.

The image below illustrates the tourism and heritage connections between cultural and environmental bodies including public transport provision, and how they link to commercial businesses to achieve economic outcomes.

Data sources diagram

It’s vital that these processes occur swiftly, seamlessly and with the utmost accuracy to capture sales in the little time searchers are prepared to spend looking for what they want.

This can best be achieved through a thorough mashing of accurate and up-to-date commercial datasets with highly granular contextual datasets, which has major implications for search. Connecting up these disparate datasets provides an exceptionally long keyphrase search tail, which represents the new marketplace illustrated in the diagram below.

The head of the tail represents web searches made by large numbers of visitors for the most popular ‘mass market’ things Long tailto see and do in Wales.

The long tail on the other hand represents searches made by an equally large, if not greater number of visitors for products and services that satisfy their individual ‘niche market’ interests.

Thanks to the web, these niche markets are as easy to reach as traditional mass markets, given the content is available to match search queries. Open data sharing combined with ‘clever’ search facilitated by the semantic web will help ensure this.

Some of the excellent ideas already registered with the GeoVation Wales Coast Path Challenge may benefit from this model, while a retail sales model could suit many others.

The GeoVation Challenge process is an exciting one with plenty of peer support and good opportunities for collaboration in getting new products and services to market, and which could result in entirely new business models.

So if you haven’t already entered and have a great idea how to connect communities and visitors along  the new Wales Coast Path then hurry, enter now and don’t miss out on your chance to win a share of £125,000 in  funding to get your idea off the ground.  Closing date 2 May at 12 noon.