Did you know that the Northern Ireland accent has been voted sexiest in the world? And that even the most accomplished actors can’t get it right. But its takes a little bit more than an accent to bring tourists to Northern Ireland. Attractions of the likes of Giants Causeway & Titanic Belfast have been drawing tourists for years and continue to do so. There is one surprise entry this time, Crumlin Road Gaol that is one of the top 3 attractions according to TripAdvisor.
The Road Ahead
Tour operators used to include NI as part of a larger UK or Ireland tour but have started selling the destination as a perfect weekend-break. Traveller interest in nature and cultural heritage, better accommodation options, classy restaurants and world-class visitor attractions are some of the reasons for this turnaround. In fact, NI is now a close competitor to destinations like London, Paris and New York. “There is still lot of work to be done in the industry to exploit the opportunities. Since technology, travel and tourism are intermeshed, providers of tourism products have to get a hold on using digital technology to promote their products / services. We have to figure out a way to motivate visitors and make them decide to come to NI. It’s a complicated process but inspiring, relevant and accessible content can make a huge difference,” said John Mcgrillen, CEO of TourismNI.
Social media is one of the driving forces behind this change in attitude towards choosing Northern Ireland as a holiday destination. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Talking about what the country could do to tap its tourism potential, Justin Reid, Head of Destinations, EMEA, TripAdvisor felt “There is a need to promote NI as a destination offering the most memorable experiences. For this to happen people and organisations involved in the tourism sector have to look at innovative social media strategies. Social Media is the lifeblood of an organisation’s marketing strategy today, especially in tourism.”
Consumers engage with online service providers on a day-to-day basis – to do research for a trip, to make a flight / hotel booking, to share their experiences, to give feedback and a whole lot of other things. According to a report by Forrester Research, 70% of consumers consider product and brand recommendations from their social circles trustworthy and 46% trust online reviews posted by other customers. In comparison, only 10% trust banner ads on websites (Source: Social Annex). So, it has become absolutely essential to be in touch with this new breed of online consumers who love their travel. “It’s important to treat people online, just as you would do in offline or face-to-face communication,” said Justin Reid.
Find out more about the latest trends emerging from the Tourism sector for hospitality, leisure and travel industries at Digital DNA Tourism happening this November in the Ulster Transport Museum.