It was noon on a midweek day during the low tourist season in Knysna. The restaurant is full and further hopeful customers wait patiently in the queue of 20 or more diners. Other restaurants in the town have, at best, a third of their tables taken.
Our destinations and tourism products so often get lost in a sea of sameness. A good starting point may be to ask yourself “if my destination or product ceased to exist, what aspects of my offering would the world find irreplaceable?”
Once you have honestly answered that question, you will have a basis to start building your brand story. Then comes the most crucial question, being “does this brand story align with the story my customers want to believe?”
Sadly, just over a year ago, the Ile De Pain Restaurant in Knysna was gutted by a fire. Regular clients and tourists were devastated because the restaurant had given them an experience that they believed could not be found elsewhere. There was something missing from their lives that could not be replaced.
Your tourism DNA is the unique and authentic part of your brand story that gives you a true sense of place in the minds of your target markets, your locals and the tourism trade.
A useful exercise may be to draw a pair of parallel tracks. Next to one track, note what makes you unique, your ‘nowhere else on earth’ aspects. Next to the other track, write a description of the stories that make up the world of your target markets. If they are a close fit, move to the next steps and watch your train coming in.