Destinations are rich landscapes for stories. In today’s world, visitor’s stories travel across multiple-platforms, from IRL (in real life) to their smartphone’s (in real time) and back to their hotel rooms on Facebook then uploaded to Pinterest, downloaded from Instagram, and shared with their communities. This new seamless landscape between digital activity and real life is changing the way travel stories are experienced and how they are shared and curated in media.
Transmedia is a new way of telling stories using both emergent and traditional forms of media across multiple channels to create storyworlds that you can enter and be immersed in. It offers a rich, unique experience that often utilizes a highly participatory component whereby the ‘audience’ is able to enter into the authorship of the story and sometimes change its outcome. Think of Star Wars, one of the first forays into Transmedia, with its rich cinematic narrative that was ported across books, cards, merchandise, lego, video games, and much, much more (to George Lucas’ great delight I am sure). Employing Transmedia storytelling in destination marketing allows the visitor to immerse themselves more deeply into the experience of the destination and engage and interact both on and offline in ways never experienced in the tourism industry until now. Story has power. Telling the stories that live within a destination are the truest way to differentiate the location and connect with visitors who are, in today’s media landscape, looking for story that they can enter via photographs, film, writing, audio and feel that the spine of the story isn’t lost as they experience the narrative across these various mediums. The best way to unite all this media with seeming endless ‘new’ and better platforms, is quite simply to tell a good story. Hotels are hotbeds of stories just waiting to be told; they are a living theatre with daily dramas, exciting plot twists, and unexpected characters that bring the story alive.
The speed at which mobile is growing in the context of travel will further support tourists’ utilizing digital platforms and tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Foursquare, YouTube, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Instagram, and many more, in order to share their experiences in real time, creating a highly individualistic Transmedia narrative as they navigate from their front door to your destination and back home again. How are tourism and hospitality organizations responding to the new visitor story told in this way? Could their marketing incorporate their guest narratives within the grand narrative of the destination in order to create a more meaningful storyworld for tourists to visit? How are destinations interacting with the visitor story throughout the entire life cycle of this new kind of travel narrative?
The visitor story is no longer shared at the end of the trip with the family sitting down over a photo album together. Today’s visitor is part of the destination story as they report every experience across multiple-platforms and actively participate in the destination’s recorded media history which results in a Transmedia narrative long after they have packed their suitcases and headed home.
Shared story, between visitor and destination, will be an exciting, and evolving one in which media will play the leading role.