For anyone driving throughout the southeastern United States in the middle of the last century the message, “See Rock City,” was nearly as common as “hi, y’all.” One of the world’s most successful destination marketing and travel branding campaigns turned barn roofs into billboards and a high rocky outcropping into a must-see destination for anyone traveling through Tennessee and Northern Georgia.


People plan for and travel differently now. They go faster and there is more competition for their time. Fortunately for marketers, a variety of tools, technology, and platforms have evolved that enable them to keep pace by being much more targeted with their efforts.

That’s great news. While there’s no speed limit on the digital highway, there is a passing lane: it’s marked by complacency. These advances do not change the five gates of branding that made Rock City successful and are required for any brand to move forward.

Brands should address and re-evaluate the following regularly:

• Determine your position
• Define your offer
• Identify your audience
• Refine your message
• Ensure consistent delivery

Successful destinations work to establish this solid foundation, then incorporate new technology to connect with visitors and customers in ways that surprise and delight them.


Understanding what makes your destination unique is the first step—and nearly everywhere has some claim to fame that differentiates them.

It could be historical, cultural, a group of loosely related businesses, an event, or some creative combination of each or all of those that defines the area. But whatever it is, specificity is the key to a successful position that resonates in the market. For example, the ability to “See 7 States” differentiates Rock City from other high vantage points.

The famous Las Vegas theme, “What Happens Here, Stays Here,” recognized that while visitors had very different experiences through the variety of attractions, they had one thing in common: a desire for freedom. Visitors to Las Vegas felt the freedom to dress, act and do things they didn’t feel in their daily lives or other destinations. The office, Broadway and Disney World all have well-defined expectations for behavior. The Las Vegas positioning gave the audience craving freedom permission to fill in the blanks with their own personal ideas—and nobody else has to know.

Like Your Visitors, Begin with a Destination in Mind

Being disciplined in your approach to branding sharpens your focus. After you have a crystal-clear vision your brand, then you can engage smart technology to be more precise in your efforts. Download the ebook, Destination Marketing Merges Onto the Digital Highway, to explore the Five Gate of Brand Confinement and the technology that can enable you to accelerate your results.

Destination Marketing Technology


Seven Destination Marketing Trends

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