Given the key global priority placed on authentically unique cultural experiences by Millennials, any City or Destination Place Branding Strategy should focus on the quality, uniqueness and emotional uplift of those experiences; the joy of mixing and engaging with local people.
In that sense, the quality of the prized cultural immersion experience will be judged on the quality of the interaction between the visitor and the locals, not simply the beauty of the landscape or seascape alone.
“Remarkable landscapes and natural attractions are not enough. Visitors must receive a world-class experience at every stage of their journey.” NZ Tourism Strategy
In other words, it’s all about experiencing the authentic character and warmth of a City or Destination’s people, not just viewing its places. Unlike their Boomer parents, Millennials simply won’t sit inside a tour bus, passively looking out. They want to be outside the bus, actively joining in. Mixing, interacting and having fun with happy local people. Living like a local, not just sightseeing or shopping. People, not just places.
An essential part of effective Place Branding for a City or Destination therefore is the need to design optimal place brand experiences by “Imagineering” (a term invented by Disney) experience environments. Accessing these local experiences should allow visitors to a City or Destination to pick and choose and co-create a personal experience – some will enjoy more adventurous experiences while others want to experience local life as it is. It is imperative therefore that all of the experience networks within a City or Destination (those public and private parties that are involved in the place brand offering) understand what the 21st century experience represents.
There needs to be an analogy between physical and virtual experiences, such as social networks, augmented realities, arts, travelling exhibitions, events, online videos and blogs. Delivering customised experiences and “choose your own adventure” has become multi-dimensional in its approach.
Harnessing the creativity of the City or Destination through an ongoing process of inviting both stakeholders and local community members with good ideas to contribute and participate in the transformation through the Place Branding Strategy, is an effective way of contributing to the long term success of the city rebranding. A constant stream of imaginative and innovative ideas, creative projects and events are essential to building the City or Destination brand.