Accidental Success: An Emerging Destination & Stakeholder Collaboration

Jenny Ersbak & Hilary Lewkowitz | June 28, 2017

Stakeholder engagement is crucial for emerging destinations, but oftentimes a uniting theme is missing - digital content can be that centerpiece.

Roadmap for Emerging Destinations

Emerging destinations enter the travel market with a potential list of challenges, in some cases it’s recovering from a decades old war. One of the biggest challenges then becomes rebranding in a way that convinces the global travel community the destination is safe, accessible, and worthy of a bucket list. Oftentimes, this must be done on a smaller marketing budget, so a destination becomes more reliant on stakeholder engagement to help spread the message. However, the first challenge in stakeholder engagement is just that, figuring out how to best engage the travel supply chain. One way to bring the travel trade community together is by creating a unified message - something that everyone can be proud of, share, and use as a tool to promote business. We will take a closer look at how storytelling is used as the foundation for Kosovo's new identity by looking through the lens of the country’s people and landscapes.

Kosovo Rising

GLP Films traveled to Kosovo to tell the story of a country once ravaged by war and now emerging as a top travel destination. Kosovo has a remarkably diverse list of opportunities for travelers, but the country’s global reputation still reflects its darker past. So, how can a destination simultaneously bring stakeholders together and improve brand awareness? Digital content can be used to build relationships across the tourism supply chain, where story is the inspirational centerpiece.

The short-film, “Kosovo Rising,” follows Nol Krasniqi, a local mountain guide who believes passionately in adventure tourism development and its promise for a brighter future. The key message is the emergence of a new identity for a destination largely defined by war and instability. For Kosovo, storytelling is an ideal platform to change the conversation and position itself as being on the verge of a tourism reawakening. 

Organic Reach from Stakeholder Engagement

The film was soft-launched on social media this past May with an overwhelming response. On Facebook, Kosovo Rising reached over 36,000 views in less than a week. The viral reach was the result of an uncoordinated effort from stakeholders across Kosovo’s tourism supply chain. Organically, Kosovo stakeholders came together to share a unifying message that the country is open for business. Stakeholders ranged from tour operators, DMOs, media, travel advisors, government entities and supporting businesses.

Lessons Learned

Although, we did not plan on “Kosovo Rising” going viral from stakeholder engagement, it showed the power of digital content to unite the tourism supply chain. Tourism stakeholders represent various groups across the travel trade, including tour operators, travel agents, airlines, associations, NGOs and the media. This is a strategic network that can be leveraged to promote the destination and generate new business. Specifically, value can be found with tour operators and travel agents. These travel re-sellers can use stories to help inform the customer journey to purchase by educating, informing and inspiring potential travelers.