Science of Storytelling 

Laura Knudson & Jenny Ersbak | December 2016


Storytelling is an age-old form of communication that is part of every country and culture. It is an essential tool to connect with audiences in a meaningful way, because people remember stories and experiences better than facts. Research shows that storytelling engages more areas of the brain than processing facts, allowing people to connect on a deeper level by turning the story into their own ideas or experiences.

The brain releases dopamine when experiencing an emotionally-charged event, which helps trigger greater memory and accuracy. MRI neuro-imagery shows that consumers primarily use emotions, not information, when assessing brands, and that the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales. While it is clear that storytelling shows great potential as an impactful tool for the travel industry, the key is knowing how to integrate storytelling successfully into a brand’s content marketing strategy.


Integrate Storytelling into a Marketing Campaign

Today, travel brands are using storytelling to drive business and build a community of travellers hungry for unique experiences. However, with limitless potential story angles at our fingertips, how can you single out a signature story that best embodies your brand? The answer lies in differentiation. The primary role of differentiation is to construct a clear “lack of confusion with other destinations or products”. It is essential to consider key factors that set your destination apart from others. Also, identify environmental and cultural aspects that travellers might not know about that could influence their travel decisions.

In order to identify your best stories, start by assessing your destination’s key assets including the people, adventure products, cultural traditions, environment and food. Attach a human narrative to each of these experiences by profiling a main character, someone the audience can immediately relate to and develop a shared connection with.

With the rise of the internet as a major source for trip planning, it has become even more competitive for destinations to stick out as being ‘must see’ places to visit. So, it is essential to highlight what makes your destination unique and what makes your tourism offerings distinctive.

Looking for more articles like this?



Adam Weinroth. Infographic: The science of storytelling. Onespot, May 22, 2014.           

Brianne Rush. Science of storytelling: Why and how to use it in your marketing. The Guardian, August, 28, 2014.

Michael Morgan, Peter Lugosi, and JR Brent Ritchie, eds. The tourism and leisure experience: Consumer and managerial perspectives. Vol. 44. Channel View Publications, 2010.

B. Ritchie. “The Branding of Tourism Destinations, Past Achievements & Future Challenges” Annual Congress of the International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism, Morocco (1998)

Stephen Herskovitz and Malcolm Crystal. “The essential brand persona: storytelling and branding.” Journal of business strategy 31, no. 3 (2010): 21-28.

Steve Denning. The Science of Storytelling. Forbes. March 9, 2012.