Imagine the opportunities for an emerging destination to market itself on the world’s largest travel site. For the second year in a row, PATA is partnering with TripAdvisor for the PATA CEO Challenge 2016, inviting destinations to showcase their unique features, heritage and culture in a high-stakes competition. Two winners will work closely with TripAdvisor to develop and create a digital marketing campaign, each one valued at USD $500,000. Sarah Mathews, TripAdvisor’s Head of Destination Marketing APAC, takes us behind the scenes of this exciting competition.
Congratulations to the 2016 winners! Southern Laos and the People’s Government of Meishan, Sichuan, China
Can you share the origins of the PATA CEO Challenge?
TripAdvisor has been recognizing travelers’ favorite destinations all over the world for years — our Travellers’ Choice Destinations awards honor amazing locales that are globally ranked based on reviews and opinions from TripAdvisor travelers, as well as booking interest on our site. Similarly, our Travellers’ Choice awards for Destinations on the Rise recognizes destinations across the globe that have seen the greatest year-over-year increase in positive feedback and interest. Last year’s Asia winners included Karon, Thailand; Nha Trang, Vietnam; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Hue, Vietnam.
The PATA CEO Challenge concept was very much in line with our desire to shine a light on emerging travel spots that have outstanding accommodations, attractions and restaurants for all types of travelers all over the world. We had discussed the idea with PATA and we really liked how the challenge would encourage travelers to uncover hidden gems across the region – which aligned to with PATA’s core theme of travel dispersion.
How did PATA and TripAdvisor develop the criteria for judging?
We are looking for a sustainable tourism product that could be developed further to leverage the scale and support of TripAdvisor’s global community. We are also looking for destinations with unique stories and a passionate community that drives tourism efforts.
Destinations that want to take part have to provide key elements that we judge on, including a list of tourism offerings highlighting the overall cultural, heritage, historic and natural landscape of the place, as well as accompanying images that could help tell their story.
What were the most compelling factors among the 2015 winners, Albay, Philippines and Thekkady, India?
Both winning destinations had authentic and unique stories to tell, as well as passionate communities within them who demonstrated a strong desire to showcase themselves to the world and to welcome global travelers. The submissions clearly showed a collective effort from the local businesses and residents to want to actively promote the destination as an emerging destination for travelers.
What was the process of developing those campaigns?
We have worked very closely with these winning destinations and provided them with training to educate them on how they can further raise their brand awareness, as well as increase their online presence through the various digital platforms. Our workshops also gave them better understanding and insights on online consumer behavior and how they can develop strategies around these to effectively target travelers.
What are your ultimate hopes for leveraging TripAdvisor’s resources for tourism development in Asia Pacific nations?
It is typically the outstanding attractions, restaurants and accommodations that help make a travel destination great – this, along with spirit of the community that rallies behind it. At TripAdvisor our aim is to help these hospitality businesses thrive. We want them to use us to capture the global audience so they can continue to grow and succeed. Ultimately, we want to be able to help travelers discover more of the world and there are just so many great places in Asia Pacific they have yet to see!