Who is Hrvoje Jakopović?
Assistant professor in the Department of Strategic Communication at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Political Science. I am dedicated to research and teaching in the fields of public relations and strategic communication. As a scientist, my interests focus on big data research, user-generated content, measurement and evaluation of PR campaigns and role of strategic communication in tourism. One of my courses “Public Relations in Tourism” is teaching students about tourism promotion, tools and strategies for destination image creation and hospitality industry. Tourism videos as a PR and marketing technique, shared via online platforms, represent also one of my research interests.
"Promotion of tourism is based on destination image which is created through direct or mediated experience and projected on the minds of individuals. It is greatly dependent on available information mostly visual."
In this interview conducted by Hugo Marcos, Hrvoje Jakopović will distill he’s article YouTube’s Role in Destination Image Creation.
HM: As a tourist, what are you looking for? Do you have a preferred Destination?
HJ: As a tourist I prefer destinations which are not crowded. It seems that there is increase in demand for not touristy places. Over tourism is the contemporary challenge for many well-known destinations around the world. In the last fifty years number of tourists significantly multiplied hence it is necessary to develop new strategic approaches and rethink what sustainable tourism destinations should really be. My preferences are coastal areas, warm but not hot, beautiful nature and a lot of trees, easy-going residents, relaxing atmosphere with a cosy bars and restaurants. Since I still did not visit every country in the world, it would not be fair to single out just one destination. However, I could say that for vacation my preference would be Mediterranean destinations because I love the food, climate, vegetation and the lifestyle.
"...public relations should not only have advisory role, but also role in making those audio-visual material viral."
HM: What is or should be the role of public relations profession’s in the creation of promotional audio-visual material?
HJ: Public relations experts have a strong role in creating stories about certain destination. Each of the audio-visual material used in tourism promotion has its own narrative. It is unlikely that public relations and marketing activities would be effective and successful without strategic communication and general plan. For that reason, public relations consultancy is necessary in integrated communication campaigns. Moreover, public relations should not only have advisory role, but also role in making those audio-visual material viral. PR experts encourage engagement and discussion about published material and at the same time they are excellent storytellers.
HM: Public relations have today strong role in every aspect of destination image creation. First of all, - Can we consider YouTube as a powerful Tourism Marketing tool? Why?
HJ: YouTube is a powerful marketing and public relations tool. It also represents one of the most popular sites for publishing audio-visual material. Many influencers got noticed and became popular thanks to videos on YouTube. Social media platforms, especially YouTube, through its audio-visual format, enable not only look inside many worldwide destinations, but also enable those less famous and not so popular places, with tight budgets for promotion, to be competitive and gain attention of the tourists/users. The beauty of such online platforms lies in creativity, originality and making great stories. It is also important to take account of user engagement on YouTube channel and share audio-visual material across the internet.
HM: In your article “YouTube’s Role in Destination Image Creation” you refer “Promotion of tourism is based on destination image which is created through direct or mediated experience and projected on the minds of individuals. It is greatly dependent on available information mostly visual.” How is YouTube helping in promoting tourist destinations?
HJ: Decisions about visiting certain destinations are based on available information. We mostly relay on recommendation from family and friends or first-hand experience. However, when there is no such reference, information can be found elsewhere. When thinking about tourism, travelling and visiting locations for vacation, first come to mind geographical areas where we can relax and enjoy. This feeling of pleasure is associated with ours senses and how we experience the world. We cannot instantly smell, touch and taste distant destination, but very easily we can see and hear them via YouTube. Therefor such platforms are mediating experience and often provide important information for decision-making.
"It is important to catch attention in competitive tourism market therefore videos are taking various motives and narratives."
HM: What are the main characteristics of promotional videos used for tourism? How the national and local tourist boards use them on YouTube?
HJ: The promotional videos on YouTube produced by national and local tourist boards are diverse. It is important to catch attention in competitive tourism market therefore videos are taking various motives and narratives. Sometimes they are promoting destinations through their most recognizable products and services, sometimes they use celebrities, influencers, popular movie and sport stars. Certain promotional videos contain popular scenes from blockbuster movies which were filmed on certain location. Some of them promote wide sceneries, beautiful landscapes, while the others are focused on details. It is all about giving destination a touch of uniqueness through various attributes. Destinations could be perceived as relaxing, dynamic, adventurous, romantic, beautiful, exciting, safe…
Photo by @doondevil via Twenty20
"...we should always go step further and analyse user sentiments, what have they learned and understood from the videos, what is their motivation to visit destinations, measure the impact of promotional video on decision-making."
HM: Which are the most relevant parameters concerning youtube internals statistics that determine the success of a tourism video for a tourism Destination Image Creation?
HJ: Some basic parameters which are important for public relations and marketing experts in the tourism promotion on social media are reach, number of views, number of likes, engagement rate. However, we should always go step further and analyse user sentiments, what have they learned and understood from the videos, what is their motivation to visit destinations, measure the impact of promotional video on decision-making.
HM: What is the impact of video in the construction of the image and brand of a tourist destination?
HJ: Destination image can be defined as a perception of targeted public about certain geographical area. Tourists are constantly searching for new destinations which they want to visit. In these situations, information provided in audio-visual content can have influence on the perception of a tourism destination. It can also affect decision-making regarding visit to a destination.
"In a just few minutes they can tell such wonderful stories. These narratives in videos need some time for deconstruction but that makes them original and appealing."
HM: In a highly competitive and innovation-driven market such as tourism, how can destinations differentiate themselves and attract consumers' attention through video?
HJ: Having in mind highly competitive tourism market, destinations today need great stories that they can tell through promotional videos. They should find a way to be unique, different from other competitors, attract attention and provoke certain favorable emotions. Public relations and marketing experts develop strategies and techniques for sharing audio-video material which could lead to mentioning in everyday conversation and consequently enables penetration in traditional media.
HM: How can a Tourism Destination create connection with consumers using a video for Youtube?
HJ: Tourism destination can create connection firstly by catching consumer attention. Furthermore, it should briefly enable comprehension of favourable destination image. Finally, experts should manage relationships with users and online communities.
HM: In your opinion, what are the trends for the promotion of destinations in the future? Will video remain a central tool?
HJ: Video promotion will remain important. However, in the future it will be further shaped with the dynamics of technology development. For example, videos could be associated with augmented reality and virtual environment. I think that the efforts will go in the direction of imitating first-hand destination experience. Artificial intelligence and big data could in the future enable personalised tourism videos.
Photo by @daphneemarie via Twenty20
HM: What should a tourism video have to be successful?
HJ: Successful tourism video is a product of well-organized team of experts including public relations, marketing and production. It should communicate destination image and key messages in a short time. Moreover, uniqueness and emotions need to be embedded in the content of the video. Activities do not stop when the video is published online. It is just a beginning of the next phase in strategic communication process.
HM: Do you have a tourism video that catch your attention and make you want to jump to that specific destination or experience in seconds? And can you tell us why?
HJ: There is a lot of attractive tourism videos available online. My favourites always surprise me. In a just few minutes they can tell such wonderful stories. These narratives in videos need some time for deconstruction but that makes them original and appealing.