Episode #007 - Burkhard Kieker (Visit Berlin), sporting event tourism, Best Western-IBM Watson summer campaign
In our seventh episode we speak to Visit Berlin CEO Burkhard Kieker about the role the destination marketing organisation has played in promoting the iconic European city as a creative capital. During our interview, recorded at the Melbourne Live event last month where Keiker was a guest speaker, he talks about how in the years of turmoil following the fall of the Berlin Wall the organisation identified that that very chaos “was our biggest advantage” as artists and creative people were attracted to the city as it redefined itself.
“We found out that this created the atmosphere in the city that was very appealing to many people who came from the countryside in Germany, from other nations in Europe, just to catch the spirit of the city, of this Phoenix from the ashes. And seeing this, we understood how we should market the city or how we should preserve the nature and character of the city.”
Kieker, a former journalist and techno club owner, says that another critical factor has been the city’s liberal and accepting approach. “That's one of the secrets of Berlin, is tolerance, as far as you don't bother other people… if you feel like putting on a zebra costume tonight and cruising in the subway, do so, nobody would care about you.”
Visit Berlin developed the 24/365 platform but it was an authentic reflection of what was already happening in the city - rather than a manufactured marketing construct. “One of the major things we always feel is stay authentic, and when doing marketing never try to pretend to be something. Be yourself as a personality.” Keiker says that, for example, the city has tried to keep artists in the city by subsidising their ateliers and flats. “We see when they have an atelier, they want to have a nice café. So they set up cafés, and they set up galleries. And we prefer the café set up by our artists to one of these big coffee chains, because that's what you find all over the world, but this style of cafe you have only in Berlin or Paris.”
Meanwhile in a timely discussion in our ‘Trend Monitor’ segment co-hosts Andrés and Lauren talk about how destinations can use mass sporting events such as the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia to deliver long term tourism benefit. Lauren wonders if the lessons have been learned from the Sochi Winter Olympics, held in the Black Sea resort in 2014, which failed to put Sochi “on the map” for international visitors and left a $51 billion hole in Vladimir Putin’s pocket.
Finally in ‘Campaign News’ we dissect a new partnership between Best Western and IBM’s Watson, the computer giant’s artificial intelligence business unit, which launched in the US this month. Travellers can start a conversation with Best Western's AI-powered ad on sites such as weather.com by providing information on their upcoming travel plans. Through a series of dialogue prompts, they will be guided through a conversation about their travel needs, and the AI-powered ad will respond with trip planning ideas such as what to pack as well as providing information about Best Western's locations across North America.
Andrés says it is a “great task-oriented implementation of AI” and predicts that we will see tourism brands making more use of connected chat experiences in the near future. What makes it a “brain exploding game changer”, he says, is the idea of marketing within a conversation. Marketers, however, have a lot of work to do to evolve their content strategies to reflect the fact that 50% of all searches are predicted to be voice within two years.
Visit Berlin website (English)
24/365 event calendar//Visit Berlin (English)
Melbourne LIVE 2018//Destination Melbourne