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The Outlander Effect & Destination Storytelling

I’ve recently fallen in love with Scotland. It was never really on my radar before that, to be honest. Sure, the highlander cows have always had a special place in my heart, but what was there really to do out there?

Enter Outlander. After a few episodes, I was hooked, and it didn’t take me long to binge the entire 5-season series. This story sucked me in so badly, I even started to wonder if maybe I was Scottish in a past life 😅

Apparently, I’m not alone. Outlander author Diana Gabaldon has received an award for boosting Scottish tourism through her fantasy saga. VisitScotland published a paper detailing how sites used in the TV adaptation have seen visitors soar. It’s called the “Outlander Effect”, and attractions that appear in the Outlander TV series have seen visitor numbers soar by 67% since 2013, from 887,000 to 1.5million.

This proves to us all just how powerful stories can be.

This of course, got me thinking about our work. After studying storytelling for years, this has to be the most intriguing aspect of story to me. It shows us how stories literally move people to certain destinations.

The more we hear stories about a place, the more we see a place and learn of its history, lore, people, culture… the more that drives our desire to go. As long as the story aligns with our values, of course.

Take Jersey Shore (the TV show) for example. That brought in a certain kind of traveler to the Jersey Shore – I would know, I live here. These travelers resonate with the people and things they are watching on TV, and they desire to experience it for themselves.

That is how storytelling works. That is why we always advocate to our clients to focus on communicating the values and virtues of your destination’s culture and your destination’s story in your communications.

After all, the dreaming stage of the booking journey, it starts with the destination. The destination pulls travelers in first (typically) before anything else, because people believe a certain destination is going to DO something for them.” This destination will make me feel X. This destination will help me Y. This destination will get me closer to Z.” Every destination holds a new potential for someone.

This is why we always start by doing a ‘destination mind dump’ with our clients to really familiarize ourselves with the culture’s personality, lore, symbols, and more. Exploring all angles with our clients, and then again on our own, reveals to us the many different storylines and lessons a culture carries within it. Using this in the concept development and brand story provides a much richer and rewarding experience for the visitor & guest.

Are you using story to your advantage in your marketing & experience? We'd love to hear how - share your story with us!


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