How to market a destination in times of austerity


Enrique Ruiz de Lera, UK director of the Spanish National Tourist Office, spoke at Social Travel Market last week about how to market a destination in a time of austerity. 

Enrique Ruiz de Lera speaks at Social Travel Market 2012

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that in recent years, tourist board budgets have been slashed. Spain is no exception. Ruiz discussed how Spain has had to adapt their efforts to suit a lower budget in a time of recession. He emphasised the shift towards digital media, and the need for quality over quantity in terms of Facebook users. ‘Facebook is no longer about the quantity of Likes, but about engaging with the users and using consumer driven content’, says Ruiz.

Spain’s current marketing strategy aims to turn Spain into an emotional brand using storytelling; with messages derived from personal experiences. Ruiz emphasised the importance of inspiring real people, and not only celebrities to create content. Spain demonstrates the value of real experiences through their ‘I need Spain’ website. The site is a platform for ‘Spain addicts’ to share their best Spain moments, upload their favourite pictures and discuss memorable experiences with other Spain addicts. Content can be in the form of videos, photos, articles, links to secret places or simply a short message about why they need Spain. The Spain Addict concept is based on the huge loyalty of the Spain customer: over 83% of tourists to Spain are repeat visitors and an incredible 43% have been 10 times or more.

So, what’s next? Ruiz discussed Flashmobs, the importance of blogger outreach and Guerrilla marketing. He also reiterated the value of social media, and gave examples including one with Thomas Cook.  A man named Thomas Cook contacted the popular travel company Thomas Cook asking for a free holiday to make up for all the teasing he had endured due to his name; whilst Thomas Cook declined and missed out on the opportunity, Lowcostholidays made the most of the opportunity and sent Mr Thomas Cook on holiday. In doing so, the company gained invaluable social media coverage and engagement. This demonstrates utilising social media opportunities when working with a strict budget.

Through the use of their Facebook and Twitter accounts, the Spanish Tourist Office looks to engage and inspire using localised content. The Spanish Tourist Office in London has also recently launched a new concept called the Social News Hub which is the first of its kind for the UK travel industry and is connected to over 323 social channels. The ‘Hub’ offers a wide range of services for users such as regularly updated news content, downloadable copy and images, quotes, links, polls and video links. The objective of the Social News Hub is to create a one stop shop for content which makes the most of the latest social media channels in a tangible and trackable way as well as hosting fresh and newsworthy content.

The hub will be updated on an ongoing basis and will provide inspiring content as well as downloadable images, videos and other useful documents.

Please do stay in touch.

Here are Enrique Ruiz de Lera’s ten commandments of country branding:
1. Remember a country is a brand…
2. …but a country brand is owned by consumers not governments
3. Create a long term strategy – No strategy, no results.
4. Differentiate - Focus on one or two selling points (not all things to all people) – Segment, target, position.
5. Focus on emotions - From USP to ESP – it’s emotional!
6. Create a story – Storytelling is the most powerful form of communication.
7. Content is (still) king - Producing relevant content and engaging real ambassadors (not only celebrities).
8. Only relevant content is king – Only communicate content that will interest your audience.
9. Social media is not just a trend - Online and offline worlds have converged.
10. Big ideas replace big budgets in times of austerity - Think outside the box.


For more information on the Jameos Music Festival, please visit

For more information on Lanzarote as a visitor destination, please visit

Comments (0)
Thank you for your message. It will be posted after approval.

Share this page

Latest news