She sells Seychelles?

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By Rachel McMullan, Senior Account Manager

The Seychelles Diaries: Marketing a bucket list destination  

After two and a half years of no international travel and only staycations in the North of Scotland, in May of this year I found myself in Glasgow airport boarding a flight to the Seychelles Islands (with work!).

We were on our way to kick off a project with the Tourism Board and other than feeling indescribably lucky to be part of the project team, I was slightly apprehensive to be boarding a plane again after two years in lockdown.

As soon as I landed on the beautiful islands, I realised I had no reason for apprehension. It was clear why travel is such an important and rewarding part of life and it got me thinking about what it really takes to drive visitors to tourism destinations across the world. 

For me, the Seychelles are a bucket list destination almost by definition. Luxury islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean with white sand beneath your toes and giant tortoises roaming free. It sounds like it wouldn’t take much to encourage tourists to visit Seychelles, however, we are living in a time where consumers are increasingly conscious about how and where they spend their money because of their personal values and beliefs. Are physical characteristics enough to make you visit a destination? Have they ever been enough? My answer to that is probably no. As much as your Instagram grid might benefit from a beautiful backdrop, what really makes a holiday experience is the people and the culture that embody that destination.  

Culture relates to everything from the food that is eaten to the country’s political stance on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. It covers the law, inclusivity, equality and diversity as well as music, fashion and sustainability. In the 2022 landscape, to avoid covering these things within a destination marketing strategy is to shoot yourself in the foot. It’s not just about the sun tans – the tans will fade but the memories last forever – it’s about feeling part of something that makes you feel relaxed, seen and heard.

The Seychelles certainly did this for me, I quickly realised that everybody knew everybody and no ask was too big. There was a real sense of community and island life felt like the answer to all of life’s problems.  

There are already tourism brands out there who are making the shift from selling their physical and rational product to the emotional experience that one can have, including VisitScotland with their Scotland is Calling campaign which launched in March earlier this year. We worked with the team to deliver a unique twist on a typical VisitScotland ad that showcased how a trip to our country can make you feel.  

Other destinations that are doing this well are shared by travellers regularly online as can be seen within this National Geographic article. This type of press is an incredibly powerful tool for increasing visitors and coverage such as this should be measured and considered as part of a successful marketing strategy.  

Visiting the Seychelles made me desperate to book more flights, to experience new things and see new cultures. This was down to a combination of things (and I’m not saying the breath-taking beaches didn’t help!) but the feeling I had there can’t be described and I’m on a mission to feel it again.