In tourism, creating and telling stories is becoming an effective tool for assisting the development and marketing of tourist destinations, products, attractions, and operators. Slovenia is rich in tourism stories that also have tourist marketing potential, but they are still not sufficiently integrated in tourist products, or tourist products do not include stories at all.
For this reason, the Slovenian Tourist Board has launched the “Stories in Slovenian Tourism” project. The purpose of this project is (1) to analyse the situation in the field of stories in Slovenia – from the local to the destination level, through the regional to the national level, (2) to establish a system through developing “a pyramid of stories in Slovenian tourism,” and (3) to encourage all major stakeholders to use storytelling as a strategic marketing and operative communications tool to increase the competitive edge of the products and destinations by using guidelines for the development and marketing of stories and their transformation to tourist products.
The foundations of storytelling
The term storytelling has a much broader meaning than it appears at first glance. It is not only about telling stories (the process of telling a story to an audience or sharing it with them), but the process also includes the important element of creating stories: how particular events, facts, information, knowledge, or awareness can be transformed into a story that can then attract the attention of our target audience.
Storytelling is a tool that changes information into an easily understandable language that can be effortlessly remembered and that touches people's HEARTS. Information is static, stories are dynamic. Stories have a great visualisation potential with regard to our message. Storytelling has the power to enhance a brand internally and externally. Branding is the goal and storytelling is the tool that helps us reach that goal.
What exactly is a story? Which elements should it include? How can you develop your own unique, basic story that will build your recognisability and distinguish you from your competition? How to develop storytelling as a strategic marketing tool – how to use it as a tool to build a brand and develop tourist products. How to use it at the operative communication level in support of marketing activities.
The pyramid of stories in Slovenian tourism
Within the project, the “pyramid of stories in Slovenian tourism” has been developed.
The purpose of the project was (1) to develop a clear system for developing stories and communicating through stories, (2) to classify certain types of stories at a particular level and thus establish priorities, (3) to arrange a system that also encourages the development of structured pyramid systems at lower, regional, destination, and corporate levels as well (so that it is known for every story where it is classified, what are its communication potentials, and what is its promotional purpose), and finally (4) its purpose is also to encourage the lower levels (regions and destinations) to develop stories and classify them at higher levels of the pyramid or to integrate upwards.
The levels in the storytelling pyramid are:
Slovenia’s umbrella story uses storytelling to support, clarify, and emotionally conceptualise the I Feel Slovenia brand and introduce Slovenia's characteristics through the following attributes: GREEN. ACTIVE. HEALTHY.
The TOP STORIES level includes stories from regional and destination levels. This level represents an important platform for communicating what Slovenia is, what are its unique offerings, what are its distinguishing and unique advantages (not only its Unique Selling Proposition, but more so its Emotional Selling Proposition), and it represents the entry point for lower levels.
Umbrella regional and inter-regional stories, the purpose of which is to establish a distinction between tourist regions in Slovenia, and develop and upgrade the current umbrella regional positioning concepts.
The destination-level umbrella stories are stories that are leading, key, and main stories for a destination. Therefore, these are stories that best support the identity and brand of a destination and communicate it.
The micro story level is the most fundamental, basic, and broadest level of the pyramid, which includes numerous stories of products, even micro-location stories (e.g. house stories) and other individual stories at a destination.
Stories in marketing
Stories as a STRATEGIC MARKETING TOOL:
a) support the development of a marketing brand and umbrella marketing positioning (when a story is used to communicate which type of offerings are available; who we are);
b) support product and offer development at a destination (when offerings, experiences, and products begin developing based on a story).
An OPERATIVE COMMUNICATION TOOL (when stories become the starting point for creating messages and delivering them to target audiences).
- Website (=basic marketing tool, where stories must be placed);
- Digital media (=only serve as a channel or storytelling medium);
- Public relations, not as corporate communication, but as one of the marketing tools (=an important marketing tool for communicating stories; reaching the media through stories);
- Marketing infrastructure tools that must support communication through stories (=the infrastructure that must be available if we even wish to communicate through stories; this is a visual and verbal support for communicating stories, such as a photo bank, video clips, the inclusion of storytelling in brochures, and promotional articles supporting stories, etc.);
- B2B tools (=when we communicate with professionals, stories can also be used, but always depending on the situation).