Smart tourism is a destination management approach that requires the buy-in of a myriad of stakeholders. Its many audiences and complexity demand the creation of meaningful brands to effectively position and communicate smart tourism initiatives. The purpose of this paper is to explore how smart tourism branding strategies have been implemented to communicate relevant values, benefits and attributes to industry stakeholders through institutional websites.
Based on a semiotic analysis of two smart tourism-related sites (destinosinteligentes.es and smarttourismcapital.eu), the research interprets the brand-related visual and verbal signs.
The findings highlight how brand elements embedded in websites communicate a brand identity and facilitate particular interpretations of smart tourism. Both brands use similar signs to promote a techtopian vision of smart destinations but employ different strategies to motivate stakeholder buy-in.
Smart tourism is currently largely embedded in overall smart city initiatives and finding tourism-specific examples online is difficult. However, the two selected websites reflect the brands of multiple destinations and permit a detailed analysis of meaning making. Future research can focus on how brand-related signs are perceived by different stakeholders.
Identifying the strategies and shortcomings of current smart tourism brands informs future smart tourism branding efforts and effective communication with smart tourism stakeholders.
Semiotics is a relevant but underutilized method to understand how smart tourism initiatives conceptualize “smartness.”
This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brasil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001. The second author thanks CAPES for the National Postdoctoral Research Program (PNPD) Grant and the contributions of Professor Dr Richard Perassi (Federal University of Santa Catarina) during the research process.
Gretzel, U. and Collier de Mendonça, M. (2019), "Smart destination brands: semiotic analysis of visual and verbal signs", International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 560-580. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJTC-09-2019-0159Download as .RIS
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