Place branding and marketing leaders head to London for CNP UK & Global

In just three weeks, we’re heading to London for the City Nation Place UK and City Nation Place Global conferences, bringing together place leaders from destination marketing, economic development, and place brand teams to understand how cities, regions, and nations are future-proofing their organisations. While there’s lots on the agenda to explore, we wanted to collate insights from our speakers across four of the key themes weaving throughout the conferences: how organisations are re-thinking after the crises of the past few years; collaboration between key stakeholders; quality of life for your residents; and developing a sustainable strategy that will continue to deliver returns.


On re-thinking and re-inventing:

We have spent a lot of effort in developing long term strategies, trying to predict the future business conditions. Our strategic areas rest on four pillars; sustainability, innovation, credibility and intelligence and strategic partnerships. These pillars will guide us into continuous future success and make sure we are on the right track. As an investment and trade promotion organisation it’s crucial to monitor the world and follow trends and new conditions closely to be able to adapt the strategies accordingly. But as we all have learned during the latest years, changes can come very fast and can have a global impact. A strong ability to innovate in times of uncertainty is by far the most important aspect to continue to stay relevant and be successful.

Camilla Bark, Director of Marketing and Communications, Invest in Skåne

We as tourism professionals are no longer really effective on our own. And certainly not along the lines of the old metrics. Instead, we need new alliances and new KPIs. If tourism plans to have an impact on the quality of life we need to cooperate with those in the area of recruiting, with universities or contact points for the start-up scene. These are vital new playing fields. The fact that visitors and potential residents discover the place as their own, with its possibilities not only for professional development but also for leisure activities and with the energy of a "place to be", is more important than the mere number of overnight stays generated.

Heike Döll-König, CEO, Tourismus NRW e.V.

On collaboration:

In my experience, due to resource and organisational pressures, trying to persuade stakeholders to collaborate with a place brand will inevitably be at best a secondary objective when you approach them cold. They might love the place, and might want to help with all their heart – but reality gets in the way when they need to focus on revenue, sort out staffing issues, or write reports for shareholders, as well as their own marketing. This is not a rebuff. It’s just how it is. But if you approach an organisation with an understanding of their objectives, have a coherent rationale for why collaboration has mutual benefits (and it doesn’t purely involve you asking them to do something but properly work alongside them on something) – with an example showing how it can be successful – then you have a much better foundation for getting something going.

Mark Mobbs, Marketing Manager, Marketing Sheffield

Because we believe in the value of partnerships, we seek a development strategy that both promotes and benefits from a collaborative approach. This can boost and enrich the strategy’s impact at local, national and international levels[.] If we want to spur innovation, creativity and sustainability, there should be an effort to better understand and communicate the attributes that make us unique. A collaborative approach brings people and organizations closer together. It is essential for building a strong brand, creating new opportunities through dialogue, an open exchange of ideas and experiences, co-organization of events and joint projects.

Mayor Armindo Jacinto, Idanha-a-Nova

We have a fantastic network of GREAT Ambassadors who give their time for free to promote the UK. We take the time to understand where their passions and business interests lie and provide them with a platform to tell an authentic story about their home country. The real power comes in the breadth and variety of our Ambassadors and the impact of them all speaking with one voice.

Andy Pike, Director, GREAT Britain & Northern Ireland Campaign

On quality of life:

One of the main aspects of a successful City Branding Strategy is the commitment to raise and attract new talent. Talent is the critical factor for innovation and also for attracting new investments and reputation. We are witnessing a paradigm shift in which companies are now relocating or investing where the international talent is; it’s not so much that the talent goes to where the companies are anymore. Cities have to be pleasant and healthy places to live and work to attract talented individuals. The best talent does not want to live and work in just any city, but in those that guarantee functional and emotional benefits and that is prominent in the new global value chains.

Pau Solanilla, Commissioner for City Promotion, Barcelona City Council

We are also passing everything through a lens of the four pillars of social responsibility. Our work should be generating revenues to reinvest in communities through social impact that support the four pillars of social responsibility – businesses, culture, communities, and environment - and help ensure that a great place to live is a great place to visit.

Anthony Everett, CEO, 4VI

On sustainability:

Communication and collaboration is key here. Engaged cross-sector partnerships can more easily identify issues that affect each area, whether it’s economic, social or environmental, and synergies which may exist between these. A joined-up approach makes it easier to gain an overview of the bigger picture and find out what the key issues and opportunities are in a destination.

By involving as many stakeholders as possible through cross-departmental working, communication with colleagues and engaging with external organisations and local businesses, in the creation of a strategy, they can jointly take ownership in working towards its goals. Shared resources also means reduced costs!

Claire Toze, Tourism Manager, Visit Exeter

As the new go-to destination for business and events, and part of Dubai’s thriving Free Zone community, Expo City Dubai is attracting not only established businesses but also start-ups and SMEs, which are key to the long-term prosperity of the city and nation. We consider our tenants to be crucial partners in the sustainable growth of Expo City Dubai, so our selection process ensures that all tenants are aligned with our values[.] Expo City Dubai is based on a deep-rooted belief that a broad coalition of people, working together, can propel human progress to help create a more sustainable and dignified future for all. We believe that instilling our values in every aspect of our city – both physically and otherwise – will safeguard such a future.

Sholto Douglas-Home, Chief Marketing, Communications, and Sales Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai

We are finding that the tourist today is prepared to spend to do that ‘bucket list’ experience that perhaps prior to the pandemic they put off, thinking they’ll do it “one day”. Now, we know how fragile things are. Nothing seems as concrete as it once was. And, during the pandemic we also re-discovered our backyards, and how important our climate is, and the future of our earth and therefore travel. So, here in Fiji we’re ensuring that our message encapsulates both of these points – that travel can be meaningful, sustainable, and leave a lasting impact.

Brent Hill, CEO, Tourism Fiji

For more insights from our line-up of expert speakers, join us at City Nation Place UK on November 9 or City Nation Place Global on November 9-10. Find out more here.

The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.