5 Ways to Play with QR Codes for Destination Marketing

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We are starting to create more QR codes and see them appear more in traditional advertising efforts.  They are popping up on direct mail pieces, event posters, products, and promoting all types of destinations and fun stuff.

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What is a QR code?
A QR code is a 2-D barcode that can be scanned by a smart phone's camera and transfer information. Based on the type of code it is, it might direct the viewer to a website, make a phone call, deliver a vCard or more.

How can I market my destination with QR codes?
QR codes are the new buzz, so many still do not recognize them when they see them or won't have a smart phone with a QR reader installed, which currently limits their impact. For now, we use them as a secondary or for-fun-option.   Any promotions that depend on the use of QR codes still have to explain how they work, and the steps the person has to take to access this additional information. Because of this, we evaluate if QR codes are a good fit for certain marketing communication.  But lately, we've seen a rise in use and especially popular with Japanese tourists.  So here are some fun ways to start inviting your audience the option to engage with them:

1) Product labeling
Imagine this, a foodie is enjoying wine in a local restaurant from a local vineyard. They notice the QR code on the bottle and quickly scan it. That takes them to a site page where they can learn more about the winery and links to where they can buy a case for delivery...all before the check comes.

2) Visitor Guide Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are fun and engaging and for destination marketing this approach can be a great way to get visitors to check out places they might not otherwise go.  Create QR codes for individual locations in the visitor guide and they can use them as promotions, story telling, giveaways or campaign information.  Great source for tracking results too!

3)  Event Volunteer T-Shirts and Souvenirs
Make a big impression at an event.  Place promotional messages in QR codes on event shirts and invite volunteers and staff to wear them walking around the festival to engage the crowd with targeted messages.  And sell them as souvenirs.

4) Storefront Retail Sign 24/7
Few retail businesses are open 24/7.  Don't let those shopping locations disappoint potential customers after the retailers have left for the day.  Retailers can post in the storefront window "Shop Online Now! QR code", one quick scan and a potential lost sale is turned into a happy destination shopper  who's going to share a lot more of their contact information and forward to their friends back home.

5) Promote All Social Media on Your Business Card
Keep your business card simple, create one QR code that leads visitors to your destination's Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Plaxo, Yelp, FourSqure, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Whrrl, and MySpace profiles.

QR codes ignite curiosity and surprise.  There are endless ways to use QR coding to connect and engage visitors with information, photos, reviews, directions, promotions, coupons and event information, but most important use them to give better service or even better- give something away for free.  Don't disappoint your audience by just taking them to a web site with general information.

Are you using QR coding in your destination marketing?  Yes?  We'd like to hear from you and find out the results you are receiving.

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