Tourism StoryLAB ®

Researching and applying the power of storytelling

About the Tourism StoryLAB ®

The art and science of storytelling are indispensible for those responsible for the management and marketing of tourism destinations and heritage sites. 

Strategy development,  service design and innovation, branding and marketing,  audience and stakeholder engagement: storytelling optimises and enriches.

The Tourism StoryLAB is dedicated to the exchange of knowledge of narrative communication and the development of skills in storytelling and narrative management.  We bring together researchers, students and professionals to share research results and best practices and offers public and private organisations inspiration and education.

The Tourism StoryLAB was founded in 2013 by Karin Elgin-Nijhuis and is a registered trademark.

Strategy and Story MasterClass

Full-day | In-company | Dutch or English

A highly focused knowledge and skills master class on the art and science of storytelling and narrative communication by Karin Elgin & Co.lleagues.

The master class will empower you to:

  •  Understand your city, community or heritage site as a storyscape.
  • Develop a master/brand story for your organisation, destination or heritage site.
  • Adopt a narrative approach to strategy development and planning.
  • Storify service design and visitor experience development.
  • Incorporate story in content creation and copywriting.
  • Apply Design Thinking methods.

Previously in the LAB


Vlaams-Nederlandse Contactdag 3 November 2018 Middelburg, Netherlands

Heritage, Tourism and Storytelling

[Dutch only] De jaarlijkse Contactdag van ICOMOS Nederland en ICOMOS Vlaanderen-Brussel vond dit jaar plaats op 3 november in Middelburg, Zeeland. Een boeiende dag gewijd aan de relatie tussen erfgoed, duurzaam toerisme en storytelling met sprekers Peter Debrine (Senior Project Officer van UNESCO Paris), Marc Kocken ((Sectorhoofd Erfgoed en Publiek, SCEZ), Willem Derde (Voorzitter Het Erfgoedbureau vzw), Jurriaan de Mol (Director Business Development & Operations, NBTC), Elke Dens (Directeur Marketing, Visit Flanders), Daniëlle Slock (Projectleider Geopark Scheldedelta Provincie Noord-Brabant), Ben de Reu, (gedeputeerde Cultuur Provincie Zeeland) en Karin Elgin-Nijhuis (Tourism StoryLAB). Flyer below.

For a report [Dutch only]


Heritage, Tourism and Hospitality,,
International Conference
27-29 September 2017
Pori, Finland

Narratives for a World in Transition

The Heritage, Tourism and Hospitality, International Conferences (HTHIC, co-founded by Elgin & Co.) aim to offer participants valuable ideas and practical steps on, for example, how to deal with the development and promotion of innovative heritage-based tourism value propositions and products.  We gave HTHIC2017 the title ‘Narratives for a World in Transition’.  One of the questions to address is how heritage-based destinations can (or should not) use a framework to project their image holistically, within an identified coordinated story that ties the individual narratives of stakeholders together in a common destination brand identity.

Research Results 

We were delighted that Saskia Schäfer expressed the wish to work with us in the Tourism StoryLAB.  Saskia assisted us in testing the effect of the narrative element Return with the Elixer in travel writing.  She wrote an excellent MSc in International Management/
CEMS thesis (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University).  She currently works as Associate Account Strategist at Google.

The Value of Narrative Elements

The tourism industry is a highly competitive industry and Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) constantly compete against each other for the attention of potential customers. Thus, they need to publish engaging online content that is relevant for the audience in order to ultimately achieve positive customer actions.

My study was done on behalf of and collaboration with the Tourism StoryLAB® and aimed at finding out how to create such content. I was introduced to critical success factors for storytelling.

I researched and tested a specific element of the Hero’s Journey, the Return with the Elixir and its influence on consumer engagement (cognitive and affective attitude) and behavioural investment (intention to visit and clicking for more information).

An online experiment was conducted by comparing the responses of two groups of participants (a control and a test group) in terms of consumer engagement and behavioural investment. The results of this study provide valuable insights for DMO marketers as they show that including the element Return with the Elixir into content marketing efforts can increase consumer engagement. Higher levels of consumer engagement then seem to increase intention to visit and the likelihood of investing more time in information gathering.

My research also showed that women seem to be more positively influenced by the element, which creates opportunities for marketers trying to specifically target women with their content efforts. The type of Elixer, however, and the way it was formulated, may have influenced this research result and further experimenting is required.

This study offers first empirical evidence for the notion that the last element of hero’s journey, the Return with the Elixir can lead to higher levels of consumer engagement and provides a starting point for discussion and future research on how the elements of the hero’s journey can be used for successful content marketing.

Saskia Schäfer
February 2015