The effect seasonality has on a tourism business has been highlighted as a major marketing challenge for tourism operators in our 2016 industry survey.
Trying to keep their head above water when the season is slow, and then working overtime when visitation is high is a constant battle for so many tourism businesses. But the reality is all industries are the same.
In order to minimise the impact of seasonal trends, business owners need to think of parts of their business they can control to generate demand when it’s not typically sought after by the market.
So, below I share 6 tourism marketing tactics for you to consider to combat seasonality, and create demand for your tourism product all year round!
1. Build your email database all year round
Email marketing really comes into it’s own when sales or bookings are slim pickings.
The reason being, is that a database of people who are genuinely interested in your brand, and who are wanting to hear from you on email (as they subscribed themselves to your database) are more likely to buy from you than those who aren’t subscribed!
Some simple ways to build your email database include:
- Setting up an ‘opt-in’ to encourage people to subscribe to your list 9remember, your opt-in needs to be of value to your Ideal Customers.
- Promote your ‘opt-in’ and signup form on your website (pop-up, side bar, footer), and social media accounts.
- Ensure all new customers are aware that they will automatically be added to your database (for which they can unsubscribe if they don’t feel the content is of value).
- When you are out and about at events, you can invite people to subscribe at your trade stall.
If you are new to Email Marketing, then we’d love you to take a look at our blog posts email marketing strategy to learn how to get started >
2. Implement a ‘Low Season’ Content Strategy
Regardless of when people choose to travel, they are dreaming of their next holiday all year round. So leading up to the slow season, publishing blog posts that are centered around experiences they can enjoy in your region during the off-season.
The process of doing this includes:
- Starting with brainstorming a list of experiences that people will enjoy, addressing any fears (too cold, too wet, too hot, too humid, etc), and reiterating the experience benefits.
- Get out and about in your region, take some photos and videos of those experiences, during the low season (so people can see real-time what it’s like at that time of year)
- Optimise your blog posts for search queries that relate to the content on the page, to ensure it gets maximum visibility in search engine results when people are typing in relevant search queries into Google.
- Share your blog posts with your social and email communities, and make sure you re-share it during your peak and shoulder season to drive demand before you hit the low season.
Here’s an Idea…
Get a group of like-minded operators together to brainstorm content ideas, and then create and share each other’s content with all of your online communities. The more people creating content about low season experiences, the more opportunity to increase visitation during that period!
3. Create Experience Packages with Complementary Tourism Businesses
Packaging an itinerary for time poor, would-be tourists is a great way to drive demand, as the dreaming and planning stages are done for them! You can value add these packages with product or experiences that you don’t offer in the peak season, which then encourages forward bookings.
This strategy is brilliant for the accommodation sector, as often accommodation products are a response to seasonal flux, activities and events created by every other tourism business!
So, take control of the reigns, and work with other operators in your region (tour operators and attractions) to package an irresistible experience that can only be accessed and enjoyed in the low season.
A campaign idea to promote a accommodation package experience…
- Before the season approaches, you could run a competition on social and email to offer 1 of the packages for free.
- As part of winning the package experience, the winner has to submit 10 high resolution photos and 3 HD videos and a daily diary.
- The content that is created by the winner, can then be used to promote the package experience as a blog post, or on a webpage of all the participating products.
- Once you’ve published this blog post full of inspiring images and videos showcasing the package experience, you can then promote these packages well in advance on social and email (and also get the other operators involved in the package to share as well), to try and lock in those sales before the slow season starts!
4. Re-engage your locals & offer special deal for loyal customers
Whilst we don’t support the general idea of product discounts, there is merit in offering your locals and loyal customers a special deal if they stay/play with you during the off-season.
For regional tourism businesses…
- Your local community is often your bread and butter, so it’s important that you place a value on their support.
- Also, considering they are the source for all of your VFR (visiting friends and relatives) customers, there could definitely be some opportunities to offer a value-add promotion to these guys via a geographically targeted Facebook Ad, or even via a segmented email marketing campaign.
As for your loyal customers…
- You may like to do a mid-week accommodation special, or throw in a unique/tailored experience for any bookings throughout the low period.
- Then, start promoting your loyal customer deals via a targeted email marketing campaign, and ensure you track the return on investment of the campaign to see whether it worked for your business.
5. Leverage Tourism Events in your Region
Tourism events are a massive drawcard for most destinations, and are often planned to relieve seasonality pressure, or enhance the natural seasonal attributes a region has to offer.
There are plenty of ways tourism operators can leverage the increased demand for these tourism events, including:
- Using the event #hashtag in your relevant social media posts – Use your own image database to create event related posts, as this will not only help the event owners get the message out there, and create demand for the event
- Help promote the event on your Social and Email, this may give your followers a reason to visit/stay/play in your destination
- Develop an event ‘value add’ deal (accommodation, attraction or tour once-off deals) – This will show that your product is connected to the event, and will hopefully increase bookings / sales during the event period
- Enquire about setting up a product stall at relevant events – This is great opportunity for brand exposure, particularly for artisans and product makers, and will also help you to build your email marketing list too
6. Consider tapping into the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions (MICE) Market
Depending on your business type, you may like to touch base with your Regional Marketing Manager to discuss ways to enter into the MICE market – as meetings and events happen all year round, and are not restricted by seasons.
According to the Business Events Council Of Australia’s The Value of Business Events to Australia 2015 Report, the business events industry is an important contributor to the regional economy, based on the following proxy indicators of regional importance:
- Distribution of venues – Around 52% of venues are located in regional
- Distribution of events – Around 44% of events were held in regional
- Distribution of delegates – Around 36% of delegates attended business
events in regional areas.
- Travel behaviour of delegates – International and interstate delegates
who attend business events located in metropolitan area may also visit
regional areas during their trip. For example, a recent delegate survey in
Melbourne found that 38% of international delegates and 28% of
national delegates visited regional Victoria before and/or after a
So even for the smallest of operators, there are pre and post conference opportunities to potentially involved in, and often smaller conference or incentive groups are looking for more tailored, unique accommodation and touring experiences, which opens up the door for many businesses to benefit from the external investment in the industry.
Regardless of whether you think you have the right product for the MICE market, book an appointment with your state’s Business Events Organisation to see whether there are any synergies between your offering, and what the market is looking for.
Got some brilliant shoulder season marketing ideas?
We’d love you to share your successful strategies with our community in the comments below, so we can all keep our heads above water during the slow times…
Want to learn more?
If you’re ready to ramp up marketing for your tourism business, then we’d love you to take a look at our Tourism Marketing Academy + Mastermind >
This blog post was originally published in November 2015, and has recently been updated to ensure it’s relevancy and accuracy ?