From social media, email marketing and remarketing, to website marketing, search engine optimisation and online advertising, the internet offers so many fantastic ways for tourism businesses to connect with their most profitable prospects.
But, in this world of infinite communication possibilities, how do tourism operators know what to invest in, and how do they know that it will bring more bookings and sales for their business?
What to consider BEFORE choosing your marketing tactics
To help guide you to make the right decisions regarding your marketing investment we have outlined 5 guiding principles below.
1. Invest in tactics that align with your Ideal Customer
Your Ideal Customer is your most profitable prospect. They never ask the question about price, or leave bad reviews on TripAdvisor. They love you, your product/service, and everything your brand stands for – they are your advocates. They are your raving fans, and you love getting out of bed every morning just to serve them!
It is imperative that you profile your Ideal Customers before you decide whether you’ll invest time into Twitter (for example), as you may just find that you don’t need to bother! To learn how to identify your Ideal Customer, then we’d love you to read our full post on Ideal Customer Persona Profiling >
2. Only invest in tactics that your Ideal Customers trust
According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey in 2015, the most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust.
Additionally, owned (brand-managed) online channels, such as your tourism website, are also among the most trusted advertising formats. In fact, branded websites are the second-most trusted format, with 70% of global respondents saying they completely or somewhat trust these sites. In addition, more than half of respondents (56%) trust emails they signed up for.
Therefore, it is obvious that you need to be investing in tactics that will result in positive word of mouth, and also a high converting, mobile, user and search friendly website.
3. Tactics that influence your Ideal Customers in the ‘planning’ stage of the purchase funnel
When people are working their way through their purchase journey, they are spending more time in the planning phase. During this phase they are referencing blogs, review sites, customer comments, social media sites, 3rd party endorsement to assist with the purchasing decision, before they buy a product.
The image below is referenced from Think With Google’s Micro-Moments research study for the travel industry, and you can see that in the study they tracked the online moments that ‘Amy’ had whilst planning her holiday.
Basically, if you want to capture Amy in her moments, you need to know what questions she is asking during her planning stage, and create and deliver content to her in the most appropriate format, on the most appropriate platform, at the most appropriate time to engage her in your brand.
4. Tactics that increase repeat visitation
If your tourism brand attracts repeat purchasers (most likely if you have a lot of local customers) you should also focus on tactics that encourage existing customers to visit or buy again.
The reason for this is your existing customers are 10x more likely to buy from you again than new customers, and it costs anywhere from 4-10 times more to acquire a new customer, than it is to retain a current customer, so it makes sense to be focusing on them. They can also become your best advocates for your business, which as you’ve already learnt, is the most trusted form of advertising.
Developing a targeted customer relationship management plan is the most effective way to increase repeat customers.
5. Tactics that you can measure return on investment
With mostly limited funds, tourism brands have to be smart about their investment. And by smart, I mean, simply choosing those activities that can be measured, and that will help achieve your overall business objectives. If you can’t see a direct link between your investment and sales for your business, then DO NOT INVEST.
Thesedays, the majority of promotional activities can be measured, marketing is not a cost-centre anymore. So, make sure you are only investing in activities that will increase your bottom line!
Our top 7 tactics for ALL Tourism Businesses
Unfortunately there is no prescribed formula for successful marketing in the tourism industry. But, from our experience, those businesses that are offering transparency, honesty and communicate consistently to the right people, at the right time, with the right message will be successful with their marketing efforts.
So, whether you are a one-man-band tourism business, or a medium size corporate, there are a number of marketing activities that ALL tourism businesses need to be investing in, which include:
- Allocating time to set up and manage a website that works as a business development manager
- Engaging in social media and other online content marketing strategies
- Managing current and potential customer’s needs via a strategic customer relationship management strategy (using on and offline strategies)
- Using strategic email marketing tactics to communicate specific messages for specific audiences to ensure relevancy and increase brand engagement
- Working with industry trade partners to distribute product
- Actively building relationships with other like-minded tourism businesses to package product to increase distribution into new markets
- Measuring and reviewing marketing effectiveness on a regular basis to ensure you are achieving a positive return on investment
So, what marketing tactics will you choose?
Now that you have some guiding rules to play with, what marketing tactics will you invest in? We’d love to hear your ideas about how you will be investing your marketing spend in the coming 12 months, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to pop your query in the comments box below, and we’ll be sure to help you out!
Last Updated: September 2016
This post has been updated since it was first published in September 2014.