Wherever travellers go, they’ll be using the internet and social media to discover the best spots, plan their itinerary, and share their memories with friends.
The challenging part about online destination marketing is that it doesn’t sit neatly in just one place of your visitor’s journey. Leading internet players, including Google, travel review site, Trip Advisor and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram might be where visitors first get inspired to learn more about your venue or destination. But it’s also where they learn about your natural attractions, events, a local trail or decide to visit your food and wine offering while visiting.
Here, we’ll share five tactics that will help you build a successful tourism marketing strategy. These are based on our experiences with destination marketing experts and strategies we see working in the travel industry. If you’re writing a destination marketing plan or updating your existing plan, these are 5 tips you should include.
If you want more help with developing your destination marketing plan visit https://www.brighthouse.com.au/tourism-strategies/ and drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
#1 Find Your Visitors Before They Arrive
“Visitors are not visitors anymore. They don’t arrive one day and disappear two weeks later,” advises Mark Rybchuk, a Corporate Account Executive at Hootsuite. He recommends that destination marketing organisations build relationships with visitors long before they arrive.
Make sure your website tells your story or better still, your many stories. Keeping websites up-to date with current events, things to do and most importantly stories about people in local tourism is critical. Your blog should be front and centre on your home page, providing interesting and informative stories that your prospective visitors will relate to.
Surprise and delight at your airports - when a visitor arrives at an airport, they’ll often take an Facebook or Instagram photo or post a Twitter update. This is another good opportunity for tourism marketers to connect with visitors. Use technology to connect you to these visitors and set up auto-responders all social posts from specific locations.
#2 Support Your Local Tourism Operators
Support your local operators by working collaboratively to promote all the local tourism products, attraction and events.
If your town is not currently a peak tourism destination in your region, you need to find the things that travellers are seeking to see and do. For example, if your locality is steeped in history, has unique bush trails, or provides abundant fishing opportunities, engage with local organisations, such as historical societies, bush-walking groups and fishing clubs, to provide regular information about unique location attributes and special events. Post this information as blog content and point to those organisations on your online tourism operator directories.
Monitor what visitors are posting on social media. If arriving visitors post history, trails or fishing related questions, you can respond using your local experts e.g. “Contact … and we’ll point you to the best spots for ….”
Extend this strategy to the surrounding regions as well. Send visitors to nearby places where they can enhance their experience (if you don’t offer the experience) and the recipients are likely to reciprocate with recommendations about your tourism product. For example questions about fine dining and live music can be routed to your larger regional towns that offer these facilities.
# 3 Get Serious About Wayfinding
Wayfinding is far more than signage and maps. Wayfinding encompasses your brand, the way people hear about you and whether they perceive you met their expectations. It’s also about leading visitors to the things they’ll enjoy and making it easy for them to find them.
Wayfinding comes in many forms - websites, social media, printed collateral, broadcast media, regional and local signage and more.
It’s not uncommon for travellers to miss important attractions through insufficient attention to providing directions to them. Make sure the amenities are visible and opening times for tourism operators, food and beverage outlets and information centres are well publicised.
Always incorporate your brand in wayfinding material and be consistent in the delivery.
# 4 Make Your Plans Actionable
To create a great plan, you need start out by getting to know your tourism product and its competition. Then you create a strategy and make it actionable.
We believe that actions speak louder than words, so seek outcomes over impressive ideas lists. it’s about smart solutions and real results.
Use social data to better understand out-of-market visitors. Search and social media analytics make it easy to see what attractions out-of-market visitors best associate with your destination. You can gather insights from Google and millions of social media data sources including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube comments, blogs, Twitter, and online discussions.
Then you can then use that information to develop more effective marketing campaigns The analytics data will show you which tourism product and attractions to prioritise rather than adopting a scatter-gun approach.
The key to developing successful marketing strategies include
Keeping it simple;
Focussing on customers;
Not aiming for perfection; and
Being explicit in developing actions.
#5 Manage Your Reputation - Make Plan to Engage Dissatisfied Visitors
Dissatisfied visitors will have more impact on your reputation as a destination than glowing testimonials, so it’s important to engage both happy and unhappy visitors. Many destination organisations are unsure of the best way to deal with negative visitors. They don’t want to pour fuel on the fire and cause a bigger controversy - so often the default strategy is to only respond when necessary. This sends a signal to the market that you are not responsive to criticism or perhaps, just don’t care.
We recommend that you develop and formalise a plan for how to deal with negative visitors and train people to monitor and respond well to negative comments. Responding early can mute negative experiences, minimising their impact. Often, angry visitors can be turned into brand advocates with early attention.
A few questions to help you think about new training and processes to develop:
What types of negative comments do you ignore?
What types of comments need to be escalated and responded to?
How do frontline staff pass these comments higher up your social chain of command?
What processes do you have in place for real-time social media crisis monitoring? For example, if a bad story breaks, what’s the process for drafting a response?
Do you conduct regular simulated crisis management training? This can help your marketing teams refine workflows and better understand approvals.
Does your social media policy include guidance on dealing with negative comments?