A quick Google search for “tourism marketing strategy,” will provide you with more information than you’ll know what to do with.
Unfortunately, most anywhere you click will direct you to a page full of rather elementary marketing tips meant to fill a blog post.
Lucky for you, this is NOT that kind of article.
What you’re reading is an expert’s guide to creating a highly effective tourism marketing strategy that has the potential change the way you market your destination forever.
We’re sorry if that sounds a bit cliche, but we’re talking about completely restructuring the way you view your destination marketing. The information contained in this guide will help you to:
- Set clear goals
- Identify the best ways to accomplish them
- Determine exactly who you should be marketing to
- Document your roadmap to success
- And plenty more…
What Is a Tourism Marketing Strategy?
The term “tourism marketing strategy” is often used incorrectly to describe the individual tactics a destination uses to promote themselves.
Instead, your tourism marketing strategy is your master marketing outline. Yes, it includes the individual tactics you’ll be using in your marketing, but it also contains so much more.
Your destination’s tourism marketing strategy will also include:
- Buyer Personas
- Website Optimizations
- Paid Marketing Guidelines
- Content Creation Calendar
- And more…
Create a Strategy Document
Just so we’re all clear, your strategy must be created in a living, breathing document that evolves as your marketing provides new insights and your business grows. For now, be sure to input all of the information from your answers into a written document so that you can share it with your entire team. You’ll need everyone on the same page if you plan to implement a successful venue marketing strategy.
Now, onto the steps for creation!
#1 – Buyer Persona Creation – Who Are You Marketing To?
Once you have your strategy document created, the first step to developing your tourism marketing strategy will be to define the “who” behind it.
Who are you marketing to?
You can’t hope to reach everyone with your marketing. If you try, you’ll find your marketing message becomes ambiguous and ineffective.
Instead, work to define the characteristics of your ideal visitor; the person or people you want visiting your destination more than anyone else. This character definition goes beyond simple demographics and gets into some serious detail. After all, you’ll be using this personal information to influence all of your marketing.
Within your buyer personas you’ll want to include things like:
- Job Title
- Interests Challenges
The process of creating effective buyer personas is vital to your success, which is exactly why we’ve created a full blown guide to doing it right.
This step is of the utmost importance. Without the right buyer personas in place, the rest of your marketing strategy will be rendered ineffective.
Don’t skip it!
Your marketing success will depend largely on your ability to reach the audience you’re marketing to with a targeted marketing message, so make sure to get clear on who that is and what your ideal buyer truly looks like.
#2 – Establish Your SMART Goals – What, How, and When
Next up, an equally important step: defining the goals that your marketing strategy will help you achieve. At Uhuru, we like the SMART framework for goal-setting. SMART refers to:
Each of your goals should posses all of these qualities. Let’s look at how to make that happen…
What Will Your Marketing Help Your Destination to Achieve?
The first step should be pretty familiar. You’ll start by outlining the things you want to achieve from your marketing. This could be as simple as increase visitors/tourism to your destination. You may also want to increase the revenue derived from that tourism.
In this first step, you won’t focus on adhering to the SMART framework. Instead, you’re creating a list of items you want to accomplish so you can refine them in the next step. After you have your list, use the following questions to modify your goals until they meet the SMART criteria.
Are These Goals Specific Enough?
If your original goal was to “increase the number of visitors to your destination,” how can you make that more specific?
For starters, you can attach a persona-based qualifier to your goal. Based on the buyer personas you created, you could modify your goal to be specific to families, couples, young professionals, millennials, or any other segment of the population represented by your persona.
You can also use this criteria to determine how much you want to increase tourism. For example, increase family tourism by 20 percent.
How Can You Take Action to Achieve This Goal?
This isn’t the time to decide exactly what action you’ll be taking to achieve your goal. Instead, you’ll want to ensure you haven’t started creating a goal that is unactionable.
Can you create a short list of actions you could take toward accomplishing your goal?
If so, your goal is actionable, if not it’s time to make your goal even more specific and ensure you’ll be able to take action on it when it comes time.
If your goal was to increase tourism, you could create a quick list like this:
- Highly targeted Facebook ads
- Print ads in local publications
- Google Adwords advertising
- Influencer campaigns
When it comes time to take action, you don’t have to stick to this list. Its sole purpose is to ensure your goal fits within the SMART framework. However, you can rest assured that you’ll have a much easier time achieving your goals when you can create lists like these to confirm they’re actionable.
How Are These Goals Relevant to the Success of Your Destination?
While the SMART framework sounds really nice, it may be a little out of order. You certainly shouldn’t wait until the third step to determine if your goal is relevant to the success of your tourism marketing strategy.
Before taking the time to establish a new goal, ensure that it’s entirely relevant to your strategy and falls in line with your other goals.
How Will You Measure Your Success?
By the time you’ve met the first three criteria you’re goal is getting quite clear, but you still have two more to meet. The next question you’ll have to ask is whether or not your goal is measurable.
For example, if your goal is to increase your destination’s exposure, you’ll want to ensure that you have a way to track just how much exposure is generated by your marketing tactics. Online advertising platforms like Facebook allow you to track exactly how many users saw (were exposed to) your advertising or promoted content.
This makes your goal measurable, especially when promoting your destination through digital media channels. However, should you decide to run print ads the level of measurability changes dramatically. After all, your publication can print your ad and put their magazine in front of people, but they cannot guarantee your ad will be seen by the reader. In fact, most cannot even guarantee that all of their prints will be distributed, skewing the numbers even further.
As you define your goals, it’s important that you also identify the appropriate KPIs (key performance indicators). Digital marketing KPIs are what you’ll use to measure the efficacy of every tactic you deploy and optimize them to improve your results/returns.
For example, you would use your costs-per-click to understand the efficacy of your paid ads, your cost-per-lead to understand whether or not you’re targeting the appropriate people, and your cost-per-conversion to understand the efficacy of your conversion funnel.
When Will You Accomplish Your Goals?
The final criteria of a SMART goal is the timeline in which you will achieve it. You may want to increase tourism in the coming year or season. Be clear about when you want to achieve your goals and you’ll find it easier to determine how to do so.
SMART Goal Example
When you put the 5 criteria together you’ll have a goal that is specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and timely. Let’s look at examples of your final SMART goal:
Increase family tourism to our destination by 20 percent in 2018 vs. 2017.
It really doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple goals like this meet all of the criteria and will help you market far more effectively. You know what you have to do, how much you have to accomplish, and when you have to accomplish it by.
By simply understanding these components you’ll be able to determine just what actions you’ll need to take to accomplish your goals, something many brands never fully understand.
#3 – Audit Existing Assets
You’ve made great progress with your strategy by the time you have your buyer personas created and goals defined. You know exactly who you’re marketing to and what you want to achieve with your marketing.
At this point, it’s time to take a closer look at your existing assets so that you may better understand what can be used to support your new tourism marketing strategy, what needs to be optimized, and what should be scrapped altogether.
Is Your Website Optimized to Support Your Goals?
Your destination needs a website. There’s no doubt about it, and while you may already have a website established, it’s safe to say it can be performing better.
Having outlined brand new goals for your tourism marketing strategy, you’ll likely need to update your website to support those goals. Destinations aren’t selling products online like an ecommerce shoe store, but you can still be generating lead conversions.
In order to make the most of your web presence your website will need to:
Speak to your buyer personas
If the tone of your website copy if directed at everyone, who do you think is paying close attention? Use your buyer personas to create a new voice for your website copy. If you’re targeting millennials, be sure to create copy that reflects their unique view of the world and appeals to their values.
Use benefit-driven copy
You’ll also want to create the copy in a way that speaks to the benefits of your destination. Rather than just spewing facts in long blocks of text, paint a picture—with your copy and images—to help readers feel the benefits your destination has to offer.
If your city is an excellent place for young professionals to unwind, tell them about it. If your resort is the perfect couples-only destination to enjoy tropical breezes and long, uninterrupted sunsets, paint that picture in a way that helps your visitors feel like they’re already there.
Work to collect contact information
While you may not sell products directly, your destination should still be collecting contact information so that you can stay in touch with your website visitors. Make sure you have CTAs (calls to action) for downloadable incentives on nearly every page on your site so that you can continue to provide value via email after your visitors have come and gone.
Your tourism marketing strategy will revolve around your website, so it’s vital that you take the time to optimize it around your new personas and work to drive conversions.
Creating a goal-oriented website will be vital to your success. As such, we highly recommend this killer article to help you develop a more effective website.
It’s all about how to make the most out of every aspect of your destination’s website, including:
It’s a must read!
Which Social Media Platform Is Your Best Performer?
You’re likely already using social media to promote your destination, but do you have a clear understanding of which platforms are most effective?
If you’re seeing good engagement from the content you’re sharing on Facebook but Twitter is underperforming, it’s a good sign that paid ads on Facebook would be a logical next step.
How About Your Paid Advertising Accounts?
You may already be participating in paid advertising via Google Adwords or Facebook. However, without a clearly define tourism marketing strategy it’s likely that you’re not seeing optimal returns from these campaigns.
Use your reporting from these existing campaigns to determine where you’re seeing your best results. You’ll be using that information to help determine where to put your paid acquisition budget going forward.
Do You Have a Clearly Defined Unique Selling Proposition?
What do you do have to offer visitors that other destinations don’t?
These unique qualities that help to define your destination will play a big role in your marketing, especially online. Create a list of the unique qualities that your destination has that most other places don’t. They don’t have to be dramatically different, just be sure to highlight the qualities that make them unique and appealing to your visitors.
Domino’s Pizza clearly states their unique selling proposition (USP) in the above ad, providing their customers with a guarantee that their competitors don’t have.
Does your city have creative and unique dining options? Use some of the most unique as examples of why people have to visit.
Does your beach resort experience dramatic tidal fluctuations? You can get creative when testing USPs. They may be more powerful if they aren’t considered to be traditionally appealing.
What Additions Need to Be Made?
The next steps in creating your tourism marketing strategy will revolve around addressing your current weak points and filling in gaps.
It’s important to create a list of action items that will need to be addressed as you build your strategy doc. When you come across something that needs to be addressed, note the issue and what needs to be done to address it.
As you do so you’ll likely be looking for tactics that will help make your marketing more effective.
#4 – Define Your Venue Marketing Tactics
Your goals and marketing KPIs are clear, now it’s time to define what tactics you’ll be using to accomplish them.
Paid Acquisition (Facebook)
Destination marketing is what marketers often refer to as a “sexy” industry.
That may sound racier than it really is. All we mean is that creating a tourism marketing strategy that captures the attention of your audience and elicits the right emotions will be easier than trying to do the same thing for an accounting firm or your local plumber. Those industries need to take a different approach to marketing their service.
Why are we covering this topic?
Because sexier brands like your destination make excellent advertising on platforms like Facebook.
Let’s look at a few things you’ll need to understand to make the most of your paid acquisition via Facebook.
It’s All About Targeting
Even if you create excellent ads for and an outstanding product and pair them with an exciting offer, those ads still wouldn’t be effective if you were showing them to the wrong audience.
The most important component to effective paid advertising is understanding your ideal buyer and how to accurately target them.
Invest the time into creating buyer personas that help you understand who your ideal buyer is, how they speak, and their likes/dislikes. This will allow you to build a solid foundational audience that you can continue to optimize as you learn from your marketing.
Always be analyzing what works and what doesn’t. Learn from each campaign and use that feedback to improve your future targeting.
Don’t miss this recent post on Facebook targeting to learn more about how to define optimal targets.
Create Retargeting Campaigns
We can’t talk about Facebook targeting without covering retargeting. If you’re not already familiar with retargeting on Facebook, it’s time you got acquainted.
Retargeting is advertising to an audience made of people who have already visited your website. They know your company and have begun to develop trust in your brand and interest in your destination. Even seemingly minor touch points like a website visit are excellent indicators of interest and represent a high potential for purchase.
In the case of a destination, the more you can interact with a potential visitor the more likely they’ll be to make the trip. Use a series of ad campaigns to show off all of what your destination has to offer and you’ll be able to build momentum to get them to take action.
Facebook Retargeting can dramatically increase the efficacy of your paid advertising campaigns and your tourism marketing strategy as a whole.
Destination Inbound Marketing
Another highly effective marketing tactic your destination should include in your tourism marketing strategy is inbound marketing. Often referred to as “content marketing,” inbound is a form of education-based marketing. It’s a highly effective way to drive traffic to your website, educate potential visitors on your destination, generate leads, and promote your brand as a whole.
Let’s look at an example:
Let’s say your destination is a family friendly beach vacation hotspot in California. You’re looking to reach more beach-going families from other parts of the country and increase family tourism in your area.
You might create a blog post about the “Top 25 Family Travel Destinations in the US.”
You would provide examples of different vacation experiences in the various destinations you feature (mountains, beach, theme park, city culture, etc.) This way you’re providing seemingly unbiased information and educating people on the benefits of your destination, as well as several others. You’re reaching people across the country and creating the opportunity for lots of potential website traffic and exposure of your destination.
Blog posts like this help to qualify your traffic, as those interested in beach vacations will be attracted to your destination while those looking for, say, a mountainous camping experience would be drawn to explore other locales.
You could follow up your initial post with a post about the “Top 10 Family Travel Destinations in California.” You would feature this post as the CTA (call to action) in your first post. Those initially interested in your destination from your initial post would follow the link to read about the top destinations in California.
Again, you’re simply educating your audience about their potential options while featuring the benefits of your destination amongst the others. Remember, those interested in a sunny beach vacation will naturally gravitate toward your relevant content, while others interested in a San Francisco trip likely wouldn’t have been looking for what you have to offer in the first place.
Your final post in this series could all about the “Top 20 Family Friendly Activities in YOUR BEACH DESTINATION HERE.”
Obviously creating more content about your area and family travel would open you up to more search traffic and provide more value to your potential visitors. Work to create as much quality content as you can, but remember to always put quality before quantity.
Creating a Content Marketing Strategy
Creating an effective content marketing strategy is well beyond the scope of this post, however, you’re in luck. We just so happen to have created a guide to developing a powerful blog strategy. Be sure not to miss it!
Destination marketing can often seem difficult or complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, with a documented tourism marketing strategy in place, you’ll be able to market much more efficiently and effectively.
By establishing a sophisticated tourism marketing strategy you’ll be able to plan for success and optimize your marketing as you go. This will allow you to accomplish your goals in a predictable manner and continue to drive more visitors to your destination.