While searching for ways to boost your tourism marketing strategy, you’ve probably come across the same tired tips and advice on most of the sites you visit. Talk about frustrating!
I’m writing today to tell you that those aren’t the only ways. Plenty of tourism businesses are marketing themselves in fun and creative ways that are both more efficient and more effective than what you’re currently doing.
There are many opportunities since, according to Google; “most consumers aren’t brand-committed in these moments. For example, 78% of leisure travelers haven’t decided what airline they will travel with, and 82% haven’t chosen the accommodation provider they will book with when they first start thinking about a trip.” (source)
I’m about to show you 11 super creative ways to take marketing for hospitality and tourism businesses to the next level. By the time you’re done, you’ll be a tourism internet marketing master…or at least one step closer!
So let’s jump right into the list…
11 Creative Ideas to Market Your Destination
#1 Creating a Tourism Marketing Plan for Your Destination
You might be thinking that this is not a creative marketing idea, but it comes in at number one because it’s the base for the rest of your marketing activities. Without an effective marketing plan you’re driving blind.
Creating a tourism marketing plan may be the most important thing you do for your internet marketing. Without a plan in place you’ll have a difficult time achieving your goals, have a hard time keeping track of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and if it’s even being effective!
The most effective marketers and marketing agencies are those with a detailed plan in place that they use to guide their marketing actions.
Creating a tourism marketing plan allows you to map out your step-by-step process to success, so start creating a marketing strategy document that you regularly update as your strategy changes.
#2 Drive Exposure with Influencer Programs
Using online influencers as a way of marketing for hospitality and tourism agencies is becoming more and more popular for a reason. It works!
Influencers are people who have established a following around their personal online brand. Think bloggers, YouTube vloggers, Instagrammers, etc.
Many influencers have large followings and a highly engaged audience. They have been creating content for a specific niche for a long time and their audience is always happy and even eager to see more from them.
So what do you do? Find an influencer that caters to your industry and set up an exchange. It’s a win-win. You help them create content and experience something new and you get to expose your business to a new audience.
For example: your boutique hotel could offer a few nights accommodations in exchange for a short video on a travel Youtube vlogger’s channel. Your destination distillery may want to be even more specific and ask a popular blogger who writes exclusively about spirits to come for a visit and even a stay on the property for an all-inclusive, behind-the-scenes look.
The goal is to find someone who creates content that relates to your business and whose audience would be interested in what you have to offer. More often than not, the exposure costs you very little out of pocket. When you start working with influencers with a larger following you may be required to compensate them further, but the exposure is typically far greater.
#3 Create an Amazing Guide About Your Area
Travelers are the lifeblood of the tourism industry. Therefore your tourism marketing needs to be focused around their wants and needs.
Most of them won’t know your area as well as a local would (yes, you), and a fun, informative guide is something that they would consider extremely valuable.
Make the guide easy to read and understand. Make it skimmable. No matter how good it is, very few people will read it word for word. Include lots of ideas for things to do and places to see, as well as all of the other information you feel is important to know about your area. The more super secret, “locals only” advice you provide the better.
Create a guide that you would want to sell or be willing to pay for, then give it away for free. That means high-quality photos and professional design.
#4 Build a Discussion Platform on Facebook
People visiting your area will have plenty of questions that they need answered before they come.
Are you beginning to see a theme here?
A great way to supercharge your tourism marketing is by creating a discussion platform around your Facebook page. Some businesses use their Facebook page as a customer-service platform.
You’ll be using it in a similar way, but instead of dealing with customer complaints you’ll be answering questions regarding your area quickly and informatively.
“What type of activities do you recommend for couples?”
“Do you know of a dog-friendly hotel in this part of town?”
“Is it difficult to use public transportation to get from here to there?”
Most of the questions you receive will be simple and the trust you’ll earn from the people visiting your page will be extremely valuable.
You can do the same thing around your Twitter or even Instagram handles. Snag handles like “Questions About Napa” or “Sedona Answers” and promote them as the place to have their questions answered.
#5 Create Awesome Destination Videos
The whole online world is moving toward videos. It’s time to get on the bandwagon. Videos convey a huge amount of information in very little time, so it’s a great way to showcase who you are and what you do.
But don’t go out and make a video that is just all about your business. Instead, show people your destination and help them out at the same time. We already talked about creating an informational guide about your area, why not turn that information into bite-size videos?
Create helpful videos that showcase things to do in your area, helpful tips about getting around, fun facts, and locals-only secrets. Share these videos on your website and social media. (Facebook is highly promoting videos and providing them with more exposure in users’ news feed.)
#6 Use a Challenge to Spark Interest in a Destination
Challenges have become a well-loved internet sensation. Today, promoting your own challenge is easier than ever because people are far more likely to participate and share with their networks.
A challenge is when you challenge a group of people—this could be your email subscribers or Facebook fans—to do something for a certain amount of days.
Create a fun challenge related to your niche and get your existing customers to help spread the word via email, social media, etc.
For example, if you’re a tourism bureau trying to get people excited and thinking about your location you could challenge your Facebook fans to share what they would do on a trip to your location. You would ask them to share every day for 7 days what they would do if they were visiting. You select one winner and provide them with a trip as a prize. Imagine the amount of buzz you could generate, if properly executed of course.
People love sharing this kind of content and the challenge will benefit you in another great way…
#7 Gather User-Generated Content and Promote It
Challenges like the one described above can be used to create tons of awesome user-generated content. People love real-life examples of others using your product or visiting your destination.
The trust generated from a positive review or even a challenge photo will be highly influential and help others get to know your brand. People buy from brands they like and trust!
You don’t need a challenge to find user-generated content though. People love to share and someone has probably already shared about your brand in one way or another.
Use tools like Social Mention. If someone shares a photo on Instagram or includes your business in a glowing YouTube video of their trip, ask permission and share it with your network.
If it’s really good, pay to promote it and expose new people to these positive remarks about your brand!
#8 Show Off What Makes You Unique on Social Media
Every business has something special that nobody else does. Whether it’s the way your servers carry wine to the table on three fingers, your stunning view, or even the unique way your staff greet your guests, it’s something to show off.
In tourism internet marketing, these types of campaigns highlight the human side of your business and build trust with the people exposed to it.
Even if your business isn’t able to showcase a 5-star customer experience, you have something special to share. Just look a little harder!
If you or a member of your staff brings their dog to work, make a series of videos about the funny things he does or the way he interacts with your customers. These campaigns are easily shared, especially if they’re funny, cute, entertaining, heartfelt, etc.
#9 Focus Your Marketing by Traveler Type
One of the most important parts of any tourism marketing plan is to know who you’re selling to. If you don’t focus your approach, your efforts will get lost in the ether amongst the droves of competition in your highly competitive industry.
Millennials, families, couples, seniors, backpackers.
Whom are you targeting? Do you know where to start?
If you own a vacation rental company in a renowned surf destination and your typical customers are families, start by targeting families interested in surfing instead of the general population. As you learn more about your customers you can adjust the parameters and branch out.
If you’re trying to get more couples to your resort, target women who are engaged on Facebook and start putting you resort in front of her and speak to why it’s the perfect location for a honeymoon! Offer a honeymoon special with special treats like champagne, chocolates, and a romantic dinner included if they book through your ad.
#10 Make the Most of Mobile
Seventy-five percent of millennials would rather text than call, and spend more time on their phones than all other devices combined. They also travel more frequently than any other generation.
Market to them on mobile platforms and make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices when they end up there. That means: easy to navigate, fast loading, and a user-friendly layout.
Make the most of mobile tourism marketing by getting on the level of the majority of mobile users. Pictures tell a story faster, so create an Instagram account and post your best photos to it regularly.
Show your followers a unique view of your city that others aren’t sharing. Guide them through a virtual tour of your favorite things to do and see with thoughtful photos.
Tell your story where they want to see it…on mobile.
#11 Highlight What’s New in Your Area
One of the best ways to differentiate your message from that of your competitors is by highlighting the things that are new and exciting in your area. Keep visitors in the know about important events and unique goings-on around you.
Put yourself in their shoes and showcase the things that would seem interesting, fun, and exciting if you were visiting from another part of the country (or world) and you had never experienced before.
Bonus: #12 Contact Tourism Marketing Companies & Ask for Ideas
Schedule a free consultation with tourism marketing companies, like ours. : ) Even if we don’t end up working together, we’ll be able to provide you with some insight into what to do next.
Marketing companies that specialize in tourism marketing are experts in helping businesses like yours reach their ideal customers at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Time to Get Started!
There you have it, now it’s time to get marketing. You now have a lot of creative ways to start marketing your destination, so don’t hold back. The worst kind of marketing is that which never gets done, so make yours a priority and get started today.
Who knows, this could be your best year yet!