Marketing for hospitality and tourism can feel overwhelming. How can you reach buyers all over the world and get them so excited about your business that they’ll book their next trip with you?
It’s easier than you might think. After all, your customers are already on the internet, searching for exactly the kind of travel experiences you offer. You just need to make sure they find your business when they’re searching.
You need a digital marketing plan that puts you in front of the right customers — and helps you stand out from the crowd. There are thousands of travel providers in the world, but if you can reach the customers who are a good fit for your style and price point, you can show them why your trips are exactly what they’re looking for and entice them to book with you.
In this post, we’ll cover the five elements you need to create a tourism marketing strategy. You can tailor each step to your brand to help you stand out from the competition.
- A mobile-responsive website
- An email marketing tool
- A primary social media channel
- Up-to-date business listings
- A way to easily create content
Let’s start at the beginning — with your website.
1. A mobile-responsive website
Your website is your business’s digital home base. This is where you’ll host content, drive traffic, collect email addresses, and make sales. Your social media and business listings are spokes that point back to this hub.
- Responsive. Your site needs to look as good on a mobile phone or tablet as it does on a desktop or laptop.
- Attractive. Large, lush images give a more professional look than a crowded design.
- Branded. Your domain name should include your business name — and the logo, colors, style, and tone should match your brand.
- Search-friendly. Prominently feature the specific phrases your customers are likely to type into a search engine.
- Fast-loading. Customers and search engines both dislike slowly loading websites.
- Drives action. Most tourism businesses focus on enticing visitors to join their email list. That way you can build a relationship, stay in touch, and give your brand repeated exposure.
Your website should have at least four pages. Every page should be infused with your brand identity and should show your target market why your trips are the right choice for them.
- Home. Clearly summarize what your business offers, who your customers are, and why they should sign up for your email list or book your tour.
- About. Tell your business’s story and explain what makes you unique.
- Services. Spell out what you offer, stressing the benefits to your customer. Use photos and video to show exactly what your trips look and feel like. Show your visitors what makes your destination or excursion special.
- Contact. Make it easy for people to engage with you via phone, email, chat, or social media.
Every page can include a call to action button or link that prompts visitors to book a trip or sign up for your email list.
Because travel is usually a high-ticket item, that isn’t often booked during the first part of the planning stages, it’s a good idea to focus on building an email list. When website guests join your email audience, you can continue the conversation, build a relationship with them, and keep your company at the top of their minds for when they’re ready to book.
2. An email marketing tool
Booking travel is a leap of faith. Your customers have to trust you before they send a deposit, and it takes time to build that bond.
Email marketing creates relationships — and the right email marketing instrument does that work automatically. Here are some ways you can make email marketing work for you:
- Sign-up forms. Invite people to join your list. It’s best to offer an enticement — like a downloadable guide, a discount off their booking, or a chance to win something — to persuade people to share their email address. Use a timed pop-up form or embed forms in strategic locations — like the footer of each page.
- List segments. Separate your list according to customers’ specific interests. For instance, you could separate your existing customers from your prospects, create segments based on the page they were visiting when they signed up, or ask them about their interests on your signup form. You can also create interest categories based on what your business offers, like solo travel, Europe, luxury travel, last-minute deals, etc.
- Welcome series. Send an email automatically when someone new joins your list. But don’t stop there. You can create other automations, too. Such as: follow-up emails that give information about your business based on the customer’s interest; discount offers on the client’s birthday; and abandoned cart follow-ups.
- Monthly newsletter. As you share travel tips and bargains with your customers, you’re establishing your expertise and building relationships.
An email list is a valuable asset. It lets you stay in touch with your potential customers consistently, even if they don’t use social media. The people on the list have expressed an interest in your business, so they’re a receptive audience for your messaging.
You can keep them interested in your emails by offering discounts, value-added promotions, early access to new products, and other incentives. Sharing useful tourism information with them in addition to your marketing messages will help them see you as an expert they can rely on and trust.
3. A primary social media channel
Social media can quickly become overwhelming for a business owner. New channels are constantly being created — and each one has its own rules, audience, and ideal times to post.
Simplify your social media marketing by choosing one primary channel. Take into account:
- Where your customers spend their time. Each channel has slightly different demographics and it’s important to use the same channels your target audience frequents.
- What type of messaging works best for your business. What is your target audience looking at? Do they prefer words, images, videos, or links?
- What channel feels like “home” to you. If you do the marketing yourself, it’s a good idea to start with a social media channel that you’re familiar with, but don’t stay on just the one channel if your target audience is actually somewhere else.
In general, Pinterest and Instagram are visual formats that reach a primarily female audience, while LinkedIn and Twitter attract more men and are more text-heavy. People who visit YouTube are prepared to sit for a few minutes to watch a video. Facebook skews slightly older and female, and offers a great mix of words, photos, videos, and links.
Each social media channel is slightly different, so if you use more than one, you’ll need to tailor your posts to each network.
Use your social media posts to build your brand image by sharing authentic, original content as well as tips and industry news.
4. Up-to-date business listings
Did you know that your business may already be listed on several key sites across the internet? Finding and claiming those listings gives you some control over the accuracy of the information that’s shared and can help you connect with potential customers.
Sites where a travel business should claim or create a listing include:
- Facebook. There may be an automatically generated page in addition to the one you create.
- TripAdvisor. This is still the leading review site for travel-related businesses.
- Yelp. Make sure the contact information is updated and stay on top of what people say about your business.
- Google My Business. Google will let you update your listing, create posts, share photos, and even create discount coupons. Claiming your profile and updating it can also boost your search engine ranking.
You can’t control the reviews that are left for your business on these sites, but if someone leaves a negative review and you respond in a friendly, reasonable way, you can mitigate the damage.
5. A way to easily create content
One of the best ways to get your business in front of travelers is to answer the questions they ask when they’re planning a trip. A blog on your website lets you share your expertise, and every blog post adds another opportunity to attract customers.
The ideal content strategy for most businesses is:
- Define target keyword phrases. What questions will your potential customers search for? Know your niche and be specific.
- Create content. Write blog posts that answer those questions.
- Keep it fresh. Adding new content weekly lets search engines know that your site is a reliable provider of updated information.
- Include a call to action. Invite blog visitors to join your email list so you can keep sharing great information with them.
You can hire a writer to create your posts, or buy content online, but make sure your blog showcases your brand’s personality and expertise.
Craft your tourism marketing strategy
Focusing on these five features gives you a simple plan for your tourism advertising and digital marketing. Set a target date for having each element in place, and soon you’ll be introducing your brand to travelers and turning them into loyal customers.