Tourism Marketing: What Now?

By Emily Griebel

In our dealings with travel and leisure brands, we've seen that this industry has been one of the hardest hit by the poor economic conditions. Destinations, hotels and the like that find themselves stalled, stuck or stale can’t afford to remain in a rut and need to market their way out of it. But it isn’t easy, as every industry professional knows. Hopefully, the advice found here will help in making those tough marketing strategy decisions.

Before you develop a new brand platform, an integrated campaign, or a single marketing tactic, the very first step you should take is defining an objective. By clearly articulating and gaining consensus around one clear objective, the answers to these other crucial marketing questions should come more easily:

  • Who is our target audience? Who is most likely to visit?
  • What is our brand identity? How do we position ourselves in the marketplace?
  • Which tactics should we employ? How do we best integrate these tactics?

There is a simple way to articulate a clear objective. You look for the pain. What ails your travel destination, hotel properties, or tourist attraction? What one thing troubles you most? What’s holding your brand back? What keeps you up at night?

  1. Is it brand awareness? Do people not know about you?
  2. Could it be brand perception? Do people think the wrong things about you?
  3. What about heads in beds, butts in seats, or whatever you may call it? Are you not getting enough traffic to your destination, property or attraction?
  4. Maybe it’s that plenty of people are coming to your website to learn more about your brand, but they’re not converting.
  5. Are you constantly losing out to competitors?
  6. Are visitors only coming once and not returning?
  7. Are people disappointed in the experience once they arrive?

By asking and answering these questions and others like them, you should be able to determine what your primary source of pain really is. From there, you can easily determine what your primary objective should be. Here are a few examples:

  • If your brand’s problem lack of awareness, then your objective would read something like this, “Increase awareness among our target prospects by 5% by the end of 2024.”
  • If your organization is constantly getting beat by the competition, then your marketing efforts should be designed to, “Clearly differentiate our brand to improve market share by 2% within 12 months.”
  • If you suffer from poor customer retention, then you should focus on, “Ensuring that 20% of all visitors return within 6 months.”

You may also have noticed that I included numbers and timeframes in each of my examples. It’s also crucial that your objective be reasonable (not too lofty or too easily attainable), measurable, and tied to a specific period of time. As a professional in the travel and leisure business, you know that marketing is more important and tougher today than ever before. Therefore, how you state your marketing objective is critical to finding success because this will (and should) drive all future actions that you take.

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