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If you reside in Upstate New York and you’re anything like us, you may be dreaming of warmer days and feverishly planning your next vacation (sun, sand and palm trees not required, but suggested). For travel and tourism brands, now is an ideal time to get your business in front of consumers who are researching destinations that would provide a bit of a reprieve from the cold. Or, those who are getting a leg-up on planning their spring and summer vacations and getaways.
Marketing your tourism business doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. In fact, there is quite a bit of flexibility with the marketing channels your organization can utilize to ensure success. Employing traditional marketing methods and a range of digital methods that are both functional and creative can help your brand start to see results in a timely manner.
Below, we’ve created an abbreviated guide to help your travel brand effectively promote its services and offerings in a captivating way to attract both local visitors and those traveling from a distance to visit and vacation. We’ve also highlighted a few travel marketing channels that have proven to be valuable resources and continue to evolve with changing consumer needs. Let’s jump right in!
Marketing for travel and tourism has drastically changed in recent years. However, business tactics largely haven’t changed (the valuable ones at least!). While it has always been important to make sure that your marketing is relevant, ensuring that your business goals align with your marketing tactics is key. We’ve highlighted a couple of approaches below.
According to the International Trade Association, the travel and tourism industry generated $1.9 trillion in economic output, supported 9.5 million American jobs and accounted for 2.9% of U.S. GDP in 2019. This was more than agriculture, mining, or the utility sector. While the industry has certainly faced challenges since this data was sourced due to the ongoing pandemic, there are certainly ways in which businesses can stay strong, plan for the future and prepare for vertical growth.
One such way is ensuring that you are appropriately and accurately researching the industry as a whole, researching your local market and keeping tabs on your competition. Ensuring that you have a comprehensive read on industry happenings will boost your understanding of travel habits, demographics, geographic trends and more. This knowledge will help paint a better picture of the ecosystem in which you are operating and assist you in developing an effective marketing plan.
While it may seem like a poor use of your time, defining your organization’s “why” or revisiting its mission statement can be of great value when determining the best marketing plan. In light of the pandemic, many organizations have evolved. It stands to reason that so too have their primary areas of business, their primary reasons for doing business and the primary ways they plan to grow their business.
Revisiting the “why” helps to develop and redefine goals. While these goals can be both long and short term, ensuring that they are “SMART” (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals is key. For marketers, knowing these goals is crucial for the creation of a marketing strategy that helps to achieve your vision. It also helps in the creation of content that is generated and shared with a new and pre-existing customer base.
You’ve defined your goals, you’ve gained industry insights and now you’re looking to capture the attention of an audience. Below are a few cost-efficient, engaging marketing channels that can be incorporated into your marketing strategy.
Native advertising is the use of paid ads that match the look, feel and function of the media format in which they appear. The appeal of sponsored content (aka native advertising) and the key to its success is through its ability to look like part of the editorial flow of the page and its non-disruptive nature. The ads also run on desktops, mobile devices, tablets and are commonly found within social media feeds – specifically Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Through native advertising, your organization can become a thought leader within the travel and tourism space with strong content marketing that has guaranteed engagements. Native advertising has produced impressive results for travel brands. A high of 78% of travelers say that informative content provided by travel brands influences their purchase decision.
Here at the Times Union and through our partners across Hearst, we can help create a narrative for your business that tells your story in an engaging way that people want to read.
Nielsen Scarborough data suggests that travel enthusiasts are engaging with print travel publications to find travel inspiration. Providing valuable and interesting content via tangible, eye-catching marketing collateral is a fantastic engagement opportunity. As content reigns king in the world of marketing, working to produce and distribute content that is of high-quality builds trust and establishes value in a brand.
You may ask what exactly “counts” as content? According to the Content Marketing Institute, content can be anything that generates interest in a brand. If your organization can devise a way to grab the attention of consumes through captivating content, you are ahead of curve. Content is the new creative and it is rapidly becoming the premiere marketing tool for businesses.
As many travel brands took a major hit due to the pandemic, turning to a marketing channel like social media requires few resources to get started. While there are both organic and paid social media strategies, the coupling of the strategies can offer your business a lot for a little. Building a custom, multi-targeted social media solution around a facet of your business can pay dividends in raising brand awareness, increasing sales and more.
Specifically, driving awareness across platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok is an effective way in which to target desired audiences, desired geographic areas, captivate existing followers or fans and gain more traffic to your travel brand’s website or specific webpage. Effectively targeting an audience can generate hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or millions of impressions depending on your campaign budget, audience size and duration.
An effective social media solution can also be used to better communicate with consumers. Taking the time to respond to your customers and engage with them on social media can have long-term benefits. Convince and Convert found that answering someone’s complaint can increase customer advocacy by 25%. In an age where travel plans have been created, modified, canceled and created again, showing your customers that you are here for them and ready to resolve their issues is very important.
Targeting consumers in the right place at the right time in their purchasing process is challenging for many travel, tourism and entertainment organizations, especially as consumers now use a variety of channels and devices to research locations and plan their agendas.
We also urge you not to be too quick to dismiss other marketing channels and new ideas. The marketing world is always evolving. While some concepts and tactics are evergreen, there are always new and improved ways to reach consumers.
The Times Union Media Group serves to provide its partners within the travel, tourism and entertainment realms constant access to specialized programs and product roll-outs to create a bespoke advertising experience.