How marketing can help make the most of tourism.

Summer is over. I know this because as I’m writing my fingers feel like they are made of ice blocks and I’m listening to my boiler creak into action to heat my house. But I am already thinking about my next holiday, which got me looking at all the tourism websites of sunny places around the world.

Having been lucky enough to visit various places around the UK, I have come across the same problem time and time again. Everywhere I go, the small guys struggle to make the most of digital to promote their business to the masses. This is painfully obvious when you look at places in the Highlands of Scotland or the rural areas of Wales.

But the tourism industry is an area where marketing is most important and is likely used the least to the best of its ability.

A picture of the Visit Scotland account using social media to promote tourism

Things like bad websites, or poorly managed social media (although this person does have a good-ish website but questionable domain, content and workflow), where there are opportunities to capitalise leave potential and current customers wanting. There also seems to be one or the other with small guys, either great social and terrible website or the other way around.

There have been significant improvements and more awareness from the bigger small guys, the smallest small guys where the most benefit would be are still struggling.

Below I go through three key points to think about when getting your digital presence in shape to help promote your location in the offseason. Promoting tourism year-round is key to get in peoples minds early.

Related: Why do small businesses still struggle with digital?

The right person isn’t always the local person.

Capitalising on a market in digital seems to be a widespread problem, especially in communities where small companies try to keep things local.

Although this is good for the business making the websites and managing that digital experience, it doesn’t help increase your chances outside of that local community and usually, the experience you find within your community isn’t as good as you might find outside it.

It also stifles competition for work, the same thing happens with train franchising in the UK and some other public transport. It’s impossible to have good competition and fair pricing if one person has capitalised on the market.

Someone in a local community might be making you pay over the odds for a website because they seem like your only choice. Try also to avoid a family member, your kid brother who studied IT in college might understand how things work but probably isn’t going to give you the quality of work as someone who is doing this as a career.

In order to promote tourism to your part of the world, you have to think like a tourist and who better to that? Someone who can look at your area with a fresh pair of eyes, what they would highlight is likely different to a local person.

Key point: Look outside of your community. Ask for quotes and get a portfolio of work.

Learn the ropes for SEO, social media, and your CMS.

It’s hard to manage a website and social media, but understanding the basics of the platforms used, the etiquette, and how to make the most them makes it easier and cheaper to manage your digital marketing in the long run.

Don’t be worried about asking your consultant questions during a set up of your website and social. The CMS and eCommerce platforms are designed to be easy to manage and social media is designed to be accessible for everyone, so getting used to them before they get handed over is a great idea.

Key point: Be open to learning and managing some aspects yourself. This will make your presence better, life easier and cost you less in the long run.

Analyse, understand, and grow.

Now you’ve got all the foundations in place: A good website and a consultant you can trust, your attention should turn to your audience. Monitoring your audience through things like Google Analytics and updating your website to match what they want will help you grow.

Find out what major things you need to be thinking about and what will interest your audience throughout the year too, understanding what your customers might be looking for and acting on that will increase your conversions and customer loyalty.

Don’t be scared of trying new things either. Not everything will work, but it never hurts to give it a go. Tourists change their mind pretty quickly so tourism as an industry needs to be ahead of their market.

Key point: Understand your audience. Build a persona of your ideal customer and follow trends/seasons to maximise conversions.

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