The Cunningly Good Guide to….Tourism Marketing

There are well over a thousand different ways to market yourself. Hundreds of channels, hundreds of methods within those channels. But most businesses are small and can’t afford to spread themselves too thin and this is particularly true of businesses operating in the tourism sector, many of who are small and micro businesses, privately owned and with limited marketing budgets. So what are the five “must have” marketing media for reaching the tourism market?

Tricia Fox, CEO of Volpa, one of Scotland’s leading hospitality marketing agencies weighed in with her cunningly good guide to what she considers the five essentials:

Good Quality Signage

There’s so much buzz around digital that you could be forgiven for plunging straight in with a website, but good quality signage is always top of the list for me. In marketing it’s so easy to focus on the Promotional aspect of the 4Ps, but Place is of utmost importance and if your customers can’t find you, then no amount of fancy digital marketing work will help.

Make sure your premises are branded up wherever possible and, if you can, think about signposting options on the routes that lead to your location within a 5 mile radius. For a great many visitors to the area, signage will be the first thing they see of your business so make sure it’s looking its best and also clearly displays your website address. They may pass by today, but tomorrow you might be on their “to do” list”.

A Mobile Friendly and Up-to-Date Website

Much has been said about the importance of having a mobile friendly website so it goes without saying: this is now a must. However it’s even more important to keep your website up to date and ensure there’s enough information for the customer to make a decision. There’s nothing worse than visiting a website that clearly hasn’t been updated for more than a year and wondering whether they still serve lunch, or open at that time. It may be obvious to you, but it isn’t to the visitor and, rather than deal with the uncertainty that might spoil their day, they’ll simply move on and find one of your competitors who can offer the same thing but whose communications are more up to date.

Up to Date Social Media

We spend so much of our lives on social media, Facebook in particular, that it’s no longer acceptable for a consumer related business to not have an active presence on the key platforms (in order of use by customers: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). When I can’t find up to date information on the business website, this is the second place I look. If they haven’t updated it since July 2016 I assume they are not active or, worse, closed.

It takes 5 minutes a day to pop out a post. Doesn’t have to be prolific but it does have to be there.

TripAdvisor Testimonials

The desire to avoid “Citizen Journalism” goes with the territory but, while you can’t control what people say about you on third party sites, you can control some of the information that’s presented and join in the discussion. Make sure your company’s TripAdvisor profile is up to date with pictures (you can add yours as well as guests adding theirs) and key contact details. Focus on raising your rankings and actively encourage customers to review you on the platform. TripAdvisor is, in many ways, a numbers game. A business with three old five star reviews will rank lower than a business with 8 reviews, some five star and some 4 star but more recent.

Local Publicity

This might seem an odd one. After all I’ve left out leaflets, adverts, and a whole host of other ways of getting the tourist’s attention. But never under-estimate the power of local publicity. Visitors do not behave like aliens from another planet. When they are in the area, they behave like temporary residents for however many days they are there. That means they devour local information – local newspapers, local noticeboards, local information sites. Raising your profile among these media with current stories about your business will increase awareness when they are looking for information most, helping them to focus on you as a potential destination and filter out others.

So there you have it, my top five “won’t be without” marketing must haves. Get these in place and everything else you do will simply add to the mix, providing the icing on the cake and the cherry on the top.