The tourism industry has taken a huge hit with what’s been going on around the world. Many people who love to travel are taking a long break from this activity, leading to a dip in the economic movement in places formerly bustling with tourists. According to a joint initiative Tourism Economics and the United States’ Travel Association, the country’s travel spending this year can sink by 45%.
Domestic travel spending is also anticipated to go down from $972 billion in 2019 to an expected $583 billion in 2020. This shows a predicted 40% drop. Meanwhile, inward bound international spending will see a 75% drop from $155 billion in 2019 down to merely $39 billion this year.
These drops anticipated by experts and backed by research, the tourism industry is definitely in trouble this year. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidelines for traveling during the pandemic, reminding travelers to take necessary precautions before, during, and after traveling in light of the so-called new normal.
As we transition to the new normal, the tourism industry should take measures to adapt. These measures include steps to operate, entice tourists, and promote, all under the new normal. When it comes to boosting the industry under these new circumstances, digital marketing can be of great help.
Current Landscape of Tourism Marketing
The tourism industry is not new to the digital marketing scene. Many companies in this sector have been using various digital marketing tools long before the pandemic has begun. From various social media accounts for promotions to viral campaigns, the industry has been benefitting from what this practice has to offer.
Before we proceed with how the sector has been using this more modern strategy, let us first look at the traditional techniques it has been applying. Traditional marketing campaigns are often composed of television, radio, print, placement, face-to-face, and billboard promotions.
In the past, you will see commercials, posters, flyers, and boards featuring destinations and specific attractions you will find in these places. These methods have been effective as it helped spark the tourism boom not only in the United States but also across the globe.
However, what made tourism a truly booming industry is digital marketing, from bloggers writing about their experiences to viral videos featuring attractions. The accessibility offered by the internet has made it possible for many people to travel worldwide without hassle.
Thanks to blog posts, online guides, and travel help from official websites, it is easier for to-be travelers to research about their destinations. Plus, the technology available nowadays has allowed people to immerse themselves in foreign cultures will little to no issues.
Moreover, companies that cater to tourists such as bed and breakfast locators, tour package booking firms, and other similar organizations have also been promoting their services via social media, contributing to the overall marketing activities of the tourism industry.
The Role of Digital Marketing in Tourism Today
With the points above, there is no doubt that marketing has contributed to the success of the sector. Traditional methods paved the way toward the travel boom, but digital marketing campaigns sealed the deal. In fact, you can bet that traveling remains to be popular today, even with the public health situation, albeit at a more limited level.
Digital strategies are more favorable today because it makes use of something that most people have access to any time, anywhere: the internet. As a tourism business owner, you can promote your products or services through various online means, while your potential customers view your efforts at the comfort of their own homes.
The unprecedented situation we are in today calls for digital marketing to step up not only to entice people to travel but most importantly, to travel responsibly. As mentioned, the CDC released guidelines for traveling during the pandemic. This practice can help you disseminate information about these guidelines while promoting your business as compliant with these guidelines.
For example, holiday gatherings are restricted to only a small number of people. Many states also limit the number of people gathering in an establishment. Your materials should be able to communicate these precautions, to inform your potential customers about these restrictions, and to avoid problems.
You can also use your marketing materials to remind the public about precautionary measures they should take during travel including frequent handwashing, the wearing of face masks, and social distancing. Meanwhile, the same materials can also help you inform them of the measures they can expect once they arrive at your location. This includes frequent sanitizing of surfaces, enforcing social distancing, the mandatory wearing of masks and/or face shields within your premises and other similar rules.
Digital Marketing and Your Tourism Business
While digital marketing has been beneficial to the tourism industry, this applies to the sector as a whole. To put it frankly, just because such practices are effective for the sector, it does not necessarily mean that your particular business will benefit from it. This is because there is a whole lot of competitors out there.
Say you are running an accommodation business. Mobile bed and breakfast applications are here to compete with you. The same is true whether you run a food and beverage, attraction, and other similar tourism-related business. These larger businesses have stronger and more established mechanisms to market whatever product or service they offer.
What you can do is to fight back and take steps in improving your business’ marketing strategies. In fact, these campaigns have the potential to help your company grow exponentially. In order to launch an effective campaign that can help you compete with big and small players in the market, here are some of the digital marketing techniques you should do:
Overhaul Your Website
Above, we talked about how your business will benefit from online materials as your target market has limited mobility. Whereas in the past, they have the option to simply visit your location to inquire about your offerings, today, they could only do so via phone or the internet.
Now, keep in mind that your website is the online counterpart of your physical location. This is the very reason that you should take steps to improve your website. It represents your brand in the virtual world, so you want to make sure that it is able to communicate your message, idea, and values.
Consider improving the layout of your site to become a more organized one. Plus, it is imperative to optimize it to accommodate your marketing needs.
SEO and Promotions
When talking about optimizing your website for marketing, the primary thing that you should do is to do search engine optimization (SEO). This is the process of making your website more friendly to search engine crawlers.
When a user searches for a service you provide, these crawlers literally crawl the internet for websites and webpages that are most relevant to the query. It then places the results in search engine results pages (SERPs), with the most relevant and high-authority pages at the top. The main goal is to rank high and reach the first page, if not the first spot.
So, if you offer bed and breakfast places, and the user searches for “accommodations in [your area]” the algorithm will look for such keywords in your contents. This means that you should focus on your content in order to show your website as an authoritative one when it comes to your area of specialization, in this case, tourism and accommodations.
Targeting Specific Tourists
You might want to take the opportunity digital marketing has to offer to target specific tourists. For example, if you are in one of the states where weed is legal, you might want to target such tourists by engaging in cannabis marketing. You can publish texts, videos, and other materials tackling the cannabis industry in your area.
There is a lot of markets you can target, depending on the type of attractions in your place. As a tourism business owner in that area, you surely have an idea about the destinations around there, so you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
Managing Your Reputation
You want to make sure that your business is in the good graces of your target market. In digital marketing, the process of monitoring how your target market views your business is called reputation management. This is the practice of tracking feedbacks and reviews and addressing them accordingly.
This is why businesses always put their best foot forward when it comes to serving their customers. However, some tourists might view some aspects of your operations in a negative light and may leave a review about it. This is where reputation management comes in. You can respond to good and bad reviews appropriately, to manage the perception of your target market.
The Bottom Line
The tourism industry may have suffered from the current public health issue, but in time, your tourism business can recover with the right digital marketing campaign. Now that you know the relevance of this practice during these unprecedented times, you can effectively use it to your advantage, especially under the new normal.