Done well, online marketing can provide an effective, accountable and cost effective way of promoting your tourism business. Tourism NI has developed a comprehensive guide to online marketing, including implementing an online booking service.
Digital marketing tools
There are a range of online tactics that tourism businesses can use to grow:
- Social media can be particularly useful for tourism businesses who can share images of experiences and landscapes. Networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are ideal for this. It is important to develop a strategy for using social media to connect with your audience. See social media best practice for business.
- Tourism businesses often have some form of booking system through which they capture customer details. This information can be used to develop a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. CRM can help you learn more about your customers’ needs, trends and preferences.
- Email marketing can be used to inform your customers about new services and special offers. It can help to drive repeat custom.
- Creating a website for your business is important part of your digital marketing strategy. Using search engine optimisation (SEO) can drive visitors to your site, where they can book using your own booking engine.
- External booking engines can also increase sales as they receive high audience numbers. However they will also charge you a commission when can reduce profit margins. See selling through online travel agents.
It is important to take a strategic approach to digital marketing and use the channels that work best for your business. See develop a digital marketing plan.
User generated content
Word-of-mouth can be very influential in the tourism sector. Visitors often make decisions based on online reviews on social media, review sites such as TripAdvisor and booking websites.
There are a number of benefits to managing your online review reputation:
- learn what is being said about your business online, and pinpoint areas for improvement
- respond to reviews to provide a good customer service experience and rectify any issues
- be seen as a business that cares about its customers
- learn more about your customers’ wants and needs
Encourage your customers to leave online reviews. Read and respond to reviews of your business each week. Take note of recurring themes in the reviews and make changes to improve your business.
Look out for other user generated content about your business on social media. This may include images, videos, blog posts and ‘check-ins’. This is an opportunity to engage with a customer online to build a relationship. You can also share this type of content with your audience. It can be more convincing than your own marketing because it’s impartial.