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Marketing a tourist destination is different from advertising a product. Instead of a tangible item, you’re trying to get your readers to buy into a place. As such, it’s important to approach your digital marketing strategy with care. You need specific goals and a detailed plan to get you there.

Writing Your Marketing Plan

For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that this isn’t your first year in business and that you have past results to work from. In fact, the more data you have available to you, the better position you’re in. That’s because you can see what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t.

With that being said, you should develop a new marketing plan each year to take advantage of new developments, trends, and technologies. The purpose of this marketing plan is to identify opportunities, develop goals, and lay out strategies for how you’ll accomplish those goals.

  • Identify opportunities. Are there any new opportunities in the industry? This could be a new technology, a tourism grant from the local government, or even something like cheaper oil prices and more affordable flights. All of these things can directly affect travel and may allow you to do something different. Additionally, it’s possible that your destination has a new attraction that’s appealing to tourists. Whatever the case is in your situation, it’s important that you identify available opportunities and discover if they’re valuable to you.
  • Develop goals. Based on the opportunities you identified in step one, you should begin to brainstorm and develop goals to take advantage of these opportunities. The goals need to be attainable, but not so easy as to require little effort. You want to land somewhere in the middle.
  • Lay out strategies. Finally, once you’ve identified opportunities and developed goals, you should shift your attention to creating actionable strategies that help you accomplish those goals.

4 Things You Can’t Do Without

According to Robert Morello of Demand Media, there are four things every tourism organization needs for successful marketing and promotion of a destination. Focusing on each of these areas will allow you to maximize your return.

  • Valuable partnerships. You can’t do everything on your own and that’s why valuable partnerships are critically important. They help you maximize your dollars and reach a much broader audience.
  • Trade show representation. Trade shows are still very big in the tourism industry and you’ll want to make an appearance at several each year. Not only do they help you get your name out there, but you can also connect with potential partners and see what’s happening in the industry.
  • Sponsorships are important in the tourism industry. Much like other partnerships, they allow you to connect your name to an event or giveaway and drum up excitement surround the travel season.
  • Digital marketing and advertising. Finally, you need to invest in digital marketing and advertising. In 2015, travel plans are primarily made online and you can’t ignore this large and lucrative segment of the market.

Marketing Tips and Trends for 2015

Here are some of the top digital marketing tips and trends for 2015 and why you need to take advantage of them.

  • Intuitive web design. According to com, a popular vacation rental website, intuitive web design is incredibly important, no matter the industry. Impressively, their website has seen a significant increase in engagement and activity since investing in their current layout. When designing a website, remember that responsive web design, large images, and simple features are in. You want to stay away from crowded home pages and complex navigation.
  • Social media. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are huge for travel and tourism. You need to make sure you have a presence on each of the major social media platforms and are using the power of video and images to connect with users.
  • Killer content. You should be spending a considerable portion of your digital marketing budget on original content marketing in 2015. From crisp site copy and compelling blog posts to insightful infographics and appealing images, unique content is compelling.
  • Paid advertising. While you can do plenty with organic efforts, there’s also some value to be extracted from paid advertising on sites like Google and Facebook. Experiment with various ads and work on targeting a very specific market. You may be surprised at the increase in traffic you get.

Connecting the Dots

As you can see, digitally marketing a tourism destination isn’t as simple as others may think. However, the good news is it’s not as difficult as you probably imagined prior to reading this article. You need start with specific goals and develop a strategy for accomplishing them. The strategy should be filled with actionable steps and you’ll want to take advantage of current trends and available resources to maximize your potential. Whether it’s an island in the Bahamas or Topeka, Kansas, success depends on how well you tackle marketing.