It’s Beginning to Feel like Go-Time Again for Destination Marketing and Tourism 

With the world coming out of a state of travel limbo, how are Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) and Tourism Bureaus promoting travel to their parts of the world? Destination Marketing is a term that defines itself. The destination can be as broad in scope as a country or as narrow as a town or city. Some of the key strategic ploys used in destination marketing strategies include:

1. Determine Your Target Audience

Analyze data to reveal who has visited your destination previously and who is likely to visit in the future. Consider the ages of likely visitors and who might benefit from the unique features you have identified about your location. Tourists, business travelers and students should be included, as well as whether language might be a barrier or a benefit. 

2. Leverage the Uniqueness of the Destination

It is essential to define the unique features of the location you are promoting. If there are other places that share similar attributes, what makes yours better? The history, landmarks, and culture of your location should be highlighted, as well as any activities the area has to offer.

3. Brand The Destination

Using the regional uniqueness identified, a color scheme and logos that support the region should be created for the region’s brand identification. Tropical locales often feature bright yellows and oranges, with blue representing the ocean, if applicable, for example. Make the branding artwork design memorable to identify the brand with your locale.

4. Launch a Website with Excellent UX

While virtual touring is becoming more and more of a thing, travelers still rely on websites more than any other platform when choosing their travel destinations. Your website needs to incorporate the unique features of your location with the branding you have selected, which should highlight what differentiates your part of the world from other similar locales. A picture is worth, well…you know the rest. Make sure to make your destination look stunning! 

5. Recruit Area Partners to Attract More Tourists

It’s important to share your plans with officials from your destination, as well as the hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and other tourist attractions. Don’t forget to include local travel agents and tour operators. With the participation of these businesses, their advertising and promotion should incorporate the regional branding that’s been established and will maximize the benefit to the entire destination.

Picture of an island

Now that we have set our destination marketing strategy, set our brand and identified our target market, let’s take a look at some of the latest top online travel marketing trends to be aware of as we get back to a new travel normal. Online marketing is continually evolving and it’s important to stay current with how travelers are choosing where they go these days.

1. TikTok

The world is tuning into TikTok for more than its famous “challenges”, pranks and comedy videos. People are also checking out travel destination locations. Because there is no real track record in tourism with TikTok video marketing, the jury is still out on how effective TikTok videos will be for your destination. What is undeniable is that the algorithms built into the TikTok app will give you the best chance of your videos going viral, compared to other social media so your DMO definitely should have a creative and fun TikTok component.

2. Facebook Ads

Some travel agents and DMOs have reported great success using the very affordable Facebook Ads option, which has a huge capacity to reach and influence travelers as they make their destination decisions. Incorporating the Facebook Pixel to “measure, optimize and build audiences…” seems to efficiently point visitors that would be specifically interested in the features your location offers directly to you. And, surprisingly, Facebook Ads attracted a lot of senior tourists! Facebook Ads have more of a recent conversion rate track record than does TikTok to this point and it is still relatively inexpensive with a proven ROI.

3. Travel Blogging

It’s not enough to just “represent” as a DMO or Tourism Board. You must be recognized as a regional travel expert. As time consuming as blogging can be, it is always worth the time. A well-written blog can overcome your readers’ doubts and objections BEFORE they hesitate to book a flight to your destination. Blogging also reduces “buyer’s remorse” where travelers change their minds and cancel their booking AFTER they make their reservations. Additionally, the known SEO benefits of blogging will only further assist your destination’s tourism bounce back, as well as the performance of the website you created.

As the tourism industry recovers from the devastating hits taken during the pandemic, using the five-step strategic destination marketing plan outlined above is essential. You want to determine the region’s uniqueness, brand the destination with a color scheme and powerful logos, and incorporate key beneficiary partners while you determine your target audience. Online advertising and promotion with a commitment to blogging will combine to create a great foundation to boost your region’s tourism.

One recent example of a destination marketing campaign that is very impressive was launched at the end of June 2021 by renowned DMO “NYC & Company”. Their $30 million global multi-media campaign incorporates all of the recommendations above, and more, in an effort to bring tourists back New York City. Not only does the campaign feature Manhattan (and Broadway, etc.) but it also includes all five boroughs on a variety of logos and banners. This recent destination marketing initiative is dramatic and exciting.

Start spreading the news, it’s time to get back on the destination marketing bicycle again.