Digital Tourism Marketing: what it is, how to do it and useful advice

Digital Tourism Marketing is an indispensable tool to work in the tourism sector. Today people predominantly use digital channels such as social media, websites, and Google to research, plan and book their travel, be it for business or pleasure.

Therefore, it becomes necessary to know the market and learn to use the main tools of the sector to adapt to changes and keep up with an increasingly computerized target. The Millenial category (born in ’81/’95) nowadays represents two-thirds of the purchasing power and spends around 5 hours a day online.

It follows that an accommodation facility or a hotel that does not have Digital Tourism Marketing strategies behind it or is not well indexed on the SEO side of Google could have difficulty making itself attractive or even just visible to this large slice of the market.

Added to this is that the tourism sector actually embraces a large sector with very varied services, often even in opposition to each other. You can go from accommodation facilities to luxury hotels, from campsites, to cruise ships…

tourism digital marketing examples

A sector that must therefore satisfy very different needs, requirements, and needs and which must provide for very different Digital Tourism Marketing strategies. Becoming an expert in the field can be an absolutely winning move, but one may be necessary in-depth knowledge in multiple areas of web marketing.

In the meantime, I advise you to dedicate a few minutes of your time to think about the idea of attending a Course in Digital Marketing, which provides complete preparation in the digital field and is able to give you the basic knowledge necessary to grow your tourism business.

In this article, I will explain to you what it is and what the main outlets of the sector can be. In particular, I will tell you:

  • What is meant by Digital Tourism Marketing and why it is important;
  • Who is a tourism marketing strategy useful for?
  • What are the tourism web marketing tools;
  • Who deals with Digital Marketing for Tourism.

Finally, I will give you some tips for developing an effective Digital Tourism Marketing strategy.

What is Tourism Digital Marketing and why is it important

Digital Tourism Marketing by definition is the set of all those online activities aimed at promoting an accommodation facility, a hotel, a holiday resort, or any other service/product related to tourism, through the use of digital tools and channels such as social media, email marketing, or a website.

Not a single action, therefore, but a synergistic set of tools, channels, and strategies to build, plan, and implement a comprehensive communication plan. I have already mentioned that today most of the actions related to tourism are carried out online.

Buying a plane ticket, booking an overnight stay in a hotel or accommodation facility, renting a car: everything takes place on the web, making it almost obsolete to go to physical places for direct bookings. This makes it essential to know the tools of digital promotion in the tourism field, but above all being able to integrate them effectively to stand out in the enormous competition in the sector.

By now all areas are gearing up to increasingly broaden the scope of their strategies, using as many channels as possible to reach their target and bridge the gap with their audience. Digital Marketing for Tourism requires a lot of work, reactivity, and passion to achieve the goal.

Breaking down the distance with the public doesn’t just mean generating brand awareness, that is, making oneself known to the reference target, but also building a direct dialogue with the interlocutor and therefore cutting out the various intermediaries that could get in the way of the customer journey that goes from the question to the booking to the payment.

It might seem trivial, but the more convoluted the user’s decision-making mechanism is, the lower the chances of the user turning into a customer. In the case of the tourism sector, then, the intermediaries can be infinite: the search starts online with Google, but there are specialized portals and aggregators, travel bloggers and influencers, organic and paid ads…

A real jungle that you must know, but above all know how to manage if you want to be noticed and you want to build a one-to-one relationship of trust with your future client.

Furthermore, a good Digital Tourism Marketing strategy can be useful for the revenue Management of your tourist facility, whether it is a hotel or an accommodation facility. What is Revenue Management? If “revenue” means “earnings”, it is easy to understand what I am talking about in short, it is about maximizing your company’s earnings through a series of actions that go hand in hand with Digital Tourism Marketing.

But as if the two strategies moved together, digital channels can help maximize the occupancy of the structure, optimize the pricing for both parties and therefore help increase turnover. However, it is not possible to do good Revenue Management without a digital strategy behind it, and specializing in web marketing could be essential.

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Who is a Digital Tourism Marketing strategy useful for?

But after having clarified why to adopt a Tourism Digital Marketing strategy, you will wonder who should resort to strategic marketing for tourism. Precisely because the sector is so large and varied, there will also be different figures for whom developing a strategic plan could even be vital.

While on the one hand, there are more or less large and more “classic” businesses such as hotels, on the other there are the accommodations (from bed & breakfasts to holiday homes, to guest houses), which vary in size and complexity, creating a whole world of nuances between the two services.

At the almost diametrically opposite spectrum are tourism freelancers, always in constant evolution: an undergrowth of new and dynamic online figures who move across sectors.

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ONLINE BUSINESS STRATEGY

All these activities involve different uses of digital channels as their objectives are different; therefore their strategic projects will also be different. Yet the Basic questions to ask yourself before building a digital strategy are more or less always the same. You have to ask yourself:

  • What is your mission?
  • What is your Unique Selling Proposition (i.e. the uniqueness that distinguishes you from your competitors)?
  • What are your measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
  • Who are your buyer personas, or your target?
  • What is their customer journey, i.e. the purchase path?

These are questions to ask yourself before developing any Digital Tourism Marketing strategy, whether you want to open a tourist facility, become a tourism freelancer, or a technician/consultant for others.

Hotels and accommodation facilities

In the case of hotels and accommodation facilities, the first step is certainly to make themselves known, but it becomes imperative to succeed increase direct bookings without going through intermediaries such as tourist portals and aggregators, who usually take a commission on bookings).

To do this, the structure will have to build customer loyalty so that a relationship can be built outside the, let’s call it, the tourist chain. The best way to get there and make the most of all the channels that the digital age makes available.

hotels and accomodation facilities

Basically, a clean and efficient website that takes into account the user experience and is well positioned on the side of SEO on Google can do a lot. Many small structures rely more on social media, especially Facebook which often acts almost as a website.

Either way, both tools need to be fast, informative, up-to-date, and build community. Despite the digital age, however, word of mouth is still a very powerful tool. It feeds mainly in three ways:

  • reviews, which guests can enter on the website or on the various portals dedicated to tourism;
  • customer service, which must be as fast, efficient, and kind as possible.
  • direct relationship with the customer, developed in person during check-ins and check-outs at the facility, on social media, on the Facebook page, and so on.

A successful Digital Tourism Marketing strategy could include starting a large portal for online booking. This is a considerable expense, especially at the beginning of an activity, however, it remains an excellent method for making the structure known.

In fact, hotels and accommodation facilities could take advantage of the portal’s web marketing strategy, which is certainly more powerful, structured, and widespread. Starting from a portal can also be useful for receiving the first reviews with which to stand out from the crowd.

Not only are tourist portals well positioned on Google because they have impeccable SEO work behind them, but also have a web reputation that generates instinctive trust from customers. The possibility for a tourist structure to disintermediate itself from portals to have direct bookings is based above all on the time and care that will be dedicated to the digital strategy in the tourism sector.

  • Don’t just consider the website: it is a very useful tool, but not the only one. Broaden your horizons and also take into account social media for direct contact with customers (Facebook but also Instagram) and two forms of web communication that are often underestimated, but which have proven to be extremely effective in terms of engagement rate and personalization: email marketing and mobile sms marketing.
  • Take into account the Unique Selling Proposition of the activity: why, among the many hotels and the many accommodation facilities, should I choose yours? The answer to this question could be the discriminating factor for a precise digital strategy based on personalization. You may discover that there are customers looking for a green or pro-pet or remote-working activity like yours… in short, a target looking for a precise need that you and no one else can satisfy.
  • Create, test, review, and try again: the strategy must not only be planned and implemented but also tested and revised. Although too many still believe that once the digital tools are set up they go on by themselves, the revision is actually the most important part of the job. As you go along, the numbers (offline and online, digital and otherwise) will give you direction, and KPI analysis will help you understand where to change and improve your digital strategy.

 

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Freelancer in the tourism sector

In Tourism Digital Marketing, the world of freelancers is always evolving, to the point that new figures are born and develop within a few months. Digital intertwined with the complex tourism market makes the sub-category of tourism freelancers extremely full of opportunities.

Starting from the more “classic” blog on tourism and travel, today we can talk about travel influencers, who use social media (especially Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook) to showcase their travels or sponsor their business, or vloggers, who specialize in building videos on the subject. Whatever the cut of the freelance activity, the cornerstone at the base of the digital strategy is always the same: to make yourself known.

In the world of freelancers, it becomes an even more complex problem for a number of reasons. First of all, the freelancer can neither count on the “strong” name of the hotel or accommodation facility to obtain a good positioning on Google nor on a good web reputation, especially at the beginning.

There are portals for freelancers, but they usually work more like marketplaces for exchanging digital skills. They are very important for building a digital social network to be exploited to create synergies and contacts with other “colleagues”, but not to be known by future customers.

On the other hand, the freelancer has practically unlimited supplies of flexibility and can enjoy exploring all the existing digital channels and tools to build original strategies. Indeed, creativity is always highly valued in the freelance market and is an element in favor of the Unique Selling proposition.

So any activity related to tourism, more or less structured, needs a strategic plan both to generate brand awareness and to improve revenue management and therefore increase profit.

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Tools of Digital Tourism Marketing

Where to start to implement effective online Tourism Digital Marketing strategies? First focus on the customer journey, i.e. the path that each user takes to buy a product or service online. It is important to know this because thinking about the different ways that users use to satisfy their needs can help you define the channels and tools to use.

I’ll give you a practical example: a future customer looking for a tourist facility could start his search from the Google search bar. This means that your business, to be visible, must be well positioned in Google (through SEO) or be advertised through ads (with SEM).

However, the future customer could decide to search for the facilities closest to the place where he needs to go via Google Maps; in this case, you would need a great personalized listing on Google My Business to be immediately visible. What if the customer does research on social media? Then it could be useful to have a very updated Facebook page or an active and colorful Instagram profile.

Google My Business

Google My Business is indispensable for anyone who has a business because it is a tool created specifically to allow businesses to present themselves at their best both on the search engine and on Google Maps.

Google My Business allows your business to create or claim a profile in which to enter the data of the structure: name, precise address, and contacts; but also opening/closing times, photos, and precise location on the map to be easily accessible.

Over time, Google has made the card more and more customizable and today it is possible to enter a large number of other information, such as a description of the services offered and even reviews. Google My Business becomes a fundamental service because positive reviews will not only be immediately viewable but will also help improve the reputation of the structure.

A precious tool that needs to be taken care of and updated because it’s a bit like a showcase.

Website

The website continues to be an essential tool if not central to an accurate digital strategy. What is your available budget? Once you have established your budget you can decide to choose your means of communication and plan a strategy for a website for Bed and Breakfast or other accommodation facilities. It can collect traffic from all other channels and become the arrival “platform” of the users’ customer journey.

Obviously, therefore, it must be cared for, precise, beautiful, informed, and well-positioned. The website can be a great way to give an atmosphere and restore the famous uniqueness I was telling you about. Fill it with curated photos with interesting content, but above all with precise and detailed information on the structure, work, and activities.

Like the Google My Business tab, the site is also like a showcase, indeed it is more so because it is much more customizable and must be constantly updated. It is essential that it has a booking engine, i.e. the possibility of being able to book and pay directly from the site without going through intermediaries.

To be well positioned on Google and be seen, the website must be looked after on the SEO side (I’ll tell you about it shortly), user-friendly (simple to use and fast for the user), and responsive, i.e. adapt to the device with which the user browses it (PC, mobile phone, tablet).

Blogs

A blog is a tool that many may consider dated, but in reality, it is still a valuable ally for generating traffic. A website and a blog are not the same things, but the blog can be integrated into the site and bring additional traffic. While the site consists of pages only, the blog also provides articles that could rank in Google and help the visibility of the site.

However, this means that the articles must not only be written, but optimized and updated. The work of the blog is not so simple and time-consuming, however, it remains one of the most efficient elements of the digital strategy in the tourism field.

Like the website, it goes without saying that the blog needs well-finished content, images, and why not interesting videos capable of attracting the user. A blog is the realm of creativity, have fun making it engaging, exciting, and the ideal extension of the atmosphere and mood that the client wants to convey to the public.

Content

Related to both the blog and the website is the content, or rather the content.

ThereContent creation is the central part of any strategy because they are the discriminating factor of a followed and appreciated quality channel. In addition to accurate and detailed information about your business, original and emotional contents make the difference, those that allow you not only to sell the product or services you offer but also the project behind it.

Storytelling is a very powerful tool for making yourself known: who are you? Why did you get this idea? What differentiates your dream from that of many others? What makes it unique? Content is the right key to tell yourself.

Video

The video is perhaps the most popular format in recent years and will probably become even more so in the future. That’s why video marketing is becoming one of the most important frontiers of digital. I would advise you to think about it and try to include the video in one of the privileged channels of your strategy, even more so if you deal with tourism and travel.

Today many structures are converting to video, integrating it into more classic forms of communication (just think of the interactive videos that allow you to “take a tour” of the structures before booking them).

Video becomes even more important when it comes to freelancers such as vloggers and travel bloggers, who absolutely shouldn’t ignore the sharing and engagement power that a video can generate.

Furthermore, the video is a great way to enter into a direct relationship with the user, using all your creativity to develop a unique relationship. Social media is also promoting videos more, with Facebook giving them more exposure in the feed.

Social Media Marketing

I present to you now the social media which by no digital strategy can do without. Obviously, by social, I mean all social, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or the new frontiers like TikTok. Each social network has its rules of use and its importance, but in general, it is good to remember that all these tools can work together with a well-structured editorial plan.

As for Facebook, it can serve as a discussion platform; opening a Facebook page can be a quick way to answer user questions. Also, if the page is well-updated and developed (again, with videos, photos, and content), it could help develop a strong community.

Instagram, on the other hand, could become a real photo and video collector, while YouTube could be the right place for vlogs. The most important thing about social networks is that they encourage sharing and therefore the circulation of the business and name through the viral sharing of content. This can help you to intercept even a larger, latent target. Remember: beautiful, fast, simple content.

Email Marketing

Although e-mail is considered almost obsolete, it is actually an effective tool for Digital Tourism Marketing, above all thanks to the opening percentage which is almost 100%. Email marketing allows for much more flexibility than you might think because it integrates seamlessly with all other tools.

With the use of specific software (such as Mailchimp), it is possible to define an editorial plan with which to follow your database (ie the email addresses you will have collected) through the use of automatic or customized emails. The database must always be constantly updated and well organized, cleaned of spam and non-existent or no longer used addresses.

Once built, it is possible to use emails for a large number of activities: subscribe users to the newsletter,

SEM

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) aims to place a company/product in the top positions, but unlike SEO, it is a paid activity. The SEM, therefore, allows high visibility in search engines in a decidedly rapid time but also provides for an economic expense.

I always advise you to first set a budget for building campaigns, a time limit to be able to monitor their results, and test, test, test. SEM can give excellent results.

SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a sub-category of SEM and is the technique that allows you to optimize the content to get to occupy the first organic positions (not paid) in the Google search engine and thus obtain more visibility.

Even if doing SEO is not easy, it remains one of the most effective long-term tools and can be applied to the website, blog articles, and social media. A technical and painstaking work that acts behind the scenes, but can give many results.

SEO and SEM can be integrated into the same strategy. As with SEM, however, it is better to rely on a professional in the sector who can outline the most effective and least expensive methods for your strategy. To learn more, you can view our course to become an expert in SEO-SEM.

 

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Who does Digital Tourism Marketing

After talking about the activities that benefit from Digital Tourism Marketing and the tools to implement an effective communication strategy, I’ll tell you about who actually takes care of it.

Precisely because building a digital strategy that involves all channels is becoming essential for any business, these figures are assuming a central role both in the company workforce and as freelance professionals ready to put their skills at the service of others.

In parallel, courses in tourism marketing online to become experts in this sector are proliferating, proof of the fact that they are increasingly sought-after figures in the digital world.

Tourism Digital Marketing Technician

What does a Tourism Digital Marketing technician do? As a technician, he has the role of analyzing the territory and the trends of the tourist market, proposing promotional activities for the services/products of the company, hotel, and accommodation business through the web and digital channels.

Consistent with the objectives of the company for which he works, this professional must analyze the reference target and develop the most appropriate actions, also calculating their impact in terms of achieving objectives and engagement.

The above makes it necessary for a tourism digital marketing technician to have a broad knowledge of digital and be able to develop a strategy that involves the integration of multiple online channels. The courses to become a Tourism Digital Marketing technician, therefore, merge into the courses to become experts in the entire digital world at 360°.

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Tourism Digital Marketing Consultant

Another figure that is gaining a lot of popularity is that of the Tourism Digital Marketing consultant, an external figure who helps to set up and monitor a digital strategy as a freelancer.

However, a consultant is a tourism technician who has trained in both the digital and tourism fields, with the difference that he chooses to work as a freelancer for external customers (who therefore may change from time to time) and not as an integral part of the corporate staff.

In this way, his work is very flexible but the challenges also multiply, because as a consultant he may have to analyze and monitor realities that are very different from each other. However, after having followed a complete Master’s in digital, a consultant in Digital Marketing for Tourism must learn how to start his own consultancy business with a specific course for consultants.

Final Tips for an Effective Tourism Digital Marketing Strategy

I have already told you extensively about strategy and the tools to implement it. Before leaving you, however, I would like to share one more point with you. When building an effective Digital Tourism Marketing strategy, I suggest you always keep in mind three specific questions:

  • Who are your customers (Buyer persona)?
  • What are their needs can you meet?
  • What could lead them to believe that you (or your business) aren’t the answer to their problem?

The clearer the answers to these questions, the more you will be able to outline your strategy. First, define your target starting from the Buyer Persona and then analyze their customer journey; choose which tools to use to “meet” him at the various touchpoints of his journey.

final tips for effective strategy

Once the initial plan has been set, monitor the work of the chosen channels and act accordingly (do they all work or do some seem useless to you? How is the level of engagement or the email opening rate?). Always come up with scenarios of obstacles to solve and act on them before they even arise.

Finally, don’t underestimate the post-purchase work: fast and efficient customer service both on the website and on social networks, ready to answer the doubts that may arise, always has a very good effect on the reviews; request feedback on the shopping experience via email or SMS as well.

Everything in the strategy must be tailored to your target, speak their language and their emotions, but also be efficient, fast, and respond to every concern.

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