If you work in the tourism industry, you know that marketing and promotion play a huge role in how customers or visitors learn about your business. But the way that potential customers find information about locations or venues that they want to visit or stay at has changed a lot in the past few years. Thanks to the proliferation of search engines, social media, and online reviews, the old way of doing marketing just doesn’t cut it anymore, for any industry—including tourism.
If you aren’t updating your marketing efforts so that they match the ways that your clients are searching for information, then there’s a good chance you are missing out on people discovering your business, which ultimately means you’re losing money to your competitors. Inbound Marketing is here to help get you back on track.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Traditional marketing has always been an interruptive game. Marketers would put all of their time, effort, and resources into trying to get in front of as many eyeballs or in as many ears as possible. They would accomplish this largely using methods like advertisements (think, commercials during your favorite TV or radio show), cold calls, or spam emails.
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The good news for consumers is that, thanks to a lot of advances in technology, we can tune more and more of these unwanted, interruptive messages out. Caller ID lets us screen out cold calls; spam folders filter spam; DVR lets us skip over commercials; and ad blocker lets us, well, block ads. In short, it’s a glorious day to be a consumer.
Unfortunately, that means that it’s harder to be a marketer or salesman. Inbound marketing was developed as a marketing methodology that better fits in with the way that consumers learn about products or services and eventually buy. Instead of being interruptive and indiscriminately getting in front of as large an audience as possible, inbound marketing helps businesses better focus their marketing efforts so that they are only getting in front of people who might actually buy: The people who are actively searching for information.
Instead of pushing a message out to an audience, inbound marketers create content that draws an audience in. (That’s where the “in” in “inbound marketing” comes from.)
Inbound marketing relies on a lot of different strategies to work, but it largely focuses on:
- Creating high-quality, valuable content that your prospective customer wants (blog posts, ebooks, webinars, checklists, etc.),
- Using that content to convince your prospective customer to submit their contact information to you on your website through a form,
- And then using that contact information to nurture that person from prospect to customer through the use of emails, content offers, and other tools.
Does Inbound Marketing Work for the Tourism Industry?
To put it short, inbound marketing can work for any industry. The basic framework of the inbound methodology can be broken into 4 steps: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
These 4 steps can apply to literally any business, including tourism and recreation. Below, you can see how the 4 steps of the inbound methodology directly relate to the tourism and recreation industry.
The Attract step of the inbound methodology is where you are attracting strangers to your website so that they start to learn about your facilities, services, and overall business. This is typically done with blog posts that focus on specific keywords, phrases, or topics that your customer wants to learn more about.
Identifying these blog posts is pretty easy for the tourism and recreation industry. As a few examples:
- A campsite might write blog posts like “10 Things to Pack for Your First Camping trip,” “5 Ways to Evaluate Your Campsite,” or “15 Amazing Recipes to Try On Your Next Camp Out”
- A bed and breakfast in Cheshire, CT might write blog posts like “5 Boutique Shops to Check Out When You’re in Cheshire” or “10 Romantic Date Ideas to Try in Cheshire CT”
- A music venue in New York City might write blog posts like “10 Items You Need to Bring to Your Next Concert” or “5 Amazing Hotels to Stay at on Your Next Trip to NYC”
In the Convert step, you are trying to convert these visitors into leads. To do this, you need them to supply you with their contact information; at a minimum, this would be an email address and first name. But someone isn’t just going to hand over their info—you need to give them something in return. You can do this by creating a content offer like an ebook or webinar that they will find valuable enough to trade you their contact info for it. Some examples might include:
- A campsite writing an ebook titled “The Complete Guide to Camping in Vermont”
- A bed and breakfast writing an ebook titled “The Lovebird’s Guide to Vacationing in Cheshire, CT”
- A music venue creating a webinar where they interview a big-name celebrity
In the Close step, you are closing your leads into customers. This is typically done with lead nurturing in the form of an email sequence that brings your leads closer and closer to making a purchase—booking a room, buying concert tickets, etc.
The Delight step is all about keeping your current customers happy so that they 1.) stay customers and 2.) help you get more customers through word of mouth, positive online reviews, and referrals.
Tourism and Inbound Marketing
As described above, the basic framework of inbound marketing can apply to nearly any industry that you can think of. The tourism industry and inbound marketing just go together; they just make sense.
By getting in the minds of the customers and visitors that you are trying to attract to your website and business/venue, inbound marketing will help you grow you target your marketing efforts so that you grow your customer base, retain your current customers, and help them by giving them content that they want and need.