Destination marketing is a type of marketing which advertises a particular country, town or region so that people are inspired to visit the area. The purpose of destination marketing is to encourage audiences to travel to a particular location after they’re exposed to related advertisements.
The main objectives of destination marketing are:
- To promote a destination, highlighting its USPs and why it’s an attractive alternative to other locations.
- To enlighten audiences about the stories behind destinations you’re promoting.
- To positively benefit the tourism industry, including airlines, hotels and local restaurants.
- To improve user experience (UX) by creating an appealing site which performs well.
In this article, we’ll explore the importance of travel marketing and how you can market destinations successfully.
Why destination marketing is important
Destination marketing is all about captivating an audience. By creating a compelling advertising campaign, you can engage your target audience, and engaged audiences are more likely to convert. By marketing your destination in the most effective way, you’ll inspire users to travel there, increasing your profitability.
Creating great content and promoting your offerings doesn’t just get your audience’s attention, it helps to build brand awareness. If you can offer valuable information, exceptional customer service and have glowing reviews which praise your travel and tourism brand, you can build a trusting relationship with your audience.
At the end of the day, you’re selling a location, and you have the power to improve the reputation of an area, highlight what it has to offer and increase interest in the destination which will boost the area’s local economy. So, destination marketing plays an instrumental part in supporting locals in the areas you market as well as your own business.
How to market a destination
There’s a wide range of ways you can look to market a destination, but in such a saturated market, you need to make a lasting impression with your campaigns. Here’s what you could do to make locations you’re marketing stand out from the crowd:
Promote destinations on social media
From Facebook to TikTok, social media platforms offer you the unique ability to extend your reach and market destinations in creative ways. You could create inspirational posts, share oh-so tempting images and videos, or even run your own competitions that raise awareness of your destinations. There’s also opportunities to run paid marketing campaigns which target specific audiences - we’ll get onto PPC marketing in due course!
Let’s look at the brand Kayak as an example. They are a travel search app with a strong social media presence on platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Youtube. They’ve realised the power of engaging with their audience, especially through images and videos so that they can do destinations justice when promoting them.
Below is a snapshot of their TikTok account.
As you can see, they’ve posted a short video which lists some of the top destinations for solo travellers. This is a great way to give users a glimpse into several locations and highlight what there is to do in each area. This alone might not be enough to persuade a user to convert, however, it could certainly plant the seed in their mind of where they might like to visit next. Of course all social media platforms will offer different features and present unique ad opportunities, so you’ll need to do your research into which platforms are appropriate for your audience and brand.
Whilst you could look into getting influencers on board to promote your locations, you know who else will have a huge impact on users? Users themselves! From encouraging your followers to share pictures from their own travel adventures to entering competitions, people trust their peers over brands. In fact, a study by Olapic found that 51% of survey respondents claimed to trust user images over brand image as they’re perceived as more authentic and trustworthy.
Boost your SEO
People will actively be searching for getaways online, or make searches related to travel - and you want your site to be visible so that they see the destinations you have to offer! Developing your SEO strategy will involve identifying the right keywords to target, optimising content on your site and performing technical SEO checks to ensure everything is running smoothly.
Link building is another effective way to get your brand out there whilst improving your Expertise, Trustworthiness and Authority (EAT) score with other reputable sites related to the travel and tourism industry. You could reach out to travel websites such as TripAdvisor and see whether they would be interested in publishing any of your content or promoting your site (perhaps you have a killer virtual reality tour that you want to get out there!). We should warn you, link building isn’t an easy ride, and it requires a lot of forethought. Lucky for you, we’ve written a blog all about link building to guide you!
Run effective PPC campaigns
PPC campaigns put you front and centre at the start of a potential traveller’s booking journey. By bidding on relevant keywords, you can ensure that you’re one of the first brands that users see, increasing your Click-Through Rate (CTR) and likelihood of converting. Take the search below for instance, the user is likely to want to travel somewhere, but they don’t know exactly where yet. As the paid ads appear above other results, users may be more likely to click on them first, entering the next stage of the booking process.
You’ll be able to set bids in line with your brand’s budget, select specific groups you wish to target and even the time you want your ads to appear. In terms of pricing, the cost of paid ads will depend on a number of factors, such as the placement of your ads and how competitive a keyword is to bid on, but you can be smart about how you approach your PPC strategy.
Build an app
Tourism and travel-related apps are great for increasing user engagement. Not only are you able to develop media-rich content, personalise user experiences and send push notifications to grab their attention, you’ll also be able to help people to plan out their travels.
Below you can see some of the features and functions that the TUI travel app offers.
Whilst users can of course find relevant content and book trips on their website, TUI encourages users to download their app, which offers a personalised experience and special discounts.
Ensure your website is attractive and functional
Your website is one of the most important portals for advertising destinations. When a user enters your website, you want them to say “Wow!” (which can be done through enticing imagery, videos and virtual reality tours that make users feel like they’ve been transported elsewhere), but you also want to ensure that they have a positive experience whilst visiting your site. For example, captivating videos look great, but you don’t want them to slow your website down as this could increase your bounce rate. Essentially, your site needs to look great, but perform seamlessly too. One important aspect will be having a user-friendly interface, especially if you’re marketing multiple destinations.
Ensuring that your website is mobile friendly is also incredibly important. In fact, Google has been indexing and ranking pages based on the mobile version of content since 2019. So, when you’re looking to improve functionality, don’t forget that users aren’t just searching on computers!
As mentioned earlier, there is a high level of trust between users over brands. As found in the Travel trends report (published in 2018), 9 out of 10 travellers felt that it is essential to read online reviews first. So, you can really benefit from enabling reviews on your site and sharing positive feedback.
Don’t forget to respond to your comments and reviews too. A study by TripAdvisor revealed that 77% of travellers were more likely to make a booking if business owners responded to reviews as it helps them to plan a better trip. So, whether you’re selling a tourist experience or a holiday package, make sure that you interact with consumers and show them what a great customer experience looks like!
Developing your destination marketing plan
The approach you take to destination marketing will be bespoke to suit your goals, what type of location you’re promoting and your audience’s needs. For example, if you’re looking to promote a country, the most effective forms of marketing may involve social media marketing and paid advertising. On the other hand, if you’re looking to promote a hotel, you’ll want to consider making the most of testimonials and online reviews as you’re promoting a service.
That said, there are certain steps you’ll need to take when building your destination marketing strategy, this includes:
1. Determining your goals
By defining your goals for your advertising campaigns, you’ll know what you’re working towards. Set clear KPIs and ensure that your goals are realistic and measurable so that you can understand whether you’re on track or falling off of the rails. Common KPIs for destinations marketing campaigns include:
- Organic traffic
- Views of videos you’ve published
- Enquiries/contact form submissions
- Subscriptions to newsletters
2. Understanding your audience
If you’re not getting the attention you want, perhaps you’re not trying to get it from the right people? Understanding who your audience is and what their needs are is of utmost importance if you’re going to figure out how to engage them. You’ll want to consider the segments of the audience your brand is targeting and what they’re looking for. For example, if you’re targeting students, you may want to showcase cheap holiday packages and destinations that offer plenty of activities.
You simply cannot run into your marketing campaigns with all guns blazing without having an in-depth knowledge of who it is these campaigns are designed for.
3. Analysing your competitors and conducting market research
It’s not just other destinations that you’re competing against, it’s competitors. Take a look at what other travel brands who market your destinations are doing and identify any emerging trends that you can capitalise on. The travel industry is a crowded market, so you need to gain insight into what your competitors are up to so that you don’t fall behind and can identify gaps in the market - perhaps there’s a niche that is being forgotten.
4. Developing your plan of action
Create your strategy based on your objectives. For instance, if your goal is to initially spread brand awareness, you could consider running a competition on social media where users share a post of yours with their followers. This would involve an incentive but the ROI could be worth the challenge.
Whether you’re focusing on creating head-turning ads or increasing your visibility online organically, make sure that you monitor your campaigns and track your progress (for example, pay attention to changes in your CTR and the number of goals completed on your website).
Want to get your destinations noticed?
Here at Adido, we make it our mission to evolve your business’s digital performance. Below are some of our key services which are designed to up your destination marketing game!
Our destination marketing services
- SEO - work your way up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and drive more traffic to your site organically.
- PPC - paid media campaigns enable you to target the right audience to increase conversions and improve your ROI.
- Digital marketing strategy - we’ll hone your destination marketing strategy by providing actionable insights.
- Social media advertising - take social media by storm with creative ads tailored to meet your target audience’s interests.
- Website design and development - We build websites that not only look great, they perform seamlessly too!
- UX - make every user experience a positive one so that your app or website converts successfully.
- App development - from developing your app to monitoring its performance, we’ll work with you to create an app which engages users.
Develop your destination marketing strategy and create compelling campaigns with our experienced team. Speak to a destination marketing specialist today to find out more about how we can help you.