Tourism Marketing Strategies for 2021 and Beyond
The tourism industry is one of the industries that was hit the hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic, but fortunately, a lot of tourism businesses (including you!) have survived the rough year-and-a-half, and now we are finally ready for a comeback with many countries reopening their borders and lifting their travel bans.
Yet, even before the pandemic, the tourism industry was already very competitive, and now it’s tighter than ever before.
If you don’t have clear tourism marketing strategies in 2021, you won’t be able to stand out from your competitors and win more travelers.
Here, we will discuss some of the most effective tourism marketing strategies in 2021 and beyond, taking into accounts the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry.
Without further ado, let us begin.
1. Prioritize Health and Safety
There’s no shortcut to this.
While traveler’s safety has always been a very important concern in the tourism industry, in 2021 and beyond, at least until the pandemic is thoroughly controlled, it’s going to be even more important.
Many countries now require proof of vaccination before travelers can enter the country, so you have to put it into consideration when packaging and marketing your tours.
Also, always collect as much information as possible regarding destination countries’ health and safety policies, which as we know, often change a lot these days.
Travelers are also much more conscious of hygiene and health information, so you should provide clear information about the steps you are taking to maintain physical distancing and as much hygiene as possible.
In short, a core aspect of your marketing plan should convince your potential clients that you will keep them safe and healthy during the trip.
2. Focus on a Target Audience
While you can technically aim wide and target everyone, it’s actually better to focus on a specific target audience considering the tight competition.
Simply put, everyone travels differently. Solo, younger travelers would have different travel destinations than family travelers and different budgets. Similarly, couples going for a honeymoon would like different destinations.
So, identify your target audience, understand their travel behaviors and interests, and design your tourism marketing strategies around this target audience.
For example, if you are targeting families, then know that women in families are more likely to research and book a trip, so your primary target should be mothers between the age of 35-49, which is currently the biggest contributor to family travel searches by 31%.
3. Digital Infrastructure is Key
In this digital, post-COVID pandemic world, having a functional digital infrastructure is crucial for virtually any business. Many people have been forced to adopt online shopping throughout the quarantine period, and so having an online presence while enabling travelers to book your service online is now a necessity.
You should consider having:
- Strong enough presence on major social media profiles depending on your target audience (i.e. if you are targeting professionals, you should have a strong presence on LinkedIn)
- A professional and functional website. Social media profiles are not direct replacements for a website. Nowadays you can use tools like Wix to easily make a professional website without any programming knowledge at all, and there’s also the handy WordPress for those who want more versatility.
- A functional online booking and reservation is a must. Make sure to choose one that is designed especially for tour bookings. We’d recommend Bookeo’s tour booking system that doesn’t charge any hidden fees and is very intuitive and easy to use.
- Online payment processing system integrated into your website. Nowadays there are various services that you can use for relatively affordable fees.
- Virtual 360-degree and/or VR tour. Extra features that can be handy in attracting more potential clients.
Think carefully about how you are going to present your tourism business in the digital realm, and make sure your digital content is optimized especially in terms of mobile-friendliness and page speed.
4. Different Approaches with Influencers
Before the global pandemic, working with travel bloggers and influencers was arguably the most effective way you could use to market a tourism business. However, there are several different shifts in influencer marketing we should consider in the post-COVID tourism industry.
First, is that the potential impact of those 2019’s celebrities and mega-influencers is typically not as big as before the pandemic, which should result in lower costs. Also, as we know there are many travel influencers that were hit by media backlash, showing us that we need to be more careful when sponsoring influencers with trips. Again, health and safety concerns must be our top priorities.
5. Pay Attention to Reviews
In this digital age of marketing, getting positive reviews from valid customers is obviously very valuable.
People only want to purchase things from businesses they can trust, and positive reviews are very important social proof in establishing your tourism business’s credibility. Again, with customers’ increased concerns regarding health and safety, reviews are now even more influential.
Also, if in 2019 people are more likely to look for things like cost and customer service, nowadays they’ll also search for hygiene, physical distancing policies, and other health-related information.
Actively encourage existing customers to leave (positive) reviews on your Google Maps listing and other relevant review sites. Also, commit some time to go through all reviews and comments, and address them one by one.
Responding to existing reviews and comments, including and especially the bad ones, is very important. People are more likely to leave reviews for businesses that are active in responding to comments and reviews because they know that if they do choose to voice their concerns, they will be heard and addressed.
Above, we have shared our top tourism marketing strategies to help your business stand out in 2021 and beyond.
It’s crucial to continue to communicate with existing customers and potential clients: gather as much feedback and information as you can to understand why they want to use your service, and also their main obstacles.
By understanding their travel behaviors and pain points, you are more likely to stand out from your competitors in 2021 and the years to come.