How Travel Agents can become better at Destination Marketing
Where should we go on a holiday? – is a common question for travelers, especially for the aspirational Millennials. Generally, vacation plans begin with a destination in mind which is just the start of the story. The process of communicating with prospects to influence their destination preference, intention to travel and finalize their product choices is what defines destination marketing.
Destination Marketing Organizations or DMOs, are Government bodies which act as the face of any destination and are responsible for representing the vision, values, and competitive attributes of a place. The single most important goal of destination marketing is to promote a specific region to boost the number of visitors. To help promote respective destinations, Suppliers as well as Travel Intermediaries work hand-in-hand with DMOs. The biggest competitor of any destination is another destination in its closest proximity or one that offers similar experiences.
DMOs and Tour Operators
Tour operators should be a part of the DMOs custom itineraries based on visitor interest or neighborhood. However, it is wise for any tour operator to partner with the other existing operators to create exclusive offerings and then approach the DMO. The biggest challenge every online traveler faces is collecting all the necessary information they would need before traveling and by banding together to promote any destination, it will make it convenient for the tourists to get a blueprint of the journey they are about to undertake.
The job of a destination marketer is essentially to create campaigns that will motivate consumers to travel to specific destinations. It is the duty of the destination travel marketer to remain resourceful and project destination trends in order to stay afloat in this competitive market. Destination marketing is a popularly used term which has become an essential component in the management of destinations. In scale with the general marketing literature, according to some industry specialists, destination marketing is described as a type of ‘market-oriented strategic planning’. This is why destination marketing is construed as a strategic approach rather than using any promotional tools.
Destination Marketing Tips for Travel Agents
- Maintain a content rich travel blog – A Travel blog is not about the language but about the content. What you need to do is keep it simple and update it regularly. More current the information about the destinations, more powerful is your blog. Adding a healthy mix of images and videos pertaining to the destination you’re looking to promote in your content will make the blog look more ‘instagram-ish’ because travel stories are more of a visual experience. Rich content also helps increase the shareability of your blog. If you have a generic destination marketing strategy, you can have one blog covering them all and categorize posts according to the destination. If you want to focus on one or two major destinations, you can create separate blogs for each of them. Remember, your blog should act as a window to the experiences travelers should expect when they book a trip with you.
- Consistent, pro-active effort
To attract visitors to your online portal, marketing needs to be rolled across every possible technique and channel. From traditional advertising in print to social and content marketing – find the right partnerships and sponsorship models for destination marketing. Fam tours are an essential part but difficult if you’re on a tight marketing budget.
- Mobile friendly portals
Build a mobile-responsive website, as over half of travel bookings today are done on smartphones and tablets. The share of trips planned on mobile devices is also on the rise. Young travelers, or millenials find it the most convenient way to purchase or research about any destination and not catering to this segment puts you at a risk of losing on a humongous percentage of customers.
- Offer Destination-specific deals
What is the best gift can you offer to your customers as a destination marketer? Discounts. The brochure should contain more discounted and special offer packs rather than brand new products or services. Do some analysis of your customers and create destination-specific packages and deals based on their preferences and past booking behavior.
- Listen to customer reviews
Negative online reviews prove detrimental at times, but destination marketers should not be obsessed with it. In fact, they should take them positively and work towards turning negative feedback into the positive experiences. What will help build greater trust and a loyal customer base by demonstrating how they turned around a unfavorable situation and made the tourists feel at home.
- Use Seasonal Lows to your advantage
A very colloquial term, “off season” is often thought of as the bane of any destination marketer’s business. However, travelers might benefit from the high points of the off-peak season like lesser traffic, smaller crowds, more enjoyable local experience and cheaper rates on flights, hotel rooms and other rental services. In fact, these features can be used to make the destination more appealing to the first-time travelers.
- Knowing the demographics
The choice of destinations varies vividly for an adventure traveler to a religious tourist. Thus, the marketer should look to target newer demographic niches and the relevant destinations and work towards becoming experts in that particular tourism sector. For instance, medical tourism has a wide popularity in the South Indian states. Singapore has also flourished as a medical tourist hub. Offering state-of-the-art medical care for a third of the price, travel agents can promote destinations like Thailand and India to their target customers. Similarly, Cannabis tourism has seen a fast-growing market. Cannabis-themed festivals in “green” cities since legalization could be an interesting part of destination marketing campaigns.
- Social media is everywhere – use it for your benefit
Social media is one of the key elements in any destination marketing strategy. The way traditional marketing costs are growing higher and higher, social media is gaining prominence in as it serves as one of the most cost-effective tools to reach a wider global audience within limited resources. Although, the influences of social media on different destination choices are still in an exploratory stage, disseminating word of mouth electronically, it is turning to be one of the most favorable contrivances for travel agents. Source-receiver relationships, presentation of contents, channel variety, message retention capabilities, and opportunities for information solicitation etc. are some of the factors one need to consider before expecting any substantial result. For past visitors, social media works as a platform where they can share and narrate their tourism experiences. On the other hand, it involves industry partners which they find significant to embellish relevant destination images. Thus, eventually, social media is a conceptual marketing strategy which if adopted by travel agents in near future can help them to distinctively define their credibility in this competitive market. DMOs and travel agents can also refer to national tourism organizations (NTOs) to identify with, analyze the content, and then grow on the social media marketing strategies for destination marketing.
Key points to remember
• Install multilingual site management technology (especially for airlines)
• Create a global content strategy with booking engine localization
• CRM marketing localization is also equally important for hotels to maintain during destination marketing
• Conference interpretation services with multilingual call center support
An integrative approach to destination marketing aligning with development objectives and destination management helps to advocate destination marketing. Sustainable marketing of regional destinations has been identified as an essential step for successful destination marketing. The need for destination stakeholders should be kept in mind which will help to foster a cooperative and strategic approach for the promotion of any particular region. Tactical advertising and promotional strategies supported by effective visitor information services helps to brand the destination image.