When you live in a town where the economy depends on tourism, tourism promotion ideas become vitally important not just to your own business but to your friends and neighbors as well. When you're in charge of a bona fide tourist destination, you carry the whole town's legacy on your shoulders as you navigate the world of tourism promotion.
Understanding the Image You Want to Convey
First, you need to develop an image that you want to promote. Why do people come to visit your town or a specific tourist destination? If your area is known for its relaxing, small-town atmosphere and country charm, you'll use different images and marketing designs or techniques than would a city known for its adventure park and outdoorsy experiences.
Regardless of the type of atmosphere and the types of attractions your town has to offer, there are a few elements on which everyone can agree:
You want people to fondly remember how clean your streets were and how the landscape was so beautifully maintained.
Friendliness and hospitality – When an area's economy depends on tourism, the locals tend to have no problem being friendly and hospitable to strangers. However, bad experiences can lead to bad reviews, which can turn off future visitors.
You can't go wrong with having affordable but delicious food available at local restaurants (not fast-food chains). Tourists need at least three square meals a day plus treats, and they're willing to splurge to try things they normally wouldn't. After all, they're on vacation!
* Unique experiences
Maybe your town has a one-of-a-kind museum, boasts "the largest in the world" of something bizarre, hosts a fun festival or is home to a historical building. You need to know what makes your town unique so that you can tell potential tourists all about it.<br><br>
– Last but not least, tourists want to feel safe wherever they go. They don't want to worry about crime. Keeping the town well lit at night is just one way to help tourists feel safe as they explore.
What else do you want people to feel and experience when they're in town? Expand on this list to make your own checklist for promotional materials.
From a Mental Image to a Physical Image
No promotional materials are of any use without lots and lots of photographs. Choose a beautiful day to take pictures for your promotional materials so that the true beauty of the environment is captured. Every region has a different tourist season, so make sure you choose the right time of year to take photos. Use a high-quality camera instead of a smartphone so that the photos can be blown up without getting pixelated.
Then, take photos that match the checklist you made. Do the people in the photos look friendly and like they're having a good time? Does any food in the photograph look so good you can almost taste it? Does the town look clean or like it desperately needs a fresh coat of paint and some road repair?
Of course, if there are true issues like damaged roads, those need to be addressed. If the main tourist attractions look a little neglected, they should be spruced up for their photo shoot. Sometimes, you only have one chance to make a fantastic first impression, so make it count!
Understanding the People You Want to Reach
Who are your potential tourists? Are they day trippers? Do they want to stay for a whole week? Do they have a lot of money to spend during their vacation? Are they traveling with children? Are they retired? Knowing these details about your typical tourists will help you not only provide them with the accommodations they need but also help you place your promotional materials in places where they'll see them.
For example, tourist destinations that are popular with families with children can benefit from placing advertisements in parenting magazines or on parenting websites. If your town is popular among day trippers from the local region, placing advertisements in newspapers within a three-hour radius could help you attract more visitors.
Retirees tend to watch TV during the day, which means you can place TV advertisements at certain times for greater success. Older folks are also less likely to use social media, but when they do, they use Facebook, which means an Instagram campaign would be better suited to a younger audience.
Tourism Promotion Ideas and Marketing Channels
Both digital marketing and traditional marketing work well for promoting tourism, but of course, the best options depend on your target audience.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
These are typically banner advertisements that appear in the margins on a webpage. Your goal is to use your most stunning photographs and snappy, concise language to convince the viewer to click and learn more about your tourist destination. Placing these on websites frequented by your target audience means they're more likely to be successful. You only pay when someone clicks on the advertisement.
Social Media Marketing
Dozens of social media platforms exist, and different types of people enjoy using different ones. Facebook is always a great option. Your town's tourism promotion board can set up an official town page, or if you own a tourist destination, make sure it has a page too. Instagram is ideal for younger visitors.
Twitter and even LinkedIn can also be leveraged with a smart strategy. You can stay top of mind among curious visitors and also showcase your friendly and welcoming spirit based on the tone you use in posts.
You can place advertisements in magazines, on billboards and in newspapers where it makes sense to do so and when you have the budget for it. Use images and words that make someone long to come visit or at least visit your website and get totally hooked.
These days, commercials don't even have to appear on TV, even though that could be a good way to reach certain people. You can also place advertisements on YouTube or other popular online video platforms. This is a great way to show a lot of footage in a short amount of time in order to really sell your tourist destination.
Collecting emails and sending out newsletters can be a great way to keep in touch with previous visitors or to encourage potential visitors to make plans. Share upcoming event details and give a compelling recap of previous events to make people wish they had been there.
Search Engine Marketing
People tend to think of blog posts when they think of search engine optimization, but you can also optimize images. It's a smart idea to make sure your website's text and images are optimized for popular local keywords. Do research to figure out for what people are searching. If people search for "day trips from New York," and you fit the bill, you want your website to show up in the first few results to capture people's attention.
Working Together With Your Tourism Promotions Board
Finally, don't forget that it takes a village to make tourism successful anywhere. Get locals, especially any tourism promotion services or the tourism promotions board, to agree to a plan to make your town attractive to tourists. Use these ideas to get started, and don't be afraid to get a little creative to showcase what makes your town unique and vibrant.
- Entrepreneur: 10 Marketing Strategies to Fuel Your Business Growth
- Sheard & Hudson: What Makes a Successful Tourist Destination?
- Sage Journals: Tourist Destination Perception and Well-Being: What Makes a Destination Attractive?
- Flottman Company: Tourist Attractions: 4 Ways to Mix Advertisements With Useful Information
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.