Whether you’re running a small bed and breakfast or a multi-million pound resort, people have to want to be where you are if you’re going to succeed. That can create a whole host of different challenges. You might be competing with hundreds of other hotels in the middle of a popular city, or trying to attract visitors to a place they’ve never heard of. Marketing your destination effectively shouldn’t just be down to the local tourist board. Everyone has a role to play.
Here’s why you need an effective marketing plan and how to go about building it.
Know your visitor
The first step in marketing your destination is to work out who you’re selling it to. That could mean choosing the right demographic. You could equally be marketing to a customer who takes a variety of different trips depending on their mood.
If you already have a particular type of visitor, you can tailor your marketing message to them. Of course, what they’re looking for will often depend on what you’re offering.
Know your area
Travel to Vegas and you know you’re going to eat, drink, gamble and be entertained. Head to Paris and you can guarantee romance. Unless you’re on a rugby tour. Marketing your destination means showing people what type of break to expect.
The way you plan your marketing can often depend on where your competition is. Whilst I would never advocate obsessing over your competitors, it can be useful to know how they present themselves generally. If you run an adrenaline sports business in a crowded market, how does your offering differ from everyone else’s?
Of course, there are other ways to make your business stand out. Perhaps you’re the closest hotel to the most popular attraction in town. Or maybe you have the best sea views or a chef who’s just won an award. Use whatever makes you unique.
Making a plan
Marketing your destination effectively means making a plan. You need clear objectives about how many visitors you need to attract and where you’re going to find them. That way, when you venture into paid advertising, you can target it properly and give yourself the best chance of a decent ROI.
Start with your peak times and work backwards. If you offer a summer holiday activity you could be marketing to holidaymakers and local families. I probably don’t have to tell you that Christmas marketing gets earlier every year. It can be a great idea to get together with other local businesses to attract new visitors. Maybe your restaurant is somewhere remote but there’s a reliable local taxi service or a reasonable hotel.
Plan your content
Your marketing content shouldn’t just be about selling. Every marketing strategy needs to have a combination of sales and awareness raising. There are an enormous number of different ways to do this. Blogging allows you to talk about something relevant to your offer in a way that feels like a conversation. You’re just talking to your audience about something that interests them. You don’t just have to stick to one format either – you can talk about the same subject using video and images as well as a written blog.
Potential customers love to see behind the scenes. Show them what goes into getting their room ready or talk to the local supplier about the fish for tonight’s dinner. Let them see a photo of a beautiful sunset so they can imagine watching it with a cocktail.
What’s in your plan? If you’ve already got next year’s marketing planned out, leave a comment and let me know. If you need any help, that’s what I’m here for!
For more creative ideas, start with this great post from Uhuru.