These days, the way we plan, travel, and experience a vacation is often centered around the smart phone we hold in the palm of our hand. The online world expands the horizons of travelers around the world, but it also opens up a world of possibilities for global destination marketing. Before, during, and after a trip, we each create information about ourselves and our individuality in our online habits and experiences. This allows marketers to get to know us more accurately. With the right tourism marketing strategy, a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), can not only find the right audience around the world, but make it possible for the right audience to find them.
Look Beyond Location
The ways of old included marketing to specific regions. While it is important to know which geographies have populations increasing travel to others, knowing a region is prone to travel is not enough. Why are the people there traveling more?
In 2016, the U.S. Travel Association lists “visiting relatives” as the #1 reason for leisure travel. With $683.1 billion coming from direct spending, these valuable statistics push us to learn more about these traveler’s incomes, desires and values to maximize ROI. If you target a specific type of person, whether that person is in your drive-market or not, you will ultimately have to open up your geo-targeting to tighten focus on who matters most. If not, you run the risk of squeezing your audience into a universe that’s smaller than the existing opportunity.
Data: Gather, Analyze, Repeat
With so much online consumer data there for the gathering, DMOs must be strategic in their approaches to utilizing it.
Last year, Netflix announced that it was ditching geographical sorting, as well as gender and age sorting when they rolled out their services to 130 new countries. As far as their global strategy was concerned, VP of product Todd Yellin said, “Geography, age, and gender? We put that in the garbage heap.” Instead, viewers were “clustered” by similar taste profiles and Netflix used big data to get past the generality of broad categories to appeal to consumers based on much more specific and accurate preferences.
While Netflix is not in the destination marketing business, this is an important example of a large, influential brand making intelligent changes in strategy in the changing landscape of global marketing. And whatever you are selling, the truth is that today you’ve got to dig much deeper to get to know your audiences more personally in order to remain competitive. By targeting “the enlightened tourist,” Iceland’s tourism industry was able to come back stronger than ever after a national disaster.
Virginia is not just for lovers; New York is not just for night owls, and New Orleans is not just for jazz lovers. Just as the residents of your destination are varied and interact with their home differently, marketing to clusters of people based on niche experiences your destination has to offer is an approach that, compared with marketing it as “a city that has it all,” allows you to reach and appeal to a wider, more realistic audience.
Individuals gather virtually nowadays into online tribes of people that share their interests, and according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, consumers are more informed than ever. Staying relevant with consumers through their passions is the key to success. Use your efforts to build lasting relationships with different audiences that would get the most out of specific aspects of your city, and everybody wins.
The common denominator here is: know who you are trying to reach. With so many online social platforms and marketing tools, getting in the analysis and analytics game can be daunting. Morgan & Co. specializes in mining and making sense of mounds of information to zero in on the right audience(s) for your destination. Contact us today if you need help generating and implementing a more sophisticated and relevant marketing strategy to target your destination’s audience in other cities, states, or countries.