Crafting an effective destination marketing strategy is a high-stakes, complex task. Tourism drives many destination economies, providing jobs and revenue. The marketplace is hyper-competitive and changes at an incredible pace. Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are tasked with identifying top opportunities, managing budgets and defining priorities while implementing strategic visions for the future.
In our role as marketing advisors, we identify top trends while grounding our advice in findings we’ve acquired in our 35+ years of tourism industry experience.
Trends having a major impact on DMOs today involve the collective influence of:
- The rapid adoption of smart technology
- Growing prominence of social media
- The changing expectations and requirements of customers
Our collective experience and constant analysis of trends led us to create a go-to checklist that we use as a jumping-off point to create tourism marketing strategies for DMO clients. But just as today’s customers increasingly look for an authentic, unique experience from destinations, no two marketing solutions are the same. Each DMO needs to craft customized programs that work within their framework.
- Do your research. Understanding your position in the marketplace (both where you are and where you want to be), your target audiences and your competition is a critical first step in the process.
- Build your brand. Your research from step 1 will provide a solid framework for developing a unique brand position and compelling messaging that allows you to make that all-important emotional connection with your target audiences.
- Design a state-of-the-art website. Ensure that it perfectly conveys your brand, captures organic search, lands advertising clicks and drives conversion. Database building should be another one of these key objectives for cost-effective communications down the line (see #7 for more on this).
- Fill the top of the sales funnel. “Broadcast advertising”—both offline and digital—is crucial for establishing your brand and driving new prospects to your website. Don’t ignore or abandon these vehicles just because they’re harder to measure.
- Target the bottom of the sales funnel. Remarketing, brand search and internal database outreach are ideal ways to capitalize on all of your branding efforts and marketing activities.
- Push for a co-op marketing plan. Sell your constituents on the idea of pooling resources to create destination awareness through advertising. This helps you establish a powerful brand that is greater than the sum of its parts.
- Build a segmented database and market to it. Your website should encourage users to provide their email address and tell you what they’re interested in. Then you can design a lifecycle-based email marketing strategy that puts the right message in front of the right prospect at the right time to boost your bottom line.
- Take advantage of social media. Engage followers in a meaningful dialogue—great “conversation” starters include captivating promotions and relevant content, all delivered on a regular basis.
- Create a plan to engage B2B targets. Meeting planners, group tour professionals and travel agents can exponentially increase visitation to your destination, so it’s important to focus on efforts that bring these gatekeepers into the fold.
- Track, assess and adjust. Ensure that your website and analytics are configured to accurately measure results. Employ an agency that knows how to interpret the data and finesse your tactics to optimize your spend.
- Report and inform. Produce simple, clear reporting that educates members so they can clearly understand the value of your marketing program and continue—or, better yet, increase—their support of it.
Please download the pdf of Dana’s DMO Tactics Checklist.
Want to learn more about crafting a success destination marketing strategy?
Reach out to Lynn Kaniper at email@example.com or call 609.466.9187 ext. 117 today.