5 Tips for Marketing the Tourism Industry Before 2020
After 15 years of working with dozens of tourism destinations, hotels and attractions, at Paramore we have witnessed an evolution in every aspect of a visitor’s experience — from the way they plan and book travel to how they share their experiences at the end of their trip.
To identify what has led to these changes and how we can use them to get better results for our clients, we sat down with tourism leaders across the country to learn about their top priorities and what they see as the challenges facing the industry as we approach the year 2020.
The result was our "2020 Focus Industry Research Report," which you can find at ChangingTourism.com. Following are five key takeaways that surfaced from the study:
1. Build a Great Place to Live and You Build a Great Place to Visit
Visitors crave authenticity over a manufactured experience. They want to experience the unique flavors and texture of the local scene while they are on vacation. With this in mind, it’s critical for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) to first understand what their destination has to offer and their cityies' individual brand personality.
Investing in learning and developing a city’s persona infuses valuable authenticity into a destination that can be seen and felt throughout its marketing. This often requires a great deal of time and intention. From utilizing your economic development team to attracting specific types of businesses to creating seasonal events that fit the flavor of your community, it takes a village to build up a community.
2. Tweak Your Research to Focus on Gap Analysis
Always a staple for the tourism leader, research is evolving as the traveler evolves. Understanding the gaps between your product and the traveler’s desires is key now. You have to discover what you don’t already offer visitors that could enhance their stay by conducting gap analysis research. We recommend working with a research company, such as Gray Research Solutions, to intercept people immediately after their experience at a destination and ultimately discover what could have enhanced their visit.
3. Focus on the Right Metrics to Understand Success and Opportunities
If you don’t have benchmarks and key metrics in place for your destination, it’s time to create some. Macro metrics should be irrefutable measurements, such as bed tax revenue, ADR, RevPAR. Micro metrics measure the response to campaigns, content and social posts to establish baseline knowledge of how your marketing is being received. As you develop a marketing plan, include a metric for each goal that can produce a consistent, measurable ROI and contribute to the overall success for your destination.
4. Reimagine Your Visitor Center
Once the gateway to our destinations, many visitor centers now stand almost empty, replaced by Google, TripAdvisor and the destination website. It’s important to take an honest look at the experience you are offering versus what digital can do better and find a unique position for your visitor center. Many destinations are experimenting with the concept of pop-up visitor centers — a mobile center that has a presence at local events with heavy traffic, such as festivals and concerts — as a way to take their message to the visitors rather than hoping they’ll make the trek to the visitor center.
5. Add Variety and Focus to Your Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is an important component of tourism marketing and management. It’s crucial to get the right people on the board and set solid expectations of their role in order for the destination to achieve success. Think of people who will steer you down the right growth path and have a passion for creating a great place to live and visit. These people should be qualified but should also have a variety of experience from a diverse range of backgrounds. Don’t just add people who have worked in the tourism industry—add people with experience in business development, marketing, banking and other industries that contribute to creating a great place to live.
Hannah Paramore Breen is an entrepreneur, international speaker, digital marketing expert, and the Executive Vice President of Paramore, an Osborn Barr Company. Paramore is a digital agency based in Nashville, Tennessee that works with a variety of organizations throughout the country including a stronghold in tourism in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey and West Virginia.
Hannah has been featured numerous times in national press including Fast Company, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post and The New York Times.
Hannah serves on the advisory board for the Synovus, The Bank of Nashville, The YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Fisk University School of Business, Downtown Partnership and is a chair of the Nashville Chamber’s Public Engagement task force on Transit. Hannah’s passions include golf, travel, the YWCA, The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and more golf.