Over the years, I’ve been privileged to work with a wide range of companies in the Tourism space. Whether we’re talking about Bed & Breakfasts or DMOs with millions of dollars in budget; I’ve seen it all. It’s an industry that is both complex but sophisticated. It’s one that has wide range of challenges but also filled with opportunity to drive meaningful and measurable results.
One specific vertical in Tourism that has always interested me, is the role of a DMO (Destination Marketing Organization). A DMO is typically a government funded agency that is responsible for developing and selling the brand for a specific destination. It’s their job to promote and highlight the activities, operators, landmarks and stories that make their destination attractive to new visitors.
Since the birth of social media, there’s been some great success stories in the Tourism space. Destinations from all over the globe have done a great job in building their brand on a high level through compelling advertising and communications tactics. But has it truly resulted in new visitors? More bums in seats and heads in beds? That’s still to be determined but here’s a few approaches that can surely help:
1. Tourist Identification
It’s not easy to create or measure a positive ROI on social media, but it is possible. The first thing DMO’s need to do is identify who it is they’re looking to bring to their destination. From there, it’s time to implement tactics that start to build their funnel as it relates to potential visitors.
Studies show that the web is the primary source of information for people planning their holidays and vacations. It’s the internet that leads them to sites like TripAdvisor to scan thousands of user generated reviews or social media to get a third party opinion from one of their friends or followers. This is where ROI is hidden.
As more and more people send out messages asking if they should visit Italy or Greece; there’s an increasing opportunity for DMO’s to get involved. It’s an opportunity for destinations to take one of three approaches:
- Aggressive Sale: In this approach, the DMO responds to the user by expressing how they’d love to have them. Additionally, the DMO could express that they would be happy to help ensure the trip is a memorable one. It’s the ideal approach and it’s one that can quickly lead to results.
- Passive Engagement: In this approach, the DMO favourites a users tweet letting them know they’re listening and on Twitter. This approach is more subtle but still effective. It gets the DMO on their radar but it doesn’t involve the direct sale.
- Accept Status Quo: In this approach, a DMO does what the majority of DMO’s are currently doing. They don’t respond, they don’t engage and they watch a potential tourist make their decision without any involvement. It’s a sure-fire way to leave dollars on the table and throw an opportunity out the door.
Before you start any of your tourist identification campaign, you should identify a process in which you will manage the various opportunities. The reason you want to identify a process is because some users will want additional support through the phone or email while others will simply communicate through social.
Once you start seeing the results from your tourist identification campaigns, you can start investing in long-term processes that will truly change the way you do business. You will start to share these insights with various operators in your destination so they too can benefit from the power of social selling.
2. Tourist Delight
Bringing the Wow to customers has always been one of the greatest benefits of using social media. In tourism, delivering that “wow moment” is easier than most industries because people are frequently frustrated with delays and cancellations. As such, there’s a huge opportunity for DMO’s to communicate with Tourists while they’re at their destination to further enhance their experience.
One way of delivering a sense of delight is to monitor the various conversations related to their destination and look out for people sharing pictures, vines or anything relevant that further tells a destinations story. Upon seeing this content, a DMO should engage with the user in authentic tone expressing that they’re grateful that they’ve visited and that they hope their trip is amazing. Furthermore, a DMO looking to make a biggest splash could even give users special perks or additional information that makes their trip memorable.
3. Tourist Satisfaction
If you ask anyone who has recently gone on vacation, how was it, they will typically light up with excitement at the chance to share with you the details of their vacation. A vacation is one of those experiences that people never forget and that they love to talk about and share. But all sharing isn’t created equal.
Some people go above and beyond the typical “Back from Vacation – OMG, looking forward to going back!” In fact, some people create blogs to showcase their experience and even document their travels with photo albums shared online. It’s the impact of technology and a driving factor of what other tourists will consume to make their choices on where they’ll visit and what they’ll do.
DMO’s should be on the look out for people who are leaving or just arrived home after visiting their destination. It’s these folks who are still salivating about their awesome experience and are stuck in vacation mode.That means destinations still have a window of opportunity to further build that brand affinity and relationship with the user.
Striking up a post-vacation conversation to ask someone what they liked they most or if they’d mind writing a review on Trip Advisor is an easy sell during the first few days after a vacation. It’s these little things that will influence the decisions of others considering your destination and ultimately drive an increase in visits.
What are some other ways that DMOs can use social media to drive success?