How to Promote Tourism

Three Parts:Creating a Marketing Plan Using Promotional Materials and Local Media Using Social Media and Other Online Tools Community Q&A

Looking to attract some new visitors to your town or city? In our current digital age, getting tourists to pay attention to a specific place is more possible than ever. Developing a marketing plan and using tools social media and other promotional materials, can all help to promote tourism in your town or city.

Creating a Marketing Plan

Consider what makes your town or city unique. One way to do this is to make a list of all the activities and attractions currently available in the town. Often, tourist are interested in the things they can do and see in your town or city, more than the location of the town or city itself. They will search online for an activity first and then a location. For example:  rock climbing Bend, Oregon, or fly fishing Missoula, Montana.[1]

Focus on activities or attractions that are specific to your town. Even a small or strange attraction could attract visitors and bring attention to the town, from the world’s largest paper clip to a man made wave in a river. Ask yourself: What makes the town worth a special trip? What do you have that a tourist can’t get or do somewhere else?

Work with a tourism planning committee and narrow your focus on the top three things your town has to offer. The more specific, rather than generic, you can be, the more likely your town will be of interest to tourists.

Promote Tourism Step 2

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=> Digital Travel Agent Training

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  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
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Conduct a survey of the members of the community. A survey is a valuable tool during tourism planning as it helps you collect information on the town and ensures the community can agree on the branding and marketing for the town. Do face to face interviews or phone surveys. Ask questions such as:[2]

  • What do you think attracts a visitor to the community?
  • What type of visitor do you see coming to our community?
  • How can we do to improve the visitor’s experience?

Promote Tourism Step 3

Do a survey of visitors to the town. You can conduct face to face interviews at the local shopping mall. You can also ask visitors to sign up to a mailing list and email them a survey. Ask questions such as:[3]

  • Where does the visitor live?
  • What attracted the visitor to the community?
  • How did the visitor find out about the tourist attractions?
  • What type of businesses or facilities did the visitor use?
  • What kinds of accommodations or services are needed?

A third party endorsement from previous visitors to the town or current visitors is a good way to determine how to better serve future tourists.

Promote Tourism Step 4

Create a marketing plan. A good way to do this is to determine target marketing segments. Define market areas that will draw the most visitors, like a well known hiking trail, an important historical site, or a museum. Then, divide these areas into trip length categories, and define the clientele that will be attracted to the community. Create a chart broken into categories such as:[

  • Geographic market areas, with a section for day trips, overnight trips, and extended visits.
  • Outdoor recreation activities, if any, such as camping, hiking, fishing, and picnicking.
  • Entertainment, such as historic sites, fairs or festivals, shopping, and dining.
  • Other travel purposes, such as business trips and family visits.

Promote Tourism Step 5

Create a unique slogan. If you come up with a slogan, but its possible to remove your town’s name and plug in another town’s name, it is not a unique slogan. Avoid common buzzwords like “explore” “discover” “center of it all” “something for everyone” “best kept secret”, etc.

Think about successful slogans, like Las Vegas’ “What happens here, stays here”, New York’s “The City That Never Sleeps” or Calgary, Alberta’s “Heart of the New West”. They work because they are unique and avoid generic terms or phrases.

Promote Tourism Step 6

Make an action plan. This will be a to do list to make the market plan a reality. It should include:[

The overall recommendation from the tourism planning committee, including the proposed slogan and branding.

  • The budget of the marketing plan, including the costs of all promotional materials.
  • The source of the funds to put the marketing plan into action.
  • The responsible parties of putting the marketing plan into action.
  • A timeline for the completion and launch of the marketing plan.
  • Using Promotional Materials and Local Media

Promote Tourism Step 7

Create promotional materials. These can be promotional t-shirts, hats, stickers, and flags with the town slogan and branding. Go local and hire a local illustrator or designer to create the promotional materials.[6]

Sell these promotional materials at local gift shops located close to popular attractions.

Promote Tourism Step 8

Organize public radio spots and television ads. One of the best ways to promote the town is to create radio and television ads, focusing on the slogan for the town and the points discussed in the marketing plan.[7]

Promote Tourism Step 9

Make a tourist map. Another great way to promote the town is to create a detailed map for tourists and place them in local malls, restaurants, and bars.[8]

The map can include a brief description of key attractions and sites, as well as activities tourists can do at these locations.

Promote Tourism Step 10

Do a promotional draw or contest. Get the attention of tourists by offering them a free incentive to explore the town. Create a scavenger hunt around the town and offer a prize to the winners. Offer a complimentary stay at a popular attraction to visitors who enter a draw or a survey about the town.[9]

Using Social Media and Other Online Tools

Promote Tourism Step 11

Make a website and keep a blog. If your town or city doesn’t already have a website, make a website with a simple, easy to use template. Be sure to use high quality images and graphics on the site so it looks professional and inviting.[10]

A good way to get more traffic to the website is to create a blog section on the site and make sure it is updated regularly. Conduct interviews with locals and post the interviews on the blog, or do a post on the best activities to do in the town based on the season.

Promote Tourism Step 12

Create a Facebook page and post something every day. Creating a Facebook page is easier to do than building a website and allows you to make friends quickly. Posting a new image of the town or a few words about an upcoming event will also ensure your friends notice the page on their Newsfeeds.[11]

Promote Tourism Step 13

Make a Twitter and Instagram account. Promote the town on other social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Post regularly and follow users with lots of followers or a high profile.[12]

You can also create a hashtag that uses the slogan for the town and use it often at the end of every tweet or Instagram post. This will help you track if the town is trending among users and improve your posts to get more attention on these platforms.

Promote Tourism Step 14

Start a Youtube page. Youtube is another great way to promote your town and attract more tourists. Keep the page professional and use easy to search terms in the titles of the videos, such as the name of the town and the activity or event in the video.[13]

Promote Tourism Step 15

Use an app to promote events and attractions. Partner with a developer to create a smartphone app and promote local events through the app. The app can be programmed to showcase hotels, restaurants, shopping, and events, as well as other important tourism information like directions, the location of information centers and public restrooms, and suggested itineraries.[14]

Researching the market

There is a wealth of free or low cost data that can help you to understand your customers:

  • Council Economic Development Units
  • Regional Tourism Associations
  • Visitor Information Centre staff and surveys
  • Local/ regional tourism studies/ strategies
  • Tourism Australia research library
  • Other State/ Territory Tourism Organisation’s research libraries (online)
  • Tourism Research Australia
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
  • Industry associations (you may need to be a member)
  • Industry and professional journals
  • Industry conferences and workshops (key presentations are often available online)
  • Market research companies
  • Tourism industry consultants
  • Newspapers (business sections, opinion pages, letters to the editor are often good sources)

     International market research

  • International visitors to Victorian regions
  • Where do they come from ?
  • How much do they spend ?
  • Future visitation forecasts
  • International market profiles

     Domestic market research

  • Domestic visitation to Victorian regions
  • Where do they come from ?
  • Main purpose for coming
  • How much do they spend ?
  • Future visitation forecasts
  • Domestic market profiles

    Tourist accommodation

  • Survey of tourist accommodation

    Strategies (as at August 2014)

  • Aboriginal tourism
  • Adventue tourism
  • China tourism strategy
  • Backpacker
  • Caravan and camping
  • Cultural tourism
  • Events
  • Food and wine
  • Golf
  • Nature-based
  • Shopping
  • Snow and ski
  • Spa and wellbeing
  • Trails

It’s important to remember that you will need to continue to monitor the characteristics of you chosen market segment/s. If you are using customer survey data that is more than two years old you’re probably out of touch with what your customer is thinking and what they require from a tourism product.

Surveying makes very good cents

One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to obtain personalised customer data is to conduct your own survey. This can be done when:

  • You receive enquiries by telephone
  • Customer check-in
  • Customers are enjoying your product
  • Customer check-out
  • You conduct a post-visit follow-up

When doing your own surveying, remember:

  • Format the questions for ease of data processing
  • Minimise the number of questions and keep them brief
  • Make the questions meaningful to your business
  • Consider offering an incentive (especially for written surveys)
  • Make the time to regularly analyse the results
  • Share the results with your staff

If constructed and conducted correctly, the results of surveys can not only inform you about your customers, but can also reveal your business’s strengths and weaknesses.

Regular analysis will help you to correct problems and to react to new trends, especially if they could adversely affect the business. This is particularly relevant for businesses involved in international markets, but there are also many operators who didn’t anticipate the major changes in domestic tourism over the past 20 years.

By thoroughly understanding your key market segments you will be able to identify key selling points and determine product offers and marketing messages that may appeal to them. Knowing the information processing habits of your segments can also help you to be more strategic and cost-effective when choosing publications and electronic media to reach them.

There are many companies who can assist you to accurately construct and conduct surveys. The Australian Market & Social Research Society has a database of Australian market research suppliers. It also has a number of references and tools on its website that may be of assistance.

To undertake post-visit surveys, it is worth considering the many online survey options available, some of which are free, and many are low cost.

The Magical Mystery (Shopper) Tours

Most operators are emotionally involved in their business operation, so it’s often valuable to engage an external, independent organisation to undertake a professional, objective assessment of how you are serving the needs of your customers. The process is called customer auditing. You may also know it as ‘mystery shopping’.

Read about a tourism transport business, Searoad Ferries, that has used ‘mystery shopping’ to keep ahead of its customers’ needs

Establishing high standards of customer service across your region should be one of the roles of your regional tourism association. Talk to them about how the association conducts industry networking, professional development for operators, training and quality control measurement across the local sector. Regional association personnel should observe how other successful regions build the quality of the local product and service delivery.


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