In today’s climate, travel and tourism can be one of the most notoriously difficult markets to stand out in. Not only do destinations feel the pressure to continually update and promote attractions in order to stay relevant, but due to the increased presence of social media, cities must also figure out how to engage and entice visitors both physically and through a screen.
So how can a city best appeal to potential travelers and tourists?
According to a recent Facebook study, destinations and travel brands must do much more than simply have an aesthetically pleasing feed – they must also appease their audience’s desire to build worthwhile and loyal relationships online.
Whether you are a city looking to drive more visitors or a tourism brand looking to up their ante, check out these three tips to help you facilitate meaningful and tangible connections with both existing and potential tourists.
When it comes to building better relationships with travelers, simply posting on your own social media feed is not enough anymore. Nowadays, your visitors actually want you to engage with their content both on their individual feeds and within groups.
Users are becoming more and more inclined to interact with brands that make an effort to humanize themselves and fit within their target’s lives effortlessly and naturally. This means that for a brand to truly thrive, they need to shift attention away from purely focusing on themselves, and instead must put in the effort to interact directly with their audience. In fact, 86% of travelers have even expressed that they would find it acceptable for a travel brand/city to post in a public or private online group.
This change in attitude shows that tourists are happy to hear you out, as long as your contribution is relevant or offering a benefit of some sort.
There are multiple ways to expand interaction. Follow and engage with the content of individuals who spoke about or visited your location. If they took pictures and tagged you, take the time to thank them or even share them on your Instagram Stories. Join travel groups on Facebook, Reddit, or Quora using your city’s business account and offer helpful advice on posts that may be relevant to your location (for example, if you are a ski town and somebody asks for tips on learning to snowboard, take the time to comment and share some pointers). Or if you have the budget, invest in a social listening tool in order to find social posts that are speaking about you or a relevant topic for you to engage with.
No matter how you interact, putting in the effort to elevate your location from feeling like a brand to feeling human will not only raise awareness, it will also build trustworthy relationships with existing fans to keep them coming back.
From choosing the color of our phones to curating the perfect drink at our local coffee shop, it is clear we love customization. Over recent years, this desire for customization has bled past consumer goods and into the public’s decision over where and how to travel. No longer are individuals looking for just another general vacation – they want it customized to their unique passions, voice, and identity. 42% of tourists say they find tailored and customized travel content and recommendations from cities and travel brands valuable.
This being addressed, when promoting your city online, it is no longer worthwhile to try to speak to the masses all at once. Instead, you must ensure your online content is tailored to address the personas your location may attract. The best way to do this is by diversifying your website, blog, and social media content with relevant sections and material for every personality, even if it means tweaking and reskinning existing posts.
Rather than approaching content in a broad manner, such as writing a blog post titled “The Best Places To Visit In Dallas”, break it down into multiple posts (such as “The Best Places In Dallas for Families”, “The Best Places in Dallas for Adventure Junkies”, etc) to make it customized and relevant to the people you would like to attract. Even if there is overlap from post to post, by reskinning and rephrasing recommendations to focus more on each unique persona, you will help establish yourself as a trustworthy source for potential tourists while also boosting your SEO.
Just like any other relationship, first impressions between tourists and cities are important.
51% of travelers say that online reviews from other individuals play an important role when choosing where they would like to vacation or visit. Let us repeat that – more than half of potential tourists turn to the advice of strangers online before determining where they would like to spend their leisure time. Because of this, it is not only important for all locations to keep up with and address their online reviews, it is completely necessary.
Make sure you are enforcing an internal schedule to review all reviews across every platform where your city may have a profile – from Facebook to Tripadvisor and everything in between. Thank the individuals who took the time to leave a positive review and sincerely apologize to those who may have had a negative experience.
In order to truly stand out amongst the competition, if you have the time and flexibility try to customize your replies for each sender to add even more of a human touch. If a reviewer mentioned how beautiful your city’s hiking trails were, mention in your reply that this trail is one of your favorite’s as well or even share a suggestion for another trail they should visit when they come back. This may seem like a very simple strategy, however, small, human touches truly make a sizable difference when it comes to establishing relationships with tourists.
While in a digital world the competition to increase tourism may be fierce, by taking advantage of simple online strategies your city can build long-lasting, worthwhile relationships that keep more and more visitors coming back each and every year.