One of the biggest challenges for tourism marketers is keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of new technologies and best practices in tourism marketing. It used to be a lot easier than it is today. As little as 5 years ago, you could probably get by without learning about new techniques and tools to help market your tourism destination or business. What worked in 1985 probably would still work in 2008 – with the exception of updating photos so we can all forget about those questionable 80’s styles.

This all changed in the last 5 years with the rapid adoption of social media and web 2.0 technologies that allowed website users to leave comments, reviews, and interact with companies, destinations, and other website visitors from around the world. It seemed like overnight the Internet and marketing, as we knew it, changed dramatically. What was once limited to a digital brochure, suddenly became a completely different tourism marketing tool. This allowed tourism marketing to shift from one–way communication to real time conversations with travelers.

We call this new approach tourism inbound marketing and use it to help our destination and business clients market with a purpose. The challenge in this new landscape for tourism marketing changes on a regular basis and forces all tourism marketers to stay on top of these changes or risk wasting time and money.

Last week Facebook rolled out a new feature that gives users more control over their news feed, which will impact the way tourism marketers are able to engage with their social communities. These new features include:

  • Rich Stories– Since over 50% of all news feed content is photos and visual content, Facebook is changing the way users share stories by improving the display of visual content and giving it priority in news feeds.
  • Choice of Feeds– Facebook is determined to make sure the content displayed in a user’s news feed is the content they want to see. To support this, Facebook is now allowing users to select different types of feeds based on friend lists or topics like music or photos. This means it will become even more difficult to get your brand messages to your facebook communities.

So what does this mean to your tourism marketing efforts? This is actually good news for the travel and tourism industry since we utilize visual content as the core of our tourism marketing efforts. Below are some recommendations for how to change the way you market your tourism business or destination on Facebook in light of these new features.

1) Continue to use visual content and aim for engagement – Tourism marketing relies on visual content to tell your stories and encourage people to visit your destinations. Now more than ever is the time for you to create a stock-pile of tourism images that can be used to interact with your community. Be creative on how you use these images to ensure your community engages with them. Here is an example of a photo from our “Caption Friday” series for the Namibia Tourism Board where we share a photo each week and ask our fans to provide a caption.

2) Repurpose those beautiful print ads for Facebook – Tourism marketers are masters at creating print ads with a striking photo and a few lines of copy that compel people to visit a destination. This same approach can be used on Facebook. If you have existing print ads, adapt them for use in your Facebook content strategy. If you don’t have a budget for print advertising, now is the time to work on your copy skills and create image-focused ads.

3) Keep your photo captions short – With the new features, image captions moved from under the photo to above of the photo. This means that you need to keep your photo captions short or your message will be lost.

4) Likes, Engagement, and Check-ins are more important then ever – Since the changes in “Choice of Feeds” means it will be harder for your posts to reach your community, engagement becomes even more important. The best way to promote your tourism destination or business on Facebook is to utilize your fans and attract more likes. When a person likes your post, checks in on your page or engages with your visual content, it appears in news feed sharing with all of their friends. If you want to use your Facebook page to market your tourism destination or business you must think about how to effectively use and grow your community.

Social media is one of the most exciting and challenging things to face tourism marketing. It seems like every day a new feature or social platform emerges that challenges everything you know about tourism marketing. The key for today’s tourism marketer is to stay on top of these changes through continued education. Who knows what tomorrow’s “big new thing” in tourism marketing will be, but I can promise there will be something we are all talking about in 5 years that doesn’t even exist today.

 This article has been re-posted with permission from www.solimarinternational.com/resources-page/blog/itemlist/tag/Social%20Media%20Marketing?start=10

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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