This was also the year that many companies got involved in politics and found themselves with negative marketing results. The end of summer is also a good time to review your marketing efforts and ask yourself questions such as:
• How successful were your marketing efforts?
• What should you have done differently?
• What successes or challenges did you face that you were able to control and what was beyond your control?
• How did you handle problems that were beyond your control?
Often tourism and travel professionals argue that word-of-mouth is their best form of marketing. Yet, this assumption often leads to the belief that good marketing is out of the professionals’ control. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, what we do, and how we do it, impacts all of our marketing including word-of-mouth.
To help you review your marketing strengths and weaknesses, Tourism & More presents you with the following questions and queries:
– Do accurate research. It is essential that you know what your customers really think rather than what they want you to hear. Never see complaints as a negative, rather see complaints as an opportunity to improve. Remember that a person who complains will probably be communicating that complaint to many more people than you.
– Ask what distinguishes your tourism product from everyone else’s? Tourism is about the unique. If you are offering the same beach vacation as ten other destinations, why should the tourist or visitor choose your locale? How can you emphasize (in the leisure market) the unique aspects of your locale? What do you have that no one else has to offer? Uniqueness can be in anything from a special tourism police force to a one-of-a-kind attraction. Do not state that what makes your locale distinct is the quality of y our people. Most visitors will never meet your people and in most cases are not coming for that reason. Develop a “story” about your community and find what hidden “treasures” make it unique.
– Did you offer a quality tourism product? There is nothing that sells a product as well as quality. While quality does not ensure success, lack of quality will ensure failure. In tourism, quality means price, customer service, attractiveness of the event/product delivered in a safe and secure environment.
– Was it easy for people to find out about your tourism product? Often tourism and travel promoters are so enthralled with the design that they make it hard to use and lacking in customer friendliness. A beautiful but non-functioning web site may make the producer feel good, but if customers get confused by it or it is highly complex they may not think the experience is worth the hassle. Most people want to know availability of product, how much it is going to cost and what the product offers. The rest is fluff.
– Is your website user-friendly? Often websites provide so much information that people simply give up. Websites do not need to be beautiful, but they do need to be informative, easy to navigate and easy to read. Is yours? Ask someone outside of your circle to critique your website. Often the best ones follow the rule: KISS rule: Keep It Simple Stupid!
– Be careful of the overuse of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Tourism is about hospitality and personal relationships. Too many in the tourism industry have replaced the personal touch with the machine touch. Personal and brand loyalty are based on person-to-person interactions and not on computers or phone trees.
– Identify people who fit in well in your niche market. Not every person or market is correct for you, but once you determine the niche market, try to entice people who influence others’ travel decisions to visit your locale or use your services. FAM tours (getting travel agents to visit) have been a classical method to influence decision-makers. In today’s world, many people no longer use travel agents and so other decision-makers need to be discovered. For example, conducting press trips or getting a media person to write a story or give you positive television or radio coverage can be a very useful tool in a marketing campaign.
– Identify potential new visitors who are plugged into networks. There are some people in this world who have a great deal of influence with friends, family, and colleagues. By learning something about your visitors, you can soon ascertain who is plugged into major word-of-mouth networks and who is not. People who influence other people or who are part of networks are the best advertisers you can find.
– How honest are your marketing efforts? There is nothing more destructive to a tourism industry than promising what you know you cannot deliver. Most people can forgive a locale for most things, but the one great exception to this rule is when the visitor’s time has been wasted. Do not advertise unique shopping experiences if you do not have any. Do not push antique shopping if the visitor will not have any way to ship the antiques home, and do not speak of your wonderful climate if you forget to mention that the humidity level is always high.
– Make sure that your community or tourism business is innovative and offers something new on a regular basis. Even our most loyal customers often tire of our product. Create new sensations, offer new tour packages, show that you are fighting for both your loyal customers’ business and seeking new customers. Marketing means never resting on your laurels and always finding a way to reinvent your product.