The reality, however, is that with the right combination of strategy and tactics, there has never been a better time to run a boutique hotel, independent travel agency, or unique tourist attraction.
These 11 travel marketing tips will help you attract more guests to your hotel, more customers to your agency, or more visitors to your attraction. Try one, two, or all 11 and discover how easy it is to successfully market your travel business.
Before you get started, you’ll need a basic marketing plan for your hotel, agency, or attraction. Enroll in our Marketing Strategy course and create a marketing strategy for your business before you try these tactics.
Offer a unique experience
Far too often, travel agencies and hotels focus on marketing their features. They talk about their location, their amenities, and their luxuries. Instead of selling features to your customers, try and sell a unique and enticing experience.
When you write your brochures or website sales copy, focus on the experience your destination delivers. Think about why people travel – to relieve stress, learn a new culture, or go on an adventure – and market to these feelings and motivations.
Travel is an experience, and it’s vital to focus on the unique experience your agency or hotel can offer for customers. Enroll in our course, Crafting a Marketing Message That Sells, to learn more about conveying the right message to your audience.
Surprisingly few travelers choose their destinations, agents, or hotels based on the cost. Marketing your hotel as the cheapest accommodation around is a great way to attract customers, but a poor way to generate any real revenue.
Instead of competing on price, compete on value. Don’t be the cheapest budget hotel, but the best hotel in your region. Most travelers are willing to pay a premium if your hotel offers value that goes beyond what your competitors can offer.
Social media is a wonderful tool for the travel industry. Since repeat customers are so valuable, being able to keep in touch with your fans is a great way to develop an extremely powerful revenue stream.
Create a Facebook page for your hotel or boutique agency and connect with all of your customers directly. Recommend destinations, activities, and special deals on social media to generate direct sales and valuable feedback from your audience.
Are you new to the world of social media? Learn about Facebook Pages, Twitter, and more in our Introduction to Social Media Marketing course.
Every year, millions of travelers book their flights, activities, and accommodation on aggregator websites like SkyScanner and Kayak. Although these websites charge fees for inclusion, it’s worth adding your hotel to access a large and lucrative audience.
Since travel aggregators dominate the search results for most hotel or flight-related keywords, it’s far easier to work with them than against them. Add your hotel to the leading aggregators and you’ll find maintaining a high occupancy rate simple.
At first glance, W Hotels and Four Seasons Hotels occupy the same category: high-end accommodation. Look closer and you’ll see that they’re actually very different from each other, occupying different niches within the luxury hotel category.
If your hotel is located in a city with high occupancy rates and immense competition, the key to success is occupying a unique niche. Be your city’s only design hotel, retro hotel, or boutique hotel and you’ll stand out from the crowd and attract customers.
Dominating your niche is all about effective branding. Learn how to build a powerful brand for your hotel or travel agency in our course, How to Brand Yourself and Your Business.
Unleash the power of email
Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to attract customers back to your hotel or travel agency. Since most people vacation every year, it’s easy to bring your hotel or agency to the front of their mind with a carefully timed personal email.
Ask guests for their email address when they check in to your hotel, and send out a message to your list a popular vacation season is approaching. Offer discounts and special offers via email to keep your list of guests engaged and interested.
Would you like to learn more about email marketing for your hotel, travel agency, or tourist attraction? Enroll in our Email Marketing Crash Course to learn how you can build a connection with your customers and earn repeat bookings via email.
Focus on repeat customers
It’s far easier to earn another booking from an existing customer than it is to reach a new one. One of the primary goals of your hotel or agency’s marketing team should be finding your best customers and focusing on offering them a great experience.
From families that travel every holiday season to business travelers that need great deals on comfortable rooms, identify the type of traveler that’s most valuable to you and focus on building a real connection with them.
Every traveler has a favorite airline, a preferred hotel chain, or a destination they’re constantly returning to. Position yourself as the first choice in your audience’s mind and you’ll enjoy lucrative repeat business, year after year.
Treat guests like family
Do you run a boutique travel business? Whether you operate a small hotel or your own travel agency, the key to earning repeat business is by offering an experience your customers can’t wait to return to.
Think of guests staying at your hotel as family members, and go out of your way to offer an experience they’ll never forget. The benefits of offering great service range from great online reviews to a more involved audience on social media.
Kevin Kelly, digital culture guru and founder of Wired magazine, believes that every great business needs 1,000 true fans. These fans, he contends, will love you so much that they’ll do most of your marketing and outreach for you.
When you’re a boutique hotel competing with well-known brands or a small agency competing with industry leaders, it’s tough to compete on price. Instead, compete by treating customers so well they’ll spread the word and become part of the family.
Retarget potential customers
Do customers visit your website, only to leave and never return? Many of the people that leave your website without making a booking can be converted into customers with the right retargeting strategy.
Retargeting is a form of advertising that only targets people who’ve already visited your website. It’s highly effective, especially in the travel industry where customers often compare several options before making a decision.
One of the most popular retargeting platforms is Facebook. Learn how to develop a custom audience using retargeting and market to it by enrolling in our course, Learn Facebook Advertising.
Ask customers for feedback
Would you travel to a destination you knew nothing about? Of course not. Yet every day, thousands of marketing departments around the world buy advertisements to reach an audience they know almost nothing about.
Asking your customers for feedback is an excellent way to learn which aspects of your marketing are working, and – more importantly – which aren’t. Asking your customers for feedback is amazingly simply, especially if you do email marketing.
Our course, How to Interview Your Customers and Get Useful Feedback, is a great guide to surveying your customers effectively. Learn the right questions to use in order to better understand the guests at your hotel or customers of your agency.
Write a company blog
From travel agencies to hotels, any travel-related business benefits from writing a company blog. Blogging lets you keep in touch with guests, provide useful data for customers, and increase your website’s visibility to search engines.
Better yet, blogging allows you to automate many of the tasks a hotel or agency is expected to perform while marketing your business. Top 10 lists replace a printed city guide, while local maps replace the old-fashioned concierge’s desk.
Writing a blog also makes keeping your hotel or agency’s social media presence up to date simple. Even if you only blog once a week, you’ll always have something to talk about with your fans, followers, and customers.
From new menu items to hotel renovations, hot travel deals to the finest seasonal destinations, there’s never a shortage of things to blog about. Learn the art of blog writing by enrolling in our course, The Blog Writing Workshop.
Do you need some travel marketing inspiration?
Thinking up new ways to market your hotel, agency, or attraction is tough. Discover some creative and effective marketing ideas by reading our blog post on the biggest marketing trends of 2014 and start brainstorming new tactics today!