People don’t make a travel decision on a national tourism board website
Justin said: “Our research told us that the majority of long haul travelers visit a national tourist board after they’ve already made the decision to visit”
VisitBritain’s rightly concluded that in order to target people in the decision making process, they need to engage in other places like third party websites. A content partnership with Yahoo is working very well for them for example.
The future of CRM/eMail Marketing is under threat
Justin said: “Where previously you might have focused a lot of CRM activity we learned that the inbox is no longer a happy place. People want to clear it out as fast as possible. So we now want to focus on finding places where people are in the mindset of making decisions about travel [social media].”
I wondered about the same thing about a year ago in this blog post. As people become overwhelmed with email, they pay less attention to marketing messages, even when they opt-in. This kind of change won’t happen overnight but social media is an environment where people are easier to engage, two-way dialogue is possible and content is easy to share.
Social Media’s network effect has incredible reach
Justin: “10,000 followers is amazing. But we followed the traffic of some of our tweets and each of our tweets reaches a potential audience of about 325,000 people”
Through re-tweets on Twitter, and by tagging and sharing on Facebook, a message can travel far and wide in a very short period of time. And the content itself is much more credible because it’s endorsed by a friend who shared it.
Tourism Australia’s fanpage with over 600,000 fans is a good example. Every message they posts could be read by that many people. And for every person that comments on the post, the post gets published to their friend network, extending reach with the potential to organically grow their fanbase.
And as a side-effect, “Facebook is now the third largest referrer to VisitBritain after Google and Yahoo, and we’re not even seeking to push people to the website.”
Content is far more important than a website
Justin: “Our website is not the most important marketing tool for us, our content is. We’re just as happy if somebody reads our content on Yahoo as on our website.”
VisitBritain is agnostic about where content is being consumed and as a result, more of VisitBritains content is being consumed on third party websites. A partnership with Yahoo produces an exponential amount of views, for free. More videos are viewed than some market websites receive visitors.
Producing or gathering the right content, and pushing it out into place where you add value for the publisher and the consumer, preferably with easy sharing opportunities is much more effective than trying to generate website visitation through advertising alone.
User Generated Content is an easy and cost-effective way to publish content
Justin: “95% of VisitBritain’s photography comes from user generated content” and “when somebody’s photo appears on a national tourism boards site, you can bet on it they will send a link to all their friends to check it out.”
VisitBritain set-up a Flickr group called Love UK and is using it as one of the sources for its photos on VisitBritain.com. And because most people are happy to see their photography used, they will tell everybody about it.. on social media.
Brilliant. This is something I’ve advocated for years but I could never get it going. Well done VisitBritain.
Thanks for sharing Justin!
What do travellers talk about after they’ve experienced your tourism business or destination?
In Vancouver, we have many hot-dog vendors. They’re all the same. Some have more condiments than others. That’s pretty much the only difference.
Then this new hot-dog vendor called Japadog popped up. Right in front of our office. Every day, when I leave for lunch, there’s a line-up. The vendor across the street has nobody waiting.
Why? What’s the difference?
Japadog does hot-dogs different. Their menu includes hot-dogs with seaweed, soy, edamame, bonito flakes, fried cabbage and other Japanese goodness.
What will people talk about when they’ve experienced your business of destination? When an experience is mediocre, there’s nothing to talk about. But with a little creativity, you can give people a reason to talk, tweet and post, giving others a reason to visit.
Word-of-mouth is the core of tourism marketing. Remarkable tourism product and experiences drive word-of-mouth. No amount of advertising can build credible awareness or brand like word-of-mouth.
While in Riga for the ETC eBusiness academy, I came across a few great examples of remarkable experiences that I’ve told to at least 50 people. Plus the people in my social networks have seen videos and photos. Many of these people asked follow-up questions. What are the people like? Is it expensive? Where is it?
I had dinner in 4 or 5 restaurants while I was there. They were all good. But I don’t remember their names. Except one: Hospitalis, a soviet style hospital themed restaurant. The video I took of my Austrian friend Martin below will explain why.
My new friend Maija from Riga invited me and Martin to “go flying”. No idea what she was talking about but how can you say no to that? About 20 minutes outside Riga was the Aerodium. Hovering 10 meters over a huge ventilator was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I would fly back the 12 hours just to do that again.
I’ve talked to people. I’ve posted photos and videos on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. I am the media and the message for Latvia Tourism. I wonder how many of the people I’ve connected with have heard of Riga before? And I wonder how many have Googled either Riga, Latvia, Hospitalis of Aerodrome. Will you?
I like to investigate research, make observation and detect patterns to develop theories, create models and build strategies. But I’m very aware that a lot of people who read my blog are running a business and would like to know: What can I do today? So here’s the first post in what I hope to be a series about marketing your small tourism business in the 21th century.
1) Be remarkable
The title might not suggest it but this has everything to do with online marketing. Because it starts with the basics. In order to market something, you need a product. And when you have a product, the way to market it in the 21th century is through word-of-mouth. It’s nothing new. Travel has always been about word-of-mouth marketing. But in a Web 2.0 world, word-of-mouth is amplified through review websites and social networks.
Tourism operators often offer ordinary products because conventional wisdom tells you that ordinary is safe. Serve to the lowest common denominator and nobody will complain. Maybe. But people don’t talk about something ordinary.
They forget ordinary.
What people talk about are things that are extraordinary. An extraordinary experience. Extraordinary customer service. Extraordinary value for money. Extraordinary weather.
Extraordinary experiences are remarkable experiences. A remarkable experience is something worth making a remark about. That’s why you don’t hear anybody talking about the restaurant with average food. You hear about good food or bad food. Good customer service or bad customer service. Good weather or bad weather.
I stayed in a hotel in Berlin that was too expensive for what it offered. But the breakfast buffet was unreal. Guess what I tell anybody who asked me about my trip? “You should have seen the breakfast buffet!”. A couple of years ago I visited the sunshine coast with my father and sister. We never bothered to book a place to stay. We ended up at a B&B in Madeira Bay that was full. But the owner offered us her own bed and slept on the couch herself. She was super nice and treated us like family. I’ve been back twice, and so has my sister, and a few of our friends.
As a tourism operator you have a huge opportunity. An opportunity to be remarkable. Because people love to talk about their trips. And people love to hear about other people’s trips. And not just over a dinner party anymore. But via email, on a blog, on Facebook, on Flickr, on WAYN, on Tripadvisor and dozens other social networks. Read by millions that look for the extraordinary.
So be remarkable, and do it in a positive way. It doesn’t have to be hard. Start by investing in customer service. And do that little bit of extra that make something say “wow”. Achieve that and they’ll do the marketing for you.
I recommend reading online marketing guru Seth Godin’s books and blog to learn more about being remarkable. I recommend Tourism BC’s Superhost programs and workshops to become a customer service wizard.
It’s easy for me to say. But you can start being remarkable today.
Marketing your small tourism business in the 21th century: