Today’s Community Contributor is Nate Casimiro. He is the Marketing Operations Manager at Simpleview. Nate purchases, implements and integrates various marketing technology tools that ultimately result in lead generation. He has written several in-depth reviews of marketing and travel software.
Travel and tourism is big business in the United States.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, direct spending by resident and international travelers averaged $3 billion a day in 2018. Yet despite this, the tourism industry is far from reaching its potential economic impact. The reason: U.S. families are not taking vacations as often as the previous generations that raised them. In fact, 55% of Americans did not use all of their vacation time allotted in 2018, and of those that did, nearly half used that time for errands or time out of work due to illness.
The Forces Behind Tourism
Thankfully, nearly every major city in the United States (as well as countless smaller destinations) possess a tourism board that helps market “things to do.” If you’ve ever stopped by a visitors bureau or picked up a visitors guide pamphlet, then you’ve already interacted with one.
In an effort to get you and your loved ones outside and exploring the world around you, these organizations – called Destination Marketing Organizations, or DMOs, – encourage major pop culture conventions, tournaments and business meetings to come to a city near you. The result: sold-out hotels, robust event calendars, and bustling downtowns. This, in turn, means more business for local restaurants, music venues, museums and other attractions.
In short, promoting tourism helps many businesses and industries thrive across the nation. But the destination marketing organizations charged with this task can’t do it alone. Thanks to a number of exciting software platforms that have sprouted up in recent years, these relatively small organizations are able to amplify their marketing efforts and inspire travel with as few clicks as possible.
The Tools that Tempt Travelers
#1 User-generated Content (UGC)
User-generated content (UGC) in its most basic form consist of social media feeds displayed on your website. That is just the tip of the iceberg, though. UGC platforms take functionality ten steps further and allow users to both segment and moderate those feeds into different categories, often based on hashtags, location data, or even by sentiment.
Using UGC platforms, major cities and brands are able to skip stock photography and populate literally endless amounts of genuine photos of people interacting with their brand. Better yet, UGC platforms empower the user to easily request ownership rights from the original social media account, allowing you to utilize that asset in print materials and other collateral, if granted.
#2 Apps and Digital Passports
Once upon a time, visitors left a bus station and airport and grabbed a paper visitors guide for a list of things to do in town. This still occurs, but as a result of exponential mobile usage, destination marketing organizations are now creating apps that contain much of this information digitally without the need to visit a website.
Not only do destination apps compile a list of restaurants and attractions, including directions and menu information, they can also send you promotional codes or coupons via push notifications to be used to drive traffic to specific locations. A currently trending app feature is the digital passport, which gamefies visits to different businesses and ranks or rewards you based on your loyalty. Download Visit Dallas’ Margarita Mile passport for a great example.
#3 Digital Asset Managers (DAM)
When your business represents an entire city, state or region, you tend to accumulate a massive amount of visual assets, from landscape photographs to 360 degree video and everything in-between. Often times, we’re talking thousands of assets carefully curated for your destination. Combing through these piles of assets, however, can be an enormous time sink, especially when a media inquiry is looking for that one specific photo depicting a unique location.
Thankfully, digital asset managers are here to help centralize, tag and share your library, making browsing through vast albums a thing of the past. A good digital asset manager will allow you to easily share assets with media and the press, without the need to send physical files and with the ability to set permissions and expirations. Additionally, you’ll be able to tag or organize your files in a manner that is easy for you to navigate. Lastly, this platform should integrate with your CMS, so you can easily pull assets into widgets on your website.
#4 Booking and Referral Engines
When it comes to user experience, the best thing you can do on your website is to make it easier for your visitors to convert when they are ready to buy. For destinations, there are three popular ways to do this.
The first option occurs digitally on the web. By placing a booking widget on your website in key places in your conversion funnel, you can help users seal the deal and book their trip, whether it be tickets to a local attraction or a flight to a destination. Better yet, these tools will usually give you a small cut of the profit, helping you generate some additional revenue to reinvest in other areas of your marketing.
The second place to use booking tools is to place them physically at strategic locations like a visitors center or help desk. A simple tablet equipped with a booking widget quickly becomes an attractions kiosk with little effort.
#5 Marketing Automation
Lastly, there is marketing automation. Marketing automation packs quite the punch, and has the potential to shift your workflow for the better in a number of ways. At its core, though, it attracts more opportunities and accelerates your sales cycle through automated outreach and hyper-targeted segmentation.
Typically what a marketing automation platform will do is collect information about a website visitor, such as their profile information from your CRM, a visitor’s behavior on your website, an interaction with an email, or simply their lead score based on all those factors, and then automate particular communications to that customer in an effort to push them further down the conversion funnel.
A simple example might be an automated email to a meeting planner offering a list of top conference spaces in a city, triggered once they visit a specific page on your website. One week later, that same visitor may receive another email if they opened the first, offering them an opportunity to visit a location onsite and receive a familiarization tour.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, all of these tools will help you not only engage and convert visitors, but also save time and increase your bottom line in the process. It’s no wonder these tools are popular in the travel and tourism industry, but they may be equally viable for your specific vertical as well.
Be sure to check out a more comprehensive list of Travel Management Software on TrustRadius.