Is the content you’re creating encouraging travelers to book a trip to your destination? Or is it trying to be everything to everyone? We unpack the most common marketing mistakes.
By Drew McCullough
The inherent goal of every destination marketing organization (DMO) is to entice potential travelers to book a trip to their destination. The problem, however, is that DMOs continue to spend time, resources and money on marketing tactics that don’t move the needle — whether it’s posting about National Whatever Day, appealing first to locals or promoting events the day of. These destination promotion strategies don’t highlight all the things that make the destination unique — the things that travelers find interesting enough to decide to visit. We take a look at the top five marketing mistakes DMOs make — and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Ignoring Your Most Important Audience on Social Media
When you’re planning out your social media strategy and compiling a content calendar for upcoming posts, it’s important to keep your primary audience — potential travelers — in mind. Oftentimes, DMOs fall into the trap of posting content more suited to locals. Think: happy hours at local restaurants or small-scale events happening the same day the post goes up.
Instead, plan out thoughtful content that will attract visitors. For example, rather than posting about a trivia night at a local brewery, try posting about an upcoming art festival featuring work by local and/or regional artists — and remember to post it a few weeks in advance of when the event is happening. That gives travelers time to plan a trip around when the event occurs.
2. Failing To Harness the Power of Paid Social Media
OK, you’re posting thoughtful content on social media that encourages potential travelers to book a trip. Now the problem is that these potential travelers aren’t seeing your posts — and that’s because they’re organic posts and you haven’t put any money behind them to increase their reach.
Try boosting the posts that will appeal the most to potential visitors. Boosting an organic post means putting some money behind it to turn it into a promoted post. Once you do, you can target the post to specific kinds of users. A good starting point is to target those within a few-hour drive radius from your destination.
Of course, there are other ways to harness the power of paid social media for your DMO marketing, such as setting up a full-blown ad campaign that uses paid social ads to reach travelers — here are our top tips.
3. Treating Your Website Like the Yellow Pages
Travelers don’t use DMO websites to search for the nearest Arby’s. That’s what Google is for, and Google will do a much better job of delivering that info to travelers.
It’s important to remember that your website is not Google, which means you can avoid creating hundreds of listing pages on your site that never get used. Instead, think of your website as a valuable wealth of information that people can’t get elsewhere.
That means shifting your focus to crafting entertaining and helpful articles that feature your local restaurants and attractions in a way that paints a vivid picture of why these are can’t-miss things to do in your area. For example, if your destination is known for its winter activities, create an article that outlines the perfect itinerary for spending a snow-based weekend in your area. That’s the kind of useful information people can use to plan their trip.
4. Not Using Articles for Paid Search Campaigns
Now that you have a hub of compelling content targeted at visitors, people will start coming to your destination in droves, right? Well, not exactly — you need to take it a step further and ensure they find it.
Another mistake we often see is that — even when DMOs have amazing content that travelers will certainly find value in — they aren’t using that content for paid search campaigns. But here’s the deal — travelers go to search engines and look up things like “fun things to do in XYZ.” They’re seeking answers to their questions — answers that your content can serve up in the form of paid search ads. This won’t only help drive more traffic to your site, but you’ll also likely see higher click-through rates than if you would have driven traffic to a directory page or a core webpage, like the homepage, for example.
5. Overlooking the Importance of Landing Pages
Speaking of driving traffic to the homepage of your website, that’s another all-too-common marketing mistake. Oftentimes, DMOs will drive traffic from display ads to their homepage or a general “things to do” page with a million listings. This results in users becoming overwhelmed and bouncing from your site, and you’re left with nothing to show for your ad efforts.
That’s why it’s imperative to use landing pages as the home for your digital campaigns. Craft audience-specific seasonal landing pages that provide users a clear path to relevant content. This helps improve metrics like time on site and bounce rate, and it gives potential travelers real reasons to book a trip to your destination.