Basic marketing principles applied to travel and tourism marketing, is fairly straightforward. Read on for a guide to developing a marketing plan for your destination. The first thing to understand is that marketing not only the promotion of your destination, but also the creation of a product that meets consumer needs.
Modern marketing gurus are adamant that destination must create “products” that meet traveler needs. The product of a destination is the experience and hospitality that you offer. Gurus also say to focus your marketing on a segmented group of people, rather than trying to mass market yourself.
Experiences are not tangible, but can still be effectively marketed by touching the emotions of travelers. Learn how your target market wants to feel when they are on vacation. Giving them that experience is the creation of your product, promising the experience is the marketing of your product.
An effective marketing plan has nine ingredients.
1. Your objective or goal. This is something you can measure, usually stated as sales, market share, ADR or occupancy rates, for example. Make sure it’s a realistic goal.
2. Figure out any economic, political or social factors that might affect your goals. Success or failure lies in the changes of demographics and lifestyles. Don’t be afraid of these. When you know what they are, you can turn them to your advantage.
3. Resources. What do you have to offer travelers? What staffing do you have to accomplish your goal? How much money?
4. What is your target market segment? Do not be all things to all people…that is the kiss of death. Figure out what group of people can most benefit from what you have to offer and you have a winning combination.
5. Marketing objective: should be measurable and stated clearly. For example: increase wedding bookings by 10% over the next two years.
6. A marketing strategy for your target audience. Put together an offering package that will attract your target market. Think about your product (experiences and hospitality), price, location and promotion.
7. Plan how you will implement the marketing strategy. Will you add a new line of service? Will you upgrade the service you offer now? Will you change your price?
8. Your budget. Include money to spend as well as time your staff will spend, bearing in mind your available resources as defined in Step 3.
9. Figure out how you will measure success, and plan to change your approach if it’s not successful. You must monitor and evaluate your plan as it is being implemented regularly. If it’s not working, you need to know immediately, so you can modify it based on the results. Your chance of success is much greater this way.
Marketing is a very good way to gain new visitors, but it is also a way to decide what you will offer them. For the greatest success and profit, it’s very important to be sure that the quality of what you offer is the same or better than what is promised.