Destination Marketing in the Wake of COVID-19

28 September 2021

After tough years in 2020 and 2021, those professionals marketing tourism and holiday destinations need to cut through the noise and entice travellers with what their area has to offer. Click here to read more expert tips from Loud Mouth Media!

After more than a year of restrictions set to come to an end this summer, those marketing holiday destinations need to cut through the noise and entice travellers with what their area has to offer. In a time where people will need little persuasion to book getaways, now is the time to plant new locations in their minds, especially as in March 90% of Brits said they were fully intending to fly again soon.

In a time where travelling abroad is still challenging, clever marketing strategies can encourage tourism and push the benefits of staycations, offering great trips that don’t involve travelling overseas. It is estimated that there will be a recovery of £51.4bn in UK domestic travel in 2021. By engaging and educating those looking for a holiday destination, campaigns can target users who know what they are looking for as well as those who don’t. This will help tourists develop innovative and enticing holiday itineraries that showcase iconic attractions, culture and lifestyle experiences.

It goes without saying that to attract travellers to a destination, its unique selling points must be highlighted. This is especially important when one destination is competing with another for the same tourists or visitors.

With this in mind, the goal of destination marketing campaigns is to promote locations as superior options, using features and attractions that make it stand out and position it as a desirable place to travel – such as Discover Northern Ireland’s Giant Adventure campaign. When done right, successful destination marketing can be of huge benefit to the tourism industry and those that benefit from it.

Define USPs and your target audience

The first and arguably most important part for any organisation engaging in destination marketing is to pinpoint what makes their destination stand out – whether that is through exhilarating activities or outstanding natural features.

Anything from an area’s history or its landmarks and culture can be used as unique selling points (USPs) that can entice visitors into attending local events, museums or sports matches.

Another vital strategy for destination marketing is identifying target audiences and taking the time to learn about who is likely to visit the area and why. Time spent researching this can involve segmenting users into different audiences depending on the reasons they might have for exploring that location, their ages and if transport links are a necessary factor. This data can then be used for targeted advertising campaigns. Specific data can be tracked through Google Analytics from a destination’s website, which should be a strong reflection of the area and what it has to offer.

Online marketing strategies

Search Engine Optimisation is also crucial to any destination marketing strategy. Tourism boards and destination information websites need to ensure that their content and landing pages are properly optimised. This helps to ensure they appear at the top of the search engine results when visitors are seeking information about local attractions, which is crucial when 75% of users never move past the first page of search results. The best way to achieve this is by creating a comprehensive search engine optimisation strategy and by using keywords to create strong content which will improve where the sites fall in the search results.

Video marketing is also a great way to boost your destination marketing efforts. Videos can be easily shared across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and feature local places of interest, interviews and experiences. Shorter videos work better with a higher abandon rate seen on videos that exceed 15 seconds. Try to grab the user’s attention within the first three seconds as 65% of users who watch 3 seconds of your video are likely to watch up to 10 seconds.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram now serve as ideal platforms to reach people and promote destinations organically. With a wide array of destination marketing strategies possible through social media, promotional posts, images and video content, and competitions are proven ways of getting the attention of target audiences.

Additionally, most social media platforms offer paid marketing opportunities in the form of adverts and sponsored posts. These can boost the visibility of destinations through social media marketing by targeting very specific demographics based on age, gender, location and online browsing habits. This also allows companies to create specific assets (such as images, videos and image carousels) that are more relevant and more likely to resonate with these audiences – such as by targeting families with visual and written content and ads promoting family biking trips.

This information and data can then be used in the planning of online advertising. Using the data allows organisations to direct their search advertising to specific regions, set up pay for display advertising on the platforms where the audience is and promote content on third-party websites that target visitors use.

Through remarketing campaigns, brands are able to reconnect with users who have previously engaged with destination websites and social media channels. This allows organisations to remind people of their destination, knowing that they have already shown interest in it and being able to encourage and persuade them to visit. It also lends itself to reaching out to people who have visited in the past and may like to return – which is where your remarketing campaign should communicate why they should come back.

Most destinations can offer attractions, natural features, places of interest and cultural aspects that will appeal to visitors – but they may need an extra boost when it comes to reaching them. By implementing well-researched and data-led destination marketing strategies, these qualities can be presented to potential visitors to encourage them to consider making the trip. With staycations now more popular than ever, UK tourism boards need to help boost the local tourism industry through destination marketing, making sure that their area is receiving the best support when it comes to welcoming excited visitors back for this summer.

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