Reno has a lot going for it. It’s famous for having glittering casinos, great weather, and since Lake Tahoe is just down the road, a lot to do outdoors. In 2018, the number of visitors to Reno topped 5 million for the first time, and we expect it to boom again later this year when COVID-related travel restrictions ease across the U.S.
It doesn’t matter if your preference is hiking, biking, skiing or watersports. The area has gear rental shops aplenty, day tours are a dime a dozen, accommodations are everywhere and plenty of businesses are vying for customers.
What can you do to make your tourism business stand out? The short answer is with an effective tourism marketing strategy. In this article, we’re going to run through the basics of tourism marketing, from strategies to plans and trends, to help you identify a few key ways you can make your business irresistible.
We’re going to use a hypothetical Reno RV rental business as an example.
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Tourism marketing strategy
Effective tourism marketing comes down to one simple idea: storytelling.
It’s a leisure activity, which means you’re vying for someone’s spare time. Reno has a well-established and highly-competitive tourism industry, but at the end of the day, your biggest competition doesn’t come from other businesses. It comes from the couch/Netflix/sleep. The easiest choice for a customer to make is to stay home, so you need to motivate them.
That means capturing their imagination. Every good tourism marketing strategy crafts a story that generates an emotion and makes that business irresistible. The first step is simply to brainstorm.
The next few paragraphs will run through a few simple questions to get started.
Curious about influencer marketing? We don’t discuss it in this article, but we’ve prepared another whole article that includes everything you need to know to get started.
Who is your ideal customer?
Tourism marketing strategies are only effective if they convert sales. That means you need to share the right message with the right person in order to start them on the path to purchase.
What kind of people are your best customers now? What kind of people would you like your future customers to be? What age? What income level? Families or singles? Local or interstate?
For example, if you’re operating a Reno RV rental business, you’ll know there’s a sweet spot in the market. But are you looking to explore new markets, like young people? Are you getting a lot of enquiries from people who want to do fishing trips? Do you want to enter the luxury market?
Figuring out these details early will help develop the tone and style of your campaign and will help you decide which platforms will be most effective. It will also come in handy later, when you start running ads on Facebook and Google and you need to target specific demographics.
What are your business goals?
Just to be clear, “I want more business” is not a business goal. Be specific. Having an ideal number in mind will help in a number of ways, for example, when it comes to setting a realistic budget.
Think about what resources you have available and what kind of growth you can accommodate in the short and long-term. It’s important to make sure you can meet the needs of all new customers – after all, digital marketing strategies are incredibly effective, but nothing beats word of mouth.
It might be as simple as “rent four additional RVs every month” or “increase RV sales by 5%”.
Once you’ve identified your ideal customer and set your business goals, you can set measurable key performance indicators. This is critical, because without them you won’t be able to tell if your digital marketing campaign is working or not. This will help you adjust things and refine things as you go.
What is your brand story?
Now we can get to the fun part, your brand story. The simplest way to start is by identifying what makes your brand unique. What’s the hook that makes your RV rental business the right choice?
As we mentioned earlier, an essential part of tourism marketing is capturing the imagination of your readers. What’s the story you want them to leave with? What kind of experience do you want them to have? Start at a holistic level – wrapping in the local scenery, local attractions, local experiences – and then drill down the value your business will add. How will it enhance their vacation?
Trust is really important, so your own personal story can be an important part of this. Why are you running this business? Where are you from originally and why did you move here? What’s your favorite thing to do in the local area? What’s your favorite thing about your customers?
It might be helpful to jot down some ideas as bullet points. These will form the basis of the text that will appear on your website, as well as the advertising you’ll run on Facebook and Google.
What do you need to get started? We’re can help with all aspects of marketing, including letting you know The Top 5 Digital Marketing Tools And Why They’re The Best.
Tourism marketing plan
Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to develop a tourism marketing plan that you can put into action to generate leads and start converting sales. Now, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on digital media and not traditional avenues like print advertising.
There are four basic elements to factor in: your website, social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and video. None of these things works in isolation, so make sure you incorporate each one.
A great website is the foundation of every successful digital marketing strategy. It’s the beating heart of your brand story and is the best opportunity for you to educate customers about your products and services. It needs to be simple and easy to use. If you’d like to learn more about websites, we’ve included some handy tips and tricks to help you through the design and build process in this article.
For an RV rental business, you should expect to create at least four pages: your home page, your about page, your booking/contact page and your “Find an RV” page. Make sure you have lots of good images of your RVs as this will really help build trust with your prospective customers.
Remember how we talked about storytelling earlier? This is where it plays out. Social media is a great way to capture people’s imaginations, especially if they’re scrolling through their Facebook or Instagram feeds while they’re stuck in the office with a never-ending to-do list on a rainy weekday.
Every good tourism marketing plan will include two types of social media: organic and paid.
Put simply, organic is the kind of things you post from day-to-day to share your brand story. This means colorful and eye-catching pictures, warm and friendly captions, and helpful information. It generally serves two purposes, which is to capture people’s imaginations and starting building trust.
Paid social media is very strategic. You’ll have seen posts marked “sponsored” in your feeds on both platforms. These are highly-targeted messages designed specifically to generate traffic to your website and generate new leads. These work best is you target a very specific demographic and use them to offer something – for example, a special offer or a downloadable local travel guide – so that potential customers feel like they’re getting something of value from you.
You probably have a pretty good idea already about the types of people that are most likely to rent RVs from you. However, if you’d like to learn more about targeting a specific demographic or potential new demographics, the best way is to install Google Analytics on your website. This generates a lot of useful data about who is visiting your website. Here’s a post we wrote (which uses an HVAC case study, but the information is relevant to all small businesses) that will help.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is the name given to the practice of optimizing content to rank on search engines like Google. Search engines basically scour the internet for relevant keywords, so that when someone searches a term like “small business marketing”, they immediately get a list of articles that use those words.
This is really important in a tourism context, because local experiences are everything and there’s a lot of competition. With an RV rental business, for example, people need to know that you’re an RV rental business and they need to know where you’re based. That way, when they search “Reno RV rental”, your business will pop up at the top of the search results.
It’s pretty simple, really. The more content you publish with those key words, the more Google will assume you’re an authority on the topic and the higher your website will rank.
According to Google, 31.7% of users click on the first result on the list, so ranking is important.
Good SEO is both an art and a science. There are a lot of resources available online (for example, this post we wrote about How To Create A Show-Stopping SEO Strategy), but it may help to get some professional help when you’re starting out just to make sure you understand how it all works.
Definitely include video into your tourism marketing plan. It’s a great way to integrate storytelling into your website and social media strategy and it will also help your content rank better on Google.
Again, picture your ideal customer at work on a grey Wednesday. They’ll be scrolling through their social media feeds on their lunch breaks or on their commutes to and from work, which is the perfect time for you to pounce with a dose of escapism and imagination. Take them on some mini-tours of your local area or show them the latest and greatest RV so they will want to learn more.
Honestly, we can’t stress the value of video marketing enough. Here’s an article (and a video) that will teach you why video marketing is so important.
Tourism marketing trends
Tourism marketing trends change all the time. It’s not just a case of things going into and out of fashion over time. Companies like Facebook and Google periodically tweak their algorithms, which can change the game overnight. The first and most important thing is to make sure the advice you’re getting is up-to-date. Look for articles and blog posts with recent date stamps.
2020 has been a little challenging for tourism marketers so far, with the advent of COVID-19. However, once health authorities give the all-clear, the tourism business will pick up quickly.
Here are some of the top tourism marketing trends we expect to see this year:
- Increased visitation to smaller markets. People have always wanted to try new things and go to new places. As social media and the travel industry have grown, however, they also want to do things their friends and family haven’t already done. This is a great opportunity for smaller markets to kick their strategies into high gear to attract new business.
- This ties in with the theme above. Tourists want to embrace unique experiences and opportunities and they want things to be tailored towards their individual needs. This is a great opportunity for RV rental businesses as no two road trips are identical.
- Shorter booking windows. Perhaps we’re getting more spontaneous over time. Perhaps our desire to escape is stronger. Either way, booking windows are becoming shorter across the industry. This means having a simple and easy online booking process is critical.
- Focus on small operators and “authentic” businesses. People deal with corporations all day, every day. When they’ve put on their vacation sandals, they want to deal with real people. There has never been a better time for savvy small and medium-sized businesses to seize opportunities to engage with new customers and give them an experience they’ll remember.
- Rise of experience-based vacations. This means road trips, camping, fishing, hiking, eating and more. Experience-based vacations provide the opportunity to really invest in a particular place or type of trip. All you have to do is convince them the best way to do that is in an RV.
Read more: Essential tools for tourism marketing
Tourism marketing companies
Want to consult with a tourism marketing company in Reno? We can help.
Beacon Media + Marketing specializes in digital marketing, web services, social media and video services. We can advise you on the best approach and we can help with things like website development and video production. Our Reno office is located at 201 W Liberty Street, Suite 312.
Alternatively, you can reach out via our website.