Although the World Tourism Organization predicted nine years ago that the number of tourism arrivals would reach 1.4 billion by 2020, this target has been met earlier than forecasted. Factors such as a budget airline flights, inexpensive accommodation from online marketplaces such as Airbnb, and greater visa facilitation has seen the tourism industry thrive in our current economy.
As investments in tourism development are on the rise, competition is getting fiercer within the industry. In recent months, we've seen brands such as British global travel group, Thomas Cook, collapse after 178 years of trading, proving that sticking to a legacy business model and relying on heritage is no longer enough in this fast-moving environment.
So, how can brands perfect the formula to remain sustainable and relevant? And what should businesses do to ensure that they won’t get left behind? Here are some examples of how your organisation can improve its tourism marketing as we enter a new decade.
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Tourism is about discovering new experiences, so what better way to start your customer’s journey than through experiential tourism marketing? Creating emotionally engaging, authentic ways to immerse your customer in the experience will can help to influence purchasers’ behaviour and, done correctly, is the perfect way to promote travel experiences.
Graubünden Tourism demonstrated the power of experiential storytelling through their interactive campaign - "The Great Escape". The rural Swiss region of Graubünden utilised a local, bearded old man to attract commuters in Zurich’s busy train station through a real-time live stream on a billboard. The invite to visit his picturesque mountain town was offered on the spot, with a free train ticket printed through the screen to encourage travellers to take a break from stressful city life.
Social media and influencer tourism
In recent years, holiday choices have been heavily influenced by how many likes and followers you may gain online from the trip, with Forbes reporting that more than 40 percent of millennials aged 18-33 consider “Instagrammability” when selecting their next travel destination. Travel trends are now often sculpted from social media and influencers, popularising destinations that were once relatively unknown.
Hilton Hotels & Resorts utilised the power of influencers last year in a campaign that corresponded with their Seven Urban Wonders campaign - a list crafted by the hotel franchise to showcase dream destinations based on ‘local cuisine, architecture, heritage and culture, diversity, activities available and Instagrammability.’
With the hashtag #SevenUrbanWonders, influencers from all over the globe were invited to be part of the journey and share their experiences with their audience. They were taken to the destinations on the list, from Camden Market in London to The Bund in Shanghai, highlighting Hilton Hotels & Resorts at different worldwide destinations. The combined followers targeted reached 2.8 million, with 110,000 likes and an overall engagement rate of 5%, demonstrating that influencers are the key to creating content that showcases the most compelling destinations to engaged audiences.
From tourism boards wanting to promote the area or celebrate their community culture, or a hotel wanting to attract new customer bookings, a record-breaking event with the goal to break a Guinness World Records title can create a one-of-a-kind experience. In a highly competitive industry, breaking records creates a spectacle to cut through the noise and earn recognition within the industry and among consumers.
ESCAPE, an outdoor theme park in Penang, Malaysia recently generated immense publicity and heightened tourism promotion through the construction of the longest inner tube / mat water slide. Although ESCAPE is a firm favourite for thrill-seeking locals and tourists visiting the island, the theme park wanted to stand out from its competitors in a special way. They took on the challenge of creating a slide that was 3x longer than the previous record holder's, measuring a whopping 1,111 m.
This achievement has seen ESCAPE gain international media coverage, from new sites such as CNN and South China Morning Post, and solidified ESCAPE's brand recognition globally. Since its opening last month, the theme park has already witnessed an increasing number of international and domestic tourists, eager to slide down the record-breaking tube.
Get in touch here to discuss tourism marketing and development ideas with an account manager!