Are Tourism Marketers Bad at Dating?

Luckily I have been out of the dating scene for over 13 years, thanks to my wonderful wife who I somehow convinced to marry me. I use the term “lucky” not just because I married a woman out of my league, but also because I am glad to be out of the dating scene which seems way more complicated today than it was 15 years ago. Thanks to social media and online dating sites, today’s dating world allows people to learn about each other with a few clicks of a mouse.

It’s fascinating to watch how dating sites have adapted the offline dating process to an online environment. These sites facilitate introducing strangers to each other so they can initiate a conversation and move-on to a real world date. What they don’t do is encourage users to place bold call to actions like “Marry me!” on their sites even if that is the ultimate reason why people use online dating.

Tourism marketers could learn a thing or two from these dating sites. Why are so many tourism marketing efforts focused on creating awareness and driving travelers to a website where they are only asked to “Inquire or Book Now?” Our ultimate goal to convert website visitors into real visitors or customers, but that process can’t be rushed. We need to get to know each other first. Why is your destination or tourism business right for me? You haven’t even asked me what I like or what I am looking for in a vacation. How do you know if I should visit your destination?

As tourism marketers, we need to act more like singles on the dating scene. We need to attract strangers and then convert those strangers into leads, leads into customers, and finally, satisfied customers into promoters of our destination or tourism business. This is called inbound marketing and it’s how Solimar can help your tourism destination or businesses stop marketing and start marketing with a purpose.stop marketing and start marketing with a purpose.

Here are four essential steps of tourism marketing described in a dating context:

1) We need to attract strangers to our site. Through keywords, search engine optimization, blogging, social media, and good website content, we can attract our defined target markets to our website. It’s similar to getting ready for a night out on the town – you want to do everything possible to present yourself in the best light.

2) We need to convert website visitors into leads. “Call-to-Actions,” targeted landing pages, and a good customer relationship management (CRM) system can capture a website visitor’s contact information by offering the content they want or need. If you want to keep communicating with someone you are interested in, you’ll need their contact information.

3) We need to turn leads into actual customers or visitors. Is it too soon to call? Have I waited too long to call? These questions often cause anxiety in daters. Marketing is no different. Once we have a lead’s contact information, we need to be sensitive about how and when we communicate to them. At Solimar, we recommend a three-day rule before sending the first pre-defined work flow email. These work-flow emails should be designed to help your lead get to know you, trust you, and ultimately want to do business with you or visit your destination. We also recommend “contextual marketing” emails to make sure that the messages you are sending are related to the information that the lead has shared with you or the pages they are looking at. You wouldn’t spend a second date talking about how great your Van Halen and Def Leopard collection is if your date already told you they hate 80’s music.

4) We need to convert customers into promoters. Once a relationship has started, you need to continue to nurture it. As tourism marketers, we must also conduct marketing actions that ensure our visitors or customers become advocates for us and tell their friends and the rest of online world about how incredible your destination or product is. This is done through social media and additional contextual email workflows – deliver content that your existing customers love and they will share and promote it!

In summary, there is a lot tourism marketers can learn from the dating scene. We need to learn how to “ask for the phone number,” take the time to get to know our leads, and do a better job communicating based on what we know about them.

“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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