5 Destination Marketing Strategies to Inspire Wanderlust

As travelers research their next getaway — destinations are rarely at a loss for sharing all the great attractions their locale has to offer: epic sights, food, culture, history, the arts, family fun… Destinations are both fun and challenging to develop effective marketing strategies for. From understanding your target market (and areas of untapped potential) to personalizing your digital marketing strategy, read on for five steps that can be tailored to successfully market your tourism destination to potential travelers as they plan their next vacation.

1. Get to Know Your Audience

Who is your ideal target audience? As you look at the general demographics for most travelers, who is your largest target audience and what do you know about them? Are they families? Adventure-seekers? Arts enthusiasts? Ask the following questions:

What is their key demographic information?

  • Age, ethnicity, gender
  • Education
  • Family information
  • Household income
  • Geo-location

What are their behaviors?

  • Purchases & spending behaviors
  • Travel frequency
  • Entertainment preferences
  • What are their psychographics? 
  • Interests
  • Lifestyles
  • Values
  • Goals
  • Opinions

After mapping out this information for your primary audience, evaluate secondary audiences and areas of untapped potential that could drive additional tourism with the right marketing approach.

2. Cast a Regional Net & Go Experiential

As you pinpoint geo-locations for your primary audiences and greatest untapped potential, consider casting a regional marketing net to appeal to the largest possible audience in that geo-location. Billboards in high-traffic areas and television commercials tailored to your audience’s geo-location/interests can be powerful and generate awareness. With these approaches, we’ve seen success with experiential marketing pieces that give broad, general audiences a feel for what the destination has to offer — a smiling family on the beach, sweeping scenic shots (the emotions, the sights, the sounds — the experience of your destination). This strategy works well for traditional marketing tactics (television, outdoor, print) which are displayed to and need to appeal to a broad audience.

3. Leverage Digital & Get Personalized

As you’ll uncover from your target audience research, prospective visitors also have specific interests. Perhaps they love the arts and visiting museums during their travels? Or perhaps their top focus is to experience the local culture? This is where digital marketing becomes a powerful tool to help personalize the marketing approach to different audience segments. Audiences are more receptive and likely to engage when they come across ads that match their specific interests. Tailor your digital marketing strategy to align with prospective visitors showing interests in areas that overlap with what your destination has to offer: attractions, food, culture, history, the arts, family fun, etc. Specific audiences can be marketed to based on their social media interests, search engine searches, website history, and purchasing behaviors. Then, personalize your digital ads towards their interests so they are more likely to engage and add your destination to their upcoming travel list. You’ll ultimately want to direct these prospective travelers to your DMO website so they can get information and resources for planning their next vacation.

4. Get Data & Nurture Leads

When a prospective visitor comes to your website, it’s important to collect the information you’ll need to continue nurturing this lead. (After all, most travelers don’t plan a getaway immediately.) Include an email opt-in for your newsletter, encourage them to follow your destination’s Instagram, or if you have a travel guide, collect their mailing address. A retargeting pixel can also be placed on your DMO website for continued brand awareness with display ads.

5. Measure Success 

Measuring the effectiveness of your destination marketing efforts can be determined a variety of ways. Marketing metrics often include website traffic, clicks and engagement, or traditional marketing metrics including views and impressions. Ultimately, the number one success measurement is an increase in tourism revenue and/or overnight visitors. From a statistical perspective with campaign metrics, look at month over month and year over year data to see how trends are reporting and if your statistics are greater than that of previous time periods.