Revealed: 8 Disastrous Marketing Fails Tourism Operators Make Costing Real $$$

Listen to it like a podcast!

Your website is hard to use.

What you have forgotten about your business and industry is more than most of your customers will ever know. It creates a huge knowledge gap.

You think you’re simplifying your content and pages enough, but the curse of knowledge is abundant, and you end up falling into the trap of assuming people know things you do. It is imperative to remember that you are aiming your language at a customer that knows nothing about you.

The best way you can find out if you’ve simplified it enough is either to ask customers or to listen to them. If customers are asking the same questions repeatedly, you need to build that information into the website. You’re falling into the trap of the curse of knowledge.

Allow people to contact you how they want to get you.

Just because your system best copes with a phone call doesn’t mean people want to call you to get more information or to book.

Stop pushing back against platforms like Facebook Messenger simply because ‘we’ve always done it the other way’. It’s often far more native for people to use Social media than picking up the telephone. It’s less friction for them. It might be more for you, but that’s your problem, not your customer’s. Deal with the process manually until it becomes so painful to find a way to automate it or keep it accessible for your customer.

Your book now button is not nearly as important as marketers and agencies will have you think.

If you’ve compelled me to the point I want to book; I’ll do the work to find out how. That isn’t to say you want to make it difficult.

Of course, you don’t. But having a bright red book now button ever-present in the top right-hand corner of your website is not, I repeat, is not the difference between someone booking or not. Take it from me.

We’ve booked lots of experiences and accommodation over the past 18 months, and many of you have made it hard work to find out how to. However, we still booked. Please don’t make it hard work, but don’t obsess over the book now button either. Obsess about the customer experience.

Your language is blah.

Why is it that when we sit in front of a computer to start typing, we can’t find the words to use?

If you met me at the local jetty and you were a tour operator on your day off. We get into a conversation.

Would you struggle to tell me what you do? Would you go into some strange robot mode trying to pick precisely the right words to make me ‘convert’? Of course not.

We’d have a natural conversation where your enthusiasm for what you do flows out. You’d share stories, not marketing messages, differentiate yourself, and you wouldn’t be dry, dull and safe.

Here’s a heap of tourism specific examples, where I’ve improved the messaging to focus more on the customer, and talk in a way they’ll be attracted to!

You’re underestimating the importance of high-quality images.

So I know this because I work with tons of tourism operators, but our family also needs good images to get a feel for the place as we’re researching.

I find it incredible that you’re not doing it because it’s not that hard nor overly expensive, and it is one of the most significant things to improve the perception of what you do.

I did a content grab for Portarlington Caravan Park (Victoria) about 18 months ago. We got drone shots, 3D shots of amenities and services, lifestyle stuff in and out of the park, basically an extensive bank of images for all uses to reinvigorate their website and socials completely.

To inspire more people to choose them.

If you invest in one thing, make it images before anything else. Before your website. Before other marketing channels and advertising. Images.

Here are some tips, to get the most out of a shoot.

You rarely ask customers for a review.

There have been some great parks we’d give 5 stars to. But we’re busy. As soon as we leave, unless there’s a reason to talk about your property or experience, you’ve missed the opportunity to capture what a raving fan might say.

You need to do two things. Remind people to do it. Make it easy for them.

You can remind them by sending an SMS or email in the first 24 hours after their booking. You can make it easy by sending them to a dedicated ‘review page’ on your website, where you provide a quick link to ‘Choose where you like leaving reviews’. i.e. Tripadvisor, Google, Facebook or somewhere else. Then offer direct links to each.

If you want to amp up your game, the SMS or email you send could ask them if they loved their experience. If they did, send them to the aforementioned page. If they didn’t, send them a form to submit feedback directly to the manager.

This way, you increase the likelihood of high-quality reviews and lead the average or low star reviews to provide feedback through another vehicle.

Nothing drives Tourism Business growth, like word of mouth.

You’re not encouraging (and using) User Generated Content.

Satisfied customers are an extension of your marketing efforts.

But just like corralling reviews, you can improve the quality and quantity of the social content you’re tagged in by providing a little guidance, inspiration, or incentive.

Encourage your customer to use specific hashtags – but don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Do a search on Instagram for what people are using tags at the moment. Identify the top 2-3 hashtags most consistently used for your product, experience and destination, and use them.

How do you encourage someone to use a specific hashtag? If you’re running a tour, you could mention it at the start of the tour. If you operate accommodation, add it to your maps, brochures, or welcome pack.

How do you use them? Semi-regularly, search for your brand name or those hashtags to find great user-generated content. Drop a comment on the post asking if you can use it if you credit them (let them know where you plan to). Free quality content!

In some cases, you don’t even need to ask permission. The image below is embedded in this website. You’re seeing the image, but only through a virtual ‘window’ to Instagram. The image itself isn’t hosted on this site. Embedding is a function available on all Instagram public posts – right click and image, and choose embed.

Say, for example, you run Whale Shark tours at Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth. I run this search on Instagram

and found this image below.

You’re not using intelligent, contextual advertising.

What I mean by this is that you can target people travelling through a region instead of people who live there. I’ve been travelling for 18 months throughout Australia and never remember seeing a tourism business advertise to me while visiting the region.

I’m no fanboy of Facebook ads, but despite how long the platform and highly targeted advertising has been around, it seems tourism operators still don’t understand how to use it or don’t see sense investing in it.

In my opinion, it remains the single best opportunity you have to reach an ever-changing audience of visitors to your region, with highly targeted ads.

Here’s a trick you can use to find out what ads your competitors or operators in other regions are running. It might give you some inspiration or ideas.

The Wrap Up

Everything I’ve talked about here is within your skill set to do. Or, at the very least, not too far away. The best tourism businesses do most of these things. If you want to be, do.


'An Absolute Must-Do'; the Book.

A concise framework to build a tourism business that people love, pay more for, and rave about.