12 mistakes to avoid in your tourism marketing

After navigating through various sectors of activity, I have had the opportunity to repeatedly see that certain marketing mistakes are recurring. It is with this in mind that this article takes shape, not to reprimand, but to reveal gray areas and inspire critical reflection. Because sometimes, even often, the best lessons come from our mistakes.

Marketing strategy mistakes

Not differentiating yourself from your competitors

This first point may seem obvious to you, but it is a common mistake that can have consequences in other parts of a marketing strategy. This is one of the basic principles that should not be forgotten.

Let’s look at the example of a hotel in Dubrovnik. A very popular destination where competition is fierce. And yet, how many hotels only communicate that they offer accommodation in the city center and just want to make themselves known because they are in Dubrovnik? So of course they will have reservations given the success of the destination. But maybe not year-round and maybe not in a long-term, sustainable way. If we return to our example, a hotel in Dubrovnik could choose to highlight its regional cuisine, its target audience (family, couples, groups, business tourists, foreign markets, etc.), its cultural discovery offers or even its level of prestige if it is a luxury hotel.

Think of your company as a single person in a crowd. If you don’t highlight what makes you special, what sets you apart from others, you won’t be able to distinguish yourself in this small world. The same goes for your business. By launching your marketing, you’ll be able to promote your industry as a whole, rather than highlighting what makes your brand and services so great. This risks forcing your potential customers to choose randomly or, even worse, rely on price alone.

By adopting a branding strategy that highlights what makes your business unique and valuable to customers, you can justify potentially higher prices and build customer loyalty.

The “Customers will come anyway” mentality

Quite similar to the previous point, sometimes there is this idea that in popular destinations customers will naturally migrate to the tourist offer without the need to invest in marketing (SEA, SEO, email marketing, SMS marketing, chatbot, blog, social networks, landing pages, etc.). But here are some important questions for those who think like this:

How to stand out?

In places where everyone wants to be, competition is fierce. So how can you make your offer shine among all the available options?

How to persuade customers to choose your business?

It’s great to welcome visitors, but how do you convince them that your experience is worth having? How can you ensure they choose your services over those of your competition without trying to attract their attention through marketing means?

Do customers find you all year round?

Having a seasonal traffic spike is great, but how do you get customers to find you and book with you year-round? This is a fundamental issue to ensure consistent growth.

Developing real strategies for your marketing and commercial communication guarantees constant visibility and effective differentiation.

Being too late on new platforms

Keep an eye out for technological opportunities, especially on platforms that can really increase your visibility, such as new advertising spaces like Google Things To Do and PMAX campaigns. New technologies can be scary and, in France, sometimes we have to play catch-up at this point. However, it is an essential element to counterbalance the weight of the giants of this world.

Advertising mistakes

Not carrying out A/B tests for your online advertising (Google Ads, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.)

Making mistakes happens to everyone, but when it comes to advertising, there is a simple trick: A/B testing, also known as “Split Testing”. It’s like trying two different recipes to find out which one you like best. Creating two versions of an ad and then changing one small thing in the second (whether it’s the target audience, an image, a video, or text) helps you know which one works better.

Making decisions based on facts, like the results of these A/B tests, rather than relying solely on guesswork or instinct, is the key to improving your conversion rates. This gives added assurance that what you are doing is actually having a positive impact.

Errors linked to natural reference

Stick to Yoast SEO for your pages’ SEO

Installing the Yoast plugin on your website is a good start to organizing your content, but be careful, this is not the end of your SEO strategy journey. Yoast is like a travel guide, but it doesn’t cover every aspect of the vast world of SEO:

Truly understand your audience:

Yoast cannot decode the thoughts of its target audience. It doesn’t say exactly how they look for information. Take the time to understand your search behavior.

No magic recipe for keywords:

Yoast doesn’t give you the best-performing keywords for your page on a silver platter. It can help you, but it takes extensive research to find the ones that work best for you.

No Ranking or Traffic Guarantee:

Yoast cannot promise the top spot in search results. This requires working on key elements like backlinks, technical SEO, and user engagement.

Thinking that the natural reference is made all at once

Viewing natural referencing as a one-time step that only needs to be implemented once is a common mistake. Not only are search engine algorithms constantly evolving, but so are SEO criteria.

Furthermore, it is not enough to create a blog linked to your website, publish 20 articles on it for its launch and then let it run, for your website’s SEO to take off. Natural referencing is long-term work that never stops and requires regular monitoring.

Search engines take more than just keywords and backlinks into consideration. They analyze the speed of your website, whether it is optimized for mobile, the user experience and, of course, the quality and regularity of content publication.

Keep an eye on changes in search engine algorithms to stay in the race, because natural SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.

Visual and other image errors

Don’t call a professional for your photos and videos

It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and in the world of marketing this has never been more true. Investing heavily in photography and video is an opportunity to create an instant connection with your audience.

Visuals are not just images, they are visual stories. A good photo or video can tell a story, evoke emotions and create a powerful connection with your potential visitors.

Good images have the power to attract attention. They are like visual magnets that capture attention, which is essential to stand out in the world of tourism where competition is fierce.

In the tourism sector, visuals are much more than accessories. They are the key to selling experiences. A well-chosen photo can be the starting point of an adventure for someone. Proof of this is the exponential use of platforms such as Instragram, TikToK, YouTube and Pinterest by travelers and tourism stakeholders.

Finally, unprofessional photos tarnish your brand image. I can only advise that you look for a professional to have good quality photos that can be used on your website, on your social networks and in your media. It is an investment that will pay off quickly.

Data and performance errors

Interpret your traffic volume without taking demand-related data into account

One of your goals is certainly to attract more traffic to your website, to have a greater chance of converting your visitors into customers.

But sometimes a 20% drop in your website’s organic search traffic isn’t bad news. Let me explain. You need to keep in mind that everything is relative. If your organic search is down 20% while demand is down 30%, you may be in a better position than you think. Likewise, a 20% increase in revenue may seem fantastic, but if tourism demand in your area has increased by 40%, that’s a mixed win.

In short, to have poor performance reports, you need to have a global view of the data at your disposal.

Not comparing acquisition costs for direct bookings versus bookings made through OTAs

There are times when spending a little more can save you a lot. If you’re hesitant to invest in Google Ads or Facebook Ads for direct bookings but don’t mind OTA commissions, it might be time to think again. Carefully compare the acquisition costs of your direct bookings with those of OTAs. You may find that it’s worth the effort and that you can generate more profit by managing your advertising budget wisely.

Email Marketing Mistakes:

Neglecting segmentation:

Not segmenting your email list is another mistake. Each recipient has different needs and one approach does not fit all. Segment your list based on criteria like location, travel preferences, past purchasing behaviors, and more. This will allow you to send more relevant messages.

Forget the shipping frequency:

Too many emails can be just as harmful as too few. Over-sending can annoy your subscribers and cause them to unsubscribe. On the other hand, a lack of communication can lead to loss of interest and, ultimately, inactivity from these recipients, which will affect the deliverability of your marketing emails. Find a balance by testing different sending frequencies to determine which works best for your audience.

Underestimating the importance of the subject line:

The subject line is crucial. It’s one of the first items your readers will see in their inbox. A compelling subject line can entice recipients to open the email, while a boring or misleading subject line can lead to unsubscribes. Take the time to create subject lines that are engaging and honest (no false promises).

Conclusion

The goal of this article is not just to correct errors, but to encourage a culture of inquiry and innovation. By evoking these few pitfalls (the list of which is not exhaustive), my aim is to underline that success, in tourism as elsewhere, lies in two essential points: a deep understanding of the identity of the business itself: organization and deep understanding of customers and your expectations. May this exploration serve as a compass for those seeking excellence in a world where differentiation and adaptability are likely the keys to success.

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