If you are marketing your tourism business or destination on Facebook, you may have seen a drop in your organic reach in the past few months. And now, it is official. Facebook is acknowledging this is a deliberate move as part of its revenue generating strategy by making businesses pay more for fans, exposure to fans and the opportunity to engage with fans.
As a result, less than 4% of fans are now likely to see your organic posts unless you are willing to pay. It was of course, not always like this, and many tourism businesses and destinations have built beautiful, inspirational Facebook business pages and connections with customers over many years. What many in the industry did not understand is that we were effectively acting as a tenant on rented space not a freeholder – the landlord could come along at anytime and increase the rent or start charging you for amenities. And if you can’t afford the increase, you might have to move out, use less space or have fewer amenities.
The case for building your own tourism marketing assets is more important than ever.
At the Content Marketing World conference in Sydney last week Facebook was a dirty word with a hot discussion centred the business Implications.
Jesse Desjardins, Social Media and Advocacy Manager at Tourism Australia (and one of the 10 most influential people in tourism) asked the question – have we been focusing our efforts on social media at the expense of tourism websites in Australia? I believe the answer is a resounding yes.
No one will argue with me when I say that the majority of tourism businesses, regions and destinations are time poor and probably also cash poor when it comes to marketing budgets. Hence the attraction of social media. The entry costs were low and impact high. In particular, Facebook and other social media platforms have been good for the tourism industry. It provided an easy and quick way to create an online presence for many in the tourism industry.
Elaborating on the concept, Jesse goes on to explain,
“...social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have given our industry an incredible ability to engage with consumers. Without a doubt these platforms will continue to add value to our businesses, but I always recommend to the tourism operators that they also don’t neglect their websites, the place where consumers go to take next step”
Jesse is right. We have been posting, creating booking buttons and timelines every day on rented property, and now it is time to focus on creating amazing websites and blogs - online real estate that we own and that we have full control over. And, we need to make it a place for our customers to seek inspiration and book.
Perhaps as a time and cash poor industry, focus in time, and money in future should be centred on creating an online presence that operators and destinations own.
- Focus on creating an awesome, informative website or blog with your words, tone of voice, images and galleries as well as videos. Make sure it breathes your brand ( which means knowing what your brand is and stands for).
- Create content that speaks to your customers at every stage on their path to purchase from providing a trigger to travel to somewhere they can share feedback everywhere
- Make it easy for your customers and potential customers to book on your website. According to research by Tourism Research Australia, less than half of tourism businesses can do instant confirmation bookings on their websites, 10% don’t even take email requests via their website. You need to make sure you capture customers when they want to lock in their plans.
- Create your own database that you own and control where you can communicate with your list.
Social media role still vital in tourism
Facebook and other social media platforms like Twitter and Google+ still have a role to play. We still need promote our blogs and videos through social media, just not build our
entire marketing efforts on them. There are plenty of ‘free’ or cheaper alternatives to Facebook (at the moment) for promotion . Try Google +, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and better still, ask all of your customers where ‘they hang out’ on social media. The lesson learnt is to try not to put all your marketing eggs in one basket as we never know what is around the corner .
So now it is time to move out of your rented space, get your own place, focus on building your own online real estate portfolio. Once you have done that, add to it on a regular basis, renovate occasionally to freshen up and regularly promote your hard work.
P.S. If you would like to try Google+, we have started a community called, Google+ for the Travel and Tourism Industry . We would love to see you there
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