We recently joined Ipswich Central and Crafted to host our latest Drive Digital event, âDestination Digitalâ: a half-day conference for hotels, attractions and tourism businesses.
Marketers and industry experts gathered to discuss best-practice and share techniques for improving guest loyalty and driving more direct business.
The day started off with an excellent keynote from Steve Dobson, author and founder of GoUnusual.com. He urged businesses to âseek out the extraordinary in your storyâ – to discover what makes you unusual and put it to work in your marketing. He made an excellent point that although your message / marketing may not be right for some people, it will (hopefully) resonate with someone – and that person is your ideal customer.
Steve also talked about the importance of creating great content and getting others to promote it. Although thereâs a temptation to hold onto all your content and only let it appear on your own website, thereâs value in allowing influencers to share it and get it in front of the right audience.
Following on from Steve were Ian Miller and Emma Andrews of digital marketing agency Crafted. They highlighted a number of tools for figuring out who your customers are and what theyâre looking for, as well as ways to get even more insight from familiar services. Here are a few of my favourite tips:
- Facebook audience insights: upload your email database into Facebook to see a breakdown of your demographics, interests, etc.
- Ubersuggest.org: Find out how people are searching for keywords relevant to your brand or service
- Google trends: See what people are searching for, how different terms compare and how search volumes change by season, day of the week, etc.
They also introduced the concept of âcontent hubsâ, suggesting that instead of creating a single web page with a link to your events brochure, for example, you break out the sections of the brochure into 3 or 4 different web pages. Not only does that make it easier for potential customers to find key information, it also means your pages will search better in Google.
Sophie Mason of Go Ape took the stage next to continue the conversation on content. She echoed earlier sentiments about the importance of understanding who your customers are, what they enjoy and what motivates them. She rightly pointed out that branded content shouldnât always be just about your brand – sometimes the goal will be the relationship youâre building, rather than directly driving visits to your property.
Each piece of content should have an objective though, and Sophie encouraged marketers to find this by asking âWhat do we want different personas to take away from this and do next?â
Sophie suggested that, for businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors, the right content can help encourage repeat visits. Using content to create a sense of community adds extra value for visitors – before they visit and after they leave.
What to do after visitors leave was the topic of the next presentation, featuring HTKâs Head of Marketing, Chris Chamberlain and our COO, Justin Bowser. They highlighted the importance of post-stay comms in driving guest loyalty and retention. Sending the right communications once a guest leaves can help you manage your reputation, encourage return visits and create brand advocates.
One particular focus was post-stay surveys. Not only do these help you manage your brand reputation and deal with problems before they reach TripAdvisor, they also show customers that youâre serious about delivering a good experience.
Justin and Chris also discussed the importance of using your visitor data to create personas, so you can send relevant offers and comms that encourage guests to visit again. Information such as average spend, last booking date, interests, etc. can help you target different offers to the right type of customer, increasing the likelihood that theyâll return.
The presentations were followed by a panel discussion, chaired by Martin Evans of The Tourism Business. The dayâs speakers, plus other industry experts, answered questions from the audience across a range of topics including TripAdvisor reviews, marketing budgets and more.
It was an excellent day, packed with great insights. There was a definite thread throughout around the importance of knowing who your audience is – identifying the right customer personas and using these to create and share more relevant content.
Many thanks to all who attended, as well as the speakers and panelists – weâre looking forward to the next one!