22 Top Tourism Marketing Mistakes To Avoid

Blend Marketing

To give you the upper hand over the competition, our team shared and categorized some of the common marketing mistakes we see that prevent tours, activities, and attractions from growing healthy brands. Here are the top blunders you want to avoid in your tourism marketing.

A. Marketing Strategy Mistakes 

1. Marketing your tours to everyone (no clear target audience) 

Trying to appeal to everyone at once is like shouting into a crowded room – no one is going to hear you. When you market to everyone, you create bland, generic messaging that fails to truly connect with anyone.

But everything changes when you focus your marketing efforts on one person – your ideal customer. Suddenly, your messaging becomes personal and specific, resonating with your target audience on a deeper level. And we all know that magic happens when you connect with someone (i.e., sales!).

2. Not differentiating your brand vs. the competition 

Without clear and distinct characteristics that set your business apart from competitors, customers won’t be able to distinguish you from the sea of similar businesses. And when you start marketing, you’ll effectively be marketing your category—including competitors—rather than your brand. Sadly, those prospective customers will be forced to choose randomly or, worse, rely on a factor like price to decide. With branding that shows distinctiveness and value to these customers, your brand can charge premium prices and generate customer loyalty for sustainable future sales. 

3. Lagging too far behind on new platforms

Stay on top of the opportunities in technology, especially on platforms that impact visibility (such as new ad placements like Google Things To Do and PMAX campaigns). Ignoring or waiting lets the OTAs—who are always on top of such changes—quickly grab revenue during a low-competition period while tour operators are slow to catch up.

B. Advertising Mistakes

Advertising at Blend Marketing

4. Running Meta Ads without a pixel on your site and booking platform

The Meta Pixel to run Facebook and Instagram ads allows you to track visitors on your website, create more targeted ad campaigns, and measure the effectiveness of your advertising. Having the Pixel installed allows you to gather valuable data that could be used to inform and improve your digital marketing strategy. 

5. Not performing A/B testing to get better results

A/B testing ( a.k.a. Split Testing) involves testing two different versions of an ad to see which one performs better. Creating two variations of the same ad and changing one variable on the second version (such as audience targeting, an image, video, copy, etc.) helps identify which ad is more effective. 

Data-driven decisions like the results from A/B tests—instead of relying on assumptions or gut feel—are essential for better advertising results.

6. “Build it and they will come” mentality 

We’ve encountered tourism brands that believe that when they are located in a popular destination, customers will find them and book their tours without any marketing investments.

The questions we would ask this company would be:

  • How do you stand out from the competition (and good locations have a huge amount of competition)?  
  • How do you convince a consumer why they should buy from you, and not your competition, without telling them or helping them find you? 
  • You may get traffic part of the year, but are customers finding you all year long? 

C. Search and SEO Mistakes

Google Things to do for tours and attractions

7. Installing Yoast on a website and thinking that SEO strategy and keyword research are complete.

Yoast is a helpful tool for organizing your content for a particular page on your website, but Yoast doesn’t: 

  • Have a clear understanding of the search behavior of the target audience you are trying to reach. 
  • Tell you what the best keywords you should rank for
  • Guarantee top rankings or traffic to your site. 
  • Do anything to improve SEO on key factors such as backlinks, technical SEO, and user engagement.

8. Treating SEO as a one-and-done process 

As technology advances, the algorithms used by search engines are constantly evolving. Focusing one time and solely on keywords and links which change constantly with the dynamics of the internet, are only a small part of SEO.

 Search engines have become smarter and more intuitive, taking into account factors such as website speed, mobile optimization, user experience, and content quality. Staying on top of the shifts (and what your competition is doing) is essential.

D. Visuals and Imagery Mistakes

9. Under-investing in photography and video 

Humans are visually oriented. 

Good visuals tell a story and create an emotional connection, which is why photographs and video are so powerful in selling tours and attractions (or selling anything). 

A great photo can be the thing that grabs someone’s attention and makes them take notice. Great photos are essential in tourism marketing.

D. Data & Performance Mistakes

Marketing data in tourism marketing

Good data will lead to making good business decisions. Some of the top mistakes we see are:

10. Not setting up measurement properly

Google Analytics and ad platforms can provide useful data to drive decisions, but proper setup is required. A few examples: 1) conversion data needs to be sent to the ad platforms; 2) website pages should be categorized so that blog pages can be reported on separately from tour pages; 3) cross-domain tracking needs to be set up. Follow your booking platform’s instructions, and consider getting your measurement professionally audited, so that you can trust your data. The alternatives are to ignore your data altogether, or risk making decisions based on bad data.

11. Not visualizing data to surface meaningful insights

Your data can hold a wealth of information, and visualizations can unlock it. Consider having someone develop custom dashboards in a platform such as Looker Studio, Tableau, or Power BI. Here are just a few sample visualizations.

12. Automatically dismissing or distrusting data

Skepticism can be healthy, and we do not advocate for blindly trusting data. But some operators blindly distrust data, assuming that measurement simply isn’t possible. Take the time to learn what’s possible, what’s not possible, and how trustworthy your data is.

13. Not tracking search demand when looking at traffic and revenue data. (Or using the wrong baseline for traffic and revenue performance)

When is a 20% drop in organic search traffic a good thing? When there has been a 30% drop in search demand. And conversely, a 20% increase in revenue shouldn’t be celebrated if there was a 40% increase in tourists to your area. Current customer demand is sometimes a better benchmark than last year’s data.

14. Not comparing acquisition costs of direct bookings vs. OTA bookings

An operator that hesitates to spend money on Google and Facebook to drive direct bookings, but doesn’t think twice about the 22-25% OTA commission, is potentially leaving additional profit on the table. Take a close look at the acquisition costs of your direct bookings vs. your OTA bookings, and let that inform your decisions about your ad spend budget and how much availability you give to the OTAs.

E. Communications Mistakes

15. Writing policies from the perspective of a jaded staff member rather than a customer

It can be challenging to maintain a positive tone when answering common questions over and over and over, or responding to negative reviews, or writing policies. But compassion, professionalism, and positivity can be very effective in encouraging someone to buy from you. In addition, answering a negative review positively can win customers who read your response. Treat every interaction with people as a chance to win potential customers.

16. Not using your communications to answer why customers would  choose your brand 

Tourism is a competitive market. Use every opportunity to convince a reader to choose your brand, not just your category. Even business descriptions on Google, Yelp, or Tripadvisor should include an enthusiastic pitch to answer “Why Choose Us” instead of a long information dump. (Knowing your audience helps you achieve this too). 

17. Not collecting and sharing social proof to sell your tours, activities, and attractions  

Travelers (and all consumers) rely on reviews that show a business is trustworthy and reputable. 77% of travelers read reviews before making a purchase. Not collecting or showing your reviews is a major misstep in any brand’s marketing efforts. The lost sales opportunity here is significant.  

18. Not being transparent (or visible) in your communications 

People don’t want to do any extra work to find the information they need. Make it easy for readers to make a decision rather than aggravating them, which can encourage them to find the information somewhere else (i.e. your competitor).  

Specific communication issues we see are:

  • Not making pricing visible on your website (for example, making it visible only on the booking page).
  • Not disclosing added costs, exclusions, or requirements.
  • Not providing comparisons of tour features and benefits to help readers choose easily between tours. 
  • Not making it clear that a waiver needs to be filled out—which can then lead to customers being late for the tour. (Online waivers work great!). 
  • Not making your contact information easily visible or accessible so prospects can contact you for questions.

G. Website Mistakes

19. Not using HTTPS on your site

HTTPS on websites provides a secure, encrypted connection that protects users’ information from being intercepted or tampered with by malicious third parties. By encrypting data sent and received over the internet, HTTPS prevents hackers and cybercriminals from snooping on usernames, passwords, credit card information, and other sensitive data on your website. Never collect sensitive information without a secure site. Even if your booking platform handles payments, make sure your site uses HTTPS so that savvy users don’t hesitate due to a potential security risk.

20. Not optimizing for mobile devices

Mobile devices are the preferred platform for search. Google Search rankings are highly dependent on mobile compatibility, meaning your website won’t show up on the top search results, leaving potential customers to discover other businesses that have taken the time to optimize. In addition, poor user experiences on mobile devices can lead to visitors quickly leaving your website in search of a mobile-friendly site, resulting in a loss of revenue.

21. Not doing anything about a slow-loading website 

Slow websites hurt your business because:

  • Visitors waiting longer than three seconds are more likely to leave and find information elsewhere.  
  • Search engines prioritize fast-loading websites and push slow ones further down the search results. 
  • Slow websites hurt your reputation. Your business comes across as outdated and unprofessional when you waste their time finding what they want.

H. Email Marketing Mistakes 

22. Underutilizing Email

Email is not only cost-effective, but it’s also a way to reach an audience already interested in your business (a warm audience – which is a joy to have and hard to get easily). We’ve seen, time and time again, clients that sell tours just with a regular email cadence. 

Do you have a nagging marketing issue on this list? Rest assured; it’s fixable. Send us a message. We can help you manage the next step. 

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Blend Marketing