Winning Tourism Marketing Strategies to Apply in 2024

Nathan Andrew

As we step into 2024, we want to take a moment to zoom in on a few strategies we believe will be linchpins of success this year. Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Begin with honest introspection. Take a candid look at where you might be inadvertently leaving money on the table.
  2. Take time to assess the health of your marketing funnel. Finding where your funnel is weak may be the difference between thriving and surviving this year.
  3. Gain a deep, almost intuitive understanding of your data and customers. This is the bedrock of all successful tour, activity, and attraction companies.

Each of these areas is rich enough to warrant its own blog post, but for now, let’s keep it high level.

Find Where You’re Leaving Money on the Table

Conduct a “Newbie” Audit

  1. Create a prioritized list of the things that you view as your tour/activity/attraction’s main selling points.
  2. Evaluate your website, brochure, billboards, ads, etc.—how well do your marketing materials match that prioritized list?

Perhaps some of your core value proposition is missing, or perhaps the priority of information isn’t right. Prospective guests will form an opinion of you based on what they read from you and others. Many operator experiences are much better than their marketing leads people to understand. Don’t put in the hard work of creating a great product and then fail to craft the right message.

You have something to offer, make sure you take advantage of it by using a marketing framework that can set you up for success, walk you through setting goals, collecting information, and creating a plan to win.

Check Your Capacity Utilization

Capacity utilization reports (ideally broken down by product, day of week, and time of day, and even showing the value of unsold capacity) will quickly show you where you’re leaving money on the table. Were you only 20% booked on Tuesday mornings in 2023? Maybe it’s time to reconsider your Tuesday morning product/pricing mix. Or maybe you sold out Friday night all summer last year? Can you add more capacity on Fridays this summer? Go as deep as the data will allow you, and you’ll almost certainly come away with a tangible product or pricing change.

Scale Your Paid Economic Engines

Where do you currently have a combination of high ROAS, but low spend or click share? Mine out these areas in your paid campaigns and do three things:

  1. Dial up your budget! Campaigns currently ‘printing money’ for you can often print more money by simply increasing your budget.
  2. Evaluate your creative. Are you working to replicate and iterate on the creative in your ad accounts that are driving wins for you? If not, you’re leaving money on the table.
  3. Expand your targeting. If your returns are high, but your potential audience reach is low (say, 30,000 or less) you’re almost certainly limiting your success.

Want to get a more in-depth understanding of your ROAS? Watch our ROAS video that explains this metric, how to segment your reporting to see it from different angles, how to find it even when you have offline conversions, and more.

Find Places Your Customers Live Where You’re Invisible

This is marketing 101.

Start on Google. What are the search terms you want to be visible for? Search those terms and you’ll likely find a lot of ‘listicles’ and blog posts making recommendations of things to do in your area—reach out to these companies and see if they’ll list your business.

Expand onto social media. Search for your “location + product name” (for example: “Banff National Park horseback rides”) on Pinterest and TikTok. Does your business appear above the fold? If not, this is an opportunity for you.

Hop in your car and drive the main roads leading to your destination. Is your product/business visible at all? This may be an opportunity. Even in the days of digital marketing, we still recommend out of home marketing.

Make Sure Your Marketing Funnel Is Healthy

Diversify Your Paid Social Channels

Does 99% of your social spend go towards Meta? It may be time to re-evaluate your paid channel mix.

The social media landscape continues to become more and more diverse. As a result, your customers use a more diverse set of social channels and travel research tools than ever before. Right-size your paid efforts based on where your prospective guests spend time researching and making buying decisions.

Bonus: Bing’s search market share has risen to nearly 10% in 2023. If you’re not advertising on Bing (via Microsoft Ads), you should be. Typically, the best first step here is simply replicating your top-performing Google campaigns to Microsoft Ads. You can use Microsoft’s Tour and Activities Ads too.

Have a Plan for Success Across Your Entire Marketing Funnel

Most tour/activity/attraction companies aren’t working towards success at every stage in the funnel.

Perhaps you’re able to create awareness through a strong ad campaign, but because you’re invisible on Google Search, you end up benefiting a competitor with strong rankings (or, in many cases, an OTA partner).

Another common scenario is perhaps you have strong organic visibility, and you’re able to keep people engaged with your brand through remarketing, but because they trust the OTA’s website more, they book with them instead of you.

Or maybe the economics just aren’t working out, and despite having a strong funnel with wins at each individual stage, your cost of acquisition isn’t sustainable.

There are literally hundreds of other possibilities here. But the point is to know where your marketing funnel is strong and where it’s weak. And build a plan to strengthen your weaknesses.

Check out 81 Tips to Improve Direct Bookings that can help you build a plan and create more wins.

Know Your Customers—And Do Something About It

Run a Website Usability Test

When was the last time you had a real customer give you feedback on your website? Quantitative data is helpful, but there’s no replacement for actually watching your customers try to find you on the internet, listening to their initial reaction to your website (or your competitor sites), and watching them try to perform key actions on your site. We all have blind spots. Run a usability test in 2024.

Tip: Userfeel is a lower-cost pay-as-you-go testing tool. Also, don’t be afraid to do this guerrilla style—just drop in next to a stranger in the coffee shop and ask them what they think. Or ask a friend who doesn’t know much about your business to give you honest feedback. You’ll probably learn something.

Are you looking to make improvements to your website after gathering data? Follow our top tips for a higher-converting tourism website.

How Well Is Your Customer Represented In Your Marketing?

Take a moment and write down who your key customers are for each of your products. Consider seasonality and time of day as you do this.

Once you have a list, compare it to who you see in your marketing. Maybe 80% of your July and August revenue comes from multi-generational families. What percent of your photography represents this demographic?

Perhaps, your audience shifts to couples during the fall season. Does your imagery shift as well?

Or maybe your Facebook following, like most companies, is mostly middle-aged women. What percentage of your posts and ads cater to this audience?

It may be time for a photo/video shoot. This is one of the most powerful ways to transform your marketing.

Make Data-Driven Decisions in 2024

Bring Visibility to Numbers That Matter

Set your revenue targets along with the top 3 to 5 numbers that will enable you to hit your revenue targets this year. For many companies, this is:

  1. Your website conversion rate
  2. Your advertising performance (typically spend and ROAS)
  3. Your organic visibility (search and social)

Bring visibility to these numbers using a tool like Google Looker Studio. Any time you have business or marketing discussions, start with these numbers.

See some of our favorite data visualizations.

Whether it’s refining your marketing materials, optimizing your capacity utilization, or making customer-centric and data-driven decisions, each will play a critical role in your success in 2024.

Looking for help growing your tourism company? Contact us at Blend Marketing; we help tour and activity companies with $2-20 million revenue grow their businesses through a strong brand, good data, and smart marketing.

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About The Author

Nathan Andrew

Nate is passionate about helping companies reach their goals through integrated digital marketing campaigns and local SEO. He loves helping tour and activity company leaders stay focused on the numbers that matter, and fostering sustainable long term growth and profitability.

Email Nathan

About The Author

Nathan Andrew

Nate is passionate about helping companies reach their goals through integrated digital marketing campaigns and local SEO. He loves helping tour and activity company leaders stay focused on the numbers that matter, and fostering sustainable long term growth and profitability.