How tourism operators can attract international visitors

How tourism operators can attract international visitors

It wasn’t all too long ago that a simple one-paragraph mention in the Lonely Planet guidebook could be all it took to attract a healthy stream of international visitors to your tourism business. Now, things are a little more complicated.

These days you need to interact on Facebook, market on Instagram, regularly review your Google listing, upload flashy promos on YouTube, respond on TripAdvisor – oh, and actually run your tourism business.

It’s enough to make you want to take a holiday yourself.

So, how can you connect with would-be international visitors in 2020?

Nail the tourism marketing basics

Letitia Stevenson, Director at Yonder, which manages chatbots for tourism providers, says establishing a strong online presence is essential.

“The best tourism operators that we work with have got an extremely strong digital presence, via their website and social media pages,” she says.

“Make sure you’re on the website, your Regional Tourism Organisation’s website and that your page is search engine optimised.”

Stevenson also stresses the importance of having well-developed Google My Business and TripAdvisor listings.

“Ensure that these are up-to-date and that reviews are responded to,” Stevenson says.

Know your audience

A one-size-fits-all approach to attracting international visitors is probably not going to cut it in today’s highly competitive landscape.

Instead, tailor your marketing messaging to different international audiences and demographics, says Trent Yeo, founder of Ziptrek Ecotours in Queenstown.

For example, a marketing strategy that appeals to a Millennial in Europe may not necessarily appeal to a Boomer in Asia.

Yeo, who won the PATA New Zealand Trust Emerging Tourism Leader Award at the 2019 NZ Tourism Awards, says depending on the audience, their marketing messages sometimes centre on demonstrating Ziptrek’s values and ethos, while at other times they focus more heavily on the product itself, and what visitors can expect.

“Typically, when we’re marketing to Europe it’s more of a deeper eco-tourism story, whereas in the Asian context that’s not so much a decision driver.”

Embrace social media

Knowing your audience is also important when it comes to social media, says Stevenson.

“Some operators with products which have strong appeal to the Chinese market have had great success with WeChat marketing and using influencers,” says Stevenson.

“The use of social influencers to disperse content is starting to take off in NZ but is still very much in its infancy. Operators could take advantage of it a lot more.”

Another social media tip is to use video to show-off New Zealand’s natural beauty, says Yeo.

“Video has always been quite strong [as a tourism marketing channel] and lately we have been trying 360° video content,” he says.

Yeo says marketing in the tourism business is not set and forget – instead, it needs to be regularly tweaked to match the tastes of your target markets.

Build industry relationships – online and off

It may seem counterintuitive to team up with the competition, but building relationships with other tourism operators can be good for your own business, says Stevenson.

“In Taupo, they’ve got combo products where operators bundle and resell each others’ products,” she says.

Online travel agents (OTAs) also present a huge opportunity to attract international visitors.

“Make sure your product is bookable on third-party online travel agents such as Book Me, Get Your Guide and Viator,” Stevenson says.

Yeo adds, “OTAs are taking increasing volumes and having an increasing influence on the way in which tourism is moving forward.”

Image credit: Ziptrek Ecotours

Need a boost for your next big tourism marketing push? Talk to Prospa about how a small business loan could give you the capital to help reach bigger audiences.

The information on this website is provided for general information only and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from financial, legal and taxation advisors. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information as at the date of publication, Prospa, its officers, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information for any reason, including due to the passage of time, or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.