According to Statista, for a long while, the domestic tourism market in Europe has contributed a bigger share of the travel and tourism GDP than the international market, and in 2020, due to the disruption by the COVID-19 pandemic, expenditure by domestic tourists has contributed an even larger share (73%) of the GDP.
It goes without saying that the domestic market is now even more important owing to the travel restrictions and uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More people prefer to tour their own country rather than travel abroad.
So how can your tours and activities business take advantage of this domestic market?
In this article, we’re going to discuss how to market your product and services locally, from reframing your perspective from an international audience to a local audience to reviewing your business model and boosting local promotional channels.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
6 Tips To Market Your Tour and Activity Locally
To adapt to the current COVID-19 crisis where international travelers are out of the picture, for the time being, your tours or activities business needs to learn how to attract local travelers.
Marketing your tours or activities to local tourists is different from marketing to international clients. It calls for restrategizing and shifting your focus to aspects that resonate more with the locals.
Let’s go through the actionable tips you can use to capture this local market and be in a position to continue making sales.
1. Reframe your perspective (from international to local audience)
Being flexible and open to changing your perspective in the face of a crisis is critical for the long-term success of your tour business (or any other business for that matter).
Let’s elaborate on that using an example.
Before the Coronavirus pandemic, if your tour business largely depended on international customers, the current travel restrictions may seem to spell doom for your company. But you can view the situation from a different perspective and take it as an opportunity to explore new markets and a different kind of audience – the local audience.
According to a survey by UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), domestic tourism is helping with the tourism sector recovery in several regions, even though only partially in some.
Therefore, one of the best strategies during this pandemic involves shifting your focus to local domestic tourism.
This change will include identifying the various local market groups to target. For example:
- Families with children: The new norm of working from home and children getting homeschooled can get quite tiring. Offering these families some fun activities away from the four walls of their homes can be quite refreshing.
- Couples: Romantic tours or activities are a great idea for couples looking to get away from their busy lives at work and in the home.
- Local specialty groups: If your tours or activities company is niche-specific e.g based on heritage tourism, art tourism, golf, etc., you can target local specialty clubs or societies with similar interests.
- Corporate groups: Companies are often looking for opportunities to engage their workers in team-building activities. You can tailor-make your activities to suit such a market.
Having these local markets in mind can help you strategize on how to market your offering. First, determine your ideal products/ services that will appeal to them, and secondly, develop a marketing language they will incline towards. This leads us to our next tip.
2. Review your business model and products/services
An international and local audience are quite different and each needs a unique strategy to market to successfully. For your tour business to earn a share of the domestic tourism market, you have to first ensure the service or product you are offering resonates with the needs of the local audience.
Take time to review your business model, with the local market groups in mind, and make necessary adjustments in order to create an irresistible offering.
Let’s say you run a walking tour company – consider developing more advanced itineraries outside the typical attractions. The local market is most likely extensively aware of the biggest attractions and so would probably be looking for something out of the ordinary. Add pomp and color to your services and make it exciting so that even a local traveler who’s lived in the same city for years will be excited to see what it is that you are offering.
Next, make sure your marketing language is appealing to the local audience. In view of the pandemic situation, clearly highlight how your company is enforcing health and safety measures as per your local government’s directives.
When marketing to international tourists, you may have been pivoting on messages like “great weather” or “friendly locals.” You’ll have to modify that to attract the local audience. For example, you can offer discounts for kids in order to attract young families with children.
3. Establish local promotion channels
Your promotional efforts should be geared towards the local audience as well. This includes advertising in local promotion channels or location-specific online paid ads.
Online promotion efforts can help your business gain more visibility and therefore increase chances of boosting sales.
Here are some ways to establish your local marketing strategy:
- Optimize your website for local SEO
- Create and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) account
- Attract the local travelers using social media e.g Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube
- Revise your online ad targeting on Facebook and Google to target people in your location
- Partner with local publications and publish PR articles
- Partner with local influencers
4. Produce content geared towards locals
If you have a website, creating a blog and publishing relevant content will help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Optimizing for SEO is one of the best strategies to gain organic traffic to your website which creates the opportunity to convert page visitors to customers.
But simply having a blog is not enough, you’ll need to post content on a regular basis and optimize each of the posts. This will include using relevant keywords and adding images, infographics, or videos. More to that, the content itself should be captivating so as to keep people reading and drive them to take action.
The language you use for your content is another important factor. Since you’re targeting domestic tourists, it’ll be very beneficial to use the local language. Therefore, if you had previously standardized all your content to English in order to reach different nationals, you can create translated versions of the website in your local language. This way you will still be able to reach your international clients when that market re-opens.
All in all, ensure your content is tailor-made to serve the local travelers.
5. Revise your analytics setup and monitor your results
In order to know whether all your marketing efforts are paying off, you’ll need to look at more than just your number of sales. This is where analytics come in. Google Analytics enables you to track your website visits and gives you insight into your business performance.
Considering we’ve changed our focus from the international market to the domestic tourism market, then you’ll also need to revise your analytics setup and ensure your goals are in line with your new booking and product pages.
Consistently monitor your results in order to understand your customers’ behavior, determine whether you’re meeting their needs effectively, and find new growth opportunities. With all this information, you can make necessary changes to improve your business outcome.
What’s more, you can do the same thing for different channels where you’ve set up ads for your tour company e.g Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube.
6. Improve over time so you have a good setup for both domestic and international tourists
As is the case with all optimization efforts, start small, do the drill regularly, and improve over time. This means that not only will you have your initial setup for international tourists, but also for domestic tourists. This way your business is well prepared to take on whichever market is more favorable.
With these tips, we believe you are well equipped to take your share of the domestic tourism market and keep your business going despite the pandemic.
Here’s a summary of the steps you’ll need to take:
- Reframe your perspective from international to local audience
- Review your business model
- Establish local promotion channels
- Create content geared to locals
- Revise your analytics setup and monitor results
- Improve over time