18 Ways the Tourism Industry Can Make the Most of 2018

Happy new year! Get ready for lots of scary articles on trends, fads, and new technology that will encourage you to apply unrealistic expectations to your marketing plan. Don’t let these articles distract you from making sure the basic structure of your digital marketing efforts is solid. It’s a new year. A new opportunity to make the most of the next 12 months. Here are 18 (realistic) ways to make the most of 2018!

1. Avoid shiny objects

Unless you feel like you have a complete handle on all of your current channels, don’t even think about VR, 360 video, or AI.

Some Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) may feel they are ready to take the next step with technology, and that’s great! However, sometimes it’s best to see how fads play out before jumping on them.

2. Take video seriously

In case you missed the memo, video is really important. Last year, it was estimated that 74% of all web traffic could be attributed to video. 

Be that as it may, we still find many DMO’s are missing this key piece of media in their marketing plans.

If this has not been a priority for your organization in the past, it’s time to buck up, and come up with a plan.

Remember, you have a powerful video tool in your purse/pocket/on your desk right now. It’s called a smartphone. Believe it or not, you can do more with this piece of hardware than crush candy! Leverage this tool to make some engaging video by using apps like iMovie and Ripl.

3. Create evergreen blogs

Here’s some tough love advice…STOP writing blogs that will expire in a month or less. Just…STOP!

Now, that’s not to say you can’t write a blog that promotes the County Fair that happens every year. The key is to update this blog every year, as opposed to creating a new blog for each County Fair.

Furthermore, it’s perfectly acceptable to write a blog about fall colors in your destination, but think of ways you can leverage it beyond one post. You can also share this blog in the middle of summer and say, “We can’t wait for the fall! Look how amazing the colors are in our destination!”

However, the best type of content to write is content that will be relevant in January, June, and October. Our philosophy is to work really hard for 12 months by writing tons of evergreen content, and then you can re-share it for years to come!

4. Develop a content plan

Do you know what blogs you are writing next month? Do you know what major themes you need to talk about on a weekly basis? If not, it’s time develop a plan.

TwoSix Digital does not encourage DMO’s to plan every single tweet and Facebook post months in advance – but major content like blogs and videos should be given plenty of time to be planned and developed.

If content planning seems daunting, make room in your budget for our Tactical Content Planning Program. This program will give you a solid structure for cornerstone content (like blogs and videos) while giving you a system for developing daily posts.

5. Integrate your content

For those DMOs who are writing weekly blogs and producing monthly videos, it’s so important to make the most of this content.

We continually see high-production-value videos collecting dust in a YouTube vault. We also see strong blog schedules with no followup on promotion.

Our advice is to apply The 5 Rule. This means, every piece of content has the potential to be shared 5 times (or more). Your blog/video should not only be shared on Facebook, but Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, E-newsletters, etc.

Learn more about The 5 Rule by checking out this blog.

6. Re-evaluate your priorities

Simple advice. If your visitor guide is more important than social media to your marketing team, you’re doing it wrong. If the locals dictate your decisions more than your mission to attract overnight visitors, you’re doing it wrong.

The beginning of the year is a great time to take an honest look at where you are, and where you would like to be. Start the year off on the right foot by making positive, progressive changes!

7. Be social on social media

Social media is two-way communication. Your followers expect to be engaged. If someone takes the time to tell you why they love your destination, the least you can do is like their comment! Take it even further, and reply to the comment!

It sounds simple, but we constantly see DMOs neglecting their audience by not engaging with comments. Additionally, only 24% of businesses engage in social listening. This is sad! It doesn’t take much time to engage your audience!

8. Have an e-newsletter plan

Many DMOs have e-newsletter lists that go untouched for months, even years at a time. Furthermore, some DMOs don’t have a plan or timeline for their e-newsletters.

Don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t have to send weekly e-newsletters, or monthly for that matter. If you have a dusty e-mail list that’s been neglected, try a quarterly e-newsletter.

Additionally, if you apply The 5 Rule to your content, e-newsletters should be a breeze! Simply integrate content you have already created into the newsletter, as opposed to making everything from scratch!

9. Put your hashtag everywhere

If you’re not sure if you promote your hashtag enough, ask yourself…

    • Is your hashtag on the front cover of your visitor guide?
    • Is it featured in your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram bio?
    • Do you put it at the end of all of your videos?
    • Do you have signs hanging up at local businesses with your hashtags?
    • Does your sales staff know what the hashtag is?

10. Aggressively take photos of your destination

Not only is your smartphone a powerful video tool, but it can also be used to take amazing photos.

Simply be a tourist in your own destination. Every day! Take a photo of every meal, sunset, walk in the park, and concert in your destination.

Unfortunately, you’re not just an average citizen in your city. Your job requires you to think about taking pictures whenever your are enjoying something in your destination!

11. Take a moment to re-read your social media bios

It’s easy to set your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest bios, and forget about them. Double check them to make sure they reflect your current brand. Also, be sure they are personable, relate to the visitor, and are not overly-promotional.

12. Run a digital ad campaign

For some DMOs, this tip seems laughable, but lots of DMOs have never run a digital ad campaign. Trust us, when you run your first campaign, you will be addicted.

We run tons of successful digital ad campaigns every year, so we can definitely help you accomplish your goals such as obtaining more e-newsletter subscribers, visitor guide requests, web traffic, social media engagement, etc.

13. Give your community manager a paid promotional budget

A paid promotional budget is different from a digital ad campaign. This would allow your community manager the opportunity to “boost posts”. Relying on organic reach doesn’t cut it anymore.

Start with a smaller budget, if you are nervous. (Although, you really should’t be nervous because it’s 2018, and paid social media is officially “a thing”). You will be amazed with the results and engagement once you start implementing a paid strategy.

Ultimately, if you don’t have a paid social budget, we feel bad for your community manager.

14. Cut one print ad, and dedicate those funds to digital marketing

If you are wondering how you can make more room in your budget for paid social media, we have a simple solution. Cut some print materials. There has to be at least one expensive print ad that you have yet to see concrete results.

Sometimes relationships with advertisers are hard to break. However, we have to do what is best for the organization. If you question the validity of a print ad, it’s time to make some difficult choices.

Basically, we promise you will see results from digital ads unlike anything you have ever seen in print ads.

15. Create effective landing pages

Digital campaigns and boosted posts are a great thing to have in 2018, but it must lead to an effective landing page. There’s no point in spending thousands of dollars on a robust campaign if the landing page isn’t up to snuff.

Check out our blog on effective landing pages before launching your next campaign!

16. Track your analytics

How can you know if you are successful if you are not tracking results? According to a recent study, only 31.7% of bloggers claim to “always” check their analytics (and 6.7% don’t even have access to analytics).

The main question is – why? Why are you not tracking your analytics? It’s free, easy, and can be quite addicting (especially if you are successful)! Furthermore, you can uncover data that can make you look AWESOME, or teach you where you really messed up.

If you don’t know where to begin with Google Analytics or Facebook Insights, consider signing up for some coaching and consulting!

17. Don’t forget your mission to promote overnight stays

It’s easy to get caught up in local politics, but stay true to your mission. We understand city officials or local business owners might have a certain idea of how you can serve them. However, you have to let the mission guide you and not the “squeaky wheels” in your community.

The good news is, the more you stick to your mission, the more you will educate your stakeholders on the purpose of your organization. This may result in an increased effort on their end to be more visitor-friendly.

This is non-profit 101! The mission is the compass!

18. Remember to have fun!

Take a deep breath. We are not saving lives. We get to talk about food, beer, art, kayaking, and concerts on a daily basis. Many people don’t have that luxury.

Remember you have an awesome job and can make a difference in your community!

Take your job seriously by implementing a strategic focus on your digital efforts, but remember to sprinkle some fun into your day by enjoying the type of content you produce!

It’s always a great time to make positive changes to your digital marketing! The landscape changes so quickly, but we are here for you. Stay up to date on trends and tips by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and signing up for our e-newsletter!