The tourism industry is a massive sector. It ranks as the 4th largest world export and is estimated to grow at least 3% per year, every year. Current estimates predict that in 2030 international travelers will reach a volume of 1.8 billion.
As any growing industry, it is constantly attracting new players and new entrants, requiring exiting players to increase the quality of their services in order to retain loyal customers.
In the case of tourism marketing, we can see that in reality the competition in the tourism sector is not only connected specifically to the particular company that travelers decide to use to experience a holiday abroad. In fact, harsh competition can be found between holiday locations.
In this post, we’re going to discuss what elements to include in your tourism marketing plan to make sure you can attract and retain the most demanding customers.
Start with Creating a Brand.
The starting point of our strategy requires us to break down all of the associations that we can attach to the location we’re going to promote in our campaign and list location attributes in two sets of characteristics. You’re going to do this with your company too, in order to identify potential alignments and overlaps, that could make your business the go-to place for your location.
List Your Points of Parity.
We’re going to start by listing all of the expected requirements our luxury customers are going to demand and caliber our strategy on the grounds of how far we can go in terms of providing services that match all of these expectations.
This first group of characteristics is necessary to show that your location and services are able to satisfy all of the needs that jet-setters are expecting from their travels.
Points of parity are defined as all of the features companies are expected to have to compete profitably on the market. Once we’ve understood how our business ranks in terms of the median service standards we can create an additional list, which we’ll discuss in the next paragraph.
List Your Points of Difference.
In this second list, you are going to build new and unique associations which relate to the specific location you are marketing or to the particular experience your business is going to provide. These elements are very important because they help your organization and location stand out in the market by creating unique aspirations and desires that only you can satisfy. These points of difference will be almost like a unique language your brand is going to use to communicate with your customers. This also leads us to our next point.
Identify Your Customer Needs
In the context of luxury, we need to remember that the needs of High Net Worth Individuals are not simply connected to functionality, but to social status and emotional rewards as well. It is therefore very important for our strategy to reinforce those social and emotional experiences.
Let’s analyze these needs in more detail:
These needs are simply connected to the practical use customers make of our products and services. In the context of tourism, these products and services are usually mass-market products that are usually quite inexpensive and provide us with the most basic functional benefits, such as getting a person from A to B with a coach.
In this context, travel, and lifestyle fulfill very important roles as products and services gain value in the customer’s eyes because of their social currency. The reasons why people buy products with a social connotation are either to “fit in” (showing belonging to a particular group) or standing out (making ourselves getting noticed).
These needs are satisfied with products that have such a strong reputation and heritage, that the simple fact of owning them, makes us feel proud and part of the brand’s legend. These needs are usually satisfied by luxury brands that are exclusive and aspirational, as the fact of owning these products is a strong social signal. Because of this emotional drive, these products need to be aspirational and exclusive, if they become too accessible they may completely lose their aura of prestige.
Use Consistent Communication in All Media
The next step is to understand what types of communication strategies are well-aligned to inform, educate and excite your prospective customers. Depending on the message typology and overall feeling you want to evoke in your customers you can use a variety of platforms.
What matters in this stage is making sure that the language you are using, and the narrative you are building are consistent across all platforms. To implement this step it can be helpful to use the Jobs to Be Done Theory to empathize with your customer and understand what his\her needs are so that you can tailor your communication to the specific expectations of your audience, as discussed in the previous section of our post.
In order to deliver a consistent experience, we need to make sure our communication revolves around all of the typical touch points tourists interact with once they have arrived at a new location. It’s important to connect to these touch points to build desire and anticipation.
If you’d like to read more on this topic, this article will provide you with an in-depth analysis of the way your communication strategy can be planned out by adopting a funnel approach based on customers’ purchase intents.
Identify All Tourist Touch Points to Provide a Sense of Authenticity
Some examples of these touch points could include the arrival at the hotel, the cab drive to the resort, the welcome and check-in at the hotel, the first walk around the hotel’s block, dining experiences, the morning breakfast, etc.
The more you are able to connect your communication to the experiential dimensions your location and services are able to provide, the more real and tangible your communication will be.
This approach is important as in terms of the customer journey when choosing a location where to spend a holiday, so many different decisions have to be made at once and so many different requirements need to be met by the same provider.
Use Compelling Imagery to Create a Narrative
Catering instead towards our customer’s sense of wonder, we want to create a communication plan that is able to create a compelling narrative where the location itself is the hero of the story. As you’re implementing your communication strategy try to provide imagery that delivers a sense of engagement and connection to the location.
As we depict a journey that connects to the customer’s imagination, the goal is to provide a sense of inclusiveness that makes tourists instantly part of the story being told.
This will allow your prospective customers to engage with your communication and respond to it more naturally, especially if supported with positive customer reviews.
This last step in the journey, connected to customer feedback and reviews, is what we are going to discuss next.
Celebrate Your Customers and Promote Positive Customer Reviews
An essential component of your marketing strategy is connected to what in marketing we call: “the zero moment of truth”.
The “ZMOT” is a concept that indicates how customers navigating through booking options can instantly access the experiences had by other customers who received the advertised services and are therefore able to express an honest account of their experience.
When it comes to customer reviews, your customer is the hero. Make sure you’re keeping your reviews in check and the topics addressed ideally connect to your communication promises.
If you get a bad review it’s not the end of the world, but make sure you do address the feedback proactively.
Great, it’s now time to move towards drawing a few conclusive remarks.
There you have it! In this post, we’ve looked at some important aspects connected to marketing your location or tourism services to luxury customers. Let’s summarize.
First work on understanding your points of parity and points of difference so that you can understand what makes you unique in the market.
Move then towards understanding your customer’s needs and connect your value proposition to the benefits they’re looking to acquire.
Create a communication strategy that is consistent and connected to your customer touch points.
Remember to create a narrative where the location itself is the hero, but where your prospective customer can join and become an integral part of the story of the place.
Last but not least, celebrate your successful customer and keep an eye on customer reviews!
If you’d like to read more about some of the frameworks we’ve used to compile this post, here are a couple of additional articles you may want to look into:
We hope you found this post interesting, and if you’d like to learn more about luxury marketing, don’t hesitate to explore our blog which holds a wealth of information for you to freely access.