Where to start promoting your travel business?
The tourism industry is very competitive. Doing marketing as tour operator successfully, can be a challenge. There are hundreds of ways to promote a travel business and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all available strategies. Which approach to adopt and where to start?
Personalisation is the key to success
The first thing you need to know is that personalisation is the key to success in marketing. So, before you can start any marketing activity, you need to know who your customers are. In the end, your marketing efforts have to be directed to the right people.
Tour operators and travel agencies often have difficulty describing their own target group. They have a general idea, but have not yet identified specific characteristics. However, it’s exactly these specific characteristics that are essential to achieve the best return on investment.
In this article
What is a buyer persona?
When a business has a clear target audience, they can describe their ideal customer as a single person. A buyer persona. This is fictional characters that combines the needs, interests and behavioural patterns of your real and potential customers. A buyer persona supports you in understanding your customers better.
“The better you understand your customer, the faster your business will grow”
Benefits of a buyer persona
Personal relations with your customers are important. Instead of addressing all travellers worldwide, you will see more results when you specifically target your buyer persona(s). Basically, your buyer persona is a blueprint of your ideal customer, created for your business. They are an essential tool for tour operators and travel agencies to attract, engage and convert customers.
Buyer persona’s support you to identify the needs, interests and challenges of your target group. By pinpointing these characteristics, you can choose the most relevant and effective promotion channels and networks. Most importantly, when you know what they are interested in reading, it provides you with the opportunity to post content on specific times and topics for maximum engagement.
What does your ideal customer look like?
Your buyer persona profile should be based on your ideal customer. This is the traveller who:
- Loves your business and the experiences you offer
- Writes enthusiastic and positive reviews online
- Accepts your proposals and attached quote, without question or bargain
- Spends the most and who doesn’t complain.
This is your most loyal customer, the one that makes you put effort and passion into your business every day.
In a perfect world, all your customers would be like this. If you attract only this type of traveller, you will never have to worry about dissatisfied customers or complaints. Therefore, put effort into understanding who they are, and you’ll be in the perfect position to attract more of them.
Keep in mind, you can always have more than one ideal customer. Create up to three or four buyer personas and align your marketing strategies accordingly. Don’t worry about other customers, they will still come. The fact they don’t fit your target audience for 100% is not a concern.
Identifying your ideal customer
To attract your ideal customer and to understand who your most profitable customers are, you first have to understand your current customers. This is a brainstorm activity and research in one. Do this by having a look at the following information:
- Customer data in your own system
- Google and social media analytics
- Online forums and groups
- Reviews and feedback
- Your competition
Now that you know who your current customers are, you can start identifying your ideal customer. It all starts with focussing on one of your favourite current customers. Zoom in on the following characteristics:
- Country of origin
- Type of travel they like
- Their interests
- Kind of experiences they look for
- Travel construction (with partner/alone/family)
- Social media activity
To give you an idea of a buyer persona, we have created Julia as an example.
Julia – 28 years old
Dig deeper into your ideal customer’s desires and frustrations
To truly connect with your ideal customer on a deeper level, it’s essential to go beyond basic traits and characteristics and understand their desires and frustrations. Once you have a buyer persona in place, exploring their goals, challenges, and pain points allows you to create more resonant marketing messages and tailored travel offers.
To accomplish this, revisit your earlier research. Pay attention to the feedback, reviews, forums, groups, and social media platforms you explored. Look for standout elements such as:
Take note of any particularly positive writings or reviews you encountered. What are customers saying they love about your tours or experiences? Highlight these positive aspects in your marketing materials to reaffirm the positive feelings your ideal customers already have.
Identify the challenges or obstacles your customers mentioned in their writings. What specific issues did they face? Understanding these challenges enables you to address them directly in your marketing messaging and develop solutions.
Pinpoint any pain points or frustrations expressed. Why did they experience these difficulties? By identifying their pain points, you can tailor your travel offers to relieve or solve these issues, making their travel experiences better.
Use the insights you gathered by considering how you can use positive messages to reinforce customers’ positive sentiments. Also, develop strategies to overcome challenges and pain points. Ensure that your marketing materials highlight the steps you’re taking to address these concerns.
Using your buyer persona in marketing for better business results
Once you’ve created your buyer persona(s), you can start to finds ways of reaching them. A great place to start is content marketing. You can use this strategy to rank your website higher in Google, grow your social media following and increase your sales.
The process of identifying your ideal customer and creating your buyer persona brings clarity and focus to your product development and marketing strategies. Based on all the information you have collected about your buyer persona, you are able to send clear and customised content to your target audience. Also, it enables you to reduce your advertising costs and increase your return on investment.
In the future, whenever you are developing new experiences, writing new content, planning your marketing strategy or communication messages: always consult your buyer persona to remind you who you are targeting. This will result in more and loyal customers.
Refining your buyer persona
Keep in mind that the profile of your ideal customer may evolve over time. It is crucial to regularly review and refine your buyer personas based on feedback, data analysis, and changes in the market. This allows you to stay up-to-date with any changes, ensuring that your marketing strategy remains effective.
By continuously refining your buyer persona, you can adapt your approach to better meet the expectations and preferences of your ideal customers.