5 Easy Steps to Successful Marketing for your Tourism Business
5 Easy Steps to
Your Tourism Business
By Lora O’Brien
Lead Copywriter at Write Ireland
The tourism and hospitality sector continues to be a major source of
employment in Ireland. The employment provided by the accommodation
and food service sector is greater than the number of jobs provided in
construction, financial services, or agriculture, forestry and fishing
sectors. Employment in the accommodation and food service industry
accounts for 6.5% of employment in the country.
Source: Tourism Opportunity - Driving Economic Renewal, ITIC 2011
Let’s lay it out straight here…
Rural Ireland is a key component of the visitor appeal and experience.
Valuable Tourism Resources
• Local landowners, community groups, parishes, organisations and individuals
who are interested in heritage own very valuable parts of the tourism
• Includes access to mountains, natural and historic sites, walks and trails,
interpretative and community centres
• Most of the tourism infrastructure in Ireland, at local level, is currently
under-utilised, and lacking support.
• Visitors to Ireland want to find you.
• Smaller, authentic Irish events, attractions and experiences are exactly what
the lucrative domestic and foreign market are looking for.
• Culture and heritage consistently ranks as the top reason for people to visit
• That’s where Ireland’s rural and community tourism providers come in.
Rural Tourism Challenges
• Limited marketing budget.
• Double (or triple!) jobbing for management/owners and staff
• Never enough support, or hours in the day to get it all done.
• Lack of clarity or consistency on marketing or business plan.
• Marketing budget often gets blown in the first few outings on local newspaper and
radio ads, or whatever special offers the guy on the end of the phone assures you
will reach so many thousands of exactly your target audience.
Rural Tourism Benefits
• Unbridled enthusiasm and passion for the project, and the area we are
focusing on, is the main upside.
• The people involved are there because they believe that the end result will
make their community a better place, and they want to tell the world about
what they have to offer.
• Absolute expertise on the locality, and the events, customs or traditions.
But, business is business.
At the end of the day, you need to:
• Increase your Profitability
• Heighten your Competitive Advantage
• Enhance your Industry Reputation.
The key challenge facing Irish tourism is
communicating the right messages in the most
effective way to those markets most receptive to the
offer of a holiday in Ireland.
Source: Tourism Opportunity - Driving Economic Renewal, ITIC 2011
• Communicating our tourism message in the right way to the right people –
• It’s a thing that many small tourism business owners and managers mean to
get round to, but never quite sort out or get a proper handle on.
• It’s a large field, full of big players, and it’s often difficult for the little guy to
know for sure where to start, or to see results when they do start in some
A simple plan is what’s needed, and
there are 5 easy steps that will put you
on the right path today…
What Do You Want To Achieve?
• Objectives are your lofty ideas, your fancy notions of what the business
could possibly become. Think big, and have something great to aim
for. Write them down!
• Goals are the smaller chunks of your dream; the actionable, achievable items
on the agenda. With deadlines.
• Remember, make your goals specific and measurable, figure out in numbers
and percentages and clear solid terms what you want to achieve, and write
those down too.
What Have You Got To Work With?
• While it’s great to dream and plan for the improvements, upgrades and
infrastructure you’d love to lay claim to, have a good honest look at what you’ve got
• And not just the physical and materials – are there untapped skills or knowledge in
your area? What are the benefits of visiting your area?
• Most importantly – what is your USP, your Unique Selling Point/s? What makes
your business, your community, your area, different from all the rest? Figure that
out, the thing that is truly your own, and your focus will sharpen, your message
clarify, and your marketing improve exponentially.
Who Will Want To Visit?
• ‘Everyone’ isn’t an appropriate answer. And, bleak as it can sometimes feel, a desperate cry
of ‘Anyone, please visit!’ isn’t a good marketing strategy either.
• Looking at your available resources, what type of person or group will that appeal to as it
stands? You can always develop the family market or the silver surfers at a later stage, but
get your baseline right first.
• Who has been visiting the most already, and what does that type of person want or need
that you can give them – the benefits you can offer to this market will be a central focus in
all your marketing materials. Again, be specific. “Fishermen, over 55, who also like to eat
great quality local food” is going to give you more to work with than “Old Men”. If you
don’t already know, talk to other business’ in the locality - accommodation providers,
publicans, visitor attractions, food service facilities. Find out.
What’s Your Plan?
• What month is it now? Where in the primary tourist season are we right
now? How long before people arrive on site do they think about and book
their holidays? You need to go back further than that.
• It’s never a bad time to start marketing, but know that most tourism
marketing being done this year is with a view to the following year, at
least. If you want your beds booked or your attraction thronged at a
particular time – when do you have to start planning for that? You should
start now, but keep your focus clearly on the future.
How to Market?
• Once you get your timing sorted, the big question of HOW to market comes into play. For
small budgets, the absolute best value for money is in content marketing – everything from
the words on your website, to regular newsletters and blog posts, to active social media.
• Building a solid client mailing list is the most important thing you can do for your business –
it’s much easier to market to people who are already your customers than it is to try and
catch the attention of people who don’t know you exist!
• A regular newsletter - that is of value and interest to your visitors, not just aimed at selling
them things - is the bedrock of your new marketing plan. If you don’t have much money,
you will have to go digital. If you do have a budget, you can afford a printed version in the
post, but you’ll still be going digital; AND you can pay people to do it all for you.
Your Marketing Plan
• Most importantly, make a monthly plan. Literally, write it out month by month – start with
marking in any upcoming events you organise or can work around.
• Then figure out what you can afford (in time and money) to commit per month to
marketing. How best can that be spent? How can the effectiveness of each thing you spend
time or money on be measured, and recorded? Remember, in today’s media saturated
world, your potential customers will most often need to see your message 8 or even 9 times,
and in different formats, before they will take action.
• A regular, month by month plan will deliver your message to your target audience time after
time, and each time with a specific ‘call to action’ prompting them to, well, to take action in
the form of a visit to your area, and more money in your pocket.
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What Worked, and What Didn’t?
• As you go through your month by month plan, it is vital you keep records of your
customers, where they came from and how they found out about you.
• The first year, you’ll be shooting in the dark for the most part. But once you’re
through, you will be able to look and see what has worked, what hasn’t, and how
you can build on that.
• Every year, you increase your ROI – Return On Investment for your tourism
marketing plan. Every year, you learn a little more about your visitors, what they
need, and what they want. Make this knowledge one of your primary goals, and it
will stand to you.
• You can start to follow these steps today; just
sketch them out roughly to begin with, and
work on them in more detail as you go along.
• There’s plenty of time for finesse later. Make
your monthly marketing plan, establish your
baseline, and start to grow your tourism
business from here!
Anything We Can Help You With?
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