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Destination Marketing 101: Your Ultimate Guide

Destination Marketing 101: Your Ultimate Guide

In an era where travel has become more accessible than ever, businesses and marketers are increasingly turning their attention to the art and science of promoting destinations. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just dipping your toes into the travel industry, understanding the nuances of destination marketing can significantly impact your success. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll navigate the landscape, exploring the definition, benefits, and proven strategies to make your destination stand out.

What is Destination Marketing?

At its core, destination marketing is a specialized form of marketing that promotes a specific location to attract visitors and boost the local economy. This type of marketing goes beyond conventional tourism marketing efforts, aiming to create a compelling narrative that captivates potential travelers. The focus is on crafting an identity for a destination, transforming it from a spot on the map to a must-visit experience.

What are the Benefits of Destination Marketing?

Destination marketing isn’t just about increasing tourist footfall; it’s about creating sustainable growth and fostering a positive impact on the local community. These are some of the main benefits:

  • Economic Growth : Successful destination marketing can lead to increased spending by tourists, benefiting local businesses and creating job opportunities.
  • Cultural Exchange : By showcasing the unique aspects of a destination, marketing efforts contribute to cultural exchange, fostering a deeper understanding between visitors and locals.
  • Community Development : A thriving tourism industry often leads to improved infrastructure, public services, and community well-being.

Now that we’ve covered why destination marketing matters, let’s shift gears and dive into the practical strategies to make it work seamlessly.

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What Are The Best Strategies for Destination Marketing Success?

Embarking on successful destination marketing involves employing a set of strategic moves that go beyond the basics, ensuring your efforts resonate with your audience and leave a lasting impact. Let’s dive into these key strategies and see what they entail.

1. Understand Your Target Audience

Understanding your target audience is the foundation of any successful destination marketing campaign. Dive deep into demographics, interests, and behaviors to create detailed buyer personas. For instance, if your destination is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts, consider age groups, preferences, and online behaviors associated with this demographic.

To illustrate even further, imagine your analysis reveals a significant interest in eco-friendly travel among your audience. Tailor your marketing messages to highlight sustainable practices and the environmental initiatives your destination supports.

2. Target Pain Points

Addressing the pain points of potential travelers is a strategic move that builds trust and connection. Identify common concerns, such as safety, accessibility, or language barriers, and showcase how your destination mitigates these issues.

Create content addressing safety measures, accessible infrastructure, and language support in your destination. Implement customer service initiatives that directly tackle concerns raised by previous travelers.

For example, if safety is a concern, feature testimonials from solo travelers who felt secure during their visit. Highlight security measures and partnerships with local law enforcement to reassure prospective visitors.

3. Identify USPs (Unique Selling Points)

USP is a distinctive and compelling characteristic or benefit that sets a product, service, or brand apart from its competitors in the eyes of the target audience. Every destination has unique features that make it uniquely attractive to visitors. 

Identifying and using these USPs is crucial for creating a compelling narrative that resonates with your target audience. Conduct surveys and interviews to discover what visitors find most memorable about your destination. Showcase unique attractions, experiences, or cultural elements that differentiate your destination from others.

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4. Analize Your Competitors

A thorough analysis of competitors in the travel industry can provide valuable insights into market trends, successful strategies, and areas for differentiation. By understanding what works and what doesn’t, you can refine your destination marketing plan.

Get started by monitoring competitors’ social media channels, websites, and marketing materials. Then, find gaps in their strategies and capitalize on areas where your destination excels. 

If your competitors primarily focus on luxury experiences, consider targeting a niche market, such as budget travelers, or emphasize unique cultural aspects that others haven’t extensively promoted.

5. Craft a Compelling Destination Brand

Developing a compelling brand is about more than just a visually appealing logo; it’s about creating a holistic brand identity that resonates with your audience. Let’s see what goes into it.

Logo and Visual Elements

Invest in a professional logo that encapsulates the spirit of your destination. The logo should be versatile and easily recognizable. Extend the visual identity beyond the logo. Consistent color schemes, fonts, and imagery across all marketing materials contribute to a cohesive and memorable visual brand.

Brand Personality

Define the personality of your destination as if it were a person. Is it adventurous, relaxed, or culturally vibrant? Align your marketing messages, visuals, and tone with this personality. Create content that reflects the desired personality, whether it’s through adventurous activity guides, serene landscapes, or cultural anecdotes.

For example, if your destination has a laid-back beach vibe, your brand personality may be casual, easy-going, and carefree. Emphasize leisurely activities, sunsets, and relaxation in your marketing materials.

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Creating a Memorable Tagline

Craft a tagline that encapsulates the essence of your destination in a few words. The tagline should be catchy, easy to remember, and evoke the emotions you want associated with your brand. Keep it concise and impactful, and test it with a focus group to ensure it resonates with your target audience.

Consistency is Key

In the end, ensuring you maintain consistency across all platforms is crucial for brand recognition. Whether it’s social media, print materials, or your website, a cohesive brand identity builds trust and familiarity. 

Create brand guidelines to ensure consistency in visuals, tone, and messaging. Regularly audit your marketing materials to ensure they align with the established brand identity.

6. Focus on Video and Visuals

In today’s digital world, catching the eye is all about the visuals. Think of it like a visual feast – you want potential travelers to savor the experience before they even arrive. Let’s break it down:

Video Content

Videos are like a magic carpet ride, giving viewers a taste of the adventure, beauty, and vibe of your destination. Picture this: clips of local life, thrilling activities, and stunning landscapes, all in motion. A good video can transport people and make them feel the excitement, making them want to pack their bags pronto.

Stunning Images

Invest in top-notch photos that capture the heart of your destination. Whether it’s a jaw-dropping view or a candid moment of local life, these images should make potential travelers daydream about being there.

Virtual Reality Tours

Virtual reality tours are like having a personal tour guide without leaving your couch. Use VR tech to create virtual adventures, letting people explore your destination from the comfort of their homes. These virtual tours are like a teaser, sparking excitement and making them want to see more.

7. Work With Influencers

Engaging with influencers can significantly boost your destination’s visibility. These social media figures have large followings, making them effective messengers for your brand. Partnering with influencers aligns your destination with trusted voices in the digital space, reaching audiences that value their recommendations. 

Encourage influencers to share genuine experiences , adding authenticity to your marketing efforts. Choose influencers whose style resonates with your destination’s vibe, creating a natural and effective partnership. It’s about leveraging their influence to narrate your destination’s story in a way that feels both honest and appealing.

8. Create Collaborations and Partnerships

Other than influencers, explore diverse partnerships that can elevate your brand and enhance the overall appeal of your destination. Connecting with local businesses is a smart move to enhance your destination’s charm. 

By teaming up with nearby spots, you’re not just supporting the community but also giving visitors a richer experience. Work with restaurants, shops, and attractions to create packages that add value for travelers. These local partnerships boost your destination’s local ties and create a more complete experience for visitors.

Also, collaborative campaigns , whether with nearby destinations or brands that complement yours, spread your message to a wider audience. Think of joint promotions, shared content, and events that bring more eyes to your destination.

Find partners who share your values for a seamless collaboration that benefits everyone involved. Through these campaigns, you’re not just marketing a place – you’re crafting a story that captures a broader audience’s attention and interest.

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9. Create And Optimize Your Destination Website

Your destination’s website is the virtual gateway for potential travelers. Ensure it’s user-friendly, visually appealing, and provides all the necessary information. Then, optimize it for search engines to increase its visibility. This includes keyword optimization, local SEO, and creating high-quality content that resonates with your target audience.

10. Start Blogging

Content marketing is a powerful tool in destination marketing. And the good news is – there are so many topics to cover! Start a blog on your website to share engaging stories, travel tips, and insider information about your destination. This not only attracts organic traffic but also positions your destination as an authority. Ensure that you keep this content in line with your SEO strategies, targeting the right keywords and optimizing it to rank well in search engines

11. Social Media Strategies

Harness the power of social media to connect with your audience on a personal level. Here’s how:

  • User Reviews and Testimonials : Encourage visitors to share their experiences on social media platforms. User-generated content adds authenticity and serves as valuable social proof.
  • Running Social Media Contests : Engage your audience with contests that encourage participation. Whether it’s photo contests or travel stories, these initiatives create a buzz and attract attention.
  • Showcasing Authentic Experiences: Use your social media channels to showcase authentic experiences. Share real stories from visitors, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and captivating visuals that convey the essence of your destination.

12. Online Advertising Strategies

Use online advertising to broaden your destination’s visibility across digital landscapes. This strategic approach involves deploying different types of ads tailored to meet the varied online behaviors of your potential visitors.

Here are the types of online ads you can use: 

  • Display Advertising : Think of this as your digital billboard. Display ads utilize captivating visuals strategically placed on websites, drawing attention to the unique features of your destination.
  • Search Advertising : Have you ever noticed the label “Ad” at the top of your search results? That’s search advertising at work. It ensures your destination stands out when users actively seek travel options.
  • Social Media Ads : Picture your destination seamlessly integrated into users’ social feeds. Social media ads act as tailored narratives, showcasing your offerings based on users’ interests and demographics.

Overall, online ads cast a broad net, extending your destination’s reach to a diverse audience. Tailor your ads to specific groups, addressing the preferences of adventure seekers, food enthusiasts, or cultural explorers. This ensures a more personalized and impactful engagement.

13. Events and Promotions

When it comes to creating buzz around your destination, events and promotions are your dynamic duo.

Hosting Destination Events

Imagine your destination as a vibrant host of engaging events that not only showcase its uniqueness but also foster a sense of community. Here are the types of events that will make your destination an easy-to-market, attractive place for travelers: 

  • Festivals : Dive into the heart of your destination’s culture by organizing festivals. These celebrations not only embrace local traditions but also draw in a diverse audience, adding a lively touch to your community.
  • Cultural Events : Elevate the allure of your destination through culturally rich events – from captivating art exhibitions to the rhythm of music festivals and captivating performances. It’s not just an event; it’s an invitation to experience the soul of your locale.

Limited-Time Promotions and Discounts

Now, let’s talk about creating a buzz that’s quick and effective – limited-time promotions and discounts. This strategy not only lures budget-conscious travelers but also amps up the overall curiosity about your destination. It’s like an exclusive invitation to a fantastic deal that can’t be missed.

Stay on Top of Your Destination Marketing Strategies

On a final note, once you start with destination marketing, you need to know how your efforts are performing and how you can improve in the future. Consider website analytics – it’s like peeking at a map to see where visitors are coming from, what they’re interested in, and where they’re spending the most time. 

Additionally, stay informed about industry trends—like virtual experiences or niche travel—to keep your marketing strategy relevant and appealing. This helps you adjust your marketing strategy, keeping it fresh, interesting, and in tune with what travelers are looking for. 

Wrapping It Up: Your Destination’s Next Chapter

And there you have it – a journey through destination marketing strategies that goes beyond the mundane. We’re not just talking about selling a place; we’re talking about creating connections, sharing tales, and building a community.

Now that you’ve got these strategies under your belt, your destination is more than a spot on the map; it’s a living, breathing experience waiting to captivate.

Are you curious about how Play Media can enhance your destination’s narrative? Let’s chat! Contact us for a consultation, and let’s turn your destination into a must-visit chapter in every traveler’s journey. 

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Destination Marketing Strategies that Attract Attention

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Marketing is integral to any business strategy, but targeted advertising is essential in hospitality and tourism. Although repeat guests and loyal customers provide critical revenue streams for local economies, locations must continually expand their audience reach to remain competitive and capture the attention of new visitors. The right destination marketing strategies can generate more interest in travel to your region, driving valuable tourism dollars into the local economy and the businesses in it.

Discover the value of location-based marketing and how every town, regardless of landscape or population size, can profit from strategically promoting its destination. Whether you’re by the beach, in the city, or just off the highway in a small town, we’ll show you how locations everywhere can use destination marketing strategies to boost business.  

Destination marketing strategies that drive tourism dollars

What is a destination marketing strategy.

Destination marketing is a form of advertising designed to attract customers to a particular place. Instead of focusing on a distinct product or service, it centers around the unique atmosphere and experiences a specific location provides visitors.

From vacation hot spots to remote getaway locations, destination marketing strategies captivate consumers and promote travel to desirable places.

Who benefits from destination marketing?

Many businesses benefit from the revenue and tourist traffic destination marketing generates. Various hospitality and service-based companies use location-based advertising to attract the attention of potential travelers, including:

  • Destination management organizations and convention and visitors bureaus
  • Travel agencies
  • Transportation services (e.g., airlines, car companies, bus tours)
  • Entertainment and event venues (e.g., concert halls, wedding venues)
  • Attractions (e.g., amusement parks, museums, recreational facilities)
  • Service-based businesses (e.g., restaurants and retailers)
  • Lodging partners (e.g., hotels, resorts, convention centers)
  • Local and state governments (e.g., parks or historical sites)

Why do destination marketing strategies matter?

Destination marketing showcases what sets your destination apart from other enticing locations. It creates an immersive experience for consumers that enables them to imagine what it’s like to actually be in a particular place—to see the sights and smell the scents.

From corporate flyers and digital nomads to vacationers and off-the-grid adventure seekers, travelers turn to destination marketing to get an idea of what to expect from a particular location. Your marketing strategy helps lay the foundation of consumer expectations. For example, if your destination marketing focuses on luxurious tropical getaways, that’s what guests will expect.

The true power of destination tourism lies in its ability to impact every part of a local economy, attracting businesses, tourists, and other travelers to the region. By implementing various destination marketing strategies for distinct target audiences, you can measure which types of hotel guests or recreational groups are attracted to your market. The more you know about your ideal consumers, the better equipped you will be to advertise activities, amenities, and attractions that appeal to them.

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How is destination marketing different from other regional marketing?

Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are responsible for promoting their destination to tourists, travel planners, corporations, and other consumers that drive valuable revenue to the local economy. DMOs and similar organizations, like Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs), employ various marketing strategies to attract visitors. They may turn to social media to advertise the opening of a new park or engage in data-driven email marketing to get the word out about upcoming events. However, destination marketing is a specific advertising strategy that builds consumers’ desire to visit your location by advertising the attractions that set it apart.

Destination marketing lets consumers know what they can expect from a visit to your region. It captures the atmosphere, energy, and essence of your locale. Does your destination offer plentiful recreational opportunities or headlining entertainment? Is your destination a peaceful, remote location offering travelers an escape or a trendy tech hub in the middle of a bustling city?

Unlike other regional marketing campaigns , destination-focused advertising promotes the overall appeal of a location instead of a particular business or attraction. It pinpoints what makes your destination unique and why others should experience it.

Destinations that nailed their marketing campaigns

To better understand what destination marketing looks like in action, let’s review some of the most powerful location-based tourism campaigns from the last decade. These four destinations understood the power of destination marketing and used it to launch wildly successful campaigns.

1. Inspired by Iceland

In 2010, a volcanic eruption led to a downturn in Iceland’s tourism, with many travelers holding misconceptions about its safety. To reinstate the country’s place as a renowned tourist destination, the Icelandic government partnered with the City of Reykjavik, Promote Iceland, and other tourism companies to launch “Inspired by Iceland” in 2020.

In addition to strengthening Iceland’s image in the global tourism market, the Inspired by Iceland tourism initiative was part of a long-term destination marketing strategy designed to increase the production of Icelandic exports through government and industry cooperation. Many Icelandic industries have benefited from the campaign , including the creative, green energy, and seafood sectors.

2. Travel Oregon

Oregon, one of America's most scenic and awe-inspiring locations, is split into seven separate tourism regions . Each locale has a Regional Destination Tourism Management Organization (RMDO) that acts as the tourism liaison for that region. Working together, the RMDOs launched Travel Oregon to drive leisure and business travel to their area.

The Travel Oregon campaign put the state on the map as a premier travel destination. It appealed to customers by combining multiple marketing strategies, including captivating videos, sponsored posts, social media content, banner ads, and print ads. The engaging approach had something for everyone, with its fish-shaped robot tour guide and satirical content quickly garnering travelers’ attention. Travel Oregon maintains a formidable reputation for its memorable, humorous messaging.

3. Doors of Thrones

If you’re familiar with Game of Thrones, you might know that many scenes from the HBO hit show were filmed in Northern Ireland. In 2014, Northern Ireland’s destination marketing organization, Tourism Ireland , took advantage of the show's popularity and formed the first Thrones-based marketing partnership with HBO to launch Doors of Thrones.

The Doors of Thrones campaign centered around ten intricately carved doors. The wood for each door came from the Dark Hedges and was sculpted to represent a different episode from the show’s sixth season. They were placed at various locations (primarily pubs) nationwide and promoted on social media. Travelers flocked from around the world to see the intricately carved pieces and explore famous sites from the show.

Tourism Ireland used the show's incredible popularity to attract travelers and superfans. ITV News, MTV, Cosmopolitan, and other major media outlets raved about the creative pub crawl, further expanding the campaign’s already broad reach. Ultimately, the massively successful campaign reached 126 million people . It also drove tourism, traffic, and revenue to Northern Ireland and its businesses, generating £17 million ($22 million) in 2016 . Overall, the destination marketing strategy resulted in a record year-over-year tourism increase of 8%.

4. Explore Georgia

Explore Georgia was a fun and easily accessible destination marketing campaign launched in 2016 . The Instagram-based photo competition excited a variety of traveler types spanning all walks of life. Participants were encouraged to post photos of Fido, the #ExporeGeorgiaPup , adventuring through the state.

From domestic tourists to overseas travelers, Fido’s family-friendly appeal helped grow Georgia's presence in online tourism spaces by promoting the state as a pet-friendly travel destination. The inexpensive social campaign reached 1.1 million Facebook impressions and drove 14,000 Instagram users to the website of Parker Whidby, Explore Georgia’s destination marketing manager.  

Industry-leading destination marketing strategies

You know how destination management organizations promote their destination, but how do individual businesses do it? From video advertising to social media marketing, there are so many content options to choose from. Here are four innovative and industry-leading destination marketing strategies from hospitality brands.

Check out 2023's top destinations

1. Feel the Beat of the City | Four Seasons Hotels

In 2022, the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans launched an engaging new campaign: Feel the Beat of the City. The marketing campaign consisted of advertisements celebrating New Orleans’ one-of-a-kind atmosphere. In vibrant video advertisements featuring big brass bands , The Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans appealed to consumers by capturing the spirit of The Big Easy.

The campaign invited consumers to experience the city’s culture, cuisine, and music in an exciting new way—and it worked. Due to the campaign's success, Four Seasons expanded the Feel the Beat campaign to promote multiple destinations worldwide , including Austin (TX) and Dubai.

2. 30 Stays, 300 Days | Marriott Bonvoy

30 Stays, 300 Stays was a spectacularly successful social media campaign from Marriott Hotels. The TikTok branded hashtag challenge promoted the Marriott brand all over social media while attracting travelers’ attention to ten of the chain’s most stunning hotels . Participants were instructed to create an engaging video explaining why they should be chosen to become one of three official 2022 TikTok Correspondents for Marriott.

To win, contestants had to follow Marriott Bonvoy’s TikTok account and post their video with the branded hashtag #30stays300days. Thanks to the viral challenge, the brand’s account exploded— growing from 6K followers to more than 70K. In addition to driving traffic to their TikTok account, the marketing campaign introduced a whole new audience to Marriott, particularly the magnificent destination stays included in the prize package.

3. Live Hologram Bar | KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

In 2019, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines shook up destination marketing when they invited travelers to meet, chat, and exchange local tips at the Hologram Bar while waiting for their flights. Pop-up hologram bars were installed at airports in the Netherlands, Norway, and Brazil. The immersive video destination marketing campaign connected tourists and travel enthusiasts in real-time, enabling patrons to project themselves into their destination airport. KLM’s one-of-a-kind, engaging, and informational experience provided consumers with an exciting new way to explore global destinations.

4. Where do you want to go? | Melia Hotels

Melia Hotels spearheaded the industry’s approach to digital display marketing. Featuring a wide range of interactive elements and unique designs, their engaging display ads drove online traffic to specific landing pages through powerful messaging, interactive buttons, and personalized content. By asking travelers, “Where do you want to go,” Melia Hotels International launched its sprawling brand with online destination marketing.

Destination marketing strategies and best practices

Drive travel and tourism to your destination by showing consumers what makes it better than the alternative. Increase awareness about your region and strengthen its reputation with these marketing strategies:

1. Define your destination’s unique selling point (USP). Determine what sets your location apart from everywhere else in the world. What can visitors experience there and only there? What attractions, resources, or hidden gems should tourists know about? Identify what makes your location wholly unique and make it the focus of destination marketing campaigns. Maximize your destination’s USP by partnering with tourism-based businesses in the area to gain more feedback.

2. Know your target audience. Think about what travelers want from a visit to your area, and create destination-focused campaigns highlighting how you’ll give it to them. Campaigns showcasing high-tech coworking spaces, authentic international restaurants, and the town’s nightlife could help attract business travelers, remote workers, or young tourists looking for an exciting weekend away.

3. Use geotargeting. Geotargeting is a powerful form of digital marketing that utilizes location data to target consumers with relevant marketing materials. This location-based advertising strategy uses consumer data points (e.g., IP addresses or GPS coordinates) to identify their location, making it easier for DMOs to ensure their marketing materials reach the right customers at the right time. Incorporate geotargeting into your destination marketing strategy to capture consumers' attention when they’re in the area. Identify what brought them to town to learn more about your destination’s feeder cities.

4. Create experiential marketing campaigns. Engage customers’ senses with interactive marketing they’ll remember. Instead of telling travelers what to expect from your destination, create advertising that allows them to experience it for themselves. Immersive forms of experiential marketing , like augmented or virtual reality, make it easier for customers to imagine what being your destination would actually feel like. Invite prospective guests to take a virtual walk around your best local park or view the cityscape via high-definition drone footage. Sell more than the location; sell destination experiences .

5. Use star power to supercharge marketing campaigns. Partner with influencers, notable industry experts, and other recognizable faces to get the word out about your location. In addition to reaching new audience members through cross-promotion, adding star power to destination marketing can help it appear more credible to customers. With 90% of social media users admitting they’ve been influenced to buy something because of social media marketing, influencer marketing might be just what your destination needs.

6. Keep up with tourism trends. Stay ahead of travel and tourism trends so you know about shifting consumer preferences. Incorporate current trends, like wellness-focused travel and virtual tourism , into campaigns to capture the attention of trendy travelers. Hop on social media trends, like viral challenges or hashtag campaigns, subscribe to travel blogs, and watch how competing destinations connect with consumers.

Use destination marketing to generate more interest in your region

Put your knowledge of destination marketing to good use to create more compelling advertising campaigns. If your local government doesn’t provide destination marketing services, look for similar resources nearby. Keep reading to learn more about CVB marketing and how it can help hotels.

Headshot of Cvent writer Kimberly Campbell

Kim Campbell

Kim is a full-time copy and content writer with many years of experience in the hospitality industry. She entered the hotel world in 2013 as a housekeeping team member and worked her way through various departments before being appointed to Director of Sales. Kim has championed numerous successful sales efforts, revenue strategies, and marketing campaigns — all of which landed her a spot on Hotel Management Magazine’s “Thirty Under 30” list.

Don’t be fooled though; she’s not all business! An avid forest forager, post-apocalyptic fiction fan, and free-sample-fiend, Kim prides herself on being well-rounded.

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Destination marketing in tourism: what brands need to know.

Tom McLoughin

In Blog , marketing .

Destination Marketing in Tourism: What Brands Need to Know

By Tom Mcloughlin, Founder, SEO Travel

When it comes to booking a travel experience, what drives you to visit a new destination? Have you been given a recommendation by a friend? Was the location promoted by a publication or influencer whose judgement you trust? Or have you seen the destination promoted in video ads, on billboards or in print, and been inspired by the captivating visuals and promise of a unique travel experience.

If your answer is the latter, then you’ve had a firsthand experience of the impact of destination marketing.

From promoting an entire country to trying to get more people to visit an unheard-of town or village, destination marketing uses a range of engaging techniques to sell the benefits and features of a location to inspire more people to visit it. This post discusses the use of destination marketing in the tourism industry , explaining how this approach impacts tourism and what brands need to know to make an impression in this sector with their destination marketing campaigns.

What is Destination Marketing?

Destination marketing is a specific approach used by brands in the travel and tourism industry to promote a specific location. Whilst more conventional travel marketing tends to showcase the service or product of a travel company, destination marketing illustrates the features and benefits of a place to get more people to come to it.

The overall aim of destination marketing is to increase customer awareness of a location. By promoting it as a desirable place to visit, the idea is that travellers will think of that destination when they decide to plan a holiday and want to go there. And if it’s a travel company that is promoting a destination, the idea is that the customer will be motivated to book their trip through this brand.

Whilst destination marketing is used by plenty of travel brands as a way of promoting the tours, accommodation or services they offer in specific countries, it’s also a key method of marketing in the tourism industry. Tourist boards and local authorities often rely on destination marketing as a way to promote their town, region or even country with the intention of getting more travellers to visit to boost the local economy and improve their reputation as a holiday destination.

How Does Destination Marketing Impact Tourism?

When used as part of a tourism marketing strategy, destination marketing can have a big impact on how many people visit a location, the kind of travellers that book trips there, and the overall image and reputation of a place.

The goal of this approach is to generate more interest in visiting a location, which increases tourism by bringing more people to an area on holidays and day trips. When done successfully, this can impact a range of factors.

Perhaps the biggest impact that destination marketing has on tourism is that it can massively boost the local economy. Bringing more tourists to an area is better for all kinds of businesses, not just ones providing accommodation and food, and enough growth in popularity also means that there’s the capacity for more businesses to open or expand to meet increasing demand.

Having more people visit a location because of successful destination marketing has the potential to improve its reputation through word of mouth, as if tourists have a good time during their trip they’re likely to recommend a visit to others. This increases interest in a destination further, helping a positive reputation to reach a wider audience and bring in even more tourists.

Destination marketing can also have an impact on the kind of tourism that a location receives, depending on the approach used in marketing campaigns and material. For example, if a destination is advertised as a prime place to visit for outdoor pursuits like hiking or cycling, the majority of the tourists that are going to visit will be interested in these kinds of activities. This means that the location’s most successful attractions and facilities will appeal to this demographic, which may lead local businesses to change their offering to remain relevant.

A more negative impact that destination marketing may have is that it can lead to over-tourism. There are many recorded instances where the popularity of a particular destination has led to environmental damage, locals getting driven out by rising living costs, and overcrowding to the point where the destination gains a negative reputation for being too busy.

This isn’t an issue that many destination marketing companies have to deal with, but it is a potential outcome to bear in mind.

How to Make It Work for Your Brand

Whether you’re a marketing agency working with a tourism board or as part of a travel and tourism marketing campaign, or a travel brand wanting to take a ‘tourism’ angle in your destination marketing approach, here are some of the most important things to remember when it comes to delivering a successful destination marketing campaign.  

Find What Makes You Unique

When you’re marketing a destination with the aim of attracting more visitors, what’s going to have the biggest pull is the appeal of a unique attraction or experience. Therefore, all of your destination marketing content should revolve around this unique selling point so that you have the best chance of standing out against competitive destinations.

The more specific your destination, the easier it will be to draw out a unique quality. When marketing a country or a region to increase tourism this can be harder, so instead of trying to identify an attraction or feature that stands out, think about advertising a unique travel experience that the location can provide.

Build your entire destination marketing campaign around this unique selling point, even if it’s not that explicit in some approaches. It will help to deliver a much more cohesive campaign overall and ensure that your location sticks in potential visitors’ minds .

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Choose a Traveller Demographic

Any kind of marketing campaign works best when you have a specific audience in mind. Advertising a location is no different.

Whilst you may think that promoting a location as part of tourism efforts should try and target as many potential visitors as possible, it also means that a lot of your marketing efforts are going to be quite vague as they try to appeal to numerous different groups. Sure, you’ll still get a reasonable response from some people that are engaged by your promotion of the place, but conversion rates tend to be lower when you don’t have a specific demographic in mind.

After you’ve identified what it is that makes your destination unique, establish the kind of traveller to whom this unique factor is going to appeal. You should create profiles for typical people within this demographic, detailing the kinds of travel experiences they enjoy, their pain points when visiting new destinations, and any particular content formats or marketing techniques they respond well to or frequently engage with.

Once you have this target audience in mind, try and shape your destination marketing around them. You may be appealing to a smaller group, but you’re likely to get a much higher percentage of them to engage with what you’re sharing.

Make it Personal

One of the most effective techniques you can use in a destination marketing campaign is using a personal hook to make your content more engaging. 

This is particularly useful when you’re simply promoting a location, as your main intention is to get your target audience to start picturing themselves there so that they develop the desire to visit. It’s much easier for them to do this when you present a personal, relatable experience with your content, be that in text, video or audio format.

One of the simplest ways to make destination marketing personal is to capture real people experiencing the location, focusing on finding the best ways to present different sensory elements. Video is one of the best formats to do this, especially when you create content with lots of stunning visual elements that elicits an emotional response.

Getting local people to tell stories about a destination is also a brilliant technique for making your destination marketing content more personal, which also works really well in a written or audio format. This also allows you to share exclusive insight into a place, giving a more authentic feel to your marketing material.

Recognise Trends, but Think Long-Term

The popularity of plenty of destinations is affected by travel trends. Whether your destination offers a desirable climate, activity or cultural experience, responding to trends to capture audience interest as it peaks can seem like the ideal marketing strategy.

The thing to remember with trends however is that they don’t often last for long. Your destination may be all the rage for a single season, but hype often quickly dies down as travellers find something new to get excited about, meaning that what was once ‘trendy’ about your location may not stay that way for long.

Acknowledging and capitalising on trends as part of your destination marketing campaign is a good idea, but it’s important not to put all of your eggs in this brand new basket and keep long-term planning in mind as well. The last thing you want is to splurge all your resources on an approach that’s only going to be relevant for a few months. So use more instant channels like social media and email to respond to trends, and ensure that things like written and video content and advertisements are more evergreen.

Utilise Reputation and Association

Influencer marketing is an incredibly useful approach to include in your destination marketing strategy if possible. A key objective for destination marketing companies is to increase awareness of a location, and having an affiliation with a well-known figure can have a really positive impact on this.

The more famous or recognized the person you work with is, the more attention your marketing campaigns are going to get. But whilst we’d all like to dream of partnering with an A-list celebrity to promote our target destination, this probably won’t be a reality for most brands, which is where working with influencers comes in.

Whether they’re known for their presence on social media, in print or on a video channel like YouTube, we recommend working with either a travel influencer or someone who has a following that overlaps with the demographic you’re trying to appeal to. Having your destination endorsed and associated with someone that already has a trusted reputation will bring positive associations to your location and increase the reach of your promotional material.

market tourism destination

Deliver What You’re Advertising

This last piece of advice might seem obvious, but it’s very important not to oversell your target location in any of your marketing material. You’re obviously going to promote the best version of your destination to catch as much attention as possible, but when people do actually visit you need to ensure that they’ll experience what they were promised.

If the place you advertise is nothing like the place visitors arrive, your destination marketing campaign is quickly going to stop bringing in any kind of tourism. It’s okay to romanticise and glamourise aspects to engage your target audience, but ensure that you’re promising an experience that you can deliver on if you want word to spread about your location in a positive way.

Whilst destination marketing was initially just associated with tourist boards and adverts for different countries, it’s an approach that has been used by a wide variety of travel brands as a new way to reach customers and subtly promote their services. It’s still important to understand the best practices and the potential impact if you’re using destination marketing in tourism to help raise awareness and improve the image of a location, and we recommend you check out our other posts in the destination marketing series if you’re looking for more information and inspiration.

If you need more information or help with your travel marketing strategy or want to find out more about approaches like destination marketing, get in touch with SEO Travel for a chat and to find out more about the range of marketing services that we offer.

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  • CATEGORY: Destination

Tourism Marketing: 11 Creative Ideas to Market Your Destination

  • I’m about to show you 11 creative ways to take marketing for destination and tourism businesses to the next level.
  • By: Vanessa Rodriguez Lang

11 Creative Ideas to Market Your Destination

While searching for ways to boost your tourism marketing strategy, you’ve probably come across the same tired tips and advice on most of the sites you visit. Talk about frustrating!

I’m writing today to tell you that those aren’t the only ways. Plenty of tourism businesses are marketing themselves in fun and creative ways that are both more efficient and more effective than what you’re currently doing.

There are many opportunities since, according to Google; “most consumers aren’t brand-committed in these moments. For example, 78% of leisure travelers haven’t decided what airline they will travel with, and 82% haven’t chosen the accommodation provider they will book with when they first start thinking about a trip.” ( source )

I’m about to show you 11 super creative ways to take marketing for hospitality and tourism businesses to the next level. By the time you’re done, you’ll be a tourism internet marketing master…or at least one step closer!

So let’s jump right into the list…

11 Creative Ideas to Market Your Destination

#1 creating a tourism marketing plan for your destination.

You might be thinking that this is not a creative marketing idea, but it comes in at number one because it’s the base for the rest of your marketing activities. Without an effective marketing plan you’re driving blind.

Creating a tourism marketing plan may be the most important thing you do for your internet marketing. Without a plan in place you’ll have a difficult time achieving your goals, have a hard time keeping track of what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and if it’s even being effective!

The most effective marketers and marketing agencies are those with a detailed plan in place that they use to guide their marketing actions.

Creating a tourism marketing plan allows you to map out your step-by-step process to success, so start creating a marketing strategy document that you regularly update as your strategy changes.

#2 Drive Exposure with Influencer Programs 

Using online influencers as a way of marketing for hospitality and tourism agencies is becoming more and more popular for a reason. It works!

Influencers are people who have established a following around their personal online brand. Think bloggers, YouTube vloggers, Instagrammers, etc.

Many influencers have large followings and a highly engaged audience. They have been creating content for a specific niche for a long time and their audience is always happy and even eager to see more from them.

So what do you do? Find an influencer that caters to your industry and set up an exchange. It’s a win-win. You help them create content and experience something new and you get to expose your business to a new audience.

For example: your boutique hotel could offer a few nights accommodations in exchange for a short video on a travel Youtube vlogger’s channel. Your destination distillery may want to be even more specific and ask a popular blogger who writes exclusively about spirits to come for a visit and even a stay on the property for an all-inclusive, behind-the-scenes look.

The goal is to find someone who creates content that relates to your business and whose audience would be interested in what you have to offer . More often than not, the exposure costs you very little out of pocket. When you start working with influencers with a larger following you may be required to compensate them further, but the exposure is typically far greater.

#3 Create an Amazing Guide About Your Area 

Travelers are the lifeblood of the tourism industry. Therefore your tourism marketing needs to be focused around their wants and needs.

Most of them won’t know your area as well as a local would (yes, you), and a fun, informative guide is something that they would consider extremely valuable.

Make the guide easy to read and understand. Make it skimmable. No matter how good it is, very few people will read it word for word. Include lots of ideas for things to do and places to see, as well as all of the other information you feel is important to know about your area. The more super secret, “locals only” advice you provide the better.

Create a guide that you would want to sell or be willing to pay for, then give it away for free. That means high-quality photos and professional design.

#4 Build a Discussion Platform on Facebook

People visiting your area will have plenty of questions that they need answered before they come.

Are you beginning to see a theme here?

A great way to supercharge your tourism marketing is by creating a discussion platform around your Facebook page. Some businesses use their Facebook page as a customer-service platform.

You’ll be using it in a similar way, but instead of dealing with customer complaints you’ll be answering questions regarding your area quickly and informatively.

“What type of activities do you recommend for couples?”

“Do you know of a dog-friendly hotel in this part of town?”

“Is it difficult to use public transportation to get from here to there?”

Most of the questions you receive will be simple and the trust you’ll earn from the people visiting your page will be extremely valuable.

You can do the same thing around your Twitter or even Instagram handles. Snag handles like “Questions About Napa” or “Sedona Answers” and promote them as the place to have their questions answered.

#5 Create Awesome Destination Videos

The whole online world is moving toward videos. It’s time to get on the bandwagon. Videos convey a huge amount of information in very little time, so it’s a great way to showcase who you are and what you do.

But don’t go out and make a video that is just all about your business. Instead, show people your destination and help them out at the same time. We already talked about creating an informational guide about your area, why not turn that information into bite-size videos?

Create helpful videos that showcase things to do in your area, helpful tips about getting around, fun facts, and locals-only secrets. Share these videos on your website and social media. (Facebook is highly promoting videos and providing them with more exposure in users’ news feed.)

tourism marketing Create Awesome Destination Videos

#6 Use a Challenge to Spark Interest in a Destination

Challenges have become a well-loved internet sensation. Today, promoting your own challenge is easier than ever because people are far more likely to participate and share with their networks.

A challenge is when you challenge a group of people—this could be your email subscribers or Facebook fans—to do something for a certain amount of days.

Create a fun challenge related to your niche and get your existing customers to help spread the word via email, social media, etc.

For example, if you’re a tourism bureau trying to get people excited and thinking about your location you could challenge your Facebook fans to share what they would do on a trip to your location. You would ask them to share every day for 7 days what they would do if they were visiting. You select one winner and provide them with a trip as a prize. Imagine the amount of buzz you could generate, if properly executed of course.

People love sharing this kind of content and the challenge will benefit you in another great way…

#7 Gather User-Generated Content and Promote It

Challenges like the one described above can be used to create tons of awesome user-generated content. People love real-life examples of others using your product or visiting your destination.

The trust generated from a positive review or even a challenge photo will be highly influential and help others get to know your brand. People buy from brands they like and trust!

You don’t need a challenge to find user-generated content though. People love to share and someone has probably already shared about your brand in one way or another.

Use tools like Social Mention . If someone shares a photo on Instagram or includes your business in a glowing YouTube video of their trip, ask permission and share it with your network.

If it’s really good, pay to promote it and expose new people to these positive remarks about your brand!

tourism marketing Gather User-Generated Content and Promote It

#8 Show Off What Makes You Unique on Social Media

Every business has something special that nobody else does. Whether it’s the way your servers carry wine to the table on three fingers, your stunning view, or even the unique way your staff greet your guests, it’s something to show off.

In tourism internet marketing, these types of campaigns highlight the human side of your business and build trust with the people exposed to it.

Even if your business isn’t able to showcase a 5-star customer experience, you have something special to share. Just look a little harder!

If you or a member of your staff brings their dog to work, make a series of videos about the funny things he does or the way he interacts with your customers. These campaigns are easily shared, especially if they’re funny, cute, entertaining, heartfelt, etc.

tourism marketing Show Off What Makes You Unique on Social Media

#9 Focus Your Marketing by Traveler Type

One of the most important parts of any tourism marketing plan is to know who you’re selling to. If you don’t focus your approach, your efforts will get lost in the ether amongst the droves of competition in your highly competitive industry.

Millennials, families, couples, seniors, backpackers.

Whom are you targeting? Do you know where to start?

If you own a vacation rental company in a renowned surf destination and your typical customers are families, start by targeting families interested in surfing instead of the general population. As you learn more about your customers you can adjust the parameters and branch out.

If you’re trying to get more couples to your resort, target women who are engaged on Facebook and start putting you resort in front of her and speak to why it’s the perfect location for a honeymoon! Offer a honeymoon special with special treats like champagne, chocolates, and a romantic dinner included if they book through your ad.

#10 Make the Most of Mobile

Seventy-five percent of millennials would rather text than call, and spend more time on their phones than all other devices combined. They also travel more frequently than any other generation.

Market to them on mobile platforms and make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices when they end up there. That means: easy to navigate, fast loading, and a user-friendly layout.

Make the most of mobile tourism marketing by getting on the level of the majority of mobile users. Pictures tell a story faster, so create an Instagram account and post your best photos to it regularly.

Show your followers a unique view of your city that others aren’t sharing. Guide them through a virtual tour of your favorite things to do and see with thoughtful photos.

Tell your story where they want to see it…on mobile.

#11 Highlight What’s New in Your Area

One of the best ways to differentiate your message from that of your competitors is by highlighting the things that are new and exciting in your area. Keep visitors in the know about important events and unique goings-on around you.

Put yourself in their shoes and showcase the things that would seem interesting, fun, and exciting if you were visiting from another part of the country (or world) and you had never experienced before.

Bonus: #12 Contact Tourism Marketing Companies & Ask for Ideas

Schedule a free consultation with tourism marketing companies, like ours. : ) Even if we don’t end up working together, we’ll be able to provide you with some insight into what to do next.

Marketing companies that specialize in tourism marketing are experts in helping businesses like yours reach their ideal customers at different stages of the buyer’s journey .

Time to Get Started!

There you have it, now it’s time to get marketing. You now have a lot of creative ways to start marketing your destination, so don’t hold back. The worst kind of marketing is that which never gets done, so make yours a priority and get started today.

Who knows, this could be your best year yet!

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3 thoughts on “Tourism Marketing: 11 Creative Ideas to Market Your Destination”

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Hi Vanessa, I have just read your creative marketing article here on this page and I loved it so much. You have written a very helpful post here. It will benefit us undoubtedly. From top to bottom I can’t find anything as unimportant. Which makes this article very effective. Your 11 creative ideas are really awesome. I just love to read more on this. Please update it with more creative ideas.

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Thank you very much!!

' src=

Thanks Vanessa, great list! For your point #3 Create an Amazing Guide About Your Area, i can recommend https://uebermaps.com – map communtiy. It’s a great tool for travellers or travel agencies alike. One nice example is a travel guide for shanghai, vietnam and cambodia, here: https://uebermaps.com/maps/3812-shanghai-vietnam-cambodia

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Tourism Marketing: 7 Ideas to Promote Your Destination in 2022

Trifon Tsvetkov

Table of Content

How tourism marketing changed in 2020, what can you do differently to attract tourists.

2020 hasn’t been easy for the tourism industry. The United Nations World Tourism Organization released a report back in September warning that 120 million jobs are at risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But we made it through and with most countries starting to vaccinate, we can see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Pre-pandemic, the tourism industry was incredibly competitive and this certainly hasn’t changed. This is why your tourism marketing needs to really stand out if you want to attract visitors once again and revive the sector.

In this article, we’re going to look at 7 ways to promote your destination in 2021, taking into account the effects of the global pandemic.

Let’s dive in.

If you go back and read the predictions for tourism marketing in 2020, written back in December ‘19 or January ‘20, they are in no way comparable to what actually happened. Marketing campaigns had to be shelved, and new cost-effective ideas created in limited time frames.

A survey from MMGY Travel Intelligence and Destinations International found that 95% of destination organizations surveyed in the US reduced or completely postponed marketing spend last year. This is understandable, but it meant that those companies that did create new campaigns had less competition for grabbing people’s attention.

Pre-2020, the primary objective of tourism marketing campaigns was to convince travelers to take the plunge and buy tickets or book hotels. Over the last 12 months, however, we have seen that the focus shifted to staying top of mind for when travel is allowed again.

VisitEngland decided to produce a series of posts connected to films and TV shows which showcased the country, from “The Crown” to “Love Actually”. Their aim? Keep top of mind and be number 1 on the list when people are planning their first trip post-lockdown.

visitbritain insta

Virtual tours have also become extremely popular in 2020, providing an escape from the day-to-day. Despite existing pre-pandemic, we have seen much more money invested in state-of-the-art virtual experiences from tourism organizations.

EnjoyIllinois.com changed their homepage to feature an image of a forest and cliffs and the caption ‘These views took 300 years to make. They’re not going anywhere anytime soon’ and then encouraged visitors to travel around the state from the comfort of their own homes, offering the option to explore cities, forests, and smaller historic towns.

A number of tourism companies have since started offering virtual tours, from amusement parks to city tours .


Better safe than sorry

Customer safety has always been important in the tourism industry but in 2022 it has jumped to the top of the list due to the pandemic. Travelers are much more conscious of hygiene than in previous years, so this needs to be reflected in your marketing plan.

Emphasize the steps you are taking to maintain social distancing and keep high levels of cleanliness. Essentially, your marketing needs to convince your visitors that they will be safe and secure. If you are a tour operator, get those creative juices flowing to design new itineraries that avoid large crowds and focus on smaller group sizes.

Think local

Yes, vaccinations are underway and experts are predicting international travel to make a comeback at the end of spring or the beginning of summer. However, even when international travelers are allowed to enter, it might take some time for people to start traveling longer distances again.

You should focus your marketing efforts for 2021 on domestic tourists. Don’t advertise your great weather as this won’t be news for them. Change the focus of your campaigns to highlight off-the-beaten-track activities or secret gems that might not be so obvious – and that would attract a more local customer base. Think about creating a discount for local residents, or a loyalty program that would entice them to become recurrent visitors.

Act sustainable

This is an important one. Consumers are now taking a more local outlook and are trying to offset some of the environmental harm that was done by travel pre-COVID. The enforced tourism ‘break’ has given us more time and space to notice how tourism impacts the environment. Over 65% of travelers are making more sustainable choices than in previous years so we can’t ignore this trend.

Travel companies can help their customers to minimize the footprint of their activities and make sure that they contribute to the environment and communities. For example, you could partner with your local train company to encourage visitors to travel sustainably. Make sure any campaigns you undertake are promoted on social media as people are likely to spread the word around sustainability.

Be smart with influencers

In 2019, it seemed that influencers in the tourism world were unstoppable. It remains a successful model and is one of the most cost-effective methods for brand awareness and customer acquisition.

However, 2020 has taught us to work smarter with influencers, otherwise, the backlash can be costly. We have seen travel influencers continue their lives in 2020 as if Covid-19 never existed, and as a result of this, both the influencer and travel companies sponsoring the trips have been understandably hit by bad press.

Investigate local micro-influencers instead, who don’t have to break any regulations to visit you. They tend to have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers and are viewed as experts or specialists in their niche. Their followers are much more likely to buy into whatever they are selling, and they are much cheaper than larger influencers. For more influencer tips, check out our blog article .

Tik Tok Time!

Unless you have been offline the whole of 2020, you must have heard of Tik Tok. The most downloaded app of 2020 is a firm favorite amongst Gen Z-ers and it is spreading to other age-groups. In fact, 30% of its users are over the age of 30.

Its algorithm is very effective in showing users what they like, based on what they have previously viewed, and features everything from beauty tutorials to dance choreography. With TikTok predicted to continue its exponential growth, it would be wise for travel brands to get on board and start sharing content.

First off, you should download the app and secure your username. We would recommend not posting straight away, so you and keep your profile private. Take your time to look through existing travel content, jot down what works and what doesn’t, and get used to the algorithm. Then you can formulate your approach and start testing the platform.

Recommended reading: How to Use Social Media to Promote Tour Packages

Keep an eye on reviews

Of course, reviews have always been crucial. But according to Podium’s ‘2020 State of Reviews’, they have ‘never been so important or influential’ . 3.4 is the average star rating consumers require in order to even consider engaging with a business. But the content has now changed. Instead of focusing on keywords such as ‘price,’ and ‘customer service’, people are searching more for social distancing, hygiene, and mask-wearing policies.

So, what do you need to do? Actively request feedback in your post-visit email correspondence. Block out an hour or so a week to go through all reviews and comments on review sites and social media. Make sure that you respond with empathy to all comments, good and bad. Reflect on the more critical comments, and see if there are areas that you can improve.

Recommended reading: The Ultimate Guide to Generating Positive Customer Reviews

Stay digital

In 2020 we all upped our digital offerings to stay relevant and keep top of mind. This needs to continue. Yes, we will start welcoming back visitors this year but there will be some people that don’t want to travel just yet. For this segment, virtual reality is a promising area to explore, allowing potential visitors to experience an attraction, tourist activities, or hotels from the safety and security of their own home – enticing them for an in-person visit. Even the Vatican is doing it!

vatican virtual tours

Have a think of what you could include in a virtual reality tour of your destination. Make sure that your content is optimized for both desktop and mobile, and use social media to promote it. You can also use VR as an extra tool of persuasion during the booking process.

That’s it for our top 7 ideas to make your tourism marketing stand out in 2021. As visitors begin to make their first plans for 2021, make sure that you differentiate your offer from the competition in order to win their business.

One last tip? Continue to engage with your customers and potential visitors. Talk to them, listen, and understand why they want to visit your attraction and what could stop them. By adapting to their fears and requirements, you’re more likely to climb up their 2021 ‘to-do’ list.

You might also like: 

  • 10 Innovative Ideas to Differentiate Your Tours
  • Tourism Marketing Strategies for 2021 and Beyond
  • Four Ways to Promote Your Tours to an International Audience
  • 5 Ways to Create an Innovative Tourism Experience

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Home - Blog - Tourism Marketing Strategy: Boosting Your Destination’s Appeal in 2024

Tourism Marketing Strategy: Boosting Your Destination’s Appeal in 2024

David Ciccarelli

David Ciccarelli

January 18, 2024

In this article

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In the dynamic realm of travel and tourism, leaving your marketing efforts to chance is akin to setting sail without a compass. It is crucial to understand the pulse of the market, from shifting trends and algorithm changes to staff turnover and technological advancements. Without a strategic framework, you could squander valuable resources, lag behind competitors, and miss out on potential growth opportunities.

Having a structured tourism marketing strategy is not just beneficial but essential. It serves as the foundation upon which you can build and refine your marketing initiatives, ensuring that experimentation comes with direction and purpose. In a sector where every click could translate to a booking and every shared experience could lead to a loyal customer, it’s vital that your marketing plan isn’t left to random acts but is a deliberate storyboard of success.

Crafting Your Tourism Marketing Strategy

Imagine you’re the captain of a ship; your tourism marketing strategy is the map that guides you through the vast ocean of the travel industry. It’s a well-thought-out plan that aims to pinpoint your current standing in the marketplace and chart a course for future achievements.

Think of it as your navigational chart through the competitive seas, geared with tools to keep you on course and to adapt when unexpected waves hit. Here’s what you can expect to incorporate:

  • SWOT Analysis : Assess your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to stay two steps ahead.
  • Unique Value Proposition : Clearly define what makes your offering irresistibly attractive.
  • Customer Personas : Know your audience as if they were your travel buddies.
  • Competitor Insights : Keep an eye on fellow voyagers, learning from their adventures and missteps.
  • Marketing Mix : Blend the perfect cocktail of price, product, promotion, and place.
  • Budget & Resources : Allocate your treasures wisely for a prosperous journey.
  • Objectives & Metrics : Set clear destinations and measure the nautical miles you’ve covered.
  • Marketing Itinerary : Outline the routes and stops of your promotional exertions.

Crafting a Strategic Framework for Tourism Promotion

tourism marketing strategy2 1

Assessing Your Tourism Business Through SWOT Analysis

Embarking on a SWOT Analysis sets the groundwork for a robust tourism marketing plan. Dive into a thorough examination of internal and external elements that could impact your success. Evaluate your team’s expertise, location perks, and resource availability , considering them your enterprise’s strengths and weaknesses. Similarly, pinpoint external opportunities and threats stemming from market trends and competitive actions. Engage diverse team members for a well-rounded perspective, culminating your insights into a visual SWOT grid.

Clarifying Your Unique Tourist Attraction Proposition

Unearth your company’s unique allure by distilling your strengths into a captivating value proposition. This clear, persuasive statement should spell out why travelers should choose your offerings. Focus on attributes that distinguish your service in the marketplace, and ensure that this key message is a prominent fixture on your digital storefront.

Painting a Portrait of Your Ideal Visitor

Narrow down your ideal market segment to avoid the pitfalls of overly generic marketing. Fashion a detailed guest persona that answers critical questions about demographics, psychographics, and online behaviors. Surveys and analytics tools are your allies in crafting this persona, helping you to personalize your communications and align your tactics with your audience’s preferences.

Benchmarking Against Your Competition

A nuanced understanding of your competitors arms you with the knowledge to outmaneuver them. Compile profiles of top competitors, including their marketing strategies , audience, and unique selling points. Stay informed of their movements through online alerts and social monitoring, allowing you to anticipate industry shifts and adapt your strategies accordingly.

Piecing Together Your Tourism Marketing Framework

Construct a tourism marketing strategy that takes into account the nuances of your services. This mix should involve a strategic selection of your offerings, ideal booking avenues, pricing mechanisms, and promotional activities. Additionally, weigh in on the personal touch your team brings and the operational plans in place to ensure memorable experiences.

Allocating Finances and Resources Wisely

Your strategy’s effectiveness hinges on a realistic assessment of your financial capacity and available assets. Budgeting forms the cornerstone of your plan, influencing which marketing activities you pursue. Strike a balance between ambitious goals and the practicalities of your resource pool to ensure sustainable execution of your strategy.

Setting Clear Objectives and Success Metrics

Anchor your tourism marketing plan with specific, measurable goals. Define what success looks like with a set of key performance indicators, and outline the steps necessary to reach these milestones. This goal-oriented approach ensures focused efforts and a clear understanding of what constitutes progress.

Laying Out Your Strategic Marketing Roadmap

Your marketing roadmap translates your strategy into tangible steps over time. It should consider long-term aspirations and short-term actions, integrating content strategy, digital marketing, and social media engagement . Construct a timeline that maps out brand awareness campaigns, conversion tactics, and opportunities for customer advocacy, ensuring that you navigate the journey from awareness to inspiration to booking with clear direction.

Streamlining your marketing efforts with a structured plan creates a clear path for captivating and converting your target audience, propelling your tourism business toward sustained growth and success.

Where to go from here?

tourism marketing strategy3

You’ve reached a pivotal moment! Flexibility is key in any marketing plan, especially when reflecting on the unpredictable nature of events like COVID-19. Haven’t we all learned that lesson?

Adapt and Overcome:

  • Reassess Regularly : Circumstances change; ensure to regularly evaluate your progress.
  • Be Prepared for Challenges : Unforeseen events may prompt shifts in tactics.

Remember, your strategy is living and breathing—adjust as needed! Keep pushing forward with eyes on your goals, and modify your approach when necessary. Isn’t it exciting to think on your feet?

Elevate Your Tourism Tactics

Leverage your tourism enterprise by harnessing a powerful, results-driven marketing approach. With the right blend of the tourism marketing mix, strategic partnerships, and an efficient booking system, you can magnify your market presence.

  • Tourism Marketing Mix: Tailor your services to the traveler’s needs and desires.
  • Partnerships: Collaborate with complementary businesses to broaden your reach.
  • Booking System: Simplify reservations with a user-friendly booking system.

Common Questions Regarding Tourism Marketing Tactics

tourism marketing strategy4

Utilizing the Fundamental Aspects of Tourism Marketing for Effective Campaigns

Understanding the 4 A’s of tourism marketing—Accessibility, Accommodation, Attractions, and Amenities —is vital for shaping successful campaigns.

  • Accessibility : How easily can tourists access the destination?
  • Accommodation: Are there adequate facilities for different budgets and preferences?
  • Attractions: What are the unique, must-see places or events?
  • Amenities : Are the necessary services available to enhance the visitor experience?

Incorporating these elements ensures each aspect of a visitor’s experience is considered.

Success Stories in Tourism Marketing

One standout example is the “Share a Coke” campaign by Coca-Cola which, although not exclusively a tourism strategy, inspired destination marketing with its personalized approach. You can see how personalization creates a connection with audiences globally, inviting them to be part of the experience.

Key Steps for Crafting a Tourism Marketing Plan

For crafting a well-rounded tourism marketing plan, pivotal steps include:

  • Market Research: Understand your audience and competition.
  • Establish Objectives: Set clear, measurable goals.
  • Budgeting: Allocate your financial resources efficiently.
  • Strategic Development: Choose the appropriate marketing channels and tactics.
  • Implementation: Deploy the strategy with precision.
  • Monitoring: Track progress against objectives regularly.

Adapting Marketing Tactics to Current Tourism Trends

Modern marketing strategies stay aligned with the current trends by being flexible and responsive. Whether it is the rise of eco-conscious travel or the growing emphasis on local experiences, making adaptations to these evolving preferences is fundamental to remain relevant.

Influence of Marketing Mix on Campaign Efficacy

The tourism marketing mix—Product, Price, Place, Promotion—significantly influences the success of a campaign. Balancing these elements ensures that the offering is attractive, communicated effectively, and priced competitively, thereby influencing a traveler’s decision-making process.

Cutting-edge Strategies for Marketing Tourism Destinations

Innovative strategies for this year include leveraging user-generated content, virtual reality experiences, and sustainable travel incentives. Embracing digital transformation has also been key, as seen in destinations using data analytics to understand traveler behavior and personalize marketing efforts.

Engaging with the audience on a personal level and utilizing technology to enhance traditional marketing efforts are at the forefront of successful strategies today.

David Ciccarelli


David Ciccarelli, is the Founder and CEO of Lake. He is based in Toronto, Canada, and is an expert in management, business administration, strategy, product development, and customer experience. His educational achievements include the Owner President Management Program at Harvard Business School (2019-2022) and the QuantumShift Program at Ivey Business School in 2017, aimed at CEOs of growing businesses.

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Tourism Marketing: A Guide to Effectively Market Your Tours and Experiences

Discover how to strategically promote your tours with our comprehensive guide on tourism marketing and elevate your brand visibility today

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by Janelle Visser | 2 February 2024

If you build it, they will come, as the adage goes. But in today’s digital age, where anyone can build anything and put it online in moments, the question becomes: how will they find — and choose — you? 

In the dynamic world of tourism experiences, the key to attracting travelers lies in successfully marketing your tours, activities and attractions. And it’s not just about attracting tourists, it’s about creating unforgettable connections that turn one-time visitors into loyal advocates for your brand. 

Marketing is consistently ranked by Arival event attendees as one of the most important topics they are looking for insights on. As traveler preferences and booking habits change, so do the most effective ways to market to them. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the evolution and strategies of marketing for travel and tourism in today’s digital era, providing actionable insights for tour operators and attractions, and answering key questions that every tour operator grapples with. From crafting a marketing strategy to understanding the components of a successful tourism marketing campaign, we’ll explore how to navigate the competitive and ever-evolving landscape of tour, activity and attraction marketing, and create lasting connections with your guests.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is Tourism Marketing?

The evolution of tourism marketing, how to create a tour marketing strategy.

  • Conduct Thorough Market Research
  • Identify Your Target Audience
  • Understand Your Customer Needs and Expectations
  • Create Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)
  • Build a Strong Brand
  • Consider Offline Marketing for Tours
  • Embrace Digital Marketing Strategies
  • Leverage Modern AI Technology
  • Take Advantage of the Current Trends
  • Monitor and Evaluate Your Strategy
  • Navigating the Future of Tourism Marketing with Arival

At its core, tourism marketing is a strategic approach to promoting destinations, tourism products and services to tourists. For operators, this primarily means promoting your tour, activity or attraction offerings. The aim is to understand and meet the needs and wants of travelers, creating memorable experiences that encourage reviews, repeat visits and referrals. 

In the context of the global tourism economy, where according to Arival’s latest data the in-destination experiences industry is expected to be worth $270 billion in 2024. Tourism marketing plays a pivotal role in the success of travel businesses, helping them to stand out above their competitors and serving as the bridge that connects them with their target audiences of travelers.

As travel marketing company Blend ’s Managing Director put it recently in an interview with Arival, “The simplest way to define [marketing] is what comes to mind when someone thinks about your brand or experience. And what you do through your marketing channels is help shape that perception.”

The landscape of marketing in tourism has undergone a profound transformation since the early 1900s when the Michelin Guide first encouraged motorists to explore the world beyond their own towns. Progressing from traditional tourism promotion methods like brochures and word-of-mouth recommendations to the digital age of Google searches and social media influencers, technology has played a pivotal role in shaping how destinations and experiences are promoted. 

market tourism destination

Fast forward to today, where the advent of short-form video marketing and generative AI has added new dimensions, allowing every tour, activity or attraction operator to engage travelers in innovative ways. These tools provide opportunities for engagement, personalization, and storytelling that were once unimaginable, and have become integral to captivating the modern traveler.

Successful marketing for tourism starts with a well-defined marketing strategy, which will help ensure the effort and resources you put into marketing are effective. The following steps will help guide you through the creation of a marketing strategy for your tour, activity or attraction company.

1. Tour Marketing Strategy

Understanding the market is the foundation of any effective strategy. Thorough research into customer demographics, travel patterns, and consumer behaviors will provide invaluable insights as you create your marketing strategy. 

Arival conducts regular tourism market research to assist tour, activity and attraction businesses with this process. For example, Arival’s latest consumer research on the 2024 U.S. Experiences Traveler found that day tours are on the rise among U.S. travelers , and that younger millennial and Gen Z travelers in particular are moving away from traditional sightseeing tours and looking for more experiential tours , such as culinary tours and immersive experiences. See Arival’s latest research here . 

market tourism destination

2. Identify Your Target Audience

Targeting your tourism marketing plan to a specific audience is crucial, as this will enable you to enhance the relevance of your offerings, improve engagement, and maximize the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Identifying your target audience involves a strategic process that combines market research as described above, data analysis, competitive analysis and customer profiling. Google and social media platforms, for example, offer analytics tools that provide insights into the age, interests, geographic location and income bracket of your followers, that can help you to develop detailed buyer personas that represent your ideal customers, and create a plan to reach and engage these audiences. 

In addition, analyzing the target audience of your competitors will help you build on this and identify gaps or underserved segments in the market that your tourism marketing plan can effectively target.

market tourism destination

3. Understand Your Customer Needs and Expectations

Conducting tourism market research and identifying your target audience will help you with this step. Once you have an idea of who your target customers are, you can discover what their needs and expectations are, and how to develop a marketing strategy to reach them effectively. 

For example, if you offer sightseeing tours and you have identified younger Millennial and Gen Z travelers from the U.S. as a demographic you want to market your tours to, you will need to go beyond sightseeing to attract this demographic, according to the latest Arival research . 

How can you make your tours more immersive and experiential, and reflect this in your marketing to engage this demographic? Anticipating and meeting your customers’ needs and expectations can lead to higher customer satisfaction, fostering reviews and repeat business. Personalization is key.

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4. Create Unique Selling Propositions (USPs)

One of the challenges a tourism marketing strategy needs to solve is how to make you stand out above your competitors. Why do tourists choose some travel experiences over others? One way to differentiate your offerings is by identifying and highlighting unique selling points (USPs) that resonate with your target audience.

Let’s say you have identified younger Millennial and Gen Z travelers as a group you’d like to target with your marketing efforts. In your city there are multiple competitors offering similar tour products to yours, however you’ve realized that this target audience has an affinity for food tours. You find a way to work elements of culinary tourism into your sightseeing tour offering and your marketing to set yourself above your competitors and offer something unique in your region.

market tourism destination

5. Build a Strong Brand

A consistent, strong brand fosters trust and ensures your tour company is memorable in the minds of potential guests. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t recognize the logo of an apple with a bite taken out of it, or doesn’t know where the phrase “just do it” comes from. 

Brands are about more than creative logos and catchy slogans, however. Building a robust brand for your experience business involves defining a clear identity with a focused mission and incorporating those USPs described in the previous step. Then, reaching out to your target audience through engaging storytelling and content, bolstered by a strong online presence, will enable your customers to build an emotional connection with your brand. Ensuring you’re delivering high-quality customer experiences to your target audience is crucial to building trust in your brand, and encouraging positive reviews is essential to building your brand’s reputation and ensuring ongoing brand success. 

Arival Insider Pro Access members can learn more about the importance of building your brand here. 

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6. Consider Offline Marketing for Tours

Before we go too deep into digital marketing in tourism, it’s important to recognize that traditional methods like print advertising, brochures, and partnerships with local businesses still have relevance and can complement digital marketing strategies.

Many travelers are still waiting to book their things to do until they are in-destination, which means there is an opportunity to meet these travelers where they are. For example, working with destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and other regional tourist organizations that operate tourist information centers can enable you as a tour or experience operator to get printed promotional material about your experiences physically in the hands of tourists looking in person for things to do. Reach out to destination marketers in your region to take advantage of this offline marketing opportunity. 

market tourism destination

7. Embrace Digital Marketing Strategies

As travelers increasingly use digital channels to discover, plan and book their travel, operators can and should leverage a range of digital marketing strategies to effectively promote their tours and engage with potential customers. 

From Google Things to do to search engine optimization (SEO), from social media strategy to working with influencers, from effective email marketing to impactful content marketing, a strong tourism marketing plan will incorporate a variety of digital marketing elements to bring a wider audience to the top of the funnel, and engage with them throughout the funnel at various stages of their discovery, planning and booking journey.

Arival has developed a number of guides and articles to help experience operators navigate the world of digital marketing for travel and tourism. Here are a few resources:

  • An Essential Guide to SEO for Tours & Activities
  • Content Marketing
  • Your Guide to Influencer Marketing in Travel and Tourism

market tourism destination

8. Leverage Modern AI Technology

The popularity of AI in 2024 cannot be understated, however many companies in the travel industry have been using AI in various forms long before the release of ChatGPT in late 2022 brought Generative AI, or Gen AI to the forefront. Gen AI, though, has made it a lot more accessible for travel businesses and tourism marketers without a lot of technical expertise to integrate AI to personalize customer experiences, generate targeted content, and enhance decision-making in marketing strategies for tourism. 

Many companies in the marketing for tourism space have developed tools and resources for tour, activity and attraction businesses, some of which are listed on Arival’s list of AI Resources for Experience Operators . Find out more about what’s the latest with AI in travel and how tour and attraction businesses are using it at the next Arival event. 

market tourism destination

9. Take Advantage of the Current Trends

Staying up-to-date with the latest digital trends in marketing for travel and tourism is essential to stay relevant and get ahead of your competitors. 

For example, over the last couple of years, short-form videos on platforms like TikTok have risen dramatically as a channel for travelers — younger Millennial and Gen Z travelers in particular — to find inspiration for travel experiences. Incorporating vertical and short-form video in your tourism marketing will help you engage this audience, enabling you to meet travelers where they are online and present the experience offerings of your tour, activity or attraction company in a format your audience is familiar with.

@j_buzzi I don’t think I’ll ever get over how amazing bioluminescence is! 🤯🌌 #bioluminescence #getupandgokayaking ♬ Another Rain (From “Halo 3: ODST”) – DS Music

Justin Buzzi , founder of Get Up and Go Kayaking , jumped on the vertical video trend and attracted millions of views and over one million likes on TikTok with this short bioluminescence video.

10. Monitor and Evaluate Your Strategy

A strategy without evaluation is like a ship without a compass. Regularly assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategy using key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing strategy could include website traffic, conversion rates, social media engagement, booking levels, and customer reviews and ratings. Consistent monitoring and evaluation ensure that you not only navigate the course but also make agile adjustments, keeping your strategy aligned with the ever-shifting tides of the tourism market.

1. What are the key components of a successful tour marketing campaign?

Success lies in a well-researched strategy with clear targeting built on tourism market research, compelling USPs that speak to the needs and expectations of your target audience, and a strong brand built on a balanced mix of offline and digital marketing, as well as a compelling tourism experience product itself. All of these components work together to make for a successful marketing strategy. 

2. How often should I reevaluate and update my tourism marketing strategy?

In the world of tourism marketing, trends and traveler preferences change rapidly. Check in regularly with travel trends (and let Arival research guide you). While you might evaluate the effectiveness of your overall strategies quarterly to stay responsive to market changes and ensure your strategy remains effective, more frequent monitoring of individual social media channels, website KPIs and SEO will help you be that much more effective.

3. How can I optimize my website for tour marketing purposes?

Your website is your digital storefront. Prioritize content marketing , then optimize for search engines ( learn more about SEO here ), ensure seamless user-friendly navigation and online booking system capabilities for both computer and mobile booking , incorporate visually captivating elements like photos and videos, keep your pricing and product listings up to date, and update your content regularly. 

4. Are there any specific strategies to attract international tourists?

To attract international tourists, consider ways to tailor your marketing messages for the specific regional audiences you’re interested in reaching. Look at tourism market research and trends for the different regions you intend to target — what works in the U.S. might not work in Asia and vice versa. Your local and regional destination marketing organizations (DMOs) may be able to help with this, as destination marketers often conduct research on the international travelers coming to your destination. Consider utilizing multilingual content to reach a broader range of potential travelers, and explore partnerships with international travel agencies. Check out Arival’s list of OTAs organized by geographic region to help you identify potential distribution partners in other languages and regions.

5. How important are customer reviews and testimonials in tour marketing?

Customer reviews and testimonials play a crucial role in tour marketing, acting as powerful social proof that influences potential customers. Positive reviews build credibility and trust, addressing concerns and reservations prospective customers may have. Encourage your satisfied customers to share their experiences on platforms like TripAdvisor or Google, or wherever they booked, and don’t forget to respond to these reviews, whether positive or negative.

6. What are some unique challenges in tourism marketing compared to other industries?

Tourism marketing faces unique challenges such as seasonality, unpredictable external factors (e.g., natural disasters ), and the need for real-time adaptability to changing travel trends. High competition demands innovative strategies to stand out, and the reliance on positive word-of-mouth makes ensuring customer satisfaction even in the face of unpredictable challenges critical. 

7. How can I use tourism marketing to cope with seasonal fluctuations in the industry?

To cope with seasonal fluctuations, craft seasonal promotions, diversify offerings to match changing preferences, and use marketing to highlight the unique experiences available during different seasons. Some strategies include implementing targeted off-season promotions, creating incentives for bookings during slower periods, and developing themed tours or events that align with seasonal interests and capitalize on festivals or holidays. Implementing dynamic pricing strategies , where prices vary based on demand, can also help maximize revenue during peak seasons and encourage more visitation during slower periods.

Navigating the Future of Tourism Marketing With Arival

Success in tourism marketing lies in learning about your audience, developing practical strategies to reach them, constant adaptation to keep up with changing market conditions and traveler trends, and utilizing tools and research like what Arival provides to stay ahead in a competitive landscape. 

Keep in mind that you don’t have to do this alone. There are multiple marketing agencies out there that specialize in marketing for travel and tourism companies, with some even focusing specifically on tours, activities and attractions. Check out our curated list of the tourism marketing agencies for tours and attractions here. 

Even better, join us at the next Arival event where we’ll dive into the latest tourism market research insights and trends in travel experiences, and share practical tourism marketing strategies and other actionable takeaways to help you reach your target markets, increase your bookings and grow your business.  

Become an Insider Pro Access member today and get access to the full library of Arival research, plus many other benefits such as free consulting sessions, special discounts and 20% off in-person events, starting from $179 per year.

Sign up to receive insights tailored for the in-destination industry as well as updates on Arival.

Header photo: Unsplash / Merakist

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We demonstrate a  deep respect  for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live. We  value integrity  and strive to consistently interact with others in ways that are authentic, ethical, and fair. We are  dedicated to transparency , committing to clear, open and honest communication. We  actively pursue and advocate for inclusion, diversity and representation  of varying cultural backgrounds, perspectives and ideas

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5 Tips on How to Market a Tourist Destination

Anyone tasked with marketing a tourist destination knows it can be tough to create a winning marketing strategy that drives visitors to your area. It’s even more difficult to know that you’re targeting the right potential visitors.

In this blog post, we’ll share five tips on how to market a tourist destination to increase your visitor traffic.

1. Identify Your Best Prospective Visitors to Optimize Ad Buying

The most important aspect of developing a winning marketing strategy is to truly know who your visitors are and where they’re coming from to visit your tourist destination. Many tourist destinations use mobile GPS data to identify demographic and psychographic insights about their visitors. Beyond demographic variables—like age, income range, and gender—these analytics reveal the lifestyle characteristics (also called psychographics) of your potential visitors. To get this information, researchers typically use credit card transaction or mobile GPS data combined with household-level consumer characteristics.

Once complete, the studies provide insights into how to update your marketing strategies to better target the types of visitors that are more likely to visit your destination and the top origin markets for your destination marketing efforts.

2. Tailor Your Marketing Efforts by Traveler Type

As most marketers know, there are many different types of people who will be interested in your products or services. This is no different in the tourism industry. Millennials and seniors will likely be looking to do vastly different things when they come to your area. Identify your key visitor segments and be creative when coming up with new ideas for deals or offerings that will appeal to each target market.

A one-size-fits-all approach won’t yield the best results, so your marketing efforts will have to be tailored accordingly. As you test tactics and learn what works, you can adjust your strategy to better reach your best potential visitors.

3. Increase Exposure by Partnering with Influencers

Influencer marketing is becoming a huge strategy for brands across the tourism industry. And that’s because it works. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, influencers are people who have established a dedicated following for their own personal brands. These people are usually bloggers, YouTubers, TikTokers, and Instagram personalities. Since influencers have highly engaged audiences, Convention and Visitors Bureaus and Destination Marketing Organizations are turning to them to create content about their hotels, tourist attractions, and other points of interest.

To get started with an influencer marketing strategy, do some research about influencers who already post content about your industry. When you’ve created a list of potential influencers, reach out to set up an exchange. An example of an exchange could be an influencer visiting your area for free, and the influencer will create a YouTube video about their experience. This is a win-win for both parties. The influencer will have the opportunity to create original content for their following and your brand will be exposed to a new audience.

4. Create Destination Videos That Appeal to the Right Tourists

It’s common knowledge that videos are one of the most popular ways people like to receive information. If you’re looking to make splash on social media, begin to create exciting videos not just about a single tourist destination, but about your city as a whole.

Some additional video ideas include locals giving insight into their favorite places to dine, shop and explore; tips about getting around the city; where the best photo opportunities are; and more. These will be a natural fit for sharing on social media and will add a nice mix of photos and videos to your feed.

5. Share What’s New in Your Area

You’re a local to your area, so make sure to stay up to date on new things happening. This allows you to be a resource for helpful visitor information, rather than solely trying to sell your destination.

Try to put yourself in the visitors’ shoes and provide insight into a variety of exciting things that you would want to see if you were a tourist in your area.

Regardless of your current marketing strategy, it’s never too late to gain more insight into your past visitors as well as strengthen your approach to acquiring new visitors. By leveraging visitor analytics and adopting tourism marketing trends, you can strengthen your strategy and move past your competition.

If you’re interested in more information, learn about Buxton’s tourism analysis options.  


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  • Market Segmentation in Tourism (What It Is & Why It Matters)

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Pete Sherwood , Director of Content Strategy

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Pete Sherwood

Director of content strategy.

Don’t let the ever-present hat fool you (he took it off for this one photo), Pete is "all business" when it comes to taking websites from good to great. Pete writes compelling copy for users as well as search engines, and while he's sensitive about his overuse of em-dashes, he's constantly churning out succinct, targeted copy for clients in a variety of industries.

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March 22, 2023 | Reach an Audience

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Originally published April 11, 2017 Updated March 26, 2023

As the tourism industry continues to advance, competition among businesses intensifies. To excel, you must understand your customers’ diverse needs and preferences.

This is where travel market segmentation comes in. This process divides a larger market into smaller groups of consumers with similar needs and characteristics.

Market segmentation is essential for travel and tourism businesses to effectively reach and engage with their target audience.

By identifying specific travel segments, such as solo travelers, adventure seekers, or luxury travelers, you can tailor your offerings and marketing messages to meet their unique needs.

In fact, a report by McKinsey & Company shows 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions .

This report indicates the increasing significance of market segmentation in the tourism industry. Companies that excel at demonstrating customer intimacy generate faster revenue growth rates than their peers.

In this blog post, I’ll explore the importance of market segmentation in tourism, why it’s important, and how you can use it to improve your marketing strategy.

What Is Market Segmentation in Tourism?

Market segmentation in tourism is the process of dividing the market into smaller groups of consumers with similar needs or characteristics . This helps tourism businesses tailor their offerings and marketing messages. Travel market segmentation also increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Why Is Market Segmentation Important in the Tourism Industry?

Travel market segmentation is a crucial strategy in the tourism industry. Travel segments divide customers into distinct groups based on their needs, interests, behaviors, and demographics.

Travel segments also help businesses tailor their marketing efforts and develop targeted products and services for each group. As a result, travel and tourism companies can maximize revenue and customer satisfaction.

Here are some key reasons why market segmentation is important in the tourism industry:

Helps businesses understand their customers : By segmenting the market, you can better understand your customers and create more personalized experiences and products.

Allows for targeted marketing : Customer segments help you create marketing messages and campaigns tailored to each unique group. This can increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and improve customer engagement.

Increases customer satisfaction : Offering products and services customized to your customers will likely satisfy their experience. This can lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.

Boosts revenue : Creating targeted products and services that appeal to specific customer segments can increase revenue. You can attract and retain more customers, which improves profitability.

What Are the 4 Types of Traveler Segmentation?

There are several different ways to segment the travel market. The four main tourism market segments include:

  • Demographic segmentation in tourism : Dividing customers based on age, gender, income, education, and other demographic factors.
  • Geographic segmentation in tourism : Segmenting customers based on location, such as country, region, or city.
  • Psychographic segmentation in tourism : Dividing customers based on their lifestyle, interests, values, and personality traits.
  • Behavioral segmentation in tourism : Segmenting customers based on their behaviors and actions, such as travel frequency, spending habits, and travel motivations.

Using these travel segments, you can develop targeted marketing strategies, improve customer satisfaction, increase loyalty, and boost revenue.

For instance, a business that focuses on adventure travel may target customers with a high interest in outdoor activities and a willingness to take risks.

Some popular segment names for the travel and tourism industry are escapists, learners, planners, and dreamers.

What Are Examples of Market Segmentation in Tourism?

Here are five brief tourism market segmentation examples. They illustrate how businesses can tailor their offerings to specific customer needs.

  • Hotel targeting business travelers by offering conference rooms and fast Wi-Fi.
  • Tour company targeting adventure seekers by offering hiking and extreme sports packages.
  • Cruise line targeting families by offering kid-friendly activities and childcare services.
  • Luxury resort targeting customers with a high income and a preference for exclusive amenities and experiences.
  • A destination marketing organization targeting retirees by promoting cultural events and attractions.

Businesses that leverage tailored travel segments gain a competitive edge in the tourism industry.

Seize the (Micro) Moment in Travel Market Segmentation

Market segmentation in tourism requires you to think critically about your target audience and how they move through the customer journey.

Often, tourism and travel market segments are created by one, or a combination, of the following:

  • Age / life stage (e.g., millennial, retiree)
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Type of travel (e.g., business, leisure, extended stay)

With online research easier and more portable than ever, we like to think about travel segments a little differently.

Travel brands and destination marketers should consider the moments your potential customers may jump online from their phone or computer—as the biggest marketing opportunity.

While the who still matters when you’re trying to reach an audience—the when is more vital than ever.

For example, think about how you planned your last vacation. If you were like most, you bounced back and forth between dreaming about and loosely planning your next getaway—zooming in on a destination and quickly bouncing around in search of inspiration only to zoom out and consider all the options yet again.

This quick spurt of research to answer an immediate need (usually turning to a search engine) has been coined “a micro-moment” by Google.

Such micro-moments represent a huge opportunity for destination marketing organizations and are the key to attracting and earning a savvy traveler’s consideration.

Often, we pull in focus groups to test our theories on user motivation and needs.   From on-paper prototypes and discussion groups to high-fidelity wireframes and user-experience videos—we pick from our bag of user-testing methods to ensure content and calls-to-action are placed in the best places possible.

How to Use Travel Segments in Your Marketing Strategy

What if your brand or location could be in front of your potential customers during the exact moments they are dreaming about getting away, planning their visit, and eventually booking their vacation? What content should you create at what moments?

Knowing how to leverage travel market segmentation and the power of micro-moments is the key to upping your travel industry marketing game.

It’s how you keep your messaging laser focused and your audience satisfied. As a result, your travel or tourism company will see increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue!

Market Segmentation in Tourism FAQ

Answers to common questions about tourism market segmentation.

Why Do We Segment the Tourism Market?

The travel market is far too large and diverse to reach effectively in one fell swoop. Tourism marketers use segmentation to understand customer needs better and allocate marketing dollars effectively.

Effective travel market segmentation is based on extensive quantitative research focusing on large numbers of people. Then grouping them based on shared characteristics such as:

  • Demographics
  • Behavioral patterns
  • Cognition ratings

Once identified, these groups are referred to as particular segments. You can target them with specific product offerings, services, and tailored marketing messages.

What Are the Components of the Tourism Industry?

There are six main components of tourism, each with sub-components. The six components of travel and tourism include attractions, activities, accessibility, accommodation, amenities, and transportation.

Travel Segments vs Personas: What’s the Difference?

Personas are used to encourage a design for real people with real needs. They break down the user’s context, needs, motivations, and pain points on a personal basis.

Travel segments aim to pinpoint and measure the size of different groups at a high level.

Market segmentation isn’t persona research. Sure, they’re very similar tools that group current and potential customers into manageable buckets. However, you can’t create a detailed buyer persona without first diving into market research.

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  • Master tourism marketing: strategies for a thriving business

Master tourism marketing: strategies for a thriving business

In an age where the tourism industry is constantly evolving, staying ahead of the competition and effectively marketing your tourism business has never been more crucial. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out in the field, this comprehensive guide is your passport to success. We’ll look at innovative marketing strategies tailored specifically for the tourism and hospitality industry , equipping you with the knowledge and tools to thrive in this dynamic and competitive field.

Introduction to tourism marketing strategies

Tourism marketing is aimed at potential customers from all over the world. To stand out in a crowded market, innovative strategies are crucial. Here’s what comprises effective tourism marketing:

  • Understanding your audience : Tailor your approach to a range of demographics, connecting with them personally based on their preferences and interests.
  • Developing a unique brand identity: Create a distinctive visual and narrative identity that encapsulates your organization’s values and essence.
  • Creating engaging content: Go beyond static images, embracing blog posts, real-time social media updates, and vlogs to captivate prospects and entice them to visit.

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Understanding your target audience

Effective tourism marketing begins with a deep understanding of your target audience. To attract and engage potential visitors, it’s vital to recognize their preferences and interests. Some are attracted to cultural heritage, while others seek vibrant nightlife or culinary experiences.

To understand a range of demographics, conduct thorough consumer research to identify patterns among prospective travelers, using data from customer surveys, travel agents, and online feedback. Build detailed personas to profile typical tourists who visit or may use your travel business. These personas become the foundation for shaping campaigns.

Key considerations:

  • Focus on what tourists find attractive, not what you think they find attractive
  • Rely on market research and verifiable data sources for insights
  • Knowing customers’ wants and needs is vital for effectively tailored campaigns
  • Stay adaptable to evolving visitor behavior and trends for sustainable growth

Understanding your audience and staying attuned to changing preferences are central to destination marketing, ensuring your efforts generate maximum impact.

Developing a unique brand identity

Tourism Body

Oscar Wong/Moment Getty Images

Developing a distinctive brand identity is vital. As you deepen your understanding of what marketing is in tourism, you will realize how important it is for your destination or attraction to have its own niche.

Uniqueness: make your destination stand out

Think about the irresistible attractions your destination offers. Perhaps it’s culturally rich heritage steeped in history or maybe it’s rainforest and its wildlife. When you’re embarking on promoting travel to your location, make sure these distinguishing features are highlighted by using them as hooks in your tourism marketing strategies. The idea is to conjure up an image so potent that travelers instantly recognize it.

Relevance: aligning factors that attract tourists

One area where many falter is not aligning their offerings with market demands. Even if you can offer Northern Lights viewing spots in Norway, this won’t resonate with tourists if it doesn’t address their specific needs and interests. This is where consumer research in tourism comes in handy.

Consistency: keeping the promise

Once you’ve developed your unique brand identity and aligned it with what attracts tourists, make sure all marketing touchpoints — digital or offline — feature consistent messaging. Of course, varying content types necessitate a tweak in style, but the core substance should remain stable across all platforms.

Leveraging local listings

Local listings, like Google My Business and Tripadvisor, are vital for tourism marketing. They provide essential information and reviews to travelers. To maximize their potential:

  • Claim your business listing on popular platforms
  • Ensure consistent data across all platforms
  • Encourage customer reviews and respond promptly
  • Continuously analyze visitor feedback for optimization

Utilizing these platforms builds legitimacy and trust, as online reviews can play a significant role in travelers’ decision-making.

Creating compelling content

Engaging content is a powerful strategy in tourism marketing. It resonates with emotions, tells captivating stories, and showcases your destination creatively. Here are three ways engaging content can enhance your strategies:

  • Storytelling: Share local legends and anecdotes to add depth to your destination’s persona, appealing to tourists’ emotions and curiosity.
  • Visual content: Use high-quality images and enticing descriptions to showcase your destination’s attractions, and stimulate the interest of potential tourists.
  • Interactive content: Offer virtual tours or quizzes to engage audiences at an experiential level, increasing their curiosity and perception of your destination.

Authenticity is essential in content creation, as it builds credibility in tourism marketing.

Engaging with social media platforms

In today’s digital world, social media is essential in tourism marketing. Different platforms cater to various demographics and interests, so you need to carefully tailor your social media posts to your target markets on each channel. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Tailored content: Create content suitable for each platform, such as stunning images on Instagram and engaging travel stories on X (Twitter).
  • Two-way interaction: Respond promptly to reviews and comments on social media, building loyalty among customers. You can also encourage user-generated content about your business, nearby tourist attractions, or about the customer service they experienced.
  • Influencer collaboration: Partner with social media influencers to promote your destination to their followers.
  • Hashtag movements and contests : Participate in trending hashtag movements and initiate contests or games related to destinations to boost visibility and generate positive publicity.

By understanding the unique features and demographics of each social media platform, you can meet travelers where they spend time and enhance your tourism marketing strategies.

Paid social media advertising

Paid social media advertisements are also important for any modern tourism company. They can be targeted to deliver messages to specific demographics. To make the most of social media advertising, here are a few key considerations:

  • Identify your key demographics – know who you want to reach.
  • Set clear objectives – understand what return on investment looks like.
  • Develop engaging ad creatives – images or videos that represent what is being marketed.
  • Monitor results frequently – adjust where necessary.

Sending email newsletters

Among the various tourism marketing strategies, email has emerged as an enduring tactic. Don’t underestimate the efficacy of a well-crafted email newsletter, as it stands at the intersection of providing information and subtle promotion.

Here’s a peek into how you can engage prospective travelers through strategic email newsletters.

  • Schedule regularly : Choose a frequency – weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly – that aligns with your offerings and can be consistent. This gives subscribers something to look forward to while keeping your brand on their minds.
  • Personalize communications : To make each subscriber feel acknowledged, use advanced CRM tools for personalization and tailored offerings based on previous interactions or noted preferences.
  • Showcase compelling stories : Emotionally charged narratives about real guest experiences can stir interest and spark the imagination.
  • Promote upcoming attractions : Give dormant clients reasons to reactivate by featuring must-see events or unbeatable seasonal deals.
  • Incorporate reviews and testimonials : Customer reviews paint a convincing picture of what awaits future tourists. Their first-hand accounts — featuring praise or constructive feedback — can often build trust more effectively than promotional text.

Displaying online banners

An effective strategy in mastering tourism marketing involves harnessing the power of online banners. Banner advertising, a form of digital outreach, helps create awareness about your destination and may catch a potential tourist’s eye.

Here’s how best to take advantage of this potent bit of marketing strategy in tourism:

  • Design with purpose : Creating compelling banner designs requires an understanding of what attracts tourists. Your banners must effectively communicate the unique appeal of the location you’re promoting. Does it offer historical and cultural significance? Is its natural scenery superb, or does it provide high-end luxury experiences?
  • Location, location, location : Destination tourism is all about presenting prospective visitors with an irresistible locale they’d love to explore. Online banners should be strategically displayed on websites that your target audience visits, such as travel blogs or holiday booking sites.
  • Clear call-to-action (CTA) : The most successful online banners have a clear CTA that prompts visitors to learn more or make bookings. This simple yet assertive instruction can enhance user engagement and increase bookings substantially.
  • Mobile-friendly designs : Given our world has become increasingly mobile-centric, ensuring your online banners are optimized for mobile viewing is non-negotiable. This will also help make sure your mobile websites or advertisements are seen in search engines.

Offline promotional activities

Online marketing is powerful, but don’t overlook offline strategies. Traditional tourism marketing methods remain effective for personal connections with your audience.

Explore event sponsorships and collaborations at local events to showcase your brand. Print materials like brochures and flyers provide valuable tourism information and visibility in target areas. Roadshows educate potential customers in various locations, stirring interest. Utilize television and radio ads for wide-reaching awareness.

Tailor these techniques to your unique business needs while maintaining consistency across online and offline platforms.

Contextual advertising and SEO

Contextual advertising leverages relevance to attract tourists effectively. By placing your ads within content that aligns with travelers’ interests, you capture their attention when their tourism curiosity is at its peak. This targeted approach can lead you to your ideal customer base.

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps people find you in a sea of competitors when they go searching for what you offer online. Honing your site’s SEO capabilities can increase the likelihood of appearing in search results, so potential tourists can move toward becoming actual visitors.

Using promotional videos

In the quest to implement effective tourism marketing strategies, don’t overlook promotional videos. This type of content can effectively portray what attracts tourists to a particular location, destination, or service.

The power of promoting travel through video

Visual storytelling is compelling and engaging by nature. It can transport viewers directly into your destination’s most appealing spots. When considering marketing attractions or marketing a destination, creating videos that convey what is unique about your tourist spot can significantly boost your campaign.

How videos enhance tourism marketing strategies

  • Showcase scenic views: Highlight the incredible views from the highest peak or show underwater adventures featuring vibrant marine life. Let viewers feel as if they’re already on an extraordinary journey.
  • Provide local insight: Film a local tour guide telling stories about a historic castle or local attraction that you won’t find easily in travel pamphlets.
  • Highlight experiences: Use this chance to display exhilarating possibilities like zip lining over lush forests, relaxing at a secluded beach, or sampling delicacies at markets

Try and ensure the video depictions will match expectations when tourists arrive.

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Key considerations

Successful application of promotional videos as part of tourism marketing strategies hinges on factors such as:

  • Solid marketing plans
  • Quality production
  • Meaningful narratives that highlight customer experience
  • Resonating with your ideal customers
  • Optimization for viewing on different devices
  • Keeping up to date with tourism marketing trends

Mastering tourism marketing strategies is instrumental in developing a tourism marketing plan. They are also instrumental for sustaining the growth of a destination tourism business and ensuring success in a tourism or hospitality career .

Social media platforms offer many opportunities for promoting travel adventures and facets of the tourism business, from sharing compelling imagery to sharing delightful experiences, or even connecting personally with potential patrons. Get started on the journey to becoming a tourism marketing professional with a hospitality degree from Glion. Or read more about the tourism and hospitality industry in the new normal .

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Captivate travelers in 2024: 5 destination marketing trends

“Trend” can be a dirty word. A noisy, flitting, vapid distraction clamoring for attention while offering nothing of real substance or impact.

But some trends present opportunities. They’re built on strong foundations and ripe with future implications.

In the ever-shifting landscape of destination marketing, it’s important to know which is which — and which you can trust to strengthen your strategies.

So, with the first quarter of 2024 in the rear-view mirror, let’s look at the trends shaping the year.

Immersive Technologies to Inspire Tourism

Travelers crave experiences, and you can deliver before they even step foot in your destination. Destinations are leveraging immersive technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality to craft experiences that give both leisure and business travelers a taste of the exploration awaiting them.

Visit Albuquerque , for example, lets you soar among air balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta . Visit Irving, Texas , helps you explore the entertainment district . Visit Los Cabos helps visitors fall in love from afar — to the tune of a 300% increase in web sessions .

A screenshot of Visit Albuquerque's interactive mixed reality web experience using Skynav. Dozens of multi-colored hot air balloons soar through a bright blue sky as the sun rises over mountains in the distance.

Generative AI Generates Excitement (and Concern)

Last year saw the birth, and subsequent gold rush, of new Artificial Intelligence (AI) startups and tools. We even featured it as a trend to watch coming into the year and covered the latest developments on the Layover Live podcast. 

Well, 2024 is the year of mass adoption with 65% of destination marketers already using AI to aid their work ( CrowdRiff ). 

It’s easy to see why. 

At a high level, generative AI can launch content ideas for blog posts or social media campaigns, craft copy to speak to different demographics, fuel chatbots to provide a welcoming and convenient 24/7 helpdesk on your website, and so much more. 

But DMOs also use it to save time in critical digital marketing work.

Just be careful, AI’s evolution hasn’t been without trials ( literally ). AI has become a helpful tool for DMO pros, but don’t forget how essential a human touch is before activating your results.

User-Generated Content Infuses Authenticity

Authenticity has never been more important in the tourism space (and, frankly, everywhere else as well). Visitors want to see a destination’s real personality. The one born from the unique experiences — and even more, unique people — that make it worth visiting. 

But branded messaging can miss the mark. People just trust real people more than they do any brand. 

So give them what they’re looking for. Give them user-generated content (UGC).

A recent study shows 62% of consumers think UGC is a “highly important” means to improve a brand’s authenticity. And 91% of those same responders noted it’s at least “moderately important” in the same context.

In their 2024 Trends Report , CrowdRiff found that “81% of destination marketers we surveyed have seen an increase in engagement on social media through UGC.” 

That’s vital because social media influences more people to travel to a destination than any other medium, with 48% of those visiting a destination to show it off on social media ( Statista ).

A chart showing that 75% of survey respondents are influenced to travel to a destination by social, 64% by TV, news or movies, and 47% from family and friends.

Content is King. Personalization is Queen.

One-size-fits-all marketing is a thing of the past. Travelers today expect a customized approach, and convert at a higher rate when they get it. Let’s look at the numbers:

71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions ( McKinsey )

76% of consumers get frustrated when content isn’t personalized ( McKinsey )

85% of companies feel they provide personalized experiences, but only 60% of customers agree ( Segment )

Personalized CTAs outperform default versions by 202% ( HubSpot )

Website personalization is used by 56% of companies ( Statista )

So harness the full power of your content by personalizing the experience for your audience. Feed foodies a curated menu of blogs, listings, and food tours to satiate their appetite for culinary discovery — and deliver value for your partners.

Or perfect the planner experience by blending blogs that showcase exciting things to do, content to highlight your destination’s intellectual capital, an immersive virtual tour of your facilities, and a prominent request for proposal submission (RFP) opportunity.

Opportunities abound, and they’re more important than ever.

If you use Simpleview CMS , check out the dynamic content module to build your own custom web experiences for each of your personas.

Micro Influencers. Macro Results.

Influencer marketing has evolved. Oversaturation and increased costs have forced marketers to re-evaluate their strategies. But that doesn’t mean it’s slowing down — 69% of consumers still trust influencers, friends, and family over messaging coming directly from brands ( Marketing Drive ).

Instead, destination marketers are focusing on strategically selecting small influencers for lower-cost, high-ROI campaigns. Research shows that 70% of brands prefer working with nano (1,000-10,000 followers) and micro (10,000-100,000 followers) influencers compared to larger options in 2024 because of their cost-effective price points and higher engagement rates ( Influencer Marketing Hub) .

Where you deploy micro-influencers is equally important.

TikTok rose in prominence last year but has surged to become the premier channel for brands to deploy influencers in 2024.

A chart that shows influencer marketing brands use TikTok 68.4% of the time, Instagram 46.7%, Facebook 27.5%, YouTube 33.1%, X/Twitter 9.9%, LinkedIn 9.6%, Twitch 7.9%, and other channels 14.7%

Interestingly though, only 14% of marketers said TikTok drove the biggest influencer marketing ROI in 2023 compared to 30% who pointed to Instagram as the best platform for their ROI ( Hubspot ). 

So tune into your audience and closely monitor your results to maximize your spending on the ideal channels.

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Michael Fiez

Michael Fiez

Michael is a former DMO pro who can strategize, synthesize, and stitch stories together. He strives to deliver value and connect destinations with the tools and resources they need.

5 Great Ways to Market Your Tourism Destination

When you’ve got a great tourism destination, you want visitors to pack their bags and come to you. In order to gain their interest and get that eager traveler, consider some tactics to enhance your marketing strategy. Here are some ideas to attract tourists.

Create a guide for your tourism destination

Most visitors will not know your area well. Provide them with an informative and fun guide to introduce them to the surroundings and all they can do during a visit. How important is a guide? Research shows nearly 70% of people travel to a destination after receiving a guide.

Put the guide on your website, but don’t hide it. Make it easy to find, read, and understand. Load it up with high-quality photos and content to make it valuable to the visitor. Consider putting a form on your website and asking visitors to provide contact information for a downloadable version or provide special local insight or coupons in return for their data. This allows you to follow up directly to further engage these visitors.

Provide photos and videos  

A picture is worth a thousand words. Travelers want a way to visualize the experience they might have at your destination. TripAdvisor found that 76% of their users were influenced about booking a destination based on traveler-submitted photos. Consider including a forum on your website where visitors can provide their pictures or integrate Instagram into your website design.

Videos help convey a large amount of information about a destination within a span of just a couple of minutes and people love a good story. This video for Las Vegas tourism became an online sensation with more than 9 million views.

Research by Google found almost 50% of travelers use online video before deciding where to vacation. Another 67% consult video when choosing a destination or activities within a destination.

Engage visitors with a social media challenge

When you gather email subscribers or have numerous Facebook fans, you know you have an audience that wants to receive your message and engage with you. Reach out to those groups with a special challenge. Develop a marketing strategy to generate buzz about your tourism destination. For example, over the course of a week, ask visitors to post ideas about their favorite things to do at your destination and share that idea with their friends. Consider rewarding the best concept with a prize.

Make it easy to book your tourism destination

Once you’ve enticed a visitor, why not make it easy for him or her to book a stay? Provide easy access to an online booking agent through your site so a traveler can take the next step to make travel arrangements. You might also consider partnering with other local venues and/or services and providing ways a visitor can book a hotel stay, get tickets for entertainment, reserve a table at an area restaurant, or rent bicycles from a local business.

Use PPC advertising to drive traffic to your tourism destination

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is helpful for many businesses and can be especially effective for marketing tourism destinations. Google AdWords often result in higher conversion rates than other types of advertising. There are a number of case studies that show how effective Facebook ads can be for growing travel business.

Looking for ways to increase website traffic and attract visitors to your tourism destination? Just give us a call at T.E. Digital so we can assist. We have the knowledge and experience to help you provide tourists with what they want most from your destination.

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About the author: jared s. smith, related posts, ways to effectively use instagram for tourism marketing, why using instagram for tourism marketing is a no-brainer, 5 great topics to post on your hotel blog, leave a comment cancel reply.

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  • Travel Tips

What Is Tourism Marketing?

Published: December 12, 2023

Modified: December 28, 2023

by Oneida Gruber

  • Plan Your Trip
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In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, the tourism industry has become increasingly competitive. To stay ahead and attract travelers, destinations, tour operators, and hoteliers need to implement effective marketing strategies. This is where tourism marketing plays a vital role.

Tourism marketing encompasses a range of activities aimed at promoting and selling travel services, experiences, and destinations to potential customers. It involves understanding consumer behaviors, identifying target markets, creating compelling messages, and deploying various promotional tactics to reach and engage with the right audience.

With the rise of the internet and social media, the tourism industry has witnessed a significant shift in how marketing is conducted. Digital platforms have opened up new avenues for reaching and engaging with travelers, providing ample opportunities to showcase destinations, attractions, and services.

The primary goal of tourism marketing is to increase awareness, generate interest, and drive bookings or visits. It is about inspiring and influencing travelers to choose a particular destination, tour package, or accommodation option. By effectively marketing their offerings, tourism businesses can enhance their revenue, grow their customer base, and build long-term relationships with their target audience.

However, effective tourism marketing goes beyond simply promoting travel products. It involves creating a holistic and immersive experience for travelers, reflecting the unique qualities and appeal of a destination. This requires a deep understanding of the target market’s needs, preferences, and aspirations, as well as the ability to effectively communicate the value and benefits of the travel experience.

Moreover, tourism marketing is not limited to tourism boards or large travel companies. It is also essential for small and medium-sized businesses within the industry, such as local tour operators, boutique hotels, and restaurants. By implementing targeted marketing strategies, even smaller players can compete on a global scale and attract their ideal customers.

Definition of Tourism Marketing

Tourism marketing can be defined as the strategic planning and implementation of activities that aim to promote and sell travel-related products and services. It involves understanding consumer behavior, identifying target markets, creating compelling messages, and deploying various marketing tactics to reach and engage with potential travelers.

At its core, tourism marketing is about showcasing the unique experiences and attractions that a destination has to offer. It involves leveraging the distinctive cultural, natural, and historical aspects of a place to appeal to travelers’ interests and desires.

One of the key objectives of tourism marketing is to create awareness and generate interest in a particular destination or travel experience. This can be achieved through a variety of marketing channels, including digital platforms, traditional advertising, public relations, and partnerships with travel agents and tour operators.

In addition to promoting destinations, tourism marketing also encompasses the marketing of travel services such as accommodation, transportation, activities, and tours. It involves highlighting the unique features, amenities, and benefits of these services to differentiate them in a crowded marketplace.

Moreover, tourism marketing often involves segmenting the target market based on various factors such as demographics, psychographics, and travel preferences. This allows marketers to tailor their messages and marketing strategies to specific customer segments, increasing the chances of attracting the right travelers.

Effective tourism marketing requires staying updated with the latest trends and leveraging technological advancements. With the rise of the internet and social media, digital marketing has become a crucial aspect of tourism marketing. This includes activities such as search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, social media advertising, influencer marketing, and online reputation management.

In summary, tourism marketing is the strategic promotion and selling of travel-related products and experiences. It involves understanding consumer behavior, creating compelling messages, and deploying various marketing tactics to reach and engage with potential travelers. By effectively marketing destinations and travel services, tourism businesses can attract more visitors and drive growth in the industry.

Importance of Tourism Marketing

Tourism marketing plays a crucial role in the success and growth of the tourism industry. Here are several reasons why tourism marketing is important:

  • Increasing Destination Awareness: Effective tourism marketing helps to create awareness about destinations. It showcases the unique attractions, cultural heritage, and natural beauty of a place, encouraging travelers to consider it as a potential travel destination.
  • Attracting More Visitors: Through targeted marketing strategies and promotional campaigns, tourism businesses can attract more visitors to their destinations, hotels, and tour packages. By effectively communicating the value and benefits of a travel experience, marketing efforts can inspire and influence travelers to choose a specific destination.
  • Boosting Local Economy: The tourism industry is a significant economic driver in many regions. By promoting tourism and attracting more visitors, tourism marketing helps to generate revenue for local businesses, create jobs, and stimulate economic growth.
  • Enhancing Competitiveness: In a highly competitive tourism industry, effective marketing can give destinations and businesses a competitive edge. By promoting unique selling points and differentiating offerings, tourism businesses can stand out from the competition and attract their ideal customers.
  • Cultivating Repeat Visitors: Marketing efforts, such as personalized email campaigns or loyalty programs, help to cultivate repeat visitors. By nurturing relationships with past visitors, tourism businesses can encourage them to come back and explore more of what the destination has to offer.
  • Driving Collaboration: Tourism marketing often involves collaboration among stakeholders within the industry. Destination marketing organizations, hotels, tour operators, and local businesses work together to promote the destination as a whole, leveraging each other’s strengths and resources for a more impactful marketing strategy.
  • Creating Positive Perception: Effective tourism marketing not only promotes destinations and travel services but also helps create a positive perception of a place. Through storytelling and compelling narratives, marketing efforts can shape and enhance the reputation of a destination, making it more appealing to potential travelers.

In a nutshell, tourism marketing is essential for raising destination awareness, attracting visitors, boosting the local economy, enhancing competitiveness, fostering repeat business, driving collaboration, and creating a positive perception of a destination. By investing in well-planned marketing strategies, tourism businesses can thrive in a highly competitive industry and contribute to the overall growth and development of the tourism sector.

Components of Tourism Marketing

Tourism marketing involves various components that work together to create effective promotional strategies. Here are the key components of tourism marketing:

  • Market Research: Market research is an essential component of tourism marketing. It involves gathering and analyzing data to understand consumer behavior, travel trends, market demand, and competitor strategies. This helps tourism businesses identify their target market, tailor their marketing messages, and make informed decisions.
  • Segmentation and Targeting: Segmenting the target market is crucial to deliver tailored marketing messages. Tourism marketers divide the market into specific segments based on demographics, psychographics, and travel preferences. This enables them to customize their marketing efforts and reach the right audience with the right message.
  • Positioning: Positioning refers to how a destination or travel service is perceived in the minds of consumers. Tourism marketers define a unique selling proposition (USP) and create a positioning strategy to differentiate their offerings from competitors. This involves highlighting the unique features, benefits, and experiences that set them apart from others.
  • Branding: Branding plays a crucial role in tourism marketing. It involves creating a distinct brand identity, including a logo, tagline, and visual elements, that represents the destination or travel service. A strong and consistent brand helps build trust, recognition, and loyalty among travelers.
  • Advertising and Promotion: Advertising and promotion are key components of tourism marketing. This includes traditional advertising such as television, radio, and print ads, as well as digital advertising through search engines, social media platforms, and display networks. Promotional tactics may also include public relations, partnerships with travel influencers, and participation in travel fairs and events.
  • Content Marketing: Content marketing involves creating and sharing valuable and informative content to attract and engage potential travelers. This can include blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, and social media posts that showcase the destination, provide travel tips, and inspire wanderlust. Content marketing helps build brand credibility, increase website traffic, and foster customer loyalty.
  • Online Presence and Website Optimization: A strong online presence is crucial in tourism marketing. It includes having a visually appealing and user-friendly website that provides relevant information, easy navigation, and online booking options. Website optimization, including search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX) optimization, helps improve visibility in search engines and enhances the overall online presence.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Effective customer relationship management involves building and maintaining strong relationships with past, present, and potential customers. This can include personalized email marketing, loyalty programs, and customer feedback management. CRM helps nurture repeat business, encourage positive reviews, and strengthen customer loyalty.

By integrating these components into their marketing strategies, tourism businesses can create comprehensive and effective campaigns that resonate with their target audience and drive bookings and visits to their destinations and services.

Strategies and Tactics in Tourism Marketing

Tourism marketing involves a range of strategies and tactics to effectively promote destinations, travel services, and experiences. Here are some commonly used strategies and tactics in tourism marketing:

  • Targeted Advertising: Tourism marketers utilize targeted advertising to reach specific demographics and interests. This includes running targeted ads on social media platforms, search engines, and travel-related websites to reach potential travelers who are most likely to be interested in a specific destination or travel service.
  • Content Marketing: Content marketing involves creating and sharing informative and engaging content to attract and engage potential travelers. This can include blog posts, articles, videos, and social media posts that inspire and educate travelers about destinations, travel tips, and experiences. Effective content marketing builds brand credibility and connects with the target audience on a deeper level.
  • Social Media Marketing: Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become powerful tools in tourism marketing. By creating compelling visual content, engaging with followers, and running targeted ads, tourism businesses can reach a wide audience and generate brand awareness. Influencer partnerships and user-generated content also play a significant role in social media marketing.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): A well-optimized website is crucial for tourism marketing. SEO involves optimizing website content, meta tags, and other on-page elements to improve search engine rankings. A higher ranking in search results increases visibility and organic traffic to the website, ultimately leading to more bookings and visits.
  • Online Reputation Management: Online reviews and ratings have a significant impact on travelers’ decision-making process. Tourism businesses need to actively manage their online reputation by encouraging positive reviews, responding to negative feedback, and addressing customer concerns promptly and professionally.
  • Partnerships and Collaborations: Collaborating with influencers, local businesses, and other tourism stakeholders can amplify marketing efforts. Partnerships can include influencer campaigns, joint advertising initiatives, and cross-promotion to reach a wider audience and provide added value to travelers.
  • Personalization and Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Personalization is a powerful tactic in tourism marketing. By collecting and analyzing customer data, tourism businesses can deliver personalized marketing messages, custom offers, and tailored experiences to individual travelers. CRM tools and strategies help manage customer relationships, nurture loyalty, and drive repeat business.
  • Event and Experience Marketing: Hosting or sponsoring events and creating unique experiences can be highly effective in tourism marketing. This can include cultural festivals, adventure challenges, or themed tours that attract attention and create a buzz around a destination or travel service.

It’s important for tourism marketers to employ a combination of these strategies and tactics, tailored to their target audience and marketing goals. By implementing a comprehensive and integrated approach, tourism businesses can effectively engage with travelers, drive bookings, and ultimately succeed in a competitive industry.

Digital Marketing in Tourism

Digital marketing has revolutionized the way tourism businesses promote their offerings and engage with travelers. With the proliferation of the internet and social media, digital marketing has become a crucial component of tourism marketing strategies. Here are some key aspects of digital marketing in the tourism industry:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is essential for improving a tourism website’s visibility in search engine results. By optimizing website content, meta tags, and backlinks, tourism businesses can rank higher in search results and attract organic traffic.
  • Content Marketing: Content marketing is a powerful tool in the digital landscape. By creating high-quality and valuable content, such as blog posts, articles, and videos, tourism businesses can attract and engage potential travelers, build brand credibility, and drive organic traffic to their websites.
  • Social Media Marketing: Social media platforms provide tourism businesses with a direct way to connect and engage with travelers. Through strategic social media marketing, businesses can build a strong online presence, cultivate a loyal following, and showcase their destinations, services, and experiences.
  • Online Advertising: Online advertising, including search engine marketing (SEM) and social media advertising, allows tourism businesses to reach a targeted audience. By running well-crafted ads, businesses can increase brand visibility, drive traffic to their websites, and generate bookings or inquiries.
  • Influencer Marketing: Collaborating with travel influencers can be highly effective in digital marketing. By partnering with influencers who have a large and engaged following, tourism businesses can tap into their influence and reach, showcasing their offerings to a wider audience and gaining credibility through authentic recommendations.
  • Online Travel Agencies (OTAs): OTAs such as Expedia, Booking.com, and Airbnb have become prominent players in the digital marketing landscape. Tourism businesses can leverage these platforms by listing their offerings and optimizing their presence to reach travelers who use OTAs for travel bookings.
  • Email Marketing: Email marketing allows tourism businesses to nurture relationships with past and potential customers. By sending personalized and targeted emails, businesses can provide relevant offers, travel updates, and exclusive deals to encourage bookings and foster customer loyalty.
  • Website Optimization and User Experience (UX): A well-designed and user-friendly website is crucial for digital marketing success. Ensuring fast loading times, easy navigation, mobile responsiveness, and clear call-to-action buttons can significantly improve user experience and boost conversion rates.

Implementing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy can give tourism businesses a competitive advantage in reaching and engaging with the modern traveler. By leveraging digital channels effectively, businesses can increase their online visibility, attract more visitors, and ultimately drive bookings and revenue.

Challenges and Trends in Tourism Marketing

The tourism industry is constantly evolving, and with it comes new challenges and emerging trends in tourism marketing. Here are some of the key challenges and trends that tourism businesses need to be aware of:

  • Rising Competition: The tourism industry is becoming more competitive with the rise of digital marketing and the ease of global travel. Tourism businesses need to find innovative ways to differentiate themselves and stand out from the competition.
  • Managing Online Reputation: With the increasing influence of online reviews and social media, tourism businesses need to actively manage their online reputation. Addressing customer concerns, responding to reviews, and providing excellent customer service are crucial for maintaining a positive online image.
  • Changing Consumer Behavior: Consumer behavior is continuously evolving, with travelers becoming more tech-savvy and seeking personalized and unique experiences. Tourism businesses need to adapt their marketing strategies to cater to the changing preferences and expectations of travelers.
  • Data Privacy and Security: With the collection and use of customer data for marketing purposes, data privacy and security have become significant concerns. Tourism businesses must comply with privacy regulations and ensure the security of customer information to maintain trust and protect sensitive data.
  • Sustainability and Responsible Tourism: The growing importance of sustainability and responsible tourism has led to a shift in consumer attitudes. Travelers are increasingly seeking environmentally friendly and socially responsible travel options. Tourism businesses need to incorporate sustainability practices and communicate their commitment to responsible tourism in their marketing efforts.
  • Technological Advancements: Emerging technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are transforming the tourism industry. Tourism businesses need to stay updated with these advancements and explore ways to incorporate them into their marketing strategies to provide immersive and personalized experiences to travelers.
  • Shift towards Experiential Travel: Travelers are seeking more authentic and experiential travel experiences. This has led to a shift from traditional sightseeing to immersive and meaningful experiences. Tourism businesses can capitalize on this trend by designing unique experiences and crafting compelling storytelling in their marketing campaigns.
  • Influence of Social Media and Influencers: Social media platforms and travel influencers have a significant impact on consumers’ travel choices. Tourism businesses need to harness the power of social media and build relationships with influencers to effectively engage with their target audience and tap into their influence.

By acknowledging and adapting to these challenges and trends, tourism businesses can stay ahead of the curve and create effective marketing strategies that resonate with today’s travelers. Embracing technology, promoting sustainability, and delivering personalized and experiential travel offerings are key to success in the dynamic tourism industry.

Tourism marketing plays a vital role in the success and growth of the tourism industry. It encompasses various strategies and tactics aimed at promoting destinations, travel services, and experiences to potential travelers. In today’s digital age, digital marketing has become an integral part of tourism marketing, allowing businesses to reach and engage with travelers on a global scale.

Effective tourism marketing is essential for raising destination awareness, attracting visitors, boosting the local economy, enhancing competitiveness, fostering repeat business, driving collaboration, and creating a positive perception of a destination. By implementing well-planned marketing strategies, tourism businesses can thrive in a highly competitive industry and contribute to the overall growth and development of the tourism sector.

However, tourism marketing also faces various challenges, including rising competition, managing online reputation, changing consumer behavior, data privacy concerns, and the emergence of new technologies. It is crucial for tourism businesses to stay updated with the latest trends and adapt their marketing strategies to meet the evolving needs and expectations of travelers.

Looking ahead, sustainability, experiential travel, technological advancements, and the influence of social media and influencers will continue to shape the tourism industry. Tourism businesses that embrace these trends and incorporate them into their marketing strategies will be better positioned to attract and engage with modern travelers.

In conclusion, tourism marketing is a dynamic and ever-evolving field that requires creativity, adaptability, and a deep understanding of consumer behavior. By leveraging targeted strategies, embracing digital marketing channels, and staying ahead of industry trends, tourism businesses can effectively promote their offerings, attract visitors, and contribute to the growth and success of the tourism industry.


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What is Tourism Marketing? 15 Strategies in 2023

March 22, 2023 | By Hitesh Bhasin | Filed Under: Marketing

From hotels and other types of accommodation to car rental services, airlines , restaurants, entertainment spots, and travel agents – tourism marketing encompasses a wide range of advertising and marketing strategies often used by companies in the tourism and travel industry themselves. All these various marketing efforts are put together under one collective name – Tourism Marketing!

Tourism marketing is an essential tool for a business to ensure they are standing apart from its competitors, garnering customers, and creating brand recognition. Nowadays, various digital marketing platforms such as websites, online ads, email marketing campaigns , and social media marketing outlets have become vital components of modern tourism marketing initiatives for businesses.

Table of Contents

What is Tourism Marketing?

Tourism marketing is a type of marketing used by businesses operating in the travel and tourism industry to attract tourists to a business name or particular location which can be a state, a city, a particular heritage site or tourist destination spot, a hotel, or a convention center anything.

Achieving success in the travel and tourism industry requires thoughtful Tourism Marketing campaigns that are designed to generate brand awareness , create both, reach the most target audience or potential customers, drive traffic, foster loyalty among existing clients, and create a captivating customer experience . By utilizing these strategies, businesses can effectively engage with travelers while generating more sales opportunities.

Tourism Marketing has been profoundly impacted in recent years by digital development, as well as changes in consumer attitudes and desires. Crafting successful Tourism marketing messages today entails taking advantage of social media platforms, featuring user generated content, leveraging online reviews and search engines to your benefit, collaborating with influencers to drive traffic and expand reach, and experimenting with various channels for targeted messaging to attract travelers and optimize their customer journey in a way to convert them into loyal customers.

Why is Tourism Marketing Important?

To make a tourism business thrive, savvy marketing is an absolute must. By staying up-to-date with current trends and launching impactful campaigns, businesses can boost the recognition of their brand, gain customer loyalty and attract travellers. Moreover, tourism marketing holds promise for contributing to the economic growth of the region by driving tourists towards local enterprises.

The tourism industry is one of the biggest in the world and therefore highly competitive. To succeed, businesses must differentiate themselves from their competitors by promoting and advertising what makes them unique, showcasing why they’re the best option for tourists, and advertising and highlighting any special features that set them apart.

To allow businesses to gain a competitive advantage , marketing is essential. Many of the top tourism marketing approaches concentrate on highlighting a business’ unique selling point and broadcasting it effectively. Moreover, marketers must keep abreast with current trends to generate an effective promotional mix and deploy the most viable methods for disseminating their message across all channels.

Understanding the concept of Tourism Marketing

Tourism marketing is associated with most businesses, with marketing strategies in the field of tourism.  Today there are many countries in the world, where the tourism industry plays a major role in economic development , enhancing their GDP.

In such cases, tourism and digital marketing become important things. Many of the places are generally the hotspot for tourists like the Taj Mahal in India. Now places like these are considered the perfect areas where one can boost tourism through digital marketing.

The places which are more likely to be the major spots for attracting tourists are the places where tourism marketing flourishes the most. Now tourism marketing is all about applying several marketing techniques and strategies to create and boost the tourism industry of that place.

For successful tourism marketing to take place, the thing that is required the most is that the brands should speak for themselves in such a way that makes sense that their voices can be heard in the targeted markets.  This way they will be able to generate the cleanest successfully. Also, they need to be really careful in providing services to clients.

This is because if the customers are happy with the services chances they will spread the word and this may bring them more customers.  In the case of tourism marketing, it becomes easy to find the right audiences and create content to draw the attention of the targeted customers to the website by providing encouraging content.  Thus strategic planning , content marketing, and branding is the key to effective tourism marketing.

With it being carried out by keeping these two points in mind, chances are that the company that is involved in tourism marketing will be able to gain the advantage over their existing customers in no time and become a monopoly in the tourism industry.

What are the different ways in which Tourism Marketing Can Be Done in 2023?

Now various methods are applied for tourism marketing to flourish.  Below are some of the important ways in which the tourism marking of any place is given a boost.

1) Location marketing

In this type of marketing strategy , the main focus of tourism marketing is one bringing people’s attention to a specific location. In this strategy , no recommendations are made with respect to a particular site or any accommodation. Now some locations are already so popular all over the world that tourism marketers don’t have to make many efforts to attract their attention to such places.

All they need to do to attract customers is remind them of such locations and chances are that the consumer can easily get convinced to spend money and visit any such place. For example, Las Vegas is popular for its undying charm and full of life kind of prospects.

Now there s also a popular slogan related to Las Vegas which is ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. This slogan has gained worldwide popularity and almost everyone wants to visit Las Vegas at least once.

So here the tourism marketers have to simply remind people of how amazing this city is and what are the different ways in which they can have the time of their lives here. Another example that can be taken in Florida.

They use a more ‘benefit-oriented’ approach. Their slogan and website are ‘The Sunshine State’.  This way they are presenting their state with a joyous and charming climate and as a perfect place for beach and football lovers.  Also with their slogan and website, they are successfully able to present their state as an ideal ‘summer vacation’ destination and are definitely a dream for many to visit this place.

Thus location marketing is one of the simplest forms of tourism marketing in which without even putting much effort, with the brand value and the popularity of some specific location, the customers can be attracted.

2) Activity marketing

Now, this type of tourism is carried out keeping in mind both the location and the activities that are performed in such places.  This type of tourism marketing strategy usually keeps in mind travelers who are adventure lovers or activity freaks.

There are many other sites and locations all over the world that are famous for some specific activities. Like Alaska is famous for snowboarding, Yellowstone national park is famous for thrilling activities like hiking, and camping and is a perfect place for all nature lovers, similarly, there is ‘Colonial Williamsburg’ which attracts all history lovers.

Thus depending on the target audience and the type of activity that a particular place is famous for, tourism marketing can be carried out. Some people may be adventure lovers, some people may be looking for art and culture some people love hunting, depending upon their area of expertise and interest, the tourism markers can segment the groups of potential visitors and customers and approach them.

Thus activity marketing is a form of tourism making and social media marketing that emphasizes the booking process and bringing the attention of a customer to particular places on the basis of the activities that are performed there.

3) Corporate marketing

This is quite an interesting approach to tourism marketing. Now it has been found that a large number of people working in corporate sectors have to travel to different places to attend a conference or a meeting.

Then according to research, it was found these locations were ideal for tourists, and a number of people came to attend those places. Also, they brought their families and their loved ones as well. Now considering these scenarios’ latest trends in mind, corporate influencer marketing can contribute a lot to tourism marketing as it has significant potential.

Here the tourism marketers take advantage of the fact that by planning the business meeting in touristy places, people come in large numbers thus they can make a lot of profit out of it.

What are the four basic pillars of Tourism Marketing?

The foundation of tourism marketing stands firmly on four of its important pillars which are the product , the price, the place, email marketing, and the promotion.

Let us understand each of these separately as to how they contribute to tourism marketing!

Marketing Mix of Tourism

1) product in tourism marketing.

One of the most important aspects of the tourism marketing strategy is to determine the effect of the selling benefits and the other types of benefits that are re-obtained by competing with their rivals in the same market .

Tourism marketers need to focus more on such destinations that provide both business advantages to travel brands and pleasure to their customers. These pleasures depend on several factors like the ease of traveling, facilities of the sites and the hotels, the nightlife of that place, activities offered, and the overall culture of that place.

Thus by considering these factors, tourism marketers will understand the areas that have to focus more on, so that marketing can be done effectively.

2) Price in Tourism Marketing

The price point is yet another important aspect of tourism marketing. Now many people avoid traveling due to money-related issues.  And this is where tourism marketing comes in to save the day.  Today so many mobile apps have been developed, on which if a person books a hotel r a transport like a flight or a train, they get discounts. This attracts a lot of customers.

Along with the free referral marketing, they also try to give value-added services to their customers. Some hotels also offer free shuttle services to their visitors. Also depending on whether it is a high season or an offseason, the prices are altered.  

3) Place in Tourism Marketing

Now for tourism marketing to earn a profit, deciding the location where they want to perform the marketing can play a key role in how far they can go. The place refers to the area where the products and services can be distributed.

Now in tourism and destination marketing, the location and the destination marketers offer their products and services to their customers through travel agents, tour operators, inside sales teas, etc.  The distribution of their products and services to visitors can be done through catalogs, online, sites, mobile devices, websites, stores, etc.

4) Promotion

In this numerous different strategies and technologies are used for the promotion of any specific area or tourist destination.  In fact, trade magazines and meeting planners are also efficient ways for promotion purposes.

These often come with many other forms of discount coupons, brochures, etc. also they try their target customers to come across the ads that pop up on the website to make them aware of the various tourist places.

15 Tourism Marketing Strategies in 2023

1. prioritising hygiene and safety via marketing communication.

Tourism marketers must now prioritize safety and hygiene to give their customers peace of mind when they travel. By highlighting the protocols that are being taken, tourists can rest assured knowing they will be protected while visiting.

2. Developing Loyalty Programmes

Loyalty programs are the ideal way to demonstrate your appreciation for existing customers and stimulate repeated patronage. Tourism marketers should construct loyalty programs that will not only retain existing customers but also appeal to fresh audiences.

3. Capitalising on Voice Search

In the age of voice search, it is essential for tourism marketers to create content that can be quickly found and accessed. Optimizing your site and content for this new technology will bolster your site for visibility and success in the long term.

4. Facilitating User-Generated Content

User-generated content, such as ratings and reviews on social media, is critical in helping customers make informed decisions. User-generated social media content is one of the key tourism marketing trends.

5. Deploying Artificial Intelligence:

AI technology is a valuable asset for Tourism marketers, allowing them to track customer behavior and create personalized brand experiences tailored to each individual. This can help customers find the brand information they need quicker and more easily than ever before.

6. Not Neglect Review Marketing

Reviews and ratings are a critical resource for Tourism companies, making them an invaluable asset in swaying potential customer decisions. Any Tourism marketer must recognize the importance of reviews if they wish to stay competitive.

7. Enhancing the Guest Experience & Satisfaction Through Chatbots

Chatbots can be a vital tool in creating an effortless, tailored experience for all customers. Chatbot technology should be a top priority for the hospitality and tourism industry to provide quick customer service and support, as well as respond promptly to any inquiries.

8. Investing in Remarketing Efforts

Maximizing your Tourism business’ potential by tapping into already engaged customers is a surefire way of increasing sales. Leverage the power of remarketing to maximize your potential and gain more qualified leads.

9. Utilising Augmented Reality Technology

Augmented reality provides the ideal platform for tourism businesses to build mesmerizing and unforgettable experiences for their customers.

10. Prioritising Personalisation

Customization is a crucial element of this form of marketing. By personalizing content and messages to the target audience’s wants and needs, Tourism marketers can engineer and create an experience that will ensure positive word-of-mouth publicity for their business or brand.

11. Exploring Metaverse

The metaverse is becoming more and more popular with tourism companies, as it allows them to give their customers an unparalleled, immersive experience.

12. Using NFTs

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are quickly becoming a widely recognized trend. Tourism companies can harness this technology to propel their marketing campaigns and draw in more visitors.

13. Promoting Virtual Reality (VR) Tours

Allow your customers to explore new destinations without even having to leave their homes – with VR tours, the possibilities are endless!

14. Focusing on the Customer Experience

Crafting an exceptional customer experience should be the primary focus of any Tourism promotional strategy . Optimizing customer experiences on all marketing channels is crucial.

15. Embracing content and influencer marketing

Content and influencer marketing are essential building blocks of any successful tourism strategy. It helps in optimizing the presence of a travel business in the search engine.

Thus, tourism and travel agency marketing are one of the branches of marketing that deal with the tourism and travel industry only.

It is essential to carry out efficient tourism marketing, as one can make a lot of money through this because there are so many people in this world who love traveling, and this can help the tourism marketing industry to flourish their business.

Liked this post? Check out the complete series on Marketing

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About Hitesh Bhasin

Hitesh Bhasin is the CEO of Marketing91 and has over a decade of experience in the marketing field. He is an accomplished author of thousands of insightful articles, including in-depth analyses of brands and companies. Holding an MBA in Marketing, Hitesh manages several offline ventures, where he applies all the concepts of Marketing that he writes about.

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This was a great article! Now I’m interested in a career in tourism marketing. How do I start? I already write travel content/copywriting blogs for an agency. Where would I go from there?

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this article really helped me in conducting research on tourism. Thank you very much

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This article helped me alot on my academic research

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Hello,the article is highly assisting and I am seriously having interest in studying Tourism Marketing.

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This information was very helpful

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hey! This is a good and interesting article about tourism marketing. I am a second degree student in tourism business administration,the program is all about tourism as a business perspective.if you can possible,please post such relevant articles via email address that i have attached below the space provided.

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Buses and minibuses in a parking lot. The sky is dark blue, and a few stars are visible.

Aurora Tourism in Iceland: You Can Seek, but You May Not Find

The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights — especially this year, which is a peak time for solar activity. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found.

In Reykjavík, Iceland, aurora borealis tourism is a booming business. Hopeful tourists board buses to head out into the night in search of the northern lights. Credit... Sigga Ella for The New York Times

Supported by

Amelia Nierenberg

By Amelia Nierenberg

Amelia Nierenberg spent four nights searching for the northern lights in Iceland.

  • March 25, 2024

From the outside, it may seem like the northern lights dance across Iceland’s skies each night. On Icelandair ads, planes fly across shimmering curtains in the sky. On social media, travelers gaze at the green bands above them . The lights are even on some recycling bins in Reykjavík, the capital: “Keep Iceland Clean.”

In the past decade or so, an aurora borealis industrial complex has boomed in Iceland. Many rent a car and go out on their own, but there are northern lights big bus tours and northern lights minibus tours and northern lights Super Jeep tours . There are private guides and boat cruises . There’s an observatory base camp . There’s even a museum .

Tourists line up outside a red minibus in the twilight. Behind them, there is a light green statue that is illuminated.

But the lights can be elusive.

“Tourists sometimes expect, like, ‘At what time do you turn them on?’” said Björn Saevar Einarsson, a forecaster at Iceland’s meteorological office , chuckling. “Like we have a switch in the back room.”

This year, the letdowns are especially intense.

The northern lights, which are also called the aurora borealis, are most visible when there are solar flares, which are big eruptions on the sun that send charged particles toward Earth. This year, the sun is approaching the peak of its 11-year cycle of activity , which some assume means that the displays could peak, too.

But the enhanced solar activity doesn’t necessarily mean the northern lights will be brighter or more frequent, scientists wearily explain. Instead, they mostly mean that the lights can be seen farther south than usual: In recent months, they have been visible in Arizona , Missouri and southern England .

That doesn’t mean much for Iceland.

In fact, Icelanders and scientists said, this winter is nothing special. Sometimes, the lights are there. Sometimes, they aren’t. Just like always.

Hunting the lights

But nothing special, with the northern lights, is still very special. And so tourists keep coming .

Last month, I joined the fray. For four nights, I looked for telltale sky shimmers in and around Reykjavík.

I booked my tickets riding high — this was the best year yet, right? But as I learned more, and as my flight neared, my hopes ebbed. Scientists and tour leaders gently told me that the skies were cloudy and the solar activity seemed quiet.

“Just to let you know the forecast doesn’t look too good” Inga Dís Richter, the chief commercial officer at Icelandia , a tourism agency, wrote in an email two days before I planned to take a minibus trip with Reykjavik Excursions , one of its tour operators.

“But,” she added, “this can change.”

To find the lights, guides and travelers often rely on aurora forecasts, which overlay cloud cover and solar activity. They check them constantly, like a bride with an outdoor wedding in mid-April.

Some of the forecasts are free, like the aurora forecast run by Iceland’s meteorological office or Iceland at Night , which includes space weather. (Some are not — Aurora Forecast , which costs $12.99 a year, sends alerts.) Many people also turn to Facebook pages , where enthusiasts hungrily swap sightings.

Luck, though, is everything.

“There’s only one thing less predictable with the northern lights, and that’s the Arctic weather,” said John Mason, a global expert on the northern lights. “An aurora forecast is barely worth the paper that it’s written on.”

The guides work hard to explain the science, and set expectations. Most companies offer a free rebooking option if the lights do not show.

On my first night of aurora stalking, despite Ms. Richter’s warnings, I joined an expectant group on the Reykjavík Excursions minibus. For $88, I got a seat on the 19-person bus, which left the city’s central bus station at 9:30 p.m.

Over the next three to four hours, we would drive through the Icelandic night together. I’d either see something astonishing with these strangers — the sky, banded with light — or shiver with them shoulder-to-shoulder, awkward in the cold.

As we pulled onto the road, Gudjon Gunnarsson, the guide, set the mood early. “We are going hunting for the lights,” he said, emphasizing the word “hunting,” “similar to going out fishing in a lake.”

He drove for about 45 minutes, letting Reykjavík’s glow fade behind us. The city has about 140,000 people, and no real skyscrapers, so there’s limited light pollution. Although the northern lights can appear over the city, it’s best to see them in total darkness.

Then he paused and consulted with another guide.

“It is too cloudy here,” he told his flock. “So we will keep driving.”

But as we kept driving, clouds turned to a dense fog, so thick that the moon all but disappeared.

Mr. Gunnarsson turned off the main highway about an hour after we left Reykjavík. He parked in a parking lot. Or maybe it was a side street? The darkness was so deep that I could only make out the moonlight on the ocean, and only then after my eyes adjusted.

We disembarked and stood dutifully beside him, staring up at the sky. Then, one woman pointed toward Reykjavík. Were those the lights? (No. That was light pollution.)

Christof Reinhard, 65, who owns a medical laser company and was visiting with his family from Paris, mused that our search was a little bit like a safari. Sure, the desert is amazing, but it’s much better with lions. Or, maybe, was this more like a whale watch?

“Instead of a boat,” he said, “you have a bus.”

Mr. Gunnarsson watched the group stomp their feet and bend into the wind. Fifteen minutes. Then, half an hour. The clouds hung thick above. “There’s nothing happening here, as you can see,” he finally said to relieved chuckles. “It’s one of those nights where you just have to give up.”

Tourists can get mad, Mr. Gunnarsson and other guides said. It’s rare, but it does happen.

“It’s the trip that has our worst reviews,” said Eric Larimer, the digital marketing manager for Gray Line Iceland , a day tour and airport transport company.

A wake-up call for the aurora

For some, the joy is in the search, even if there is no find. A few focus on astronomy, often opting to stay at Hotel Rangá , which is just off the main ring road (Route 1) near Iceland’s south coast.

The hotel looks unassuming — low-slung and wooden — but it’s one of the most famous in Iceland. (The Kardashians stayed there . So did the Real Housewives of Orange County .) A standard room costs more than $300, depending on the season.

But Rangá doesn’t just cater to celebrities. It also draws astronomy buffs, enticed by its “aurora wake-up call” service and its observatory, which has state-of-the-art telescopes.

“One thing is to sell them,” said Fridrik Pálsson, the hotel’s owner, speaking of the northern lights. “Another thing is to deliver them.”

About 20 years ago, before the northern lights industry took off, he delegated the night security guard to monitor the sky. The guard pokes his head out every few minutes to look for the telltale flicker. If he sees the lights, he alerts the guests.

The service aims to address one of the main issues with hunting for the northern lights: They are usually only visible on winter nights, when it is very cold, very windy and very late.

“To be a good northern lights observer, you need the constitution of an insomniac polar bear,” Dr. Mason said.

My room phone, alas, stayed silent. But I did dream about the lights — great Wonka colors swirling, strangely, behind the Chrysler Building.

Mr. Pálsson built the observatory, too. Even if the lights didn’t show up, he figured, the stars are still magnificent — and, for city dwellers, also rare. The hotel contracts astronomers to work the telescopes and explain the stars to guests.On my second night in Iceland, as twilight slipped below happy-hour skies, I crunched across the snow to the observatory with Saevar Helgi Bragason, an Icelandic science communicator who leads the astronomy program.

He bent into a toddler-size telescope, focusing it on the moon’s craters. They looked clearer than the hotel, just a short walk away. It was too early for the lights, he said. And that evening seemed too cloudy (on Earth) and too quiet (on the sun).

Mr. Bragason joked that the lights can get in his way — they create a mist over the stars he really wants to see. But tourists often come specifically to see them. And sometimes, he said, as they wait impatiently, they can miss the real wonder.

“You’re left with these beautiful skies above you,” he said. “Basically, literally, another universe opens up.”

Creating a lights season

Hotel Rangá was a pioneer in Iceland’s northern lights tourism industry: About two decades ago, people came to Iceland for the long summer days, and left as daylight slipped farther south.

“I found it rather stupid in the beginning,” admitted Mr. Pálsson, the owner of Rangá, speaking of northern lights tourism.

But spreading tourism throughout the year made sense. Partly, that was an environmental concern. The tourists would crowd the country’s extraordinary natural sites over just a few months. It was also economic. When the visitors left Iceland, tourism jobs would ebb with the sunlight.

So the northern lights, which are reliably visible from September to March, became the backbone of the country’s winter branding, said Sveinn Birkir Björnsson, the marketing and communications director at Business Iceland , which promotes the country.

“To be able to sell this product of cold and darkness, you have to have something to offer,” he said.

Now, even though June, July and August are the busiest months, tourism has evened out over the seasons. In 2023, there were about 1.1 million international visitors to Iceland during the aurora months, based on departures from Keflavík Airport, according to data from Iceland’s tourist board . From April to August, there were about 1.1 million, too.

About a decade earlier , when tourism overall to Iceland was lower, there were about 336,000 departures from the main airport in colder months, and about 446,000 in the spring and summer.

The winter travelers are drawn by the lights — and the hot springs, glaciers and icy waterfalls. It’s also cheaper than the summer season.

Some try to visit volcanoes , but the country recently warned tourists to avoid the lava flows — Iceland is living in an unusually active period of seismic activity . In January, lava flowed into a small town and last week a volcano erupted with just 40 minutes’ notice near the Blue Lagoon thermal springs, one of the country’s biggest attractions.

The final attempts

Near midnight on my last night, a Sunday, I drove to the Grótta Lighthouse , a popular spot on the outskirts of Reykjavík.

A few die-hard experts had warned me off — many tourists go there because it’s darker than most of Reykjavík, but then don’t think to turn off their headlights. It was also raining, greatly diminishing my chances of seeing the lights.

But I only had three hours before I had to leave to make my predawn flight. I felt a little desperate, a little dazed. I parked, and approached two people who were sitting in the rain on a wet wall, looking at the water in the darkness. I climbed over seaweed, and introduced myself. What would it mean to them, I asked, if the lights suddenly appeared?

“It’d be a little bit like the cherry on top,” said Catherine Norburn, 29, who was visiting from England.

She and her husband were set to fly out the next morning. They had not yet seen the lights.

“We don’t have high hopes,” said her husband, Reece Norburn, 29, “but it’s now or never.”

We didn’t see the lights. And I didn’t see them later, even after pulling off the highway halfway between Reykjavík and the airport at 3:30 a.m., half convinced by a shimmery cloud.

But I did spend more time looking up at the sky. And it’s a marvel.

In New York City, where I live, the night sky blooms orange-mauve. In Iceland, the nighttime darkness is just that — darkness. Clouds roll, breaking the deep blue. Stars actually shine. Northern lights or no northern lights, it was still cosmically beautiful.

Amelia Nierenberg writes the Asia Pacific Morning Briefing , a global newsletter. More about Amelia Nierenberg

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Mumbai:  Spend 36 hours in this fast-changing Indian city  by exploring ancient caves, catching a concert in a former textile mill and feasting on mangoes.

Kyoto:  The Japanese city’s dry gardens offer spots for quiet contemplation  in an increasingly overtouristed destination.

Iceland:  The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found .

Texas:  Canoeing the Rio Grande near Big Bend National Park can be magical. But as the river dries, it’s getting harder to find where a boat will actually float .


Immersive technologies for tourism: a systematic review

  • Open access
  • Published: 22 June 2022
  • Volume 24 , pages 181–219, ( 2022 )

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  • Eko Harry Pratisto   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-8576-8980 1 , 2 ,
  • Nik Thompson   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-0783-1371 1 &
  • Vidyasagar Potdar   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-7292-5462 1  

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This review provides a comprehensive view of immersive technology in tourism by critically analysing prior scholarly work. More specifically, it identifies the recent use of immersive technology in this field and the potential challenges it poses. This systematic review follows PRISMA guidelines and involves four key steps—identifying research questions, defining keywords, selecting studies based on inclusion and exclusion criteria, and synthesising results. It focuses on immersive technology in tourism-related peer-reviewed journal articles published from 2012 to 2020. The papers were selected from ten prominent journal databases. Some databases used combinations of search queries but with inclusion and exclusion criteria. This systematic review builds on the existing reviews by adding knowledge regarding state-of-the-art immersive technology usage in tourism and its integration with other technology. This review additionally identifies the potential challenges of implementing immersive technology in tourism. Finally, it presents a set of directions for future research in this space. In practice, the findings from this review can make both software developers and tourism providers aware of the potential of immersive technology in tourism. Software developers might consider appropriate designs that suit such usage, and tourism providers might consider using immersive technology to promote tourism destinations and provide a support system to maximise the benefits of immersive technology.

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1 Introduction

Tourism represents a product of modern, complex society (Walton 2018 ) and is traditionally defined as people travelling to a destination outside of their usual home and work environments for leisure (United Nations World Tourism Organization 2019 ). The tourism industry has been deeply affected by rapid technological change (tom Dieck et al. 2018c ), which has been felt even before the restrictions on personal movement caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Technology can offer new experiences in a simulated environment (e.g. immersive technology) without requiring physical travel. Immersive technology thus provides a suitable environment for tourism promotion, experience enhancement, or education (Guttentag 2010 ; Bekele et al. 2018 ). Advances in foundational technology now blur the boundary between the real world and the virtual environment by giving users an experience with a sense of immersion (Lee et al. 2013a , b). From this perspective, immersive technology enables tourism stakeholders to enhance tourists’ satisfaction since consumers can choose and modify such an experience to a degree that was once considered impossible (Williams and Hobson 1995 ).

Immersive technology concepts can be considered on a reality-virtuality continuum (see Fig.  1 ): at the former end is a real environment, and at the latter end is a computer-generated virtual environment. Within that spectrum are two concepts—augmented reality (AR) and augmented virtuality (AV), which fall under the umbrella terminology of mixed reality (MR). In addition, there is virtual reality (VR), which is a fully virtual environment.

figure 1

Reality–virtuality continuum (Milgram et al. 1995 )

In the context of this study, immersive technology blurs the boundary between the real physical world and the virtual world, letting users experience a sense of immersion (Slater and Wilbur 1997 ). Referring to the reality–virtuality continuum, as the direction from the physical world point moves toward the virtual environment end, the technology delivers more virtual elements on the device’s screen. This means that the number of virtual objects seen by users increase, whereas the number of physical objects they see decreases. Most notably, immersive technology includes AR and VR. Whereas AR can overlay the view of the user’s current environment with digital objects (Azuma 1997 ), VR can create a virtual environment that the user can seamlessly interact with in real time (Guttentag 2010 ). Both AR and VR can increase the quality of visitors’ experience of a destination (Yung and Khoo-Lattimore 2019 ).

The VR industry is proliferating, with a projected increase in market size from 6.2 billion US dollars in 2019 to more than 16 billion US dollars in 2022 (Alsop 2020 ). This is in stark contrast with the tourism industry. The United Nations World Tourism Organization ( 2019 ) reported approximately 180 million fewer international arrivals between January and March 2021 than in the first quarter of 2020. Expressly, the number of international tourist arrivals worldwide in 2020 declined by 73% compared to 2019, and by another 83% in 2021 compared to 2020. Immersive technology is still viable even though the tourism industry in many regions was put on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. For example, in Australia, the number of visitor arrivals declined in February 2020 when the Australian Government first introduced travel restrictions. International arrivals fell 99.6% compared to the previous year (Tourism Australia 2020 ). As the global pandemic continues, a higher potential exists for immersive technology to become a viable alternative to travelling.

Immersive technology has been adopted and implemented in various tourism areas. The technology provides a surrogate experience that can be used to convince potential visitors to travel to a tourism destination (Chung et al. 2018 ; Flavián et al. 2019 ; Lee et al. 2019 ; Kim et al. 2020 ). The benefit usage of immersive technology includes navigation systems (Balduini et al. 2014 ; Sommerauer and Müller 2014 ), tourism promotion (Lacka 2020 ; Li and Chen 2019 ; Kim et al. 2020 ), and enhanced user experiences during visitation (Puig et al. 2020 ; Errichiello et al. 2019 ; Rodrigues et al. 2019 ).

Researchers such as Baker et al. ( 2017 ), Beck et al. ( 2019 ), Wei ( 2019 ); and Yung and Khoo-Lattimore ( 2019 ) have conducted reviews on AR and VR in tourism. Wei ( 2019 ) located major key dimensions of user behaviour in prior AR and VR-related studies using a framework representing stimuli, decisions and consequences cause-and-effect relationships. The author also discussed the development of theory and methodology within AR and VR in tourism research. In addition, Yung and Khoo-Lattimore ( 2019 ) reviewed AR and VR usage in the tourism sub-sectors of marketing, education, and tourism experience enhancement. These reviews are valuable for understanding immersive technology adoption in tourism concerning their specific areas of interest. However, questions remain regarding the extent of immersive technology usage in tourism and its potential challenges. Identifying and mapping the recent immersive technology development in tourism will help researchers identify the technology usage trends and determine the important areas for further investigation.

To explore this timely area of technological development and research, we present in this article a systematic review of the current state of research into immersive technology use in tourism. Therefore, this review aims to build knowledge on what has been investigated about immersive technology in tourism from existing literature. Additionally, this review includes suggestions for future research. The systematic review is achieved through the following objectives: (1) extract related existing literature from databases from a specified period, (2) select the literature based on inclusion criteria, (3) synthesise the selected literature to answer the research questions, and (4) identify research gaps for future research recommendations.

2 Existing reviews

This review identified four prior review articles (see Table 1 ). One AR-related review (Baker et al. 2017 ) focused on mobile AR for hard-of-hearing visitors. Beck et al. ( 2019 ) focused on VR, classifying it based on the immersive level. Two reviews (Yung and Khoo-Lattimore 2019 ; Wei 2019 ) addressed how both AR and VR are used in the tourism context in general. This section discusses each of the previous reviews’ scope to highlight their differences.

All the existing reviews had similar methodologies, including searching for articles in selected databases, screening the articles using inclusion and exclusion criteria, and reporting findings. ScienceDirect was the most used database in three reviews (Baker et al. 2017 ; Beck et al. 2019 ; Wei 2019 ), followed by Emerald and EBSCOhost. The studies by Wei ( 2019 ) and Yung and Khoo-Lattimore ( 2019 ) only included peer-reviewed journal articles, in contrast with Beck et al. ( 2019 ), who also included peer-reviewed conference papers. Baker et al. ( 2017 ) did not state which type of articles were included.

The existing reviews revealed interesting findings regarding immersive technology implementation in tourism. For example, Baker et al. ( 2017 ) identified 11 major elements required to provide a mobile AR system for hard-of-hearing visitors. Those elements might be useful to ensure that the targeted user receives the correct information from the AR system. Two other studies were concerned with the terminology surrounding the technology. Yung and Khoo-Lattimore ( 2019 ) highlighted AR and VR-related terminology issues: several terms (virtual environment, VR and virtual world) were used inconsistently.

Similarly, Beck et al. ( 2019 ) focused on VR classification, including non-immersive, semi-immersive, and fully immersive VR in tourism. The authors argued that VR should deliver high-quality images to help users avoid motion sickness and encourage them to visit the destination in real life. Wei ( 2019 ) examined AR and VR research development in hospitality and tourism. The author identified major dimensions and classified them using the stimuli–dimension–consequence framework.

Some suggestions for future research can be derived from the existing reviews. A study is needed that focuses on technical aspects such as content, design, interactivity (Beck et al. 2019 ) and cross-cultural approaches (Wei 2019 ) to understand how users perceptions of immersive technology might vary. A comparison study could also examine the usage of immersive technology such as AR, VR and MR in tourism. Finally, Yung and Khoo-Lattimore ( 2019 ) suggested that future research identify the impact of having AR or VR booths in travel agencies and information centres and the possible applications of VR images or videos produced from 360° cameras.

Based on the existing reviews’ scopes, we identified the distinct new contributions made in our work. First, this review complements the findings on VR and AR presented by Wei ( 2019 ) and Yung and Khoo-Lattimore ( 2019 ) and the use of this technology in tourism sectors, including VR with 360° technology. Second, this study covers all immersive technology applications in tourism research rather than focusing only on AR (Baker et al. 2017 ) or VR (Beck et al. 2019 ). Finally, this review considers the characteristics of immersive technology, its integration with other technology and potential challenges.

3 Methodology

This study utilises a systematic literature review to answer three research questions related to immersive technology in tourism by summarising research findings to obtain a comprehensive view of the state-of-the-art use of immersive technology and identify potential issues for future research. This section details the systematic literature review process by implementing a guideline proposed by Okoli ( 2015 ).

3.1 Identifying the research questions

In the previous section, we distinguished this review’s contribution from that of previous review articles. This review focuses on state-of-the-art immersive technology in tourism to answer several research questions. We followed the PICO framework (Pollock and Berge 2018 ) to develop research questions based on the aim of this review. The research questions are as follows:

Research question 1 (RQ1) : What characteristics of immersive technology are used in tourism research?

Research question 2 (RQ2) : To what extent does immersive technology play a role in the tourism visiting experience?

Research question 3 (RQ3): What are the potential challenges of developing immersive technology for the tourism domain?

3.2 Defining search keywords

Given the objective of this study, keywords needed to be defined to obtain relevant articles from databases. Our article search strategy included all published articles related to AR, VR, and MR since those terms are within the domain of immersive technology. The keywords ‘augmented reality’, ‘virtual reality’, ‘mixed reality’, ‘360 video’, ‘360 panoramic’, and ‘360 degree’ were included since these are present in many VR-related studies. The query also included the keywords ‘tourist’, ‘tourism’, and ‘visitor’ to keep the focus on tourism. The searching technique consisted of combined keywords and Boolean operators such as ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ to narrow the results. We included articles published from 2012 until 2020 to obtain an insight into the use of state-of-the-art immersive technology in tourism. We also only included articles published in peer-reviewed journals in English. Articles from proceedings, conferences, magazines, and books were excluded from this review. The search query was then executed on the following ten electronic databases: ACM Digital Library, EBSCOhost, Emerald Insight, IEEE Xplore, ProQuest, SAGE, ScienceDirect, Taylor and Francis, Web of Science and Scopus, considering the boundaries of the various definitions of immersive technology, time range, keywords, and type of articles. We used ten databases to ensure that we did not miss any relevant articles. Emerald Insight, Web of Science, and Scopus use a slightly different syntax, meaning we changed the search query slightly to suit their characteristics. The search query we developed to guide the literature search is outlined in Table 2 . The search query was applied to titles, abstracts and keywords in selected databases.

3.3 Study selection

As part of the study selection stage, inclusion and exclusion criteria were defined to produce relevant articles to the research questions. This review excluded inappropriate terms, such as ‘non-immersive VR’, often applied during the article evaluation process. For example, we only included articles using applications with a first-person perspective. Articles using applications with a third-person perspective, such as Second Life (Linden Research 2019 ), were excluded. Articles discussing VR technology and covering almost all of the user’s range of vision through, for example, image or video projection on the surrounding walls (Ghadban et al. 2013 ) were included in this study.

Regarding the VR content, 360° images and video are common types of content found in the selected articles. Such content is preferable for promoting tourism destinations because it gives the potential tourist a view of the prospective destination most like real life. The computer-generated virtual environment might be suitable for reconstructing a specific situation or learning context.

Table 3 details a full list of inclusion and exclusion criteria for the screening process of the selected articles. The search query generated 1017 articles from the ten databases (see Table 4 ).

All articles identified in the search result were imported to the Endnote X9 bibliographic database (Clarivative Analytics 2019 ). The screening process followed the Preferred Reporting of Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) flow diagram (Moher et al. 2009 ), as illustrated in Fig.  2 . The articles were then subject to the three-level screening process.

figure 2

Article selection based on the PRISMA flow diagram

The first level filtered studies to eliminate any (1) duplication, (2) anonymous studies, and (3) studies not published in a peer-reviewed journal as an original article. This reduced the number of articles from 1017 to 587.

In the second level, the titles and abstracts were sorted through to elucidate studies discussing AR, VR or MR in tourism. During this stage, 260 articles were deemed relevant to our study and then needed to be identified and assessed by reading the full text.

The third screening level involved full-text review to ensure that each article met the criteria, as listed in Table 3 . This synthesis resulted in 88 relevant articles. The information from these articles was extracted and coded in Microsoft Excel before being reviewed and examined iteratively.

4 Results and discussion

This study aimed to illuminate some exciting aspects of immersive technology in tourism research. Immersive technology offers enormous potential in this domain. Given the specified inclusion and exclusion criteria, 88 peer-reviewed articles (see Appendix) published over the last nine years were relevant to this research topic. This review categorises the immersive technology from the selected articles into AR and VR based on the technology’s characteristics. Referring to Fig.  1 , the technology used in several studies (Kasinathan et al. 2017 ; Nisi et al. 2018 ; Raptis et al. 2018 ; Hammady et al. 2020 ) might qualify as AR despite being referred to as MR. As seen in Fig.  3 , AR has been a common immersive technology used in tourism research. In 2018, 15 articles on tourism research using AR were published, the highest number of articles to be published in the field in one year. In 2019, the number of articles on VR usage in tourism research peaked with ten articles published.

figure 3

Article published distribution over time

Table 5 shows the nature of the study in each of the selected articles. Design research and qualitative studies were dominant at 40.9%. A quantitative method, proceeded by experiences in immersive technology, was the most common data collection approach to capture participants’ experiences with and perceptions of the technology. The remaining articles were qualitative (8.0%), conceptual (5.7%) and mixed method (4.5%).

Table 6 focuses on the research locations of 47 empirical studies. Most research on immersive technology in tourism during the time defined in this study took place in Taiwan (14.9%), followed by the United Kingdom (12.8%) and the United States (10.6%). Four out of 47 empirical studies compared immersive technology usage in more than one country.

Most of the articles listed in Appendix focused on tourism destinations and attractions, with few articles on immersive technology usage in tourism support such as hotel (Bogicevic et al. 2019 ; Israel et al. 2019 ; Zeng et al. 2020 ) and cruise ship (Yung et al. 2019 ) promotions. Some other tourism sectors, such as travel agencies (Bush 2022 ) and airlines (Emirates 2022 ), have been using VR to promote their products, but we did not find any articles within the selected literatures. A possible explanation is that some tourism sectors see the value of immersive technology, such as VR, as showing destination or location instead of the journey to the destination. Otherwise, there is still little or no research covering immersive technology usage in those tourism sectors.

We subjected the selected articles to the review process to better understand immersive technology in tourism and discover potential future research. The following sections elaborate on the selected articles' findings to answer the proposed research questions.

4.1 The current state of immersive technology usage in tourism research (RQ1: What characteristics of immersive technology are used in tourism research?)

4.1.1 augmented reality features in tourism research.

Table 7 shows all the devices used in the selected AR-related articles. Mobile devices (smartphone or tablet PC) were the most common device used (76.3%). This is not surprising given that mobile devices are convenient to carry during travel and inexpensive compared to the other AR devices such as Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass, or Meta One glasses.

AR combines a virtual object with the real environment in real time. The user can interact with the virtual object that blends the real world in three-dimensional perspectives (Azuma 1997 ). An AR system works in the presence of a trigger, which is a stimulus that initiates it to begin the virtual object augmentation on the device screen (Edwards-Stewart et al. 2016 ). Triggers can be a QR code printed on paper, an image, a real object, or a device location. Location-based AR was dominant in 37.3% of studies (see Table 8 ), while a trigger using a camera sensor, either markerless or marker-based, was present in 18.6% and 13.6% of studies, respectively. Four studies (6.8%) used AR with camera and location sensors as the trigger.

Some studies have built on the AR system’s capability to improve the user’s experience while exploring a location or object. Object recognition (markerless or marker-based) with geolocation feature addition is one example. The combined use of object recognition and geolocation provides spatial information for tour route decisions (Chu et al. 2012 ), improves the AR system’s accuracy, and makes it easier for the user to correctly recognise the object or place of interest and use that information in the future (Santos et al. 2017 ). Location-based AR uses a global positioning system (GPS) or beacon as the trigger. However, a beacon is preferable for indoor situations because building structures might block the signal used by GPS (Neumann et al. 1999 ). The combined AR trigger helps users explore a particular cultural site (Nisi et al. 2018 ; Gimeno et al. 2017 ) or city (Han et al. 2018 ; tom Dieck and Jung 2018 ).

The AR system’s integration with other technology is another option to enhance the user’s experience. This is more adaptive than a basic AR system and brings more relevant information to match users’ profiles and interests. Other people’s opinions also influence decision-making. For example, a person can obtain information from social media platforms such as Twitter about a tourism destination based on someone else’s opinion (Balduini et al. 2012 , 2014 ). Social media might influence a person’s interest in visiting a tourism destination.

Several of the selected articles adopted cloud technology in the AR system. García-Crespo et al. ( 2016 ) proposed a framework for cultural entertainment centred on a smart city with AR that employs cloud-based technology. Moreover, two studies used cloud computing for media storage (Lee et al. 2017 ) and speech-based query processing (Lin and Chen 2017 ). Rodrigues et al. ( 2019 ) used an AR system that provides experiences through the five basic human senses. While the AR system delivers visual and audio representing two senses (sight and sound), the attached physical mobile device stimulates other senses: touch, smell and taste. It allows the user to have an immersive five-sense experience during object observation.

Spatial marking offers a different immersive level in AR. Four studies employed Microsoft HoloLens (Raptis et al. 2018 ; Hammady et al. 2020 ) and Meta One glasses (Pedersen et al. 2017 ; Oh et al. 2018 ). These devices take the immersion of AR a step further by overlaying digital objects without a trigger. Instead, the devices track through the user’s environment and anchor the digital object to the real environment on display. Little research exists in the tourism area regarding using these devices, and there are many related academic research opportunities.

4.1.2 Virtual reality features in tourism research

VR typically immerses the user in a computer-produced or alternative environment. The VR experience becomes realistic as the virtual environment blocks the user’s real-world view. Users immerse themselves in the experience and have a sense of belief that they appear in the alternate world through the help of devices such as head-mounted devices (HMDs) or ‘cave’-like rooms (Hobson and Williams 1995 ; Ghadban et al. 2013 ). An HMD unit is a device worn on the head, covering both eyes. HMDs can be low-cost and use a smartphone to show the virtual environment or more advanced, such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Alternatively, the user can experience VR in a room with a virtual environment projected onto all walls. When VR uses space in this way, it is called cave automatic virtual environment (CAVE).

As illustrated in Table 9 , HMDs were the most popular devices (66.7%) in the reviewed articles. HMD is ideal for experiencing VR since the user’s view of the real-world is blocked entirely and replaced by a virtual environment. In some of the selected articles, VR was used to restore objects and the environment by generating a virtual environment to simulate a specific situation in the past (Kersten et al. 2018 ; Errichiello et al. 2019 ; Ghadban et al. 2013 ), for marketing (Lin et al. 2020 ), and for additional entertainment during visitation (Puig et al. 2020 ). Interestingly, more than half of the selected VR-related articles used VR with 360 O technology content (see Table 10 ). Although this meets VR’s characteristic of immersing the user in another world, it is not a computer-generated environment, and no user interactivity is involved. Instead of interacting with the virtual object, the user can only view the surrounding environment from a defined specific point of view. The 360° technology is a new form of photography and filmmaking recorded with a special camera. However, this has been widely known by most people as VR, due to the large amount of such content on YouTube and Facebook. Nonetheless, the 360° VR content might benefit market tourism destinations by simulating the real environment of a location. Hence, significant potential use of VR remains in certain aspects of tourism, such as planning and management, marketing, entertainment, education, accessibility, and heritage preservation (Guttentag 2010 ).

4.2 Immersive technology applications within the tourism area (RQ2: To what extent does immersive technology play a role in the tourism visiting experience?)

Immersive technology offers academic and tourism stakeholders numerous opportunities in many tourism areas (see Fig.  4 ). Immersive technology usage has potential to improve tourism by increasing the number of visitors. It is also expected to increase awareness of lesser-known tourism destinations. This might be relevant because people are currently not travelling as much as before the global pandemic, and they might be interested in learning of new places. In this review, the tourism areas found in AR-related studies included AR for tour guidance, navigation, education, marketing, heritage preservation, entertainment, and accessibility. Previous studies also used VR for marketing and heritage preservation. The following section details the findings of each of the categories.

figure 4

Immersive technology usage in tourism areas

4.2.1 Immersive technology as a marketing tool augmented reality.

Marketing is one of the tourism areas where immersive technology was implemented in the selected articles. The technology can serve as a promotional tool or facilitate research focusing on users’ intentions to visit the tourism destination. This review identified four studies that used AR as a promotional tool. Jung et al. ( 2015 ) observed the impact of marker-based AR system quality on the intention of visitors to Jeju Island to recommend others to use the AR system. They argued that the quality of the AR that covers the information content, system quality and service quality positively influences the user’s satisfaction, leading to the intention to recommend the AR system. This view is supported by Chung et al. ( 2015 ), who stated that the visual appeal of the AR system, with the support of adequate technical support, influences the user to use AR and visit the tourism destination. Other studies focused on how AR features promote tourism destinations, such as Lin and Chen ( 2017 ). They found that users engage more with the AR system if they feel that the videos of attractions that they post online can help other users. The next challenge is how the tourism provider persuades visitors to revisit the tourism destination. Lee et al. ( 2017 ) explored how mobile AR can increase tourists’ motivation to revisit a destination by exploring the post-travel experience using the entrance ticket as a scannable souvenir through the AR system. Virtual reality

VR as a marketing tool in tourism research was more common than AR, specifically pre-visit tourism destination promotion. When potential tourists decide to visit a destination, they are likely to search for information about it or consider whether it is worth visiting. VR adoption in tourism creates opportunities to promote destinations (Cheeyong et al. 2017 ; Tussyadiah et al. 2018b ; Adachi et al. 2020 ; Lin et al. 2020 ; Lin and Chen 2017 ). A qualitative study by tom Dieck et al. ( 2018c ) reported that VR influences tourists to use the application, revisit the destination, recommend it to others and experience the destination from a different perspective (e.g. observing it from a helicopter instead of from the street). One of the characteristics of VR is a sense of presence. The users feel that their presence moves from the real world to the virtual world. VR provides a better sense of presence than AR, leading to increasing destination image formation (Yung et al. 2019 ), which leads to visit intention (Tussyadiah et al. 2018b ). Experiencing VR with a HMD was also found to be a better promotion tool and provide better sensory stimulation and a more immersive experience compared to other systems (Flavián et al. 2019 ), such as a computer (Adachi et al. 2020 ), photographs (Yeh et al. 2017 ) or two-dimensional videos (Wagler and Hanus 2018 ). As a marketing tool, VR should provide content that represents the real conditions of the tourism destination. The tourism provider needs to ensure that the visual perspective of a destination they offer is genuine and as realistic as possible from the user’s perspective (Israel et al. 2019 ). However, the VR developer should consider the length of information if the content includes video (Marchiori et al. 2018 ). Additionally, in a recent quantitative study, Zeng et al. ( 2020 ) stressed that VR could add promotional value as an extension to online reviews.

4.2.2 Immersive technology for heritage preservation

One usage of AR and VR systems is reconstructing an object or environment since these systems produce computer-generated objects. AR systems enable the user to experience a three-dimensional virtual object based on the real heritage object, which might no longer exist in one piece or be possible to access. This way, the user can imagine and understand the object’s shape without looking at the real object. Augmented reality

Four of the selected articles used AR for heritage preservation. Madsen and Madsen ( 2015 ) developed a three-dimensional visualisation of a castle chapel. The visitors experience the digital cultural heritage using a tablet connected to a large TV screen or a tablet PC. The authors argued that the AR system should provide more information and storytelling elements since the visitor only spends a short time using the AR system and does not fully explore the chapel. Another study by Gimeno et al. ( 2017 ) examined mobile AR for Casa Batlló, a landmark building in Spain. The AR system uses two approaches. First, it uses the gyroscope sensor and Bluetooth to trigger virtual objects to blend with the real world. As a result, the AR system augments the virtual modelled elements or furniture and blends this with the real world captured by the camera. Second, the user can scan the building’s physical model using the camera to see the virtual building on the screen, including detailed representations of the interior of each room on every floor of the building. Roongrungsi et al. ( 2017 ) designed a marker-based AR system to augment the Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat temple. Panou et al. ( 2018 ) discussed the software architecture of an outdoor AR system that enables the user to experience virtual historical buildings around Chania, Greece. The system implements a gamification concept to let the user engage and interact more with cultural information. Virtual reality

Other researchers have adopted VR to simulate heritage objects or buildings. A lab experiment by Ghadban et al. ( 2013 ) showed VR as an interactive environment to explore Hisham’s Palace in Palestine. The critical challenge of rebuilding the model was the remains of the physical building and the building’s limited history; both need to be right to ensure that the virtual, three-dimensional object is similar as possible to the real object in its time. Another example is a study by Kersten et al. ( 2018 ) that discussed a virtual model of a wooden model of Solomon’s temple at the Hamburg Museum using a VR system. The system enables the user to virtually experience the temple’s environment despite never visiting the temple in real life. Errichiello et al. ( 2019 ) observed the user experience in a past environment, particularly a ship launch during the Grand Tour of Naples and listening to music at San Teodoro Palace Hall Music. They argued that VR might be an effective way for visitors to enjoy a museum tour to obtain comprehensive information from different perspectives. The result showed that the users had a high intention of reusing the VR system and sharing their experience over the Internet. A mixed-method study by Puig et al. ( 2020 ) analysed the impact of a VR simulation of the Neolithic settlement of La Draga. The VR system provides a visual reconstruction of La Draga, where the user can interact with virtual Neolithic and non-Neolithic objects.

4.2.3 Immersive technology for education

This review categorises the usage of immersive technology to improve knowledge learning during visitation to a tourism destination. A crossover study by Sommerauer and Müller ( 2014 ) examined AR’s effect on gaining mathematical knowledge in an informal environment such as a museum. The authors concluded that AR could be a useful learning tool in formal and informal environments. A quasi-experimental study by Chang et al. ( 2015 ) observed mobile AR’s effectiveness in promoting learning performance at heritage sites in Taiwan. The authors stated that AR-guided participants acquired more knowledge about the heritage site than audio-guided and non-guided groups. Pendit et al. ( 2016 ) evaluated how AR might improve people’s enjoyment of learning about cultural heritage. The findings showed that the respondents enjoyed the AR’s cultural heritage learning experience. Tan and Lim ( 2017 ) implemented gamification in an AR system to improve visitors’ interest in exploring and learning about a historical place, Kellie’s Castle, in Malaysia. A study by Oh et al. ( 2018 ) used AR with Meta One glasses to observe how they can help users at a science museum learn about light refraction. The authors concluded that those who experienced game-based performance followed by non-game simulation performed better than a group who experienced these activities in the opposite order. A qualitative study by Yoon et al. ( 2018 ) observed an interactive AR used to learn about different types of scaffolds in a science museum.

4.2.4 Immersive technology as tour guidance

AR enhances the tourism experience in that the interactive virtual information overlays the real world. Our review found that tour guidance studies exclusively adopted AR technology, and it does appear to be the most appropriate technology to adopt when the user is physically located at the tourism destination. AR also provides additional interpretation resources to enhance user engagement with the observed object during visitation, significantly impacting the experience (Damala et al. 2013 ). The previous studies identified two types of devices for AR tour guidance: mobile devices and wearable devices (e.g. smart glasses). Augmented reality with smart glasses

Smart glasses are wearable devices similar to regular eyeglasses equipped with a processing unit, various sensors and transparent lenses. The information displayed on the screen is integrated onto one or both lenses in front of the eyes, as if, from the AR user’s point of view, the digital information overlays the physical environment (Hein et al. 2017 ). Several studies employed wearable devices such as Google Glass (Mason 2016 ; tom Dieck et al. 2016 ; tom Dieck et al. 2018b ; Tussyadiah et al. 2018a ; Han et al. 2019a ), HoloLens (Hammady et al. 2020 ) and Meta One (Pedersen et al. 2017 ). Using wearable devices reflects the relationship between the human body and technology, where the user senses the device as part of their body (Tussyadiah et al. 2018a ). As a result, compared to an AR system that uses a mobile device, smart glasses offer a more immersive experience to the user, attractive and a balanced focus between the physical object and the device screen, while exploring tourism destinations (Mason 2016 ). Users were found to spend more time exploring the environment and engaging with the observed objects compared to without smart glasses (Hammady et al. 2020 ). On the other hand, tom Dieck et al. ( 2018b ) found that some participants, on their first experience using smart glasses, tended to have a stronger recollection of the information provided by the device than the paintings because they tended to pay more attention to the device than the environment.

Some smart glasses have display limitations that might impact the displayed information. Participants in a study by Mason ( 2016 ) emphasised the difficulty in reading text on the Google Glass display due to length limitations. Hence, tom Dieck et al. ( 2016 ) stressed that the application content should provide detailed and suitable information to help users experience tourism. The information also needs to be delivered in real time to pique the user’s interest and allow an uninterrupted leisure experience (Han et al. 2019b ; Choi and Kim 2017 ). Pedersen et al. ( 2017 ) supported the idea of implementing a reward system to lead users to more information and prompt them to proceed to the next object experience, thus making the visitation experience more enjoyable. Further, Damala et al. ( 2013 ) noted that the relevant content results from different stimuli induced during visitation rather than predefined content based on the user’s profile (e.g. adults, families). Augmented reality using a mobile device

Modern mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablet PCs equipped with a camera, provide powerful computing to run AR-based applications. Because most mobile devices are less expensive than smart glasses, enhancing the tourism visitation experience is feasible. Given that so much information can be displayed on the device’s screen, observing how users divide their focus between the mobile device and the real object is interesting. A behavioural pattern study on painting appreciation by Chang et al. ( 2014 ) showed that users still enjoyed observing the real painting and did not look at the device’s screen excessively, although the AR system was considered a new technology for some of the study’s participants. Conversely, some participants in the Nisi et al. ( 2018 ) study reported feelings of isolation. The authors stated that the AR application indirectly made the users focus more on the smartphone screen than on physically interacting with the real object.

tom Dieck et al. ( 2018a ) found that an AR system attached to a place encouraged visitors to engage more with the tourism destination. This view is supported by Nisi et al. ( 2018 ), who reported that the combination of storytelling and the observed physical environment stimulated users’ curiosity and willingness to explore that environment further, making the tourism experience educational and valuable. The information provided in the AR system is critical to providing a simple user interface with personalised information (Han et al. 2018 ) and interaction (tom Dieck and Jung 2018 ). Rather than shrinking an entire computer-based website layout to fit on a mobile device screen, the information must be adapted to suit a mobile layout (Chung et al. 2018 ). Interestingly, different cultural characteristics can result in different technological adaptations. According to Jung et al. ( 2018 ), people who live in cultures that prioritise the group over the individual and rely on social norms showed stronger dependence on social influence. Their decision to use tourism-based AR is likely based on the influence of friends and family.

4.2.5 Immersive technology as a navigation device

Some of the reviewed articles used immersive technology as a navigation device. We found that similar to the tour guidance applications, that navigation also exclusively relied on AR technology due to its connection to the physical realm. An AR system, such as those mainly used in smartphones, uses location sensors such as Bluetooth, GPS and compasses to pinpoint a specific location. Balduini et al. ( 2012 ) and Balduini et al. ( 2014 ) designed BOTTARI, an AR system that provides a point-of-interest recommendation in Seoul based on the social media community’s weighted opinions. The system continuously analyses social media streams and processes the information into personalised recommendations about places in the city. Chu et al. ( 2012 ) evaluated the Yehliu Geopark mGuiding system. The application implements AR using GPS coordinates from the mobile device. A study by Kourouthanassis et al. ( 2015b ) examined eight mobile AR applications from prior studies to determine their design properties. A mobile AR application called CorfuAR implements Layar, an AR browser app, by following the design principles of the reviewed AR applications. The authors argued that the proposed design principles contributed to the mobile AR application’s high usability and performance, leading to better user–system interaction. A follow-up study by the same authors (Kourouthanassis et al. 2015a ) confirmed that the functional properties of the application stimulate a feeling of pleasure, which leads to an increase in the intention to use the application. Siang et al. ( 2016 ) designed both the iMelaka 360 website and the iMelaka AR app to help tourists explore Melaka, Malaysia. Abidin et al. ( 2018 ) suggested an adaptive user interface for a location-based AR system to improve the tourist experience and ease access to Islamic tourism information, specifically in Malaysia.

4.2.6 Immersive technology adoption for other purposes

Another use of immersive technology in tourism was entertainment and accessibility support. A study by Shang et al. ( 2016 ) focused on using AR for post-visits. The mobile AR system used a postcard as a tourist souvenir to provide more information regarding the tourist destination that the user recently visited. Wu et al. ( 2020 ) investigated users’ behavioural intentions related to AR as part of the Avengers League World Tour exhibition in Taiwan. The users experienced the action from the point of view of the hero character.

Despite immersive technology offering many benefits to tourism, little research exists on immersive technology for disabled people. One design study by Baker et al. ( 2020 ) developed an AR tourism prototype for hard-of-hearing visitors. It is based on five conceptual elements: aesthetics, usability, interaction, motivation, and satisfaction. In a follow-up study, Baker et al. ( 2020 ) evaluated the prototype using groups of hard-of-hearing instructors, museum employees and experts. The prototype evaluation covered the interface, multimedia and interactivity.

4.3 The potential challenge in using immersive technology in tourism (RQ3: what are the potential challenges of developing immersive technology for the tourism domain?)

While immersive technology shows significant potential use in tourism, it also has several challenges (see Fig.  5 ). This section discusses the challenges identified in the selected articles.

figure 5

Challenges in immersive technology for tourism

First, a lack of interoperability exists across device platforms (Kounavis et al. 2012 ). AR cannot be used across all the operating systems, albeit there are many frameworks and toolkits to develop the AR application. Second, some AR applications require an Internet connection to retrieve data from the server (Kasinathan et al. 2017 ). Some tourists consider mobile Internet expensive, and not all tourism areas or cities provide free Internet access (Kounavis et al. 2012 ; tom Dieck et al. 2018b ). The third challenge lies in the physical size of the AR devices. Participants in a study by Chang et al. ( 2014 ) complained about the thick, heavy tablet PC used for painting appreciation. They indicated that a smaller device, like a smartphone, would be more suitable to carry as a tour guide device. In other studies, the drawbacks of tour guides using wearable devices were battery life (tom Dieck et al. 2016 ) and the device cost (Hammady et al. 2020 ).

The fourth challenge is the AR tracking ability when using a camera as a sensor. Camera-tracking AR, whether markerless or marker-based, should consider the amount of light and at what angle the camera faces the marker, picture or object. System responses, or feedback, are the fifth challenge of AR. The system should notify users of feedback errors to indicate the system’s process (Kourouthanassis et al. 2015b ) and create personalised navigation (tom Dieck et al. 2016 ). The fifth challenge is feedback from the AR system. Real-time feedback from AR systems influenced user-system interaction. Users might experience a lower attitude toward using the system if they feel uncertain due to no response from the system (Kourouthanassis et al. 2015a ). Participants in a study by tom Dieck et al. ( 2016 ) concerned about crashing and inadequate response from the system. System designers might need to minimize the possibility of system feedback issues to ensure users feel a smooth experience while using the AR system. The sixth challenge is the application layout. The layout of the annotation system influences the user’s perception of the observed area (Yovcheva et al. 2014 ). One participant in a study by Mason ( 2016 ) argued that it would be preferable for information to be shown via smart glasses rather than a mobile device screen. The seventh challenge identified in AR for tourism is the user’s engagement with the real object or surroundings. In an experimental design study by tom Dieck et al. ( 2018a ), participants experienced a new AR technology that caused them to focus more on the device’s information than the paintings they were observing. This means that the application designer should ensure that the information projected at a specific time is not overloaded and thus does not distract from the leisure experience (Han et al. 2019a ). Finally, user privacy is another concern regarding the use of AR in tourism. The benefit of content personalisation or a context-aware system delivers more related content to the user. However, if the system increasingly requests more personal details about the user, the risk of this data being lost or misused increases.

The challenges posed by VR in tourism are different from those posed by AR. The first challenge of using VR for tourism is device familiarisation. Puig et al. ( 2020 ) argued that familiarising the user with VR devices could be time-consuming. Further, the authors proposed combining the essentials of VR environment design with natural hand–gesture interaction that offers sufficient time flexibility to obtain information. The second challenge lies in the relationship between physical information from the real tourism destination and the virtual information in the VR environment. Puig et al. ( 2020 ) claimed that using information gained from the physical environment should help the user further explore information in a VR environment. Equally, the information from the virtual environment could help users learn about related tourism objects or situations. The third challenge of using VR for tourism is data availability. When presenting a virtual object, environment or scenario from the past, making the image presented in VR as realistic as possible relies on data availability.

5 Conclusions and implications

This review builds on knowledge from existing reviews (Baker et al. 2017 ; Beck et al. 2019 ; Wei 2019 ; Yung and Khoo-Lattimore 2019 ). Findings from another study by Baker et al. ( 2017 ) revealed 11 major elements that need to be considered when designing mobile AR systems for hard-of-hearing individuals. Consideration of those elements could increase user engagement with AR applications in tourism. Findings from another VR-related review study (Beck et al. 2019 ) addressed that VR in tourism can be classified by its immersion level: non-immersive, semi-immersive or fully immersive. The major finding from Wei ( 2019 ) identified major constructs from prior studies and categorised them using the stimuli–dimensions–consequences framework. The framework synthesises key constructs associated with AR and VR in tourism and hospitality. Yung and Khoo-Lattimore ( 2019 ) explored AR and VR usage in the tourism sub-sector and revealed the methodology and theory implemented in prior studies on AR and VR in tourism. Based on the existing review findings, the present study’s findings extend the knowledge on AR/VR usage in tourism. We have identified AR and VR as the immersive technology used in the selected research articles.

The following section elaborates on the potential future research on immersive technology in tourism and recommendations for stakeholders. This section also includes identified limitations of this study that might need improvement in future studies.

5.1 Limitations of the study

Although this review provides detail on immersive technology research in tourism, some limitations would be helpful to consider during future research. First, we found that some articles related to tourist attractions such as cultural heritage and museums did not appear in the search results. Future research might include specific tourism attractions as keywords in the search query. Second, our inclusion was limited to peer-reviewed journal articles. Our findings indicate increasing immersive technology adoption in tourism-related articles. Based on that trend, it could help to expand the findings by including conference proceedings that, to avoid duplication, are not extended to journal articles. Third, immersive technology in tourism indicates an increased number of published articles in line with time. However, the lack of technology adoption by the tourism providers either due to cost or lack of understanding remains unclear. Further study might focus on the challenge of adopting the technology.

Finally, the oldest article included in this review was published in 2012. Current technology has made substantial advances since then, and the potential challenges in technology adoption in tourism might have evolved too over time. For example, AR technology is more mature, with state-of-the-art mobile devices and AR integration with light detection and ranging (LiDAR). Recent VR technology can also deliver high-quality images with recent computation. For further reviews, we suggest that this may be a justification to adopt shorter review windows, for example of 5 years.

5.2 Future works

5.2.1 integrating immersive technology with other technology to enhance the user experience.

This review identified the types of immersive technology used in tourism articles. We observed that only AR and VR appeared in prior studies. Therefore, several potential directions for future research could implement another type of immersive technology under the MR umbrella and another technology integration. AR systems are used dominantly in mobile devices using a trigger to initiate the digital content on the screen, overlaying the real-world view. Modern smart devices are powered with high system specifications that quickly load the AR application. One direction for future research could be to use AR with LiDAR to detect the user’s environment. Using that technique, AR could help promote the tourism destination (Lee et al. 2017 ; Lin and Chen 2017 ) or enhance the user experience during visitation (Rodrigues et al. 2019 ; Yoon et al. 2018 ; Nisi et al. 2018 ). Likewise, another direction for future research with AR could be to use a wearable device to measure visitor responses to an enhanced experience during visitation (Hammady et al. 2020 ; Han et al. 2019a ; Tussyadiah et al. 2018a ). Although AR with wearable devices such as Google Glass and HoloLens is still considered expensive, its usage can deliver a seamless experience without requiring the user to hold the device. A third direction for future research could be to assess visitor responses on a multi-trigger AR system to improve the destination exploration experience using marker and location sensors.

Traditionally, VR visualises a virtual environment fully generated by a computer. The popularity of 360° technology in line with various HMD availability opens the opportunity for tourism providers to create a VR experience using a 360° camera without high-level programming knowledge. The following research agenda could be used to investigate the difference between using a computer modelling VR content and a 360° image or video for different situations, such as pre-visit or promotion, during visitation and post-visitation.

5.2.2 Immersive technology applications within the tourism area

Immersive technology has various uses in tourism. We found that AR is used primarily for tour guidance and navigation, and VR is mainly used to promote tourism destinations. One possible future research direction is to examine AR usage, especially personalisation based on visitor age, to enhance the learning experience during visitation (tom Dieck et al. 2018b ; Yoon et al. 2018 ).

A potential direction for future VR-related research is to assess whether the developed application reflects the expected specific environment, such as VR content that gives the user the sensation that they are experiencing a situation in the past (Puig et al. 2020 ; Errichiello et al. 2019 ). Another potential research agenda focuses on cultural heritage since VR can preserve heritage objects or situations and represent them using digital objects. It could also be interesting to explore immersive technology in areas other than those identified in this study, such as VR applications to support accessibility for disabled people and its potential to replace actual visitation due to physical restrictions.

5.2.3 Potential challenge in using immersive technology in tourism

The selected articles indicate several potential challenges of using immersive technology in tourism. They can give tourism stakeholders, primarily application developers, insight into designing a suitable system to meet users’ needs. Some challenges can be solved using current technology. For example, the interoperability issue (Kounavis et al. 2012 ) can be solved by developing the AR application using Unity (Unity Technologies 2020). Tracking issues that occur while detecting markers (Nisi et al. 2018 ) can be handled by using smartphones with an up-to-date camera sensor and using a new technique for spatial markings, such as LiDAR. Another challenge we found is that users feel disconnected from the real object while using the AR application. Application developers must consider the balance of interactivity between exploring the actual object and using the application. Tourism providers can also support the user’s experience by designing an interactive and attractive display presentation. Future research might focus on the design aspect of immersive technology for tourism and its evaluation. Exploring the impact of content-aware immersive technology on providing information based on the user’s characteristics would also be interesting.

5.3 Recommendations for stakeholders

5.3.1 recommendations for the system developer.

Our research shows that most AR applications use one trigger type to initiate the virtual object. As the user moves around the destination, the application is expected to recognise the user’s preference and recommend the next object that they need to explore. This can be achieved using traditional triggers such as a camera and a location sensor to detect the user’s position. In addition, the user experience can be assessed to improve the application and learn visitor preference. We also found that the visitor may engage with the AR application more than the real object or environment itself. Therefore, the AR application developer might consider designing an interactive application that will let the visitor examine the real object with additional information from the application.

5.3.2 Recommendations for tourism providers

Our research shows that AR is mainly used during actual visitation at the tourism destination. AR can enhance the user experience while the user is exploring the destination. Therefore, it might be helpful for the tourism provider to consider the layout of the destination to ensure that it supports the AR application usage. Infrastructure such as Internet connection, room layout, and booth layout can be developed to achieve this. Users might immerse themselves in the environment with the addition of AR applications and thus focus not only focus on the virtual object that appears on the device screen but also on any objects in the real environment.

To reiterate, we found that VR is mainly used to promote tourism. Undoubtedly, VR is gaining recognition as a solution simulating a realistic environment. Thus, our recommendation for tourism providers is to introduce the destination via VR through a travel agent (Bush 2022 ), meaning that potential visitors can experience the destination before deciding on travel. An alternative is to integrate VR with the destination’s website to help website users gain more information regarding the tourism destination. Another recommendation is to integrate VR with other applications, such as the Conqueror (Home Run Limited 2021 ), a virtual travel application that gained popularity during travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The application provides many virtual challenges to complete at well-known destinations worldwide. When users join a challenge, they can gain the distance they achieved through their daily exercise such as running, walking or cycling, which translates to distance travelled. The tracked distance can be synchronised with the Conqueror application to travel virtually to the selected destination challenge. Users can explore the route along the virtual trip. Tourism providers can integrate VR about their destinations with the application to enable users to have a VR experience of the promoted destination.

Tourism providers should consider VR adoption since it brings benefits as a virtual tour for users and them. Users may use virtual tours for cost-effectiveness, health safety and time-saving. Specific users such as the elderly or those with physical disabilities would feel safer, secure, and require no special equipment to enjoy the virtual trip (Scott 2020 ). As for tourism providers, VR adoption creates employment opportunities for content creators, videographers and tour guides (Scott 2020 ). Further, VR can be programable (Sussmann and Vanhegan 2000 ) to keep the content and information up-to-date.

6 Conclusion

This review explored the use of immersive technology in the context of tourism through a comprehensive review of 88 articles published between 2012 and 2020. The increasing number of journal articles published in this field reflects the research interest in immersive technology for tourism, primarily in AR. This work advances prior works and reviews through several contributions. We have identified AR and VR combined with other technology can offer potential user experience enhancement. We have also identified immersive technology usage within the tourism sub-sector and potential challenges of using immersive technologies. This review paper generates an overview that both academic and tourism stakeholders can use to understand better the current progress and possible research directions on immersive technology in tourism. Immersive technology, such as AR and VR, has numerous real-world applications and the potential to spark new interest and uptake of travel destinations which have been lagging in recent years. It is hoped that this review stimulates further research both in applying this technology to novel contexts and taking advantage of cutting-edge VR technology which has become increasingly available in the consumer space.

Data availability

We do not analyse or generate any datasets, because our work proceeds within a theoretical approach.

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Pratisto, E.H., Thompson, N. & Potdar, V. Immersive technologies for tourism: a systematic review. Inf Technol Tourism 24 , 181–219 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40558-022-00228-7

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    The tourism marketing mix—Product, Price, Place, Promotion—significantly influences the success of a campaign. Balancing these elements ensures that the offering is attractive, communicated effectively, and priced competitively, thereby influencing a traveler's decision-making process.

  14. Tourism Marketing: A Guide to Effectively Market Your Tours and

    At its core, tourism marketing is a strategic approach to promoting destinations, tourism products and services to tourists. For operators, this primarily means promoting your tour, activity or attraction offerings. The aim is to understand and meet the needs and wants of travelers, creating memorable experiences that encourage reviews, repeat ...

  15. Tourism destination marketing

    Abstract. Tourism destination marketing is now widely recognized as an essential component in the management of destinations. In harmony with the general marketing literature, which understands marketing as a management tool, some researchers understand destination marketing as a form of 'market-oriented strategic planning' and hence as a strategic approach to place development rather than ...

  16. 5 Helpful Tips to Market Your Tourist Destination

    In this blog post, we'll share five tips on how to market a tourist destination to increase your visitor traffic. 1. Identify Your Best Prospective Visitors to Optimize Ad Buying. The most important aspect of developing a winning marketing strategy is to truly know who your visitors are and where they're coming from to visit your tourist ...

  17. Market Segmentation in Tourism (What It Is & Why It Matters)

    The four main tourism market segments include: Demographic segmentation in tourism: Dividing customers based on age, gender, income, education, and other demographic factors. Geographic segmentation in tourism: Segmenting customers based on location, such as country, region, or city. Psychographic segmentation in tourism: Dividing customers ...

  18. Master Tourism Marketing: Strategies for a Thriving Business

    Tourism marketing is aimed at potential customers from all over the world. To stand out in a crowded market, innovative strategies are crucial. ... Understanding your audience and staying attuned to changing preferences are central to destination marketing, ensuring your efforts generate maximum impact. Developing a unique brand identity .

  19. The weird ways destinations tried to get you to visit in 2022

    Uganda: Open your eyes. Explore Uganda — The Pearl of Africa. #UniquelyOurs. Uganda's tourist board kicked off 2022 with a two-minute video showcasing the country's beauty, from snowy ...

  20. Captivate travelers in 2024: 5 destination marketing trends

    In the ever-shifting landscape of destination marketing, it's important to know which is which — and which you can trust to strengthen your strategies. So, with the first quarter of 2024 in the rear-view mirror, let's look at the trends shaping the year. Immersive Technologies to Inspire Tourism

  21. 5 Great Ways to Market Your Tourism Destination

    Develop a marketing strategy to generate buzz about your tourism destination. For example, over the course of a week, ask visitors to post ideas about their favorite things to do at your destination and share that idea with their friends. Consider rewarding the best concept with a prize. Make it easy to book your tourism destination

  22. What Is Tourism Marketing?

    It involves understanding consumer behavior, identifying target markets, creating compelling messages, and deploying various marketing tactics to reach and engage with potential travelers. At its core, tourism marketing is about showcasing the unique experiences and attractions that a destination has to offer.

  23. Tourism Destination Marketing: Academic Knowledge

    A holistic, multi-organization view of marketing or destination management organizations (DMOs) who must muster the best efforts of many partner organizations and individuals (stakeholders) to have the greatest success. Destination marketing is described as "a continuous, sequential process through which a DMO plans, researches, implements, controls and evaluates programs aimed at satisfying ...

  24. What is Tourism Marketing? 15 Strategies in 2023

    What is Tourism Marketing? Tourism marketing is a type of marketing used by businesses operating in the travel and tourism industry to attract tourists to a business name or particular location which can be a state, a city, a particular heritage site or tourist destination spot, a hotel, or a convention center anything.

  25. Global travel rebound, social media influence trip planning

    Tourism experts push to attract more international travelers to cities like Charleston, but social media and AI are changing the destination marketing game.

  26. Hunting the Northern Lights in Iceland

    The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights — especially this year, which is a peak time for solar activity. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found. In ...

  27. Immersive technologies for tourism: a systematic review

    Tourism represents a product of modern, complex society (Walton 2018) and is traditionally defined as people travelling to a destination outside of their usual home and work environments for leisure (United Nations World Tourism Organization 2019).The tourism industry has been deeply affected by rapid technological change (tom Dieck et al. 2018c), which has been felt even before the ...

  28. Plymouth Seeks Tourism Experts for New Destination Marketing Advisory

    The City of Plymouth is on the hunt for a few good men and women to steer their tourism ship into the future, citing an open call for those interested in joining the newly minted Destination ...

  29. Philippines: a Tourist Destination Marketing Campaign. Free

    Elevate your marketing strategy with our vibrant, green-themed presentation template, tailored for marketing professionals aiming to spotlight the Philippines as an unparalleled tourist destination. Perfect for crafting engaging marketing campaigns, this slideshow template, enhanced with dynamic video elements, is your go-to tool for ...

  30. Safari Travel Trends 2024: Sustainability and Increased ...

    In addition to the growth in safari travel, the report reveals: Interest in sustainable safari travel continues to grow, experiencing a more than 1,000 percent increase over the last four years; Travelers are increasingly interested in beach/safari combos and intergenerational travel; The average safari budget now ranges between $5,500 to $6,500