• Micha

Time for us “tourism dinosaurs” to rethink our believes

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

Why NOW is the time to start online marketing!

Digital marketing is for youngsters and IT companies!

Social media marketing means wasting my time by reading all the stupid comments on facebook!

We don’t need that hip stuff in tourism, we have our trade shows and magazines!

Every time I open social media, I have a strong urge to go diving immediately!

Does this sound familiar to you? Do you agree with any of these statements? I don’t blame you, I’ve been working in tourism all my life, and the way I learned marketing in my first hotel-job was folding 5000 letters by hand and negotiating with the post office about reasonable prices to send them. Oh, now I feel a bit like a dinosaur, some of you might not have the slightest idea what I am talking about… but I think most hotel owners can remember those times as well. And these are the ones, this wake-up call is meant for, to not oversleep when our forced hibernation period ends.

Let’s be honest - We love trade shows! Dive centers and resorts travel from their tropical paradises to BOOT, DEMA, Interdive, Duikvaker, etc.

Hotels and tour operators meet at big international travel trade shows like ITB in Berlin. We show ourselves to the world, we make personal contact with clients, partners and guests. We socialize, we hug, we talk, we laugh, and we enjoy hearing about how colleagues, competition, and allies are doing. We are bonding over our common love for travel, ocean, animals, and adventure. All that is great and important, I strongly believe that small tourism businesses live off personal bonding and the personalities of their owners and teams. But maybe, there are cheaper ways to reach even more people and all year through.

Especially the small, individual companies often have a limited marketing budget. Traveling around the world to attend a show not only costs a lot of money, but also requires manpower. A dive resort, located in Asia, the Caribbean, or Mexico might not be able to afford to send someone to Europe or the US in the middle of high season, spending hard currency while making more of a “tropical currency”. Besides, two persons not being on spot for two weeks often means even more work for the rest of the team.

So, it has always been a challenge to make the right choice, and every one of us has to do his own cost-benefit calculation. Some of us do their yearly pilgrimage to their home countries, combining work with pleasure, visiting family and friends and others only come occasionally or only travel to the closest trade show.

And then came Corona and everything went to s…. Or: And then we found ourselves in 2020, facing the biggest challenge of our professional lives and discovered new paths, we would have otherwise never explored!

Yes, we were forced to close, to sit at home, or wherever we got stuck. Our income suddenly went to zero, bills still needed to be paid. All true, all not pleasant, but this is exactly the time when we can discover new things.

To me, sitting in a small vacation rental, waiting for the world to open up again, turned into a virtual trip through online marketing options, and I learned a lot in the last three months. Of course, I used to do occasional posts of special offers, when working for tour operators and dive resorts. But how much more is possible with social media marketing? Could I do copy-writing, content marketing, or blogging? I decided to pick a few subjects and dive in! I did some online courses, read articles, experimented with my own pages, and learned how to use new programs to create banners, logos, and ads.

I created a small social media marketing campaign for a guesthouse business of a friend, which is for sale. Just to see what works, what is important, and what is possible, solely using free tools to get a message out there. The result after 4 days truly blew my mind! By converting the existing guesthouse facebook page into a for-sale page, writing three different posts, and sharing these in groups relevant to location and potential buyers, I had reached more than 10.000 people, more than 3.000 people had reacted to the posts in some way, and 400 had been on the page.

And when a complete stranger commented: “I'm a marketer and I just want to say... great job with your copywriting in this post. I feel like you're speaking directly to the "tropical dream" that many of us who haven't made the move yet picture in our heads.” I couldn’t help smiling from ear to ear and thinking: Maybe social media marketing is something we can use to reach quite a lot of potential clients within a very short amount of time, putting nothing in but our time and passion for our business.

There is hardly any other industry, that has more passion for their product than the travel industry. Right now, most of us have some extra time to learn some new skills, to try out some new methods. You could also ask one of your younger team members to dive into the subject, instead of cleaning the bathroom floor with a toothbrush for the seventh time.

So, let’s get on it and be ready, strong, and more motivated than ever, to restart tourism!

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