A travel and tourism marketing plan will help you reach new customers and protect the future of your business, no matter what its size.

Travel is big business in Canada. Tourism spending in the first quarter of 2023 surpassed $20 billion, an increase of 2.6 per cent over the previous quarter.

While these numbers are good news, travel and tourism companies still have to work hard to stand out and capture their market share. There’s more to running a successful travel company than guest experiences.

To keep travel and tourism companies thriving, marketers must stay on top of trends, reach new customers and engage audiences in new ways.

Travel industry marketing trends

Online consumer behaviour can drive changes in any industry, travel included. Your potential customers are changing how they plan, research and book their trips.

Consumer priorities will continue to shift in 2023, according to Deloitte. Travellers are likely to be budget conscious due to rising inflation. They may want to explore working remotely from attractive destinations or book trips that include sustainability initiatives.

They likely research travel options online before contacting tourism agencies or hospitality operators. They may follow social media accounts for travel inspiration or check online reviews before making decisions. These behaviours will change how you attract, reach and engage potential customers with your marketing.

Common challenges faced by travel and tourism operators

There are multiple challenges for marketers in the travel industry, especially as consumer expectations and marketing channels shift from year to year.

  • Standing out in a competitive industry

The travel industry is highly competitive, and any tourism company will need strong branding and marketing messages to differentiate itself from competitors.

  • Balancing seasonal fluctuations

Travel and tourism companies navigate significant business swings over a calendar year and may need to explore off-season income sources to stay profitable.

  • Building consumer loyalty

In a time when potential customers can research your company online and read reviews from past clients, building trust and managing your online reputation is critical.

  • Reaching new audiences

Growing your business means adding new customers to replace those you lose each year through attrition. Without proactive marketing, your potential customer base could shrink every year.

  • Adopting digital processes

Digitalization of business practices will affect nearly every area of your business. Exploring updated approaches can help you stay ahead of others in your industry.

  • Customer attrition

Most people you sell to will eventually leave your business, creating a steady loss of revenue over time for any company not proactively marketing to new customers.

7 tips for creating a travel and tourism marketing plan

To stay ahead of others in your industry, you’ll want to create a targeted travel and tourism marketing plan to get your brand in front of more people.

With a concrete plan, you can deliver targeted messaging that resonates with your audiences and compels people to book their next travel adventures with your company.

1.     Define your goals

The first step in any plan is to be clear about your objectives. Ensure the goals you’re trying to achieve align with those of all the stakeholders in your company. This effort will ensure you create a plan within an approved budget and drive tangible progress toward business outcomes that will strengthen your business over time.

Your marketing goals could include a plan for measuring success as well as the overarching brand story and messages you want to communicate to future guests.

2.     Update your research

Many marketers are working with outdated or lacklustre marketing plans. If you plan your marketing and spend your budget based on old information, you could target the wrong people or miss out on new markets emerging from recent travel trends.

Take the time to research the latest industry trends, local markets and other shifts in how people spend money on travel in your area. You can brainstorm new income sources or off-season ideas that will meet the evolving needs of your customers.

3.     Learn about your audience

Your marketing should target specific groups of people who are likely to become customers. Demographic or lifestyle factors may drive them toward what you sell, or they may have been customers in the past. Their online habits will also enlighten you.

Researching your potential customers to create target audiences is a valuable step in marketing. The information you glean can help you understand your customer’s needs and develop marketing messages crafted to address those needs.

4.     Plan and develop marketing content

These fresh insights about your target audience let you create marketing campaigns that position your company as the best choice.

The messaging, visuals and channels you choose will be affected by who you’re targeting. For example, consider the differences between a marketing campaign aimed at young couples planning a destination weddings and one aimed at solo travellers in their fifties who want to experience local culture and volunteer while visiting a destination.

Most of your customers will search online, so you’ll need a helpful and robust content suite on your website. Some may use Instagram to discover new destinations, while others may read trending articles on LinkedIn about remote work.

5.     Leverage multiple platforms

Creating meaningful marketing content is essential, but it won’t help you if nobody sees it. Your travel marketing plan should include a content distribution calendar that outlines where and when you’ll share your marketing content.

Your marketing plan may include posting content on your website, distributing it through your social channels and leveraging your email list to get as many people to see your content as possible.

Imagine your target customers see your marketing content regularly, and you’ve refined the messaging to speak directly to them. In that case, there is a good chance they will follow your desired call-to-action, whether it’s visiting your website, contacting your service team or booking their trip.

6.     Optimize your marketing

It can be tempting to choose a few topics and quickly post a blog or social media post to share your ideas. These actions are often where smaller companies start with their marketing, but there’s much more to marketing than simply telling your customers you’re offering something appealing.

For example, you may publish blog content that would attract more website visitors if you optimized it for SEO, included links to other content and had a call to action. Your social media posts should drive traffic to your website, engage your customers with replies and responses, and include hashtags to increase visibility.

Optimizing each marketing channel will ensure every piece of content you distribute works to build the return on your marketing investment. Every area of marketing requires expertise to drive results. Don’t be afraid to enlist outside help.

7.     Track and adjust over time

As you implement your marketing plan, you may realize some channels drive better results than others. You may notice a new trend that could affect your target audience. Your company may develop a new avenue of attracting customers with an off-season event or new amenities.

A plan helps guide your actions but should remain flexible and fluid so you don’t miss out on new opportunities. Ensure you can access analytics and data to help you assess your plan’s most effective components and adjust accordingly. With the right insights, you can increase coverage of topics that perform well or invest more resources in content for an audience that is most responsive.

Reaching new customers is vital to your business growth, and we’re here to help you be successful. Download our Travel Report to learn more.