An effective website is important for your tourism business as it is one of the first touchpoints in online marketing. We developed a framework of the most important core factors in website design. Instead of digging deeper into each of them, we look at the whole picture.
STRUCTURE AND DESIGN
First, let’s start with the basics. Design the website in an easy, clear and simple structure. Be visual! Hence, make customers remember your website. Furthermore, include a navigation panel. You want to make sure that your customers find exactly what they’re looking. And pay attention: less is sometimes more. An over-designed website is not only daunting for the visitor but also impacts the page speed. Trust me, the goal is to attract more customers, not to lose them.
Ensure quick-loading pages by choosing the right technology, smaller compressed images and a simple website design. Pay attention to the general accessibility on different platforms, devices and browsers. Don’t despair! You can even make a test run and check the page speed on different devices before you publish it.
There is no need for an attractive and clear structured website if your visitors are getting bored to death. Hence, create engaging content by integrating your personal story and stating your missions, vision and goals clearly. Show your customers that you care and include their testimonials and reviews as well as your values by adding sustainability certificates or Corporate Social Responsibility awards.
Most importantly, think about your customers and their values and implement them in your story. Don’t forget to add a beginning and an end and build up excitement. Captivate the customers with a powerful message.
Include interactive elements like videos or photos of your products or links to your social media channels. Then, think a step further and use chatbots to guarantee a round-the-clock personal customer care. Furthermore, retarget customers with discounts or feedback sections.
All in all, the possibilities online are endless. Just remember: taking your customers’ needs and your own values into account is the goal to succeed in digital marketing. Use Website Analytics and Search Engine Optimisation and dedicate a website manager to ensure constant updates, trouble-shooting and optimisation.
Follow this framework and you’re all set to go! What are you waiting for?
It is pretty easy to say that marketing a business today is made pretty affordable and easy – if you are not stuck in the nostalgia in marketing and trust that a basic “block ad” on a magazine is an effective way on advertising.
Events are my cup of tea. As an event manager, you are DEPENDENT on that the products are visible on Google and social media channels. The homepage should be active with links to other pages for Google to find it interesting, Adwords should rise up your event every time you are searched and ads can be targeted to customers who have visited the site. With the basic effort, you can do all this by yourself and can gain a lot of new customers. Without these things, you are same as dead to your customers.
Most of the customers, who’s from you are interested (read: have money and interest towards your hip-product), especially in technology orientated country like Finland, use smartphones – or at least search your business via computer. So why bother on spending lots of money on ads on e.g. newspapers? To compare online marketing to classic marketing on print – here’s just a plain and simplified example:
Marketing on local newspaper: One marketing ad on leading local newspaper (outside southern Fi) Size approx. a6 format. Shown during one specific day. Cost approx. 800 €
You’ll need (or at least it is highly preferred) to buy visuals from a professional (60-70 e / h)
The ad is shown one time on today’s magazine with other ads on the third last page.
Circulation of the magazine approx. 100 000 people in one province with broad age cohort.
No reliable ways to measuring the effects of the ad.
Marketing on Facebook/IG: for the same money (900 €) possibilities:
Do ads by yourself (of course the expertise and counseling of a professional- like yours truly – is always recommended) 😉
Choose the most relevant target groups from e.g. Helsinki and your hometown with specified age cohort and interests to visit the homepage or buy the tickets straight away.
Set the ads to be visible e.g. for week or two.
See how many times your ad is clicked, measure and optimize the ad also afterwards.
Gain more followers to your site, where you can advertise the event more specifically and share the love with your likers.
Add FB Pixel and google tracking to your homepage andthe engage same people who may have visited your site but not yet bought the tickets by encouraging them to buy tickets afterwards via cookies set on their devices.
So. Which one would you choose as an advertiser?
Are printed ads about to die? No. There is a place for it as well. E.g. in the form of advertorials in the specific periodicals or example big posters are really good way of getting attention – they have more possibility to reach your target groups. Books are read still, and I for one will always prefer to read from the paper than from the tablet or such. But it is hard to see a long-headed future for classic “box-ads” in the newspaper or such as an efficient way of reaching your customers now or especially in the future. Do not let nostalgia in marketing make decisions for you!
Yep, I thought you wouldn’t listen. Luckily there is no harm in reading this, quite the opposite. I just wanted to prove a point: In content marketing, you are competing of customers enjoying an overflow of information and suffering lack of time. Therefore, your content marketing needs to be intriguing and catch the attention. Like hopefully this headline did. So, in case you are interested in content marketing, you should stick around and read rest of the post!
Let’s start with discussing the term. It can be mixed up with social media marketing. Creating an ad in Facebook is still not content marketing, just marketing happening in social media. The idea of content marketing is to create different types of content, like blogs, video material and online discussion with customers. The content is shareable and creates interest towards your business, increases your appearance in search engine results and should affect your sales.
How to start
So, let us say that you just established a hotel in Lapland. Should you now open accounts to every other social media outlet and fill them with room pictures and other posts? No, first comes the content marketing plan. For that you need to know your potential customers and their preferences. With bench-marking rival companies, you can learn what content they share and what social medias they use. Referencing the competition is a good start, but also personal goals need to be established. What does your company achieve with all the content you share? Who sees it and what do they do with it? When you can answer these questions, you can proceed with the plan.
Some No No’s
Next, lets dodge some common landmines of content marketing. First, the content can’t be all about the company. Do not always sell something, the customers are not always buying something. The key idea is to be on mind of the customers and when they want to make a purchase that you can provide, they will remember you.
Television was a one-way media, but social media is not. By forgetting this, you miss out on the potential of content marketing and might even do damage. Be attentive to the customers, answer the complaints and discuss the questions.
Do not do too much. If your customers discuss your services in Facebook and like your pictures in Instagram, but Twitter is not working, concentrate on the former. That way your company can be consistent and reliable online, which creates trust also in general.
Do not forget to track the impact of your content marketing: It is essential for you to know how it works and what should be developed or altered.
Entertain, Inspire, Educate and Convince
Content should be useful to both existing and potential customers. In general, you should follow these four guidelines:
Entertain the customer with top quality content to spend time in your media and get them to know you.
Inspire them and help them to create new ideas and new dreams.
Educate the customer on the issues related to your business and create a feeling of trust.
Finally, convince the customer to use your services to retain the best possible solution to his or her problem.
Know your customers to know the preferred social medias and content. Track the impact and you know what to develop. By being consistent and attentive, you are reliable and on people’s mind.
Are you preparing cottage rooms for next guests? Driving dog sledge through low-lying arctic hills? Preparing dinner for a group of visitors? If you’d take less than 10 minutes of your time to read through this blog post, I can promise you’ll be even busier after few months’ time.
So, do you have time to talk about getting better return to your hard-earned money that you put to marketing? Especially if the marketing and digital marketing frustrates you at the moment. I know – I’ve been there. And now I’m writing this blog post to You.
Most of the small tourism companies do have web pages and they are in the Facebook, but it doesn’t automatically mean that your customers will find you. You can be like the wall paper that is in the store but cannot be found. Or even like a pretty nice looking wall paper put on display but still don’t get customers’ attention. In order to break through from “the lost wall paper corner of internet” and get the awareness you deserve from potential customers, I recommend to consider the following three things:
What are the key words that your webpage is optimised for?
Key words are crucial “tags” to help search engines like Google to find your web page when your potential customers are searching for services that also your company offers. Key words help your web page appear in the first page of Google search results. Also having links to other relevant web pages serve the same purpose.
Content is the King!
…in all channels. I understand that you don’t have time to be in Facebook or in other channels every day and figure out what you should post or write. You have real customers to serve. To make this easier to yourself make a list or even a calendar. Just listing what you’ll update and when keeping it simple and realistic. You don’t have to go from no activity to ten activities during a week at once. Good content frequently is ok. The content can be e.g. photos, happy customers (with their permission), positive customer feedbacks (testimonials) or even something cleaver about the weather. And of course, customers want to get to know you. Tell your story – in the extent that you feel comfortable with.
While you are posting photos in Facebook you can do that as well in Instagram. You can open an Instagram page for your business here: https://www.instagram.com/accounts/login/. In Instagram use those hashtags (#) with the words you want your business to be connected with.
By to way, all those likes, shares and comments in your social media pages are worth money. This is not online marketing basics anymore, but if you are interested in deepen your knowledge you can listen more about this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im26jZT-eQw. I promise, this is useful.
Get to know the magical place of Google Analytics
Measuring outcomes of our actions is as relevant in digital marketing as it is in other areas of the business. Addition to the fact that it shows you how well did you succeed, that you don’t end up buying possibly too expensive marketing actions which don’t deliver what you hoped them to. Useful tool to follow up your online marketing actions is Google Analytics. See easy first steps to take to get started here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZf3YYkIg8w.
Optimising your web page so that customers find it is the first step. But as a second step you can make advertisements online to boost your visibility. Just remember to have proper web page before you advertise it: updated, relevant information to customers and possibility to buy your services, if the online selling is relevant for your business model. There are free tools to test the quality of your web page like this one: https://www.seoptimer.com/. They also give recommendations to improve your site.
If you got at least a little bit interested in, please Google your business – not with the name of the business, but with some other words that you’d use as a customer looking for the kind of services your business offers. If you find your business web page from the first page and your competitors are below you in Google search results, you have done something right. Congratulations! If you, on the other hand, find yourself from the second or the third page in Google search results, you’ve been able to hide your business to the place where no one looks – to the lost wall paper corner of internet. But don’t worry, you can break out from there by getting started with the steps described in this article. If you find this difficult or you just don’t have time for it, you can buy this as a service. And now you have better understanding what you are paying for.
The customer comes first. Classy saying, right? Surely that guideline, or perhaps a cliché, creates some kind of thoughts in your head. Do you consider it important?
Customer relationship is also such a classic term in the business world. Well, that for sure is essential! However, which elements in customer relationship matter the most for DMO’s and tourism businesses, and how could information technology could help?
Master level business students in Information Technology in Tourism -course figured it out, via rather a successful brainstorming. Firstly, all the possible elements that belong to customer relationship were considered. Secondly, the most important ones of them were marked. So, let’s start digging deeper into the world of the customer relationship, and how to combine it with information technology.
Five key groups were created out of all: interaction, customer engagement, networks, feedback, and personality. Each of these included numerous of subgroups. There is reallyy no point introducing all the subjects that came across. Instead, let’s have a closer look to the top 5 topics that were marked the most important of all and consider how information technology could help in tourism business generally.
Simply put: manage your customers’ expectations and do what you promise. Take care of your customers, for example by protecting their data. Show your reviews and customer testimonials, be open and transparent.
Listen to your customers, and also ask them. After doing by their suggestions, measure how you’ve been doing things to basically see if you’ve got it right. There are numerous ways to measure your online success, make sure you use at least one of them.
Customer Relationship Management
Naturally, managing your customer relationships generally is important. Your ideal CRM should form in simplicity, price, and relevance best suitable for your business. There are many software and electronic systems to help you with that. Why not give them a try?
In every step of your customer relationship, make sure that the customers recognize it’s you they are working with. If you have a personal style to do things, keep it and embrace it! That is easy to do in the digital world, just create a unique look to suit your company and publish similar looking style in each content.
It might need resources to have 24/7 availability but do your best. Being a fast answerer creates trust. It also allows you to do co-creation with your customers. What comes around goes around. If a customer is so interested in what you are offering that they are contacting you, use this opportunity well!
Therefore, next time you are considering how well customer relationships are taken care of in your tourism business, think about the topics discussed and how well they are being managed. And trust it, you’ve got it.
A first semester studying Tourism Marketing and Management at UEF showed that most of the tourism companies in Finland are small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). These companies are trying to market their offerings to consumers, by directing them to the company’s webpage to increase traffic, and hopefully future profits. In many cases, this is where the focus on the customer journey stops. Nowadays, it’s not enough for the SMEs to direct traffic to their webpage. The companies have to know what potential customers are doing there.
For various reasons, many SMEs have not considered web analytics as something that would be beneficial for future success. Everyone is online nowadays and many make most of their purchase decisions using at least some kind of online materials. For SMEs it is especially important to think long and hard, where and how to spend the marketing budget. Without the use of web analytics, it is next to impossible for them to properly analyse the results of their marketing campaigns.
The traditional view of web analytics is that it is only for giant companies, SMEs should steer away from this kind of thinking. The presumption is entirely misleading. All companies can and should use web analytics tools! Without web analytics tools, it is difficult to see the results of marketing campaigns. Analytics give SMEs insight into what they’re doing right and what could be improved.
There are many different web analytics tool out there. Understandably, it might be confusing for entrepreneurs to get started. For tracking traffic and conversions companies could start using Google Analytics. From Google Analytics, SMEs can get a huge amount of data. This tool is highly beneficial for tracking the success of various marketing campaigns. Web analytics can also be used to track the performance in social media. Many customers nowadays use social media to form an overview of the company that they are buying from. Many social media platforms offer the tools to track the company’s performance. There are no reasons for SMEs not to use these tools.
The use of web analytics tools helps SMEs to understand their customers and this way develop competitive advantage! You can do digital marketing without analytics, but the only way to get the best bang for your buck is to connect your digital marketing efforts to digital analytics.
The second year of Tourism Marketing and Management programme is about to start soon. We had a successful first year, but that does not mean that we can stand down and relax. Our goal is to continuously develop our programme. Based on our Business School AACSB Accreditation membership, experiences from the first year, input from our advisory board and other stakeholders as well as our perceptions of what will be required from the experts of tourism business in the future, we have developed a new curriculum for the years 2018-2021.
It is summer and it means that the first year of our studies in our International Master’s Degree programme in Tourism Marketing and Management at the University of Eastern Finland is about to be finished. And what a year it has been! We have done and accomplished so much. Tourism Marketing and Management studies have proven to be innovative, useful and interesting, but there is still a lot to do to improve. Go on and read what is it like to study tourism business in our programme.
Student feedback on Tourism Marketing and Management Studies
We collect continuous feedback from our students as well as stakeholders. We have an advisory board that consists of business representatives who ensure that our teaching corresponds to the needs of the industry. However, the most valuable feedback we get from our students. For the first year, we had a total of 20 students who are co-creating this learning experience with us. After each course, course-related feedback is collected. This feedback is used to develop individual courses. Once a year we also collect general feedback with a completely anonymous survey from our students. 14 students answered the survey and this is the feedback we got from 2017-2018 studies:
From these results, it is obvious that our students would be quite likely to recommend our programme to other students, but we can also see that there is a lot to improve. Especially teaching methods need to be improved, and it is our top priority coming to the second year of studies. For us, the results show that we are doing things overall quite well, but we still need to improve in many ways.
We also asked for written, open feedback, and this is the feedback we received. We have not censored or edited the feedback in any way, but have responded to it on the right side column.
Perhaps focusing in a few themes instead of trying to include everything in the studies. I have enjoyed the atmosphere though and hope the connection between students and teachers remain close.
Indeed, our programme is quite ambitious, to say the least. Students need to work quite hard and learning goals have been set high. We definitely need to prioritize our learning goals better and have clearer focus on courses and the whole programme on what we want to achieve.
More info on flipped learning at the beginning, before using it as a teaching method. Emphasis on reserving time in calendar besides contact lectures, maybe have an assignment where that is practiced. Having all tasks and their due dates available at the beginning of the course, so that there are no surprises afterwards about extra tasks along the way.
Our studies start now with 2 ECTS Introduction course that has enough time to discuss the teaching methods we use and how we are expecting the studies to be completed. During the first year we had to partially build the courses as we advanced, but for the second year, the situation should be better as a majority of the materials and assignments are now ready.
In some courses, whole course was based on group work. To me, better if half of the work is at least individual task. For group work, better if the teacher makes the group randomly, so there is opportunity to work with every classmates and learn from everyone.
We do emphasize working as teams in our programme quite a lot. However, we understand that the grade should not be completely dependent on how other people work.
For the next year, we will always randomize the groups to make sure that our students get to know each other better and have different teamwork experiences.
I have done everything to my best ability. I notice in some courses I could have done a better job. For the future, I suggest the programme staff to be more aware of what is going on with the students’ workload and not placing deadlines in the same times. Trying new teaching methods is good but make sure to also inform the students about all the changes.
We have already planned the second year schedule so that assignment deadlines are visible for everyone and that there is not too much overlap between assignments and deadlines. We will also go through the timetable for the year during the Introduction course.
There’s nothing much to add for the topics we’ve already discussed during the year. Schedule should be planned better, instructions for assignments should be clearer right at the beginning, dead-lines should walk better hand-in-hand with other courses and flipped learning method needs to be open up for students beforehand.
This feedback summarizes well earlier comments and these are definitely the issues that we have and will be paying more attention to.
Group work was not working very well (most of the times), it was more like split the task and everybody take care just their own part. Nearly every group somebody was complaining, lacking interest etc. Better to work with pairs or max 3 people in a group. You can learn by yourself a lot but when students are not at the same level of previous knowledge or share the same interests, you need a teacher to tell the basics and give quidance in tasks. There is a lot of material in Moodle, so I can continue learning by myself and I will. Flipped learning method was working well in Experience design course and you should use it in the future, too. Tourist behavior course content was excellent. Tasks in IT course were good and educational. I was hoping to here more about the future of tourism industry from the business perspective. We should have our own course about the leadership in tourism firms, the other Uni courses do no help much. The other marketing and business courses in Uni are mostly online courses or not very interesting ones. Comparing the other courses in Uni our own were excellent, so keep up the good work!
The goal of group work is to give our students a possibility to openly discuss topics and work genuinely together, increasing the skills and knowledge for everyone on the team. Doing group work by partitioning it for every student does not really advance this goal. In the work life however, it is common to do group work in a way that everyone does his or her part and then the combined work is reviewed together. Probably smaller groups would work better in any case and we will pay attention that a wide variety of different kinds of teams is used during various courses we have.
Leadership in tourism is something that we will supplement with additional courses. This year we had Dr. Teresa Aguiar Quintana from University of Las Palmas to teach the topic in a supplementary course and hope to continue this in the future.
This was a pilot year, so a bit more organized approach. Maybe to evaluate a bit more closely the starting level of students skills. But not to lower the expectation level of these studies rather expect some bridge studies if needed. Positive: Diverse learning methods, flexibility, focus on learning (not executing the program), connecting academics to practical business reality, focus on current and future (not only old theories), all professors have a different style to teach which I found good.
The starting level of our students vary quite a bit and it is a constant challenge for us. We will be thinking about the application criteria so that the students should be more similar with their starting level. A bachelor’s degree in business studies such as marketing or management should provide a solid background for our studies and knowledge about tourism business is definitely a great thing to have. However, it is also a fact that some students need to study more than some another because we aim that all the students graduating from our programme match our knowledge and skill goals.
The academic year 2017-2018 in numbers
How did the first year in Tourism Marketing and Management studies succeed in numbers? Altogether 20 students started their studies in the Autumn semester of 2017. We have one full-time staff and two working with the studies in part-time. Professor Jamie Murphy has been a great assistance to us and he spent the Autumn with us in Joensuu starting up the programme. We are also happy to welcome him in Autumn 2018! We also had three other international guest professors visiting us and giving our students courses on their own expert topics. Besides that, we had dozens of businesses, destination staff, and other guest lecturers providing insights on Tourism Marketing and Management to our students.
Our students managed to study 1175 ECTS credits with an average of 58,75 ECTS and median of 64. We clearly surpassed the goal of 55 ECTS per year on average, so well done to all our students!
For the 2018 studies, we had 119 applicants, a growth of nearly 100 percent from 2017. The programme is becoming quite popular! Our mission of making tourism better resonates all over the planet and we have had applications from all over the world. Our website www.uef.fi/tmm has visitors from more than 100 countries with at least a dozen visitors from 50 countries just during the past year.
Our students have been updating our Instagram to show how it is like to study Tourism Marketing and Management in Joensuu, Finland. The new students will start to update the account this fall. Looking at the Instagram feed, the year has not been just about studying, but a lot of fun has been had. Our Facebook page has almost 2000 likes and it is by far the best way to keep up with what is happening with the programme.
What will be happening in academic year 2018-2019 in Tourism Marketing and Management?
Our second student group will be starting their studies in September 2018. We are working now to develop the courses for the next year to make the learning experience even better. We have great collaborations and guest lecturers planned and many fantastic cases to test our skills in the real world.
It will also be an exciting year as our first students start to graduate. Many of them are now writing their master’s thesis and we have extremely interesting studies coming up during the next academic year!
We will start looking for new students again sometime in November for studies starting in September 2019. If you want to be kept up to date with the application process, sign up for our newsletter.
The second #IFITTtalk @Helsinki seminar on Digitalization in Tourism business was held at Hotel Arthur on Tuesday 15th of May. The seminar was opened by Kari Halonen from ToolBox Ltd, who was also the main organizer of the day. The opening speech was given by Juho Pesonen from the University of Eastern Finland, who has his thoughts on digitalization and customer experience. It is especially this focus on the customer experience that will be changing tourism marketing on a profound level in the future. Of course, the experience has always been important in tourism, but now with social media and the importance of earned media and technological development, customer experience will be the key to success in tourism. It was also the focus of this IFITTtalk seminar.
Multisensory experience is the future of tourism marketing
During the day, we got to listen to several speakers and their thoughts and best practices concerning digitalization in the tourism field. One of the most interesting speeches was given by Pasi Tuominen from Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. He emphasized the multisensory approach to tourism services in which all senses are being utilized. For example, in the hotel room of the future customers are able to select in what kind of eenvironmentthey want to fall asleep by using an app on their mobile phone. In multisensory approach spaces, surfaces, smells, and voices are all being utilized. Essi Prykäri from Lahti University of Applied Sciences emphasized the importance and possibilities of 360° Virtual Reality videos, for example in marketing nature tourism. This has also been done for example by SaimaaLife in the Savonlinna region, which we got the pleasure to get to know earlier in the spring when she visited our programme.
Jarno Malaprade from Tietotalo talked us through the evolution of mobile phones and reminded us of the fast development that has happened during the last few decades. Our phones have transformed from normal mobile phones to personal assistants, and the transformation continues. Jarno also introduced us more closely to beacons, which are Internet-of-Things devices that can be utilized easily in various ways in tourism businesses. The beacons can help businesses to for example guiding customers in certain areas such as theme parks, which tend to get busy at times. The beacons are aware of the presence of the user and can be used to collect all different sorts of data to help in experience design.
Heini Niklas-Salminen from TourGuideFox presented their company’s app, which offers digitally guided city tours. The company has started tours recently in Helsinki but is planning to expand in the future. Heini gave some insights for features of successful apps. It has to be easy to buy, modified to different target groups and that customer experiences are at the core of service. TourGuideFox aims to be more than just another city tour app; there is a possibility to build a whole ecosystem based on creating more value for tourists when they are on the trip.
The development of AI and robotization in tourism
The speeches were finalized by Iis Tussyadijah, the President of IFITT, who joined the seminar online. She emphasized the importance of AI and robotics, as services will be robotized in the future. According to her, this change will also greatly affect tourism business. It will bring both opportunities and challenges, and tourism industry should be ready to optimize the benefits and minimize the risks.
The afternoon continued with workshops on digitalization. Also, we got to familiarize ourselves with the exhibitors, who introduced their companies. The companies included were Tripsteri, Qvick, Koodiviidakko, HMMH Consulting, Wowanders, and Poutapilvi. Also, the company representatives had a chance to participate in workshops concerning digitalization held by Juho Pesonen.
The main notion of the day is that tourism businesses can profit greatly from digitalization. It will make the travelers’ lives easier, but also the travel experience certainly a lot more interesting. It became apparent during the day that many companies already use different kinds of applications in order to offer new services, but there is still a lot to be done. However, the question remains whether the virtual reality will never be able to replace real experiences. Does it even have to, or should it be more like an addition to the actual experiences that the traveler may face?
Participants were really enthusiastic about the day’s topic and were eager to share their knowledge and tell about their business ideas. Everyone certainly finished the day with inspiration and new ideas to be utilized in the future. All in all, the day proved that there definitely is a place for a seminar like this also in the future. It is fantastic that IFITT is supporting events such as this and enables tourism industry to benefit from digitalization and share ideas and best practices.