How to manage digital customer relationships in tourism?

Have you had problems to manage customer relationships? Don’t you know how to keep your customers satisfied and loyal? Are you unsure, how to maintain customer relationships, especially in a digital world? This blog post will help you to understand how to deal with customers in tourism. Before we move on to the practical part it is worthwhile to take a little sneak peek behind the curtains to understand the history and reasons for relationship marketing.

Meaning of customer relationship marketing

 Francis Buttle studied the history, meaning and characteristics of relationship marketing.¹ He found that it is about healthy relationships including concern, commitment, trust and service. Meaning of relationship marketing started to grow as a term and strategy in early 1990 after the booms of mass marketing and customer segmentation. Behind this rising was incremental competition. Also, a need to stand out other ways when it was not possible to compete with the quality of products anymore.

Nowadays your product only is not enough to beat your rivals. Rather you need high-class service and focus on your customers. Marios Sotiriadis has researched business relationships in online distribution channels.² He discovered that internet has changed tourism markets from a consumer-centric market to a consumer-driven market. That means there is more competition in the online tourism industry. So, markets are today more consumer- and technology-driven. But what are the profits of relationship marketing and why it should be maintained?

Goals and benefits of customer relationship marketing

Rodoula Tsiotsou and Ronald Goldsmith have studied the goals and benefits of relationship marketing to understand, why it is so valuable for companies.³  They showed that relationship marketing is nowadays one of the most important tasks of marketing managers. The main goal is to create long-term connections and involvements with consumers. You need to attract customers, maintain the relationships and enhance them.  Your customers will get lifetime value. Simultaneously your company will have a revenue stream, positive word-of-mouth (WOM) and repeated transactions.

Here are five steps what need to be considered if you want to reach customer relationships.³ Firstly, acquire your customers with advertisement, promotions or WOM. Before that, you, of course, need to know, who your customers are. Secondly, you have to retain your customers and create an emotional bond with them to keep them loyal. When you know your current customers there’s a possibility to develop your products and services even more personal. You can also ask for help from your loyal customers and have consultation and co-creation with them. Finally, you can try customer conversion with influencers to spread the positive WOM. But is relationship marketing always just positive and are there some risks to fail?

Christina Öberg has studied the pros and cons of relationship marketing.⁴ She founded that there can be both negative and positive effects in short- and long-term. Let’s focus now more on the long-term effects. If you are having a positive long-term relationship with your customer, it will give a great opportunity to develop your products and services more to personalize them. You will enjoy a stream of satisfied customers and get even more through positive WOM. That probably increases your revenue.

How to balance between different customer's needs? @Joshua Coleman / Unsplash

The risk to fail?

But there is the risk to develop your products too much to fulfil the need of one specific customer. People are individuals and not all of them want the same personalization. Try to find a balance between different customers. Developing products is expensive and when it is not working, it decreases your incomes and may affect a bad reputation. Both Öberg⁴ and Tsiotsou and Goldsmith³ stated that it is cheaper to keep your current customers than get new ones. Also having negative WOM is a larger risk than the benefits you will get through positive WOM. But how to avoid these risks and get more benefits? Keep reading if you want to learn how to manage digital customer relationships in tourism.

Irene Gil-Saura, María Eugenia Ruiz-Molina and Beatriz Moliner-Velázquez have researched customer relations and their loyalty in the tourism industry.⁵ They agree that it is better to maintain long-term relationships with the customer to give more value and to achieve commitment and loyalty. They also stated that in B2C business can be seen three aspects of relation benefits – confidence benefits, social benefits and special treatment benefits. These confidence benefits are psychological factors. Social benefits are bonding with customers and special treatment benefits are service customization and economic benefits. When all these three aspects are taking into account and balanced, it is easier to get a higher level of loyalty and create better relationships with customers. Special treatment benefits are the most used ways to achieve customer’s heart.

How to convert a connection to a relationship in 5 steps?
 1 Know your customers

Before you can manage and create relationships, you need to know your customers. Who they are and what they really want from your company? Why they are your customers and what you want to offer them? When you find the answers to these questions, you can move on to the next step.

2 Listen to your customers 

Christopher Reichstein and Ralf-Christian Härting have studied potentials of changing customer needs in the digital world.⁶ They found that customer relationship marketing is one of the core assets of the company to fulfil customer’s needs. That is why it is important to recognize needs and meet them. Especially in tourism digital services, digital marketing, data mining and online travel communities are important potentials of changing customer’s needs.

To be effective and offer something special, you need to listen to your customers. Anna Krizanova, George Lazaroui, Lubica Gajanova, Jana Kliestikova, Margareta Nadanyiova and Dominika Moravcikova have researched the effectiveness of marketing communication.⁷ They stated that to cover customer’s needs you need to focus on stimulating, developing and increasing sales.

3 Give Value

Not only needs play an important role in relationship marketing. Martina Gallarza, Irene Gil-Saura and Morris Holbrook have researched customer value in tourism services in meaning for a relationship marketing approach.⁸ They stated that relationship marketing is one of the most closely linked to the role of customer value. It makes it an important component of the customer’s decision-making process. When your products and services co-create value, it will also boost the positive WOM and increase transactions.

 4 Use Big Social Data to analyze and develop

In the digital world using and analyzing Big Social Data is necessary to beat your rivals. Maria Teresa Duomo, Debora Tortora, Pantea Foroudi, Alex Giordano, Giuseppe Festa and Gerardino Metallo have studied digital transformation and tourist experience co-design.⁹ They found that the meaning of creating value is in a key role. It is also essential to understand how to use Big Social Data and how it can strengthen digital collaboration and customer experience.  Technology has increased information sharing and value co-creation together with customers. Participate your customers to share their experiences by storytelling and giving value to encourage potential customers to choose your company.

Big Social Data and user-generated content appear to be key sources by managing customer relationships. You can utilize Big Social Data to develop your products and services to fulfil better your customer’s need.⁶ Social media and influencer marketing provides you with good opportunities to characterize your products. But remember to not personalize too much and follow ethical practices in data management.

 5 Know your business and be one step ahead

Especially in the tourism business is better to be careful with one’s own actions. The effects of negative WOM might be crucial. Do not overthink but keep your focus on customers and their needs. The tourism industry is now a consumer-driven market.

Ibrahim Yilmaz has researched service quality and marketing.¹⁰ He has used as a base of his research the refreshed version of the Service Quality (Gap) Model by Zeithaml, Berry and Parasuraman (1988). That model focuses on gaps between customer expectations and management perceptions in service quality. So, the dilemma is, how to fulfil the expectations and give quality service maintaining customer relationships at the same time. When the quality of your products and services are good, you will more likely get positive WOM and more loyal customers.

 

To sum up, remember to attract, maintain, develop and enhance your customer relationships. You cannot fully please everyone but try to find a happy medium and enjoy the flow. Give your customers a stage to express themselves in social media channels and encourage them to tell about their experiences and feelings. Listening is in a key role. Remember to reward your customers and create something new with good taste. Be you and people will value your achievements.

Acknowledgements

This blog post was written as a part of the Information Technology in Tourism Business course at the International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management (University of Eastern Finland Business School). Read more about the programme at https://www.uef.fi/tmm

References:

¹Buttle, F. 1996. Relationship Marketing – Theory and Practice. London: Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd, 1-8.

²Sotiriadis, M. 2018. Evolving destination and business relationships in online distribution channels – Disintermediation and re-intermediation. In Gursoy, D. & Chi, C (Editors),  The routledge handbook of destination marketing (488-501). New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

³Tsiotsou, R. & Goldsmith, R. 2012. Strategic marketing in tourism services. UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 139-146.

⁴Öberg, C. 2011. Pros and cons of long-term customer relationship. In Farkas, V. (Editor), Customer Relations – Business issues, competition and entrepreneurship (129-141). New York: Nova Sciences Publisher.

⁵Gil-Saura, I., Ruiz-Molina, M-E. & Moliner-Velazquez, B. 2011. Customer relations and loyalty-based segmen-tation: A B2B approach in the tourism industry. In Farkas, V. (Editor), Customer Relations – Business issues, competition and entrepreneurship (115-128). New York: Nova Sciences Publisher.

⁶Reichstein, C. & Härting, R-C. 2018. Potentials of changing customer needs in a digital world – a conceptual model and recommendations for action in tourism. Elsevier: Procedia Computer Science 126.

⁷Krizanova, A., Lazaroui, G., Gajanova, L., Kliestikova, J., Nadanyiova, M. & Moravcikova, D. 2019. The Effectiveness of Marketing Communication and Importance of Its Evaluation in an Online Environment. In Cristobal-Fransi, E., Ramón, N., Ferrer-Rosell, B., Marine-Roig, E. & Martin-Fuentes, E. (Editors), Sustainable Tourism Marketing (28). Basel: MDPI.

⁸Gallarza, M., Gil-Saura, I. & Holbrook, M. 2012. Customer Value in Tourism Services: Meaning and Role for a Relationship Marketing Approach. In Tsioutsou, R. & Goldsmith, R. (Editors), Strategic marketing in tourism services (147-162). UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

⁹Cuomo, M.T., Dordora, T. Foroudi, P., Giordano, A., Festa, G. & Metallo, G. 2020. Digital transformation and tourist experience co-design: Big social data for planning cultural tourism. Elsevier: Technological Forecasting & Social Change 162.

¹⁰Yilmaz, I. 2018. Service quality and marketing. In Gursoy, D. & Chi, C. (Editors), The routledge handbook of destination marketing (92-99). New York: Taylor & Francis Group.

5 key learnings for a destination marketer

In the spring semester 2020 I attended a very interesting course called Destination Marketing, which is a part of the Tourism Marketing and Management master’s programme. The course gives an overview on different aspects of destination marketing in the rapidly changing world and offers interesting content for anyone interested in destination marketing. Here are my 5 key learnings from the course: 

Destination vs a company 

Traditional marketing approaches are a good basis for destination marketing. However, destinations are not companies, which makes a huge difference in their marketing. Every destination marketer should keep in mind a few differences between destination and company marketing. Marketing strategy for a company does not necessarily fit the needs of a destination. 

Whereas a company can control basically everything they do in terms of marketing, a destination management/marketing organization (DMO) has very little control on the execution of a marketing strategy. A destination is a complex entity consisting of different actors and stakeholders, which are not bound to any strategies or plans made by the DMO. A DMOs goal of course is to make a marketing plan that benefits all.  Still there might be companies in the area that have completely different goals and business objectives. Those are very likely not to follow the strategy by the DMO.

Probably all destinations try to communicate some kind of brand. A company can control quite well how they communicate their brand to the customers. The image of a destination among visitors is however strongly dependent on the encounters between the visitors and the local operators. A DMO can’t control the quality of the actual visitor experience.  

 

Operant resources 

Every destination has some tangible and intangible resources that it can use for competitive advantage. However, the resources as such don’t create competitive advantage. Firstly, operand resources, such as sun and sea, exist in other destinations, too. Secondly, the destination has very little control on them. There is nothing a destination can do to get more sunny days than it already has.  

The potential sources for competitive advantage lie more in the interaction between the destination and its stakeholdersA destination must recognize, which are the potential competitive advantages it can create with stakeholder collaboration and how to do that. The knowledge and skills to do that are called operant resources.  The heart of a destination’s competitive advantage lies In the operant resources. In conclusion, a destination marketer must understand the difference between the two types of resources and enhance the use of operant ones in the destination marketing. In many cases this requires the collaboration between a variety of different stakeholders.   

 Smart destinations and data sharing 

Digitalization is inevitable in tourism business. It is changing also the function of destinations and how destination marketing and management organizations are working. Smart tourism and smart destinations are very popular concepts in tourism business of today.  

The core of destinations has traditionally been something physical, e.g. attractions, activities and availability. Nowadays, technological aspects are more and more important. A  more customer-oriented approach in destination marketing is needed But it’s wrong to think that technology is all in all. After all, technology is just a tool, it’s not the core of destination marketing. Leadership, innovation and collaboration are also key issues if a destination wants to be smart. Real time engagement, mobile technology, online inventory and co-creation are just a few examples of the features of smart destinations.  

Purchasability and online inventory have traditionally been a problem in many destinations. Luckily, destination managers have realized this and are working on making the buying of activities and other services easier online.

Another problem many destinations still face is data. One key feature of smart destination is the use of data that they are getting from customers. The problem here lies in the collaboration. It would be crucial for the individual tourism companies to share the data with other companies and the DMO.  This way the whole destination profits from the data. In real life, most of the companies keep the data to themselves. This is quite understandable – many companies fear that they lose their competitive advantage against other operators in the area. Here the help of the DMO is needed – trying to change the attitude and view of the companies. Even though being competitors, the companies must still learn to collaborate with each other. That is the only way to a customer-oriented, smart destination.   

 

Impact of consumergenerated content on the brand 

Most of destination marketers recognize the importance of consumergenerated content in their marketingSocial media posts about the destination and online reviews by customers are free marketing and visibility for a destination. Destinations often encourage consumers to write something about their destination. The possible threats are in many cases taken into account. Consumers can post something negative, which of course is not desirable but with an action plan can be managed.  

However, the impact of consumer generated content on the destination brand is something that destinations might overlook. Because of Web 2.0 and social media, destinations no longer are the major controllers over their brand and message. Nowadays, the branding content on the internet is based on interaction and participation of the consumers. Consumers can post whatever they like on social media, whereas in the past the destinations controlled the distribution of information. Nowadays, a brand can even be totally created in social media by consumergenerated content 

For destination marketers it’s important to notice that consumergenerated content does not necessarily match the brand that the destination wants to communicate. It can be totally different than marketergenerated content. For example, consumer generated content rarely includes the formal elements of the brand, such as slogans and logos. After all, those are important elements in marketer-generated content. What should the destinations do when the control of the brand is largely outside of the company?   

Authentic content 

Last but definitely not least I want to highlight the importance of authentic content. Internet and other media are full of marketing content created by marketers. From the highly scientific and empirical research we conducted on our lectures (discussing in the classroom), we got the results that traditional destination marketing videos are not interesting enough. No one wants to look at nice views with peaceful background music for longer than a few seconds. People are interested in authentic content with local people. Visitors don’t come to a destination with the main reason of spending money there but to learn something and educate themselves. This means that destination marketers need to shift their mindset from consuming to learning.  

Onthe destination marketing course  we had an interesting workshop with the CEO of VisitKarelia Jaakko Löppönen. He pointed out an issue with this approach that they as the destination marketers are facing: If the marketing material can’t be made by marketers and agencies but rather by the local people, who is willing to produce this content? And what kind of content should it be? The resources they as a DMO have are limited and often the more traditional content by agencies is the only option. This is an important question for us students as the future destination marketers to think about. We should totally forget the traditional destination marketing and focus on something new and innovating. Skills and knowledge to do that will be the competitive advantage of destination marketing and marketer of tomorrow.  

How to better interact with your customers on social media?

 

If there’s something a business can’t ignore these days, it’s the social media. All the businesses should be present at social media as it’s the way to reach out and communicate with their customers, increase awareness and boost their sales – after all, there are more than 3 billion social media users worldwide so it’s better to take advantage of that!

Social media has significantly changed the way people and organizations communicate and interact with each other (Ngai, Tao & Moon, 2015). Social media allows businesses to communicate with their customers in a more personal level which helps to build stronger relationships with them. Interacting with customers creates better engagement and value for the customers. Because of this, interacting with customers should be also included in the company’s social media marketing plan. But what can you do to effectively interact with customers on social media?

Be where your customers are
To be able to interact with your customers, you need to be where they are. This requires knowing your customer. When you know who your customers are, you’ll be able to figure out how to reach them and identify the right social media channels to use. So, there’s no point on being on every social media channel there are available but instead, focus on the ones that matter the most.

Be easy to find
When you have chosen the right channels to be at, you should make yourself as easy to find as possible. You can achieve this by using simple profile names, relevant profile pictures and hashtags that relate to your business. Also, you should add links to your social media accounts on your company’s website.

Post interesting content regularly
Don’t just make your content about sales and product promotions but instead try to provide value for your customers by posting interesting and entertaining content. Think about the following questions; What interests them and brings more value for them? What kind of content would attract attention?
Also be sure to post a variety of content – photos, videos, link shares, contests etc. Post user-generated content to make your customers feel more involved. Use storytelling as a way to increase engagement and attention. Ask questions and feedback. And remember to post regularly.

Be responsive
When thinking about better interaction on social media, one of the most important aspects is the communication and responding to your customer’s requests, suggestions and messages. Consumers expect to get fast responses when leaving their comment on social media. That’s why you should try to reply to them as quickly as possible. Reply to all questions, comments and feedback – both positive and negative ones. In this way, you can create better relationships and improve brand loyalty.

Show yourself – “behind the scenes”
People want to connect and interact with other people. Therefore, it would be a good idea to show the people working behind the company’s social media profiles – and not just the ones who are dealing with social media but other employees as well. For example, you can post pictures of the staff, introduce the team members and reply to comments with your name. This builds trust and reliability.

Reference:
Ngai, E., Tao, S. & Moon, K. 2015. Social media research: Theories, constructs, and conceptual frameworks. International Journal of Information Management. 35(1), 33-44.

DTTT Global 2019, Day 2

The second day (Read about the first day here) of DTTT was all about technology and digitalization. What we can learn from data and how we can benefit data in place branding, leading and marketing.

Lead with data. Do marketing with it, learn from it, optimize – optimize – optimize – then do it again.

Head of Telia data technology Tapio Levä gave an inspirational speech on things you can do with data in Finland. Tourism sector statistics have been depended on interviews, surveys and such, where they calculate and estimate overall income to the area. Well, I have some good news: No more guessing! Data that you can get from mobile phones is mind-blowing: You can see e.g. from where the tourist is coming, how long he/she stays in the area, where they go during their stay etc. And most importantly: no more guessing about day visitors which does not stay at hotels: they are included in the statistics as well!  Tapio Levä told us an example from Ed Sheeran’s gig in Helsinki – where the estimation was 9 m. € in revenue – from 2 days!

(Source: Tapio Levä’s presentation 5.12.2019)

Data gives us access to information what we have not to be able to see before. In discussions throughout the day, it was clear that using data improves collaboration with the stakeholders and it gives tools to understand tourism flows better. By using data, the traveller’s customer journey is possible to form from the first idea to get abroad to marketing after the visit. It is essential to learn constantly from your data and optimize your marketing by how your data is changing. E.g. in Benidorm, they understood from data that tourists from the USA are interested in their destination and are talking about it and changes their marketing strategies based on that.

In Ireland, they’ve put data into some serious work. By utilizing data they’ve built up a detailed customer journey and touchpoints. In practice, they collect data on how one tourist acts during their stay. Based on that data AI builds customer profiles and recommendations with future tourists with a similar profile. A massive project with 48 m. cookies and 1,5 m. digital touchpoints. WOW!

Content is king – Tell a story worth hearing!

As I love great stories and marketing, I want to showcase a few examples heard during DTTT on great stories utilized around destination brands.

In Vienna, they celebrate Ludvig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday and Capital of Music –title year in 2020. One way on how they combined LVB’s to a digital era, was to combine Alexa with Beethoven.

They did a project, where the integrate a vivid story of Beethoven with Alexa’s voice commands. With a command “I want to hear something about Beethoven” Alexa tells a 2 min long story about how he has lived his life in Wien. After one story it gives 3 more alternatives to where to continue with the story. So, it’s kind of a book I’ve read in my childhood where after one chapter you can choose what alternative you take.  Except that you communicate with Alexa and hear the story from it.

(Source: Andrea Kostner DTTT 5.12 (A model from the storyline plots)

I think that this was a great example of how to build up great stories that combine place history and place attachment with place branding. And I instantly started to think about how could we in Finland e.g. take advantage of this in Jean Sibelius’s 160th birthday in the year 2025.. 🙂

The USA also used storytelling by creating unique stories around its destination brand based on the musical history of the country. They collaborated with “minor” actors such as MTV, BBC, and Spotify and let them create content independently around the topic. One result with Daily Telegraph was this microsite where the stories were combined with the evolution of music 

Collaboration with open API

It’s obvious that technological solutions revolutionize tourism research and gives huge opportunities to destinations in optimizing and personalizing tourism flows. More importantly, it emphasizes collaboration IN the destination. Today, your business does not exist if you are not on Facebook and you don’t have a webpage – but tomorrow you don’t exist if you don’t collaborate. You don’t survive if you do things just by yourself.

tomorrow you don’t exist if you don’t collaborate.

Collaboration is in the focal point also now in Saimaa – where they try to achieve a title for the European Capital of Culture for the year 2026. To do that they must collaborate with 4 provinces all together – tourism, culture and most importantly, the local people. Digital tools and technological solutions give great tools on achieving this by first collecting data from all the stakeholders in one place and secondly, sharing that knowledge with anyone whose interested. The first thing to create collaboration is that stakeholders are aware of each other. Not just inside one city or just inside one province – but in Saimaa and Finland and the Nordics etc. To gain a competitive advantage you must collaborate and think big.

Conclusions:

  1. Digitalization enables collaboration, it can make collaboration more visible and open via different kinds of platforms. Data provides information on what has been “hidden knowledge” before. This knowledge can be used on planning customer journeys etc. Besides just planning – you can see in real facts how you have succeeded in your plans.  Sharing is caring – no matter if you are a DxO or RMO, tourism stakeholder or just an average Joe. Sharing knowledge with each other creates stories, gives data, creates collaboration, gives a competitive advantage. By utilizing data and technology, that work is more easily done.

2) The second conclusion is that AI is here. We are in the middle of a big change in society where digitalization, automation, AI and robots are already here. There’s no use on denying and fearing that robots are taking on the world. Let’s face it: we are living in the middle of sci-fi society. When you think about what kind of things we already have, it is something I couldn’t dream of in my wildest dreams in my childhood. ( but I’m still waiting for the flying cars!) Instead of living in fear, you have to look forward and figure out ways on how to utilize this efficiently. I think in this sense I saw quite a few good examples on how to utilize data efficiently what it comes to the tourism sector.

That’s my view from #DTTT Global 2019, hope you enjoyed it!

How to do video marketing in tourism businesses?

Did you know that most people prefer video over reading? Also, social media platforms have started to favour video content, making video marketing in tourism an important part of any modern marketing mix. Videos have been growing fast as popular media content, especially on social media. Videos have great traffic potential and convert customers if you do it right. You can increase your business’ visibility and get more customers with video marketing.

If you think it is too hard to make videos, here are some suggestions: someone else could do it for you, or you could learn to do it yourself. It doesn’t have to be an expensive project, but high-quality videos can be more viable. It is a bit scary to step in front of the camera, but tourism is a human-to-human business and it is definitely worth it.

Photo by Robin Noguier on Unsplash

When you are thinking about doing video marketing in tourism, consider at least the following aspects:

  1. Think a clear purpose for the video

The clearer the purpose is the clearer it is to make and watch. There can be many kinds of purposes like you can make the video to introduce your brand, tell your values and build the trust and awareness or you can do a video just for entertainment. Remember to take into consideration in which stage the reached customers would be: are they still looking for inspiration (pre-purchase stage) or are they already comparing and deciding which service they are willing to buy, for example.

  1. Do different types of videos

Try to do a different kind of videos for different purposes. You could make a virtual tour and take the viewers with you, for example in your facilities or activities. When you give a glance to your customers beforehand, they can be convinced of your services and want to experience it by themselves. Videos increase trust as they convey a lot of information.

  1. Publish it in the right place and at the right time

Publish the video on the platforms and channels where your customers are. YouTube and Facebook at least are the most common video platforms right now. Also, think about the timing. Publish the video when there are most of the people online to gain the best results. And not just any people, but your target audience.

  1. Make it useful for all

You could make a video where you answer the frequently asked questions (FAQ) or educate your future customers by making a behave in your destination or how-to check-in on the self-service desk or how to paddle safely on stand up paddle (SUP) board.

  1. Don’t be boring

Try new things like 360 °, virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) videos, use drones or other technology. And more importantly, make your viewers laugh or at least to smile. Everyone needs a little fun to their days.

  1. Use influencers

Especially if you are not familiar with the technology, you can ask a videoblogger, for example, to introduce your business in an interesting way. Choose the influencer that has the audience who could also be interested in your business. Good influencer may have a great power to increase your markets. Same with other networks!

  1. Create and tell stories

Stories always work for people. Make a story that people can identify with, the video that makes the viewer emotional or inspired. Answer to your customers needs and desires and make the video attractive and your services irresistible, so your viewers would think “I must go there, and I must experience that!”. But still, be real, you have to meet their expectations. It is easy to talk about facts, but tourists make choices based on their feelings.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

What else? See good examples below:

Vinkare is Finnish video blogger and influencer with almost 150 000 subscribers on YouTube. He always uses the newest technology and can do nice tricks with it. This is a useful and fun marketing video of Sastamala city.

For foreign readers, here is another example. This is inspirational video content in the first place. It introduces national parks in the USA.

The last video is a good example where the tourism business answers the customers’ questions, wonders and gives tips for families in Disney Park.

Thanks for reading. Hopefully, you got some ideas for your own content marketing and video marketing in tourism.

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

Content marketing and how to harness it for your business

Content marketing is a necessity in today’s digital marketing field. It is also an effective tool, especially for small entrepreneurs, to reach new customers, build trust and increase site traffic. The key to success is planning content marketing that can answer three questions:

  • What are your customers’ need and desires?
  • Can you provide your customers with something value?
  • Can you keep them wanting more?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when building your own strategy:

Who are your customers?

The customer is the key factor in raising profitability. As a result, it should be considered as the centre of all activities and decisions of your company. When creating content, segmenting your customers is the first step as it helps to identify your target customers, understand their behaviors, habits, and preferences. Consequently, it provides useful information to create interesting and engaging contents and to refine your marketing approach.

Tips to find out the searching trends of customers after segmenting your customers:

  • Use analytics features on social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Google Analytics) to get an overview picture of customer behavior within the online environment.
  • Connect face to face to get some truly unique insights from customers.

Which content marketing formats have the most impact on your customers?

Choosing popular content formats is the second step to connect with customers. Online content format is not just text. It can be under different forms: images, videos, infographics, e-books, case studies, webinars, press releases, competitions, quiz, reviews or case studies… The format of the content should be compatible with the main goals of the content, which are to entertain, to inspire, to educate and to convince. For instance, if the purpose of the content is entertaining, the suitable formats could be quizzes or contests while if educating is your purpose, e-books, instructions will be the reasonable selection. Picking the proper content format helps the potential customers engage, share, learn, become loyal customers or even entice new customers.

How to write an attractive content for online customers?

Reading habit is different between online and offline content. The style, length or structure of the content in different channels has an enormous impact on attracting customers. For instance, reading a long article in a newspaper is much more breathable and enjoyable than in online format.

Tips to achieve successful content writing:

  • Stay inspire. Pick some engaging topics. You can refer to your competitors or using tools to query the keyword list as this way is good for creating content based on the demand of customers.
  • Start with a direct topic or opening sentence to entice customers’ attraction and satisfy what they are looking for.
  • Write the content under the customer’s position and focus on content purposes. Avoid adding too much sales messages in the content.
  • Be consistent in your writing style to make customers immediately link to your brand, to build a relationship with your customers and to differentiate from your competitors.

How to promote your content online?

Spending time to promote your content online is as important as to create content because it helps to reach a larger audience.

Before creating a content promotion plan, choosing suitable channels to manage is important. There are three types of channels which should be considering: Owned, Earned and Paid channels. Promoting content on owned channels such as websites, blogs or social media sites is a typical starting point as it is a flexible and low-cost option. Earned channels help boost the customer reach of content and also add credibility. Whereas paid channels allow you to target your goals to specific customers.

Once choosing which channels to promote your content, creating a content calendar is the next step. A content calendar will organize your content marketing activity and make your content process consistent and efficient.

Tips to reach the full potential of a content calendar:

  • Combine a variety of marketing channels to work together for marketing strategies.
  • Make the plan achievable by using realistic time frames or highlighting special days or holidays to offer seasonal content
  • Use online tools to save your time. It will help automate the content creation, distribute process and easy to keep track of the plan
  • Stick to customers at each stage of calendar

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

3 easy ways to make online customer experience better in tourism

As technology develops it is necessary for tourism businesses as well as businesses, in general, to think about how they can improve online customer experience. There is a lot of talk about if technology will replace human interaction, but actually in business purposes technology can help make customers happier. Although we have to remember that to do so, it has to be done correctly and enhance the customer experience rather than make things more complicated.

Our class was brainstorming to find out how technology can delight customers in tourism businesses. We discovered a lot of different ways, but there were three that stood out the most for all of us: easily accessible information, photos & videos, and helpful marketing.

Easily accessible information

When planning a holiday or booking activities, one of the biggest things is that the information is comprehensive and easily found. Tourism companies should focus more on the content of their website as it is the main source of information for customers. This means that the navigation should be clear and there should be information available about everything the company is offering. Especially for tourism companies, online booking is one thing that will make customers happier as well as the possibility to give feedback online. Easier the information search process is the happier the customer gets.

Photos & videos

We all know the saying “a picture tells more than a hundred words”. This should be kept in mind when marketing your products or services. Photos and videos can increase the trust as well as the satisfaction of customers when they match with reality. As an example, if a hotel has a gym, but they have no pictures of it, the hotel might seem a bit shady for the customers. But then again, you should not use pictures or videos that are much better than the reality, as the reality will then disappoint the customers. It’s also good to remember that high-quality photos and videos are also quite nice to watch, and they easily caught the eye in social media.

Helpful marketing

No one likes when a business is by force trying to sell their products or services, at least not Finnish people. Tourism companies should use more helpful marketing, which means that you introduce the strengths and benefits of our products or services rather than use a phrase such as “buy now”. In helpful marketing, you create content that is helpful for customers and that creates value for your customers. In the end, it will also lead to better sales. Make the customer feel special and be interactive on social media channels.

Focus on online customer experience!

As said in the beginning, there can be multiple ways to make customers happier by utilizing technology. Get started with the three ways introduced here, but remember that you can always develop ways that suit your company and customers better. In the end it all comes down to understanding the online customer experience!

Get a master’s degree in tourism business

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

How to successfully master website design for your tourism business?

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.

Website Marketing_Different Devices

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.

ACCESSIBILITY

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.

ENGAGING CONTENT

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.

Picture_Metaphor for Storytelling

STORYTELLING

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?

Get a master’s degree in tourism business

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

Nostalgia in marketing – a great way to drown your business

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.

Why?

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!

Get a master’s degree in tourism business

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.

Do Not Read This!

Content Marketing?

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:

  1. Entertain the customer with top quality content to spend time in your media and get them to know you.
  2. Inspire them and help them to create new ideas and new dreams.
  3. Educate the customer on the issues related to your business and create a feeling of trust.
  4. 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.

Get a master’s degree in tourism business

Are you looking for an international tourism-focused master’s degree programme in business? Tourism Marketing and Management programme by University of Eastern Finland provides a unique learning experience for students who have finished their bachelor’s degree and are looking for new skills and knowledge in developing tourism industry in a sustainable way. Read more about the programme at www.uef.fi/tmm.