Adapt your marketing - fill gaps and attract last minute bookings
This year has been a strange one for the tourism industry. Some incredibly busy periods, followed by gaps in demand. Strong bookings for times that are usually less popular, and yet empty weeks at peak season. Flurries of advance bookings, and then many very last minute bookings.
It's unsettling and leading to a lot of concern: a roller-coaster ride of optimism and pessimism.
So what can you do?
It's tempting to simply discount and hope for the best. After all, many people are struggling and looking for bargains. But your costs have probably increased so embarking on a downward spiral of discounts isn't a good way forward. You might want to read this before you discount.
It's important to understand that different marketing techniques work in different circumstances.
One thing never changes: the value of understanding the needs of different markets and people.
For example, it would be easy to assume that everyone has money worries and will resist spending or making advance bookings. That's simply not true. It's better to consider the kind of people who might still have disposable income, or to think about the type of visitor who could visit mid-week, or who would enjoy the security of having booked in advance.
The next step is to consider what makes someone tick, and why they might visit you. How can you really focus on those motivations and reasons for visiting?
Once you've gone through this brief process, it's essential to recognise that you need to adapt the marketing messages you use, and to re-consider which tools will work best, when, and how.
For example, at the moment you might need to stress the value you offer. Or perhaps to talk about the benefits of visiting at a certain time.
When your business is going through a time of uncertainty, with less demand, you'll need to adapt your marketing and focus on different tools.
Now might be a good time to refresh your marketing approach. What works well for general marketing and awareness-raising, might not be so powerful when you need to stimulate more bookings.
Marketing tools include:
- word of mouth (you can use 'talk triggers' to make recommendations more likely)
- your website and social media (different channels work better at certain times, with different purposes)
- paid advertising; and
- free publicity generated through PR activities
Which of these are you already using, and which might you need to adapt to a changing market? How might you need to change your marketing messages?