Now that we have a roadmap of what to (hopefully) expect, this summer is set to be perhaps the most important season in UK tourism and digital channels are in a prime position to deliver strong results and reach the largest audience with limited budgets.
Last summer, we saw that the UK traveller is eager to book and we delivered over £4,500,000 worth of revenue across our clients in just 10 weeks with digital channels alone and in some cases filling nearly all of the available booking slots. Proving again that right now, all you need is the right message at the right time.
But why focus on digital?
As mentioned in our whitepaper An Industry Renewed, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for digital transformation within the travel industry. It has now become the major source of information, research and booking for most travel customers and a majority of travel businesses are reflecting that with their marketing spend.
It’s important to realise that the evolution we have seen will not go back once the pandemic has lessened, so if you haven’t invested in your digital channels – now is the time.
You can be agile
Fingers crossed, everything is going to go according to plan, but as we have seen, sometimes things are unpredictable. With the re-opening of schools and the threat of a new variant looming, we may go into another lockdown, so you need channels that can be switched on and off as quickly as you need them to.
The beauty of digital campaigns is that they require a reduced amount of resources and time, and have a much quicker turnaround than traditional formats. You are no longer bound by specific media slots, and you don’t have to plan around long printing lead times.
With the development of accessible creative tools such as Canva, it is easier than ever before to create simple yet effective digital assets with your pre-existing imagery and you can in theory turn on your marketing in a matter of days to start delivering much-needed bookings, almost immediately.
You know what is working
A fallback of traditional channels is that they rely heavily on awareness metrics, and can sometimes mean that it’s hard to attribute how effective your marketing is. While budgets are restricted, it is incredibly important to know exactly where your money is going, and that it’s working so that you can be efficient with your spend.
Paid digital channels allow you to set clear budget constraints and can track and attribute every lead that comes in, meaning you know what is working and what isn’t. This allows you to be more strategic with your thinking and more efficient with your spend.
You’ll save money
Digital campaigns have higher rates of action follow-through because they are delivered on the same device where your potential visitor is purchasing, making them far less likely to forget as the buying process is far easier – which ultimately means more bookings.
You are also able to quickly optimise or change your messaging depending on your responses, without the costly worries of changing a billboard or being tied to a print run. All these savings may seem small but will drive up your efficiencies while working with reduced budgets.
But which digital channels?
With the growing complexity of the digital landscape and lots of shiny new channels, it can be difficult to know where best to and focus your budgets.
If you’re looking where to start, then I believe that PPC and Social are where you should be investing your efforts, as they are the easiest to get right and deliver high impact results.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
PPC is the long-standing ruler of digital advertising when it comes to driving bookings for your attraction, as it is the only channel with true intent behind it, as people use search engines to look for an answer.
With an effective PPC strategy, you will be one of the first places customers will see when they are researching what to do in their destination, and while competition is fierce, this will be the difference between someone booking with you or with someone else.
Having an effective SEO strategy will raise your organic profile, but PPC will ensure that you will be seen first and stand out from your competition, so are worth investing your budgets into.
Think of PPC as your attraction’s shop window. You need to show your benefits and answer your potential customer’s needs quickly and efficiently. If you do that, then you will quickly become one of the only options that they will consider when it comes to eventually book their visit.
Paid Social Advertising
We’ve been running social media campaigns since the dawn of social media and it has been amazing to see how much it has progressed and grown into a powerful tool to reach and engage with a highly targeted audience.
PPC has often been seen as the primary channel for driving sales, while social media has been seen as the primary channel for awareness and lead generation. But as you can see from our graph, we found over that last summer for the first time ever, Paid Social drove more revenue across our clients.
This is likely due to the effects on national lockdowns, as people have been using social media more than ever before and therefore expect to hear and interact with brands.
Though I predict that PPC will eventually rise back to its top spot as people want quick, functional results when they are more time-scarce. But these findings highlight how important social media is right now, not to only connect with your audience but to drive real results.
Ultimately, a blend of social channels is preferable, but it is better to get one channel right than spreading yourself too thin. If you were to pick just one channel, then I would recommend Facebook. It is where we are seeing the most success with our clients and it is still the most used social channel for the decision-makers in the incredibly important family audience.
This year is set to be one of the most important seasons in UK tourism. If you have any questions on how to best implement digital strategy for your business, then get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simon is one of the founders of Digital Visitor and has over 20 years marketing experience in the tourism sector, particularly with destinations and visitor attractions.