Destination Marketing: Leisure and Tourism Strategies That Work

By Alex Coe topicIcon Destination marketing

Destination Marketing

If you’re anything like me, you’ll think that researching and planning a trip can be almost as fun as the adventure itself.

Spending an afternoon working out all the exciting possibilities whets the appetite for the journey to come.

What you need to realise is that potential customers to your destination most likely research the same way.

Therefore, to direct people’s fact-finding towards your attraction, you need to coordinate your digital marketing efforts in order to influence their buying journeys, expand your reach, increase engagement, and, ultimately, sell more tickets.

The aim of this blog is to teach you how to use digital marketing to increase footfall. It will include...


  • How to understand your customer better
  • The type of content you need to create – and why
  • How to get your content seen (and more tickets sold)

Let us talk you through the process.

Better still, why not check out our Destination Marketing Webinar and Download a free guide too?

destination guide 1

Content to Influence Each Stage of the Buying Journey

Research Stage

You should have a presence on the relevant travel/day-out sites that people turn to for inspiration.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that your Instagram game is on-point, because modern travellers use the platform to check out new holiday or day-out ideas.

It’s also common for travellers to check out hashtags on arrival, so make sure your attraction has virtual real estate on the right tags – and get influencing.

Visit Manchester

Also, if you notice someone check in at a train station, a city, or an airport near to you, why not welcome their arrival and let them know of any of your upcoming events that may be of interest?

Active Stage

So, some people have found your site and are tempted to book visits, but they need a little more convincing. What can you do to guide them to conversion?

First, you can ensure that your site gives them all the information that they will need. Also, people will look to your social media profiles (and possibly TripAdvisor) to see what other people are saying about your resort – this means you’ll need a strong social plan.

Trust Stage

You can gain leverage from your customers by emailing them after their visit. Use this opportunity to ask them for reviews, to encourage them to share their pics, or to suggest that they join your social channels.

Doing so will improve your customer’s relationship with your brand, and will increase the likelihood of their return at some point in the future.

Also, when they share their reviews and snaps, your customers are creating social proof of the benefits of visiting your destination – the result of which will be additional visitors.

Chester Zoo


Influencing the Buyer’s Journey

Buyer's Journey

Before you do anything, you need to get a clear idea of who you’re trying to attract.

Ask yourself, “Who is my customer base is? Millennials, seniors, couples?”

Reason being, when you start putting together a detailed picture of who your key demographics are, you begin to get a clearer understanding of the types of content you need to create in order to entice them to your destination.



Buyer Persona

Having the knowledge of what sites your target audience use when planning a holiday, and the questions they’re seeking answers to, will make getting people excited about going to your attraction that much easier.

Create a Calendar

So now you know what you’re saying, and to whom, you need to get all these golden content ideas written up into a marketing calendar.

It might not seem ‘sexy’, but trust us – without a coordinated marketing plan, you’re driving blind.

An effective marketing team or agency will create a detailed plan that they then use to guide their actions.

Remember: it’s important that you drive the business rather than the business driving you – without a plan, you’ll never capitalise on seasonality. You need to monitor and improve your campaign performance, and you need to pro-actively promote your upcoming events.

Take a Look at Your Website

First impressions count, especially in the destination sector. If people arrive on an outdated, dull website, this is the view they’ll develop of your attraction.

Away from the visuals, you need to ask yourself some important questions about your site:

  1. Is it set up to convert traffic into leads and sales?
  2. Is Google Analytics set up to measure and improve your marketing performance?
  3. Have tracking pixels been installed (so that you can remarket to your traffic after they’ve left your site)?
  4. Does the site contain all the information a customer needs, and is it findable?

Before embarking on your marketing campaigns, you need to ensure that you’ve considered the above, so that you’re not directing your efforts towards a damp squib.

If your website isn’t making your leads stick, sort this out as a matter of priority.

What Content Do You Need to Create?

Although the possibilities are endless, what you create will depend on the goals that you’re looking to achieve with your content, and on the customer needs that you’ll establish when developing your brand personas.

Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive, we’ve provided a few ideas as food for thought.

1) Create guides about your local area(s)

Create a high-quality guide that details all the amazing things to do in your area. Give it a ‘local-only’ feel, so that readers are discovering – through you – amazing bits of information about the local area.

Doing this will position you as an authority, a likeable and trustworthy brand, and, what's more, it allows you to promote your own destination in a way that seems genuine and highly shareable.

Below is a great example of us helping our clients to really nail destination content marketing, understanding exactly what their customers need and delivering it expertly.

Essential Living Love London

2) Videos sell tickets, so create them

Next time you take a look at your Facebook feed, notice just how much video has become the dominant platform. You need to capitalise this by creating top-notch video content.

Let’s say you run a theme park: why not get GoPro footage from one of your rides, or film some testimonials from park visitors, or create animations that detail fun facts about the park or provide helpful visitor information?

3) Create User-Generated Content

It’s a fact – regular people trust other regular people more than they trust brands.

So, if you have happy customers, leverage this by encouraging them to share their experiences online.

They can upload a photo, send a review, or mention you on Facebook.

Getting people to send you user-generated content will massively improve your brand advocacy, and this in turn should help you shift more tickets.

For more info on how you can utilise user-generated content as a destination brand, check out this article.

Above are some examples of the Snapchat Geofilters we created to help push footfall at our client’s attraction.

Read about how a Snapchat campaign can drive engagement, reach, and ticket sales.

Getting People to Read Your Content

Creating great content is only half the battle, because you now need to get it in front of the right audience.

How do you manage this?

Well, here’s a few options you need to consider.

1) Search Marketing

By using the Google Keyword Planner Tool, you can discover blog titles and search terms that will generate traffic for your business – but you then need to set about creating it and getting it found.

Whilst trying to rank for search terms organically can take time, you can guarantee that your ads will rank by using Google AdWords.

You can use PPC ads to rank for phrases such as ‘Things to do in [WHATEVER YOUR AREA]’ or other terms relevant to your business, and if you do this well you should see an increase in traffic and ticket sales.

2) Paid Social

By using social tracking pixels, you can serve retargeting ads to people that have previously visited your site. This is a very powerful tool that should not be overlooked.

As well as remarketing, Facebook ads also allow you to benefit from the sheer wealth of data that the platform has at its disposal – this lets you focus on your demographics with razor-like precision.

If you’ve created your detailed buyer personas as mentioned earlier, you will know what sort of content each persona is looking for, and this is a great way of reaching them with it.

3) Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is when a brand teams up with a blogger who is relevant to its niche or target audience (and who has a large following).

Using online influencers to increase your reach is becoming increasingly popular within the destination sector for a reason. It works.

By inviting influencers, who are already trusted by their thousands of fans on YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter, you can expect the content they create for your brand to inspire their readers to check out your site and, more importantly, to consider planning a trip.

Influencer Marketing

You can even develop on this idea by making a partnership with the blogger, in which the blogger is given a percentage of any ticket sales that originate through referral visits from their content. This way, it is in the blogger’s interest to actively and consistently promote your destination.

4) Outreaching your content to other sites

As well as considering your own site, you should pinpoint a list of other sites that are relevant to your brand and are likely touchpoints for customers who are researching trips to your destination.

Then you need to ‘outreach’ to these publications. This means getting in touch and offering to write them some content that they can place on their site, which will fit in with their readers’ tastes but will also simultaneously promote your business.

This method allows you to increase your reach whilst also developing links back to your site, thus improving your backlink profile.

Let’s Arrive at Your Destination

If you’re looking for even more information, you can check out the recording out our destination marketing guide.

destination guide 1

The webinar will offer insightful tips and strategies, as well as a chance for you to ask your own questions.

Failing that, why not just get in touch with any questions you have? Our team will be only too glad to offer you some advice, contact us today!