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7 Ways to Increase Tourism Through Digital Marketing

People are once again packing their bags and hitting the road (and sky). The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reported that the travel and tourism industry took a massive hit in 2020 with a decrease of 49.1% from the 2019 level of 9.2 trillion USD of the global GDP. However, as people have adjusted to the new normal, travel and tourism have increased significantly. Based on a study conducted in 2021, WTTC expected travel and tourism to recover by 30.7% and another 31.7% in 2022.

Even though we are not back to 2019 levels of travel, we do see Americans making plans to take their next trip. According to Destination Analysts, almost 80% of Americans have travel plans for 2022. Additionally, excitement for travel is increasing. For the week of January 12th, Destination Analysts found that “72.8% of Americans expressed higher levels of excitement for their prospective travel future.” Americans have just over three trips planned, on average, over the course of the next 12 months. 

The bounceback in travel means it is time to help tourists choose YOUR destination for one of their three trips. Statista found that in 2019 travel and tourism marketers spent 6.09 billion USD on digital advertising. That dropped down to 2.99 billion USD in 2020. However, for 2022, it is estimated that spending will increase to 4.05 billion USD. While still not at the rate of 2019, digital marketing for the travel and tourism industry is making a comeback.

Travel spending estimates will rise to 4.5 Billion in 2023

You don’t need to have deep pockets to stand out in this coming wave of travel and tourism marketing. I have put together a list of seven online marketing campaign ideas that can be used for a variety of travel and tourism marketing strategies. I’ve included ideas for everyone. Whether you are on the board of a chamber of commerce, work in the marketing department at a hotel, or even manage social media for an airline company, these campaigns will work for you. 

Photo Contest

Show off your beautiful city by showcasing visitors’ photos with a photo contest. A photo contest engages visitors and provides valuable user-generated content (UGC)  for your future marketing endeavors. You can use the UGC you collect on social media and in your marketing materials. Plus, your contest will also attract the attention of people planning future trips.

Here are a few photo contest themes you could consider: 

  • City showcase: Ask for photos of tourists’ favorite artwork, statues, or viewpoints of the city.
  • Hidden gems: Have entrants submit the best-hidden spots and low-key establishments they found in your city.
  • Fan favorites: Ask patrons to show off their favorite parts of your hotel, food dishes ordered via room service, or beautiful cocktails served at the bar.
  • Wildlife or nature shoot: You can offer several categories from amateurs to professional photographers. 

To increase the reach of your contest, use voting to help determine a winner. Have entrants share their entries to gain votes, and even give voters a chance to win a prize through a random drawing.

Instagram Hashtag Contest

We all know Instagram is THE place for travel-induced FOMO. Step up your photo contest and increase social media engagement with a hashtag contest. Ask tourists to post their favorite travel memory and include your contest hashtag while entering.  

Be sure to make your hashtags unique! Branded hashtags are always a good idea. Here are some examples of branded hashtags: 

  • #TravelNevada (Travel Nevada)
  • #RCMemories (Ritz-Carlton)
  • #VisitSD (San Diego Tourism Authority)
  • #iflyAlaska (Alaska Airlines)
  • #flyLAX (Los Angeles International Airport)

Creating unique hashtags for a specific contest will help guarantee that unrelated images aren’t entered into your contest. For example, Travel Nevada might use the contest hashtag #TravelNevadaMemories. 

Furthermore, to increase exposure, you can pair your branded hashtag with something more generic. Once again using Travel Nevada as an example, #NevadaTravelMemories could pair with #travelbug (a popular, but more general hashtag) and require both hashtags for entry. They could even include all three: #TravelNevada, #TravelNevadaMemories and #travelbug. 

Using social media as the basis for your photo contest will further your reach. Friends of visitors will see their entry and likely visit the hashtag to see more photos. This will hopefully lead to tickets purchased and bags packed for your destination. 

Free Resource: For a step-by-step guide on creating a hashtag contest, click here.

Comment to Enter Contest

Need to run a quick campaign? Comment to enter contests are here to save the day! 

Pose a question to your fans in a post on Instagram or Facebook, then ask them to comment with their answers. Set a short-term time limit, such as one day or one week. Shorter periods of time are often best for comment to enter contests since posts get buried in your feed. Once the contest is over, select a winner from all of the comments. Digital marketing campaigns don’t get much easier than this. 

Need some ideas for questions to ask? Here are a few to get the juices flowing: 

  • What is your favorite coffee shop in [INSERT YOUR CITY]?
  • What’s the best place to hike in [INSERT YOUR STATE]?
  • Where do you like to spend a Sunday afternoon in [DESTINATION]?
  • Tag one friend who you would take on a vacation to [NAME YOUR DESTINATION]?
  • How much do you pack for a one-week vacation: Carry-on only, One checked-bag, I need a luggage cart. 

While simple, comment to enter contests will increase your social media engagement and therefore increase your overall visibility. According to Sprout Social, “For starters, social media algorithms treat engagement (think: likes, comments, and shares) as a sort of snowball effect. That is, the more engagement a piece of content gets, the more likely it is to be rewarded by the algorithm.” While every social media platform has a slightly different algorithm, this general rule of thumb will keep users coming back to your page. 

FREE RESOURCE: Learn more about comment-to-enter contests with our guide.

Knowledge Quiz

Test tourists’ (and locals’) knowledge of your travel destination with a quiz. Knowledge quizzes are a great way to gamify your campaign and still gain valuable leads. Knowledge quizzes are engaging for future and current visitors, and even allow locals to participate in a fun contest. 

Here are a few sample knowledge quiz ideas that you could use: 

  • History quiz: Test visitors’ knowledge of your city’s in-depth history. 
  • Wildlife and nature quiz: See how much everyone knows about the local flora and fauna.
  • Odd and unique facts: Showcase the unique and interesting parts of your city, then test visitors on random and weird facts. 
  • Odd image out: Use similar images, for example, all local monuments, then show an odd image out, like a well-known building in another city, and see if your audience can detect the outlier. This quiz is great for younger populations!

Making your marketing campaigns interactive through the use of games like quizzes, puzzles and instant win contests will make online visitors stay on your website longer, increasing visitors’ chances of remembering your destination when it comes time to book a trip.

Personality Quiz

A personality quiz is another campaign that stokes engagement. Personality quizzes allow users to answer questions and reveal a “personality” at the end. (You might be familiar with Buzzfeed quizzes, which are super popular on social media.) These quizzes can be a great tool for attracting travelers to your destination by increasing their awareness. 

When creating a personality quiz, ask questions related to the quiz subject that are also valuable for you, the marketer. These questions can help you gain insight into who participates in your contests and what makes them tick. Here are a few questions you could use for your next personality quiz:

  • Are you a destination or local traveler?
  • What time of year should you visit? 
  • Are you a co-pilot or pilot?
  • Which Reno 911 character are you?

Win Your Wishlist

A win your wishlist campaign is another excellent way to get tourists involved and excited about visiting your destination. For travel, try a win your wishlist campaign which allows future visitors to create their perfect getaway by selecting their prizes across multiple categories. 

Some examples include:

  • Dream vacation giveaway: Entrants select their dream vacation in categories such as accommodations, activities, eateries, entertainment, experiences, etc. 
  • Dream experience package: People can select an entire day filled with awesome activities from morning to night. 
  • Art gallery wishlist: Participants select their favorite works of art from the art galleries in your city. 

Scavenger Hunt 

Give tourists and locals a chance to explore the city with a scavenger hunt! Visitors can visit your website to get started. At each location, they find a code to enter into a form on the contest page or a QR code to scan that reveals a new landing page for the next clue. At the end of the hunt, they have explored the city and can enter to win a small souvenir such as a t-shirt or reusable water bottle. 

Scavenger hunts can involve the entire city, or only a small part depending on your goals. You can create an art walk, brewery tour, or a city-wide whodunit (think: who stole the HS mascot). One city used scavenger hunts as a way for their growing community to get to know one another and unify the town. 

TIP: Using the Invite-Only template in ShortStack will allow you to restrict users from accessing your landing page until they have the correct code. This way, scavenger hunt goers can’t access the final clue without completing the full hunt.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)

Digital marketing is pivotal in 2022 for the travel and tourism industry. With marketing campaigns such as photo contests, hashtag contests, and even scavenger hunts, you can increase your presence online and grow your engagement. So what is stopping you from getting started with your 2022 digital marketing goals? 

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