A successful destination marketing plan starts with strategy and is chock full of targeted tactics from social media to video, content marketing and more. The goal is to reach travelers and inspire visitation, but what are the missing links to accomplishing all that needs to be done? Today we’re going behind-the-scenes to look at some of the marketing tools for tourism promotion that can help DMOs of any size make the most of their time and efforts. Better yet, we’re looking at our favorite tools that are free or relatively inexpensive.
1. Collaborative Marketing Tools
Tourism marketing is collaborative. Very often, multiple regions and assets work together on projects big and small. Working together in real time over distances doesn’t have to be difficult.
Google Drive is host to several tools you may have heard of. These tools make for easy sharing and even working together in real time! Our team favors Google Docs (word processing) and Google Sheets (spreadsheets) for working together. Up to 15G of storage is free, and anyone can create an account (even with a non-Gmail email address).
Slack is a messaging tool that frees up your inbox from little questions and giant threads, and supports two kinds of messaging. Public “channels” can be seen by anyone on your team and private direct messages go between a group of any size. It also has lots of great tools for sharing, including link previews, drag-and-drop file sharing, playing videos and lots of integrations. The free plan only limits a few things, like searching and history past 10,000 messages (chronologically across all channels). Upgrading unlocks the full history. Our team has been using the free plan for 2 years and loves it.
2. Customer Relations for Tourism
Every organization needs a way to keep organized and stay on top of contacts and conversations. For this we turn to CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems – but the top names may be out of reach price-wise for smaller organizations.
We faced this very challenge of needing contact organization for a tourism client and not having a large budget. Then we discovered Capsule. The free plan covers up to 250 contacts and upgrading is only $18 per month per user.
3. Creating Visuals
Everyone needs visuals, especially when it comes to inspiring travel. While you can’t get away with stock photos for everything, there are great royalty-free photos available for free on sites like Pixabay and Pexels.
Using a photo isn’t just about having the right one, though. It often needs to be a certain size, or you’ll need to use it for something on a website or other promotion. Very few offices have a dedicated graphic designer who has the time to make a ton of little graphics for social media on the fly. And not everyone knows how to use fancy editing software, let alone the time/energy/know-how to make it look beautiful within minutes.
Enter Canva, or design-for-dummies as I like to call it. It’s a great tool for creating your own graphics. You start by selecting the size of your project. Use a pre-made size like a poster, Facebook post or email header – or type in a custom size. Then choose from pre-made layouts complete with fonts. The best way to understand it, is to see it in action:
4. Social Media Tools
When it comes to social media, there are a few tools that can make life easier. We like to outline content calendars in Google Sheets, and then schedule out the posts. There is a chance that scheduling on Facebook will “ding” your post a bit in their algorithm, but not enough not use their scheduling tool. Just be sure to do it within Facebook and not with any other service.
For Twitter, we prefer to schedule using Hootsuite. It even has an autoschedule button if you’re going to share something for the same day but don’t know when to Tweet. It also has link tracking, listening features (saved searches) and reporting tools.
Tailwind offers scheduling for Pinterest and Instagram. These channels have historically been left out or underrepresented in scheduling platforms, so we were thrilled to find this. It allows you to schedule posts out months in advance. Once you have posts scheduled, Tailwind automatically uploads them to Instagram or Pinterest for you, taking away all the hassle and time of planning and uploading. The platform has a free trial for 30 posts (rather than 30 days), and each channel is $15/month after that.