Supporting Global Development through Sustainable Tourism

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So you have successfully selected a marketing representative for your unique destination. You have been working with them for a few months now, but how do you determine if the work they are doing for you is paying off? You want to ensure that they are marketing your location accurately and effectively. In order to evaluate your marketing rep’s performance, you must monitor them on a regular basis. Here’s how:

1. Determine the set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you are looking for.
It is important for your organization to determine what KPIs, or metrics, you would like to measure, and eventually see improve. You want to ensure that these metrics span across all marketing activities, and reflect the success of your organization accurately. Keep in mind that this varies from organization to organization. Most companies typically utilize Return on Investment as a KPI. However, you must ensure that you are calculating the return accurately. Are you carefully estimating how much you’ve gained from your marketing investment? Does this include retaining your customer base, as well as gaining new customer revenue? ROI is an essential KPI to track. Here are some more KPIs your firm can utilize, to ensure that you are recording your marketing performance accurately:

ROI
  • Number of hits to website
  • Performance indicators on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These sites typically have their own performance metric tools that are easily accessible.
  • Number of clicks, click-through rates – found through tracking tools like Google Adwords. This is effective for tracking how well your marketing rep is working on your search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Revenue gained by traditional media marketing and advertisements
  • Number of inquiries you receive for tours/activities you offer
  • Actual travel volume – how many visitors are coming and going from your locale on a weekly/monthly basis? How many visitors are you receiving from your selected target market?

 

2. Find your baseline.
In order to see if your marketing representative has made any improvement to the KPIs you found above, you need to measure where you stand before they begin (or once they start). Make sure to record what level each KPI is at before any marketing campaigns have started. This is so you have a baseline to compare future numbers to and you will be able to track visible improvement.

3. Conduct performance evaluations on a regular basis.
Now that you’ve determined the metrics you want to measure and have established a baseline, it is important to regularly measure these metrics periodically. A good idea is to see how you are doing on a monthly or quarterly basis. Evaluating performance on a regular basis allows you to determine what aspects of your marketing rep’s campaign are succeeding and which are underperforming – allowing you to re-strategize sooner.

4. Analyze the change in performance
While you may be tempted to fire your marketing rep as soon as you see a dip in your ROI, don’t be so quick to make that decision. It’s important to analyze why certain KPIs are underperforming. For example, even though travel volume may not have increased over a few months, you may be seeing greater visitors to your website, which could mean greater awareness of your destination and more visitors in person in the future. However, if you see a consistent lag in the performance of KPIs across the board, it’s probably time to have a discussion with your marketing representative about their strategy and whether they are the best fit for your organization. It may be time to look elsewhere.

It’s important to measure the success of any marketing campaign, whether you’ve been working with your marketing representative for years or you just hired a new one last week. Finding a marketing rep that fits well with your organization is key, but consistent performance monitoring ensures that the door to your destination is open to the travelers you need and ensures that your marketing efforts continue to lead you down the road to success.

For information on the work Solimar has done with marketing representation, check out our representation projects in Rwanda, Namibia, and Myanmar.

Do you have specific questions about the metrics your organization is using to measure your marketing performance? Ask an expert!

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Following the first training Solimar launched in Ethiopia, Matthew Humke delivered two individual 23-day Integrated Destination Planning and Management courses as part of Solimar’s Short Term Sustainable Tourism Training Program.

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Each course covered seven modules, including Destination Typology, Tourism Assessment Techniques and Tools, Tourism and Resource Conservation, Tourism Product Development, Destination Marketing, Managing the Visitor Experience, and Destination Management Planning. The purpose of the course was to offer Ethiopia tourism professionals a thorough overview of the types of destinations and the different modalities for their management so they can effectively incorporate these concepts into their work.

Ethiopia Training Group
Training Group in Ethiopia

There were a total of 68 participants in the two courses – 33 in the first course and 35 in the second. Participants included representatives from the Ethiopian government, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Regional Culture and Tourism Bureaus, Ethiopia’s national parks as well as cultural and historical sites. Within both courses, participants showed consistent interest and enthusiasm and were eager to learn the course content.

To ensure our content as relevant and applicable to the professional careers of the participants as possible, each module was structured in three sections. First, the instructor Matthew Humke introduced the course material with an emphasis on how it relates to Ethiopia as well as the professional context of the participants. Second, participants formed the 4-6 person “destination working groups” and picked an actual tourism destination in Ethiopia – ranging from national parks to cultural and historical sites – to which they applied many of the planning and management concepts during their practice and production activities. Finally, participants shared their discussion results with the class. Throughout the course, the destination working groups developed various aspects of an actual destination management plan step by step including tourism supply and demand, existing and potential market segments, and priorities at their destinations in tourism development, management and marketing.

Ethiopia Training
Training Workshop in Ethiopia

The course also included a series of weekly field trips designed to highlight some aspect of the content being taught during the course that week. For example, during the Tourism and Resource Conservation module, a field trip took place to Awash National Park where participants met with park management and staff to discuss the conservation objectives and challenges that park faces. During the Managing the Visitor Experience module, the participants traveled to Melka Kunture to see how that site interpreted its historical aspects and cultural heritage.

On the final day of the course, destination working groups presented their final project by taking all of their analysis and put it into a condensed destination management plans that identified strategic objectives for their sites as well as 1-5 year action plans.

Participants walked away the course not only with their certificates, but also materials from each of the seven modules, containing PowerPoint presentations, tools like worksheets, templates, publications, reports, videos and other complimentary materials related to the content provided in each module as well as photos and videos taken by the instructor during the course of field trips, participant presentations, etc.

Solimar marketing expert Natasha Martin will be the instructor of our two individual courses on Tourism Marketing and Branding course starting on March 16th and April 17th. For more information on the available courses, please visit http://www.ethiopiasustainabletourismtraining.com

Fam-Trips (short for Familiarization Trips) are integral and familiar strategies to anyone involved in the tourism industry. The concept is simple: Members of the travel trade are invited on a free trip to become familiar with a destination and to meet potential inbound partners with the goal being that they’ll add it to their portfolios. However simple the concept, the execution can be a little more difficult. Imagine the stress of booking a full week travel itinerary for a blind date you want to impress, with only a few days notice. Now multiply that by about 10, 20, even 50 people. Before you start sweating, here are eight tips we thought would come in handy.

Namibia Sunset Jeep
A Trip to Namibia

1. Research the Trade

Scanning the wide world of potential trade to invite will take forever if you haven’t established a clear guideline of what you’re looking for. Be sure to know what your aim is, what your budget is and who your audience is. This will guide you to finding the right people. In other words - gluing a group of adventure tour operators to the chairs of coffee shops and museum halls- that’s the sort of square peg, round hole scenario that you want to avoid. 

Consider the sum of parts. A well-rounded Fam trip with many features- nature, adventure, culture, etc means it’s possible to invite a variety of trade with  varied clientele. Catering to different audiences is optimal, as you don’t want butting heads, or egos for that matter. 

 

2. Court and Create - Relationships

From the very start, you will be initiating the relationship. You want to be wooing the trade with your expertise and professionalism, establishing yourself as an expert resource on the destination. This trust and rapport is important for not only now, but for future projects you may want to enlist their collaboration on.

 

3. Set and Manage Expectations; Communication is Key

You can never really give too much information. If it’s possible, make it easier by pulling collateral together with the places they will visit, time spent in each location, distances they will travel by car and boat, food, weather, background information, fact sheets and maps. Communication also goes two ways - Expectations from both sides need to be communicated and established. Be sure to ask the invited trade all the questions to capture the answer your client’s inbound tour partners need. For example, you want to ensure you know everything about the trade’s dietary restrictions and allergies.

Colombia River Kayak
A Trip in Colombia

4. Go above and beyond

On our recent Fam-Trip to Namibia, a client asked if she could deviate from the indicated travel protocol and return to a different city than her origin- she was delighted when we organized this for her. Another tour operator handed us a list of inbound operator companies he wanted to meet with in Windhoek at the end of the trip to inquire about partnerships - so we gathered the relevant contacts of all these tour operators for him. These kind of requests only take time, and they go a long way. But even if their requests land outside of the contours of your budget, you can make expert recommendations. These little things will make all the difference in creating a memorable experience.

 

5. Check the Host Country’s Entrance Requirements

Stay organized. Remember to check the passport information of each travel trade member. Clients with different passports may have different restrictions on travel, and therefore may require different visas.

 

6. Share Your Social Media Handles

This is so the trade can tag you in their experiences as they post them on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. In addition to sharing these handles, social media is also an invaluable tool in the aforementioned research phase. Measuring and comparing their followings on social media platforms is a good way to determine their eligibility as an influencer in their sphere. The higher the influence, the higher the ROI.

Fam-Trip Rwanda
One of Our Fam-Trips in Rwanda

7. Be Available for the Client - Go Above and Beyond

Be prepared to answer questions at all times of day while they’re on the trip - when weather issues or flight cancelations happen, make it your job to update clients and in-country operators at all times. 

 

8. Continue to Nurture the Relationship

After the trip is over, the trade will being planning - and you don’t want them feeling like a chewed up toy as they work on developing their itineraries. By this point, you should be friends anyway! Be available to them, make suggestions and answer their questions. The trade will thank you for it, as will your client destination.

Feel free to learn more about our travel trade marketing work here.

And don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

 

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Destination marketing representative
Solimar Representing Namibia Tourism Board

It’s getting easier to communicate with travelers around the world, but destinations looking to target specific markets often turn to destination marketing representation firms. 

A destination marketing representative (or “rep”) is your destination’s tourism ambassador within a certain region who can effectively reach local consumers, outbound operators, and local media – all in an effort to drive destinations sales and increase visitation. Marketing representatives come in all shapes and sizes, each with a different set of tactics and know-how.

Here are some key items to consider when trying to find the right representative for your destination:

1. Make an Informed Decision About Which Market You’ll Target

This seems obvious, but many tourism boards skip this step. Select a target country or region that has a large growth potential, is receptive to the your destination’s tourism offer, and is accessible enough for your destination to compete. Carefully weigh the market’s travel volume, your current market share, existing competitors in the market, the demographics and interests of your potential customers, and potential barriers for entry. For example, many destinations that we work with are overly eager to jump into China. They’re excited by the potential of a market of that size, but don’t fully weigh how the time and expense required to make a dent in that crowded marketplace could be used in other areas where there is already a demonstrable interest.

2. Understand What Success Looks Like and How They Measure It

Be clear about what kind of results you expect from this market. Are you looking just for an increase in visitor arrival number or to increase visitor arrivals among a valuable market segment like high-end group travel? Also, consider how your rep can provide intangible results like increased goodwill and increased market awareness. Think carefully about outcome-driven results such as number of new sales partners and number of articles published, rather than easy output activities like press releases or events attended. This will help ensure that your rep is not just busy but effective.

3. Examine Their Experience and Expertise

You want a destination marketing representative that can hit the ground running. This means experience working with the consumer base, travel trade and media outlets that will best service your target market. While years of experience is great, ask if the firm has worked with destinations that offer similar experience and attractions as your destination. This focus makes a representative more suited to understanding the obstacles you face, your destination’s advantages and the mindset of the market you’re trying to attract. Examine how connected the firm is to important industry networks and niche media platforms that will speak directly to your target market. Reading testimonials from their previous clients may give you a different perspective on their work and abilities.

4. Get Good Value for Your Money

Also, importantly, consider what kind of budgets the firm is used to working with. If you’re working with a limited budget – can they make big things happen for small amounts? Scrutinize what they exactly cover, and choose a package that has the best balance between the cost and the services that you need to reach your goals.

Familiarization Trip
Familiarization Trip

Typical representative activities include:

• Establishing a local office (phone line, answer inquiries, day-to-day duties)
• Developing marketing collateral (branding and positioning strategy, brochures, banners, fact sheets)
• Strengthening online presence (website, social media content kit, online ads)
• Establishing trade partnerships (list of tour operators and agents, sales calls, educational webinars, familiarization trips, follow-up surveys and interviews)
• Generating earned media coverage (list of publications and media contacts, media outreach, news updates, press kit, media clips)
• Participating in events (summits, trade shows, networking events)

5. Seek Out a Passion and Dedication

You are putting a lot of trust and resources into a firm. It’s important to feel that they will be the best possible ambassadors for your destination. What’s your first impression of the marketing representative? Do they appear to be easy to work with? Are they responsive? Are they passionate about tourism and your destination beyond any of your competitors? Do you share the same value as you do? After all, there is nothing better than working with a team that is as enthusiastic about your place as you.

A destination marketing representative is a powerful part of your destination marketing arsenal. Choose wisely and you could find yourself reaching new tourism heights.

Solimar Team
Solimar Team

For more information on what Solimar offers for marketing representation, check out our services and previous representation for Rwanda, Namibia, and Myanmar.

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