Everyone involved in tourism marketing understands the potential of social media for reaching vast audiences and delivering inspiring content. Everybody can recite the facts: Facebook has a billion users; one in six minutes online is spent on social networking.
The challenge for people marketing tourism businesses is converting that enormous potential audience into actual "fans" and leads. Common knowledge among Facebook users is that consistantly publishing inspiring, valuable, unique content will organically lead to a larger fan base. The reality is that businesses trying to quickly expand their fan base often become frustrated with slow growth.
Advertising on Facebook is a surefire way to kickstart your social media marketing. Sometimes just a small ad spend can pay dividends, both by expanding your social media reach and helping your business generate qualified sales leads.
To demonstrate the ease and effectiveness of advertising on Facebook, we set up a quick experiment to see how many qualified fans we could generate in a day with just an hour of labor and a $5.00 ad spend.
To test the question, we set ran an overnight ad campaign for a Bolivian hospitality company with a modest Facebook fan base. We created the campaign using the same five simple steps that your tourism business should follow to create a Facebook campaign:
1. Determine your goals
Our primary goal was to generate Facebook fans. Of course, since a single "fan" has very little measurable value, our secondary goal was to convert each new fan into a qualified marketing lead. Depending on your strategic objectives, other goals may be driving website traffic, converting more bookings, or simply promoting your brand in new markets.
2. Define your audience
Our audience for the experiment was broadly defined as sophisticated, English speaking travelers planning or on a trip to South America, who are considering a trip to Lake Titicaca (where we have a hotel).
Part of Facebook's appeal for maketers is the abillity to target users based on very specific demographic and psychographic factors. We used Facebook's ad generator to create a potential audience of about 125,000 people from our most popular source markets, who speak English, are currently traveling, "like" Bolivia, Lake Titicaca or something similar, are college educated and middle aged. Facebook will only show our ad to people who meet these criteria.
3. Create an offer
We determined that for our audience, a valuable resource would be a comprehensive guide that would help them plan their trip to our destination. Since we already had this resource created and available on our website, we determined that our offer would be a free copy of this destination guide.
Other offers we could have used would be deals or discounts like buy-one-get-one-free, X% off, limited time offers, etc. The beauty of offering our destination guide is that we did not have to discount the value of our product but were still able to offer value to our audience.
4. Promote your offer
To promote our offer, we launched our $5.00 advertisement. The trick with any advertisement is to demonstrate the value of your offer succinctly and to include a compelling call to action. Facebook limits the number of characters you can use to 90 characters, with a 25 character headline.
Since our goal was to create "fans" out of Facebook users who saw value in our offer, we pointed the ad at a special landing page we created using a free, simple tool called Hike. There's are many different options for WYSIWYG Facebook tab creators. We went with Hike simply because it's free and easy to use.
When someone clicked on the ad, they were sent to our landing page, where- if they "liked" our Facebook page- they were redirected to a landing page on our website. There, they converted into a marketing lead by completing a form and downloading the offer.
5. Analyze and improve your campaign
So, what were the results of our $5.00 campaign? The ad ran for about 24 hours, during which nearly 13,000 people saw the ad an average of twice each, for a total of about 26,000 impressions.
Of those who saw the ad, 28 people clicked on it and 13 of them converted into fans. This works out to a click-through rate around 0.1%, which isn't great. On the other hand, we only paid about $0.38 per fan. Of these 13 fans, nearly all converted into sales leads.
If only one of these leads converts into a $100 booking, then we would enjoy a 1900% ROI on our $5.00 investment (less one hour of labor to set up the campaign).
The marketing landscape is changing at a faster pace than ever before. New methods of communication blend promotional messages and entertainment to compete for our attention in an overcrowded market. Fortunately for destination marketers, these developments lend themselves easily to adaptation by the travel industry.
1. Content scaled down for mobile platforms
As tablets and smartphones begin to overtake desktop computers in market share as the dominant devices for content viewing, sharing, and booking, marketers are moving towards a “mobile-first” mentality. Companies need to design their websites and content with mobile in mind. Targeting travelers on their mobile devices is paramount to developing effective, focused advertising and social media campaigns.
In order to support the transition from desktop to mobile viewing, marketers must be sure to scale down content into manageable bites. An audience on the go wants to consume shortened content that allows for quick and easy engagement. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine that facilitate sharing this type of limited content continue to see tremendous growth. Images and videos are powerful tools for relating to this type of audience, especially for tourism marketing. Pictures of beautiful scenery and exciting adventures catch the customers’ eye and entice them to share or to learn more about your destination.
2. Social media shift from brand messages to conversations
As social media outlets become saturated with commercial content, marketers must respond with innovative ways to engage their target audiences. Oreo’s famous Super Bowl 2013 blackout tweet began a trend towards posting content about events as they are currently happening. This type of experimentation and risk taking can help draw attention to your brand in an overcrowded marketplace.
The best way to capitalize on this trend and stand out from competitors is to become a part of the conversation with your audience. Listen to what they are already saying about you, respond to their questions and comments, and facilitate discussion whenever possible. Develop a portfolio of content that showcases your authority on certain topics so you can direct your followers to these resources if they are looking for further information. This could include maintaining a blog of activities going on in your destination or writing e-books to help travelers plan their vacations.
3. Refocus content for the traveler
Content marketing is beginning to reach beyond social media marketing. Other methods have the potential to deliver more value and buzz by refocusing content on the customer. For example, crowdsourcing provides both opportunities to engage with your audience through co-creation of content and also enables your audience to share stories with one another.
Crowdsourcing generates enthusiasm and excitement about your company or destination by allowing your audience to participate. Create methods for travelers to share their ideas and stories and link these with your social media strategies to encourage widespread sharing. Strategies like live events, case studies, and branded content tools also motivate your audience to develop a relationship with your brand.
4. New tools and ad formats
Geotargeting is on the rise as marketers are now able to access their customers’ locations based on signals from mobile devices. Geographic marketing to mobile platforms should be adapted fairly quickly for the travel industry so that travelers in certain areas can be offered content and deals applicable to where they are. Apps like Google Wallet, Venmo, and PayPal are making mobile purchases even easier, streamlining the buying process for travelers targeted by location-based advertising.
Google is also developing industry-specific advertising formats. Their “Hotel Price Ads” are currently in beta testing. These ads will allow hotels using paid search marketing to display prices and dates in their ads that update in correlation to the customer’s search. This new tool makes paid search ads even more enticing to consumers; locations need to ensure that their web content is SEO-friendly and customer-friendly to draw visitors away from these ads and towards the advertiser’s site.
Honeymoons, destination weddings, and romantic tourism comprise a $28 billion industry worldwide. Inspired by luxurious, once-in-a-lifetime trip opportunities, couples are willing to spend significantly more for their weddings and honeymoons than for ordinary holidays.
U.S. couples spend an average of $4,466 on their honeymoon, which is three times as much as the average traveler spends on vacation! The top 15% of the market, the luxury honeymooners, spend more than twice as much as the average couple. Capitalizing on this willingness to splurge on luxurious and unusual experiences could greatly increase the tourism potential of a destination.
Why Target Honeymooners?
Honeymooners are willing to pay premiums for extraordinary luxuries and adventures and are significantly less price-driven than the average traveler. 72% of engaged women admitted that they are much more concerned with booking ideal experiences rather than staying within their ideal price points.
Weddings take place year-round, without seasonal limitations. The majority of couples take their honeymoons immediately following their weddings. Although the peak season for weddings is May through October, many couples choose to wed and honeymoon in the off-season as well.
They spend more time and money than ordinary travelers. The average length of a honeymoon is 8 days (11 days for the luxury segment), as compared to the average traveler who spends less than a week on holiday. Since honeymooners are adjusting to their new life together and have more disposable income, they also tend to purchase more than average while on vacation.
What are Couples Looking for in a Honeymoon or Wedding Destination?
While most demand is still focused on beach-based, relaxing, luxury holidays, newer honeymoon segments are emerging. Some couples are seeking out adventure travel honeymoons, abbreviated honeymoons due to strenuous work commitments, “familymoons” in which children from earlier marriages accompany the couple, and volunteer trips.
Couples want to celebrate their marriage with once-in-a-lifetime, unique experiences. Destinations need to offer authentic travel experiences that draw from local culture while also catering to honeymooners’ desire for luxury. Tour operators in Mauritius tie the two together by offering rides on a local fishing boat to receive beach massages on an uninhabited island. Some couples are even opting to experience a variety of activities by visiting more than one location, fueling a recent trend towards multi-stop holidays. Two-stop honeymoons allow couples to experience more than one type of vacation, and are ideal for couples whose preferences differ from their partners’.
How Should Destinations Promote Themselves as Wedding and Honeymoon Destinations?
Couples who travel abroad to celebrate their marriages are looking for fairytale weddings and unforgettable memories. They spend an exorbitant amount of time imagining, planning, and booking their dream experiences, researching options across a variety of platforms. Brides typically browse wedding magazines, websites, and trade shows in addition to social-sharing websites and destination-specific websites before deciding on a destination.
In order to attract honeymooners, destinations need to understand and engage with their target audience. Websites should include sections dedicated solely to romantic travel, honeymoons, and destination weddings. These pages should of course should be SEO-friendly, including the key words that honeymooners would likely search when researching your destination. Web content should provide both images to inspire couples as well as helpful information for planning and booking their ideal experiences.
A presence in industry-specific media can greatly improve the visibility of destinations. The wedding industry publishes magazines, maintains websites, and hosts expositions for engaged couples. Once a couple is aware of your destination or knows what to search for, destination websites will be their primary source of information. Readily providing information directly related to their key decision factors, including weather, cuisine, types of accommodation, activities, natural scenery, and budget considerations, will dramatically increase likelihood to book, word-of-mouth activity generated, and traffic to a destination.
A few weeks ago, the Solimar team got together for a group outing to see a play at D.C.’s classic Woolly Mammoth Theater. We were really excited because on paper it appeared to be a cultural portrayal of Namibia, a destination where we have ongoing projects- and February was our month to celebrate cultural heritage. It seemed to be the perfect outing.
Well, there is no question that the play was about heritage, but it didn’t exactly focus on Namibia. Instead it turned out to be a complex, geographically-unspecific analysis of cultural heritage and the various ways history is preserved and expressed in modern times. But despite its confusing message, the play was nothing else if not thought provoking. It shed light on Namibia’s multifaceted and proud cultural heritage. In real life, travelers are witness to Namibia’s unique, beautiful, tragic and inspiring heritage: and it is the community, from tour operators, to game guards, to neighbors, that isdedicated to preserving it.
The Namibian Travel Trade Delivers for Experience Seekers
A recent conversation with a Namibian tourism representative highlighted the country’s cultural pride. She explained that it is possible for travelers to experience proximity to Namibia’s fascinating heritage in many ways, and that the bridge is the tourism operator who facilitates this process. She told me the story of a Namibian tour operator friend who had recently organized a trip for twelve young American college students. They wanted to explore the country, but were not content to travel in cars and stay in hotels. They wanted to spend a week living with the San Bushmen, immersing themselves totally in their way of life. They roamed the desert, slept beneath the open sky and ate raw ostrich eggs- and said at the end that it was the best experience of their lives.
Even without experiencing life as a San Bushman, curious travelers can still get a feel for traditional culture in Namibia. Namibian tour operators can organize day trips to visit the Himba people of the Kunene region in the North. There, they proudly display their traditions and customs, from their ochre-tinted skin, dances and rituals to their handiwork and crafts. Responsible travelers will be made to feel welcome by the Himba, but they must remember to respect the people’s traditions and way of life.
Cultural Heritage and Celebrations
For a taste of Namibia’s colonial cultural heritage, one doesn’t have to look further than the country’s bustling capital. In Windhoek, German influence is still present in its architecture, food and language. In October, visitors can even participate in Windhoek’s own Oktoberfest. Though they embrace the German influence today, they pay tribute and celebrate their own more ancient traditions in the form of annual festivals and celebrations. Maherero Day is a tribute to the tribal leaders of the Herero chiefs who fell during the Herero genocide in the early 20th Century. Women don traditional dress and line the streets of Okahandaja, north of the country’s capital, chanting and reciting poems as a military procession goes by. There is also Mbapira, the Enjando Street Festival in Windhoek, proudly displaying traditional art forms from dance, to music and costumes- busy, loud and bustling, visitors can experience the vibrancy of Namibia’s cultural heritage here every March.
Natural Heritage in Namibia
In an arid land where desert accounts for a large portion of its geography, Namibian communities have banded together to protect the land’s native wildlife and natural resources. Government-mandated and community-organized conservancies protect 42% of the land, a commitment that emphasizes the community’s pride in its natural heritage. Tourists are constantly reminded of this commitment when visiting Namibia’s splendid national game parks. So devoted is the community to protecting the land, that big players in international tourism have taken notice. In 2013 REI chose Namibia for its Sustainable Tourism Award, donating over $100,000 worth of gear to 500 conservancy game guards. Natural heritage is a point of pride for Namibia’s people.
Travelers looking for an immersion in cultural heritage need not search hard in Namibia. The community is dedicated to exposing travelers to the heart of their country and features its heritage proudly. This is what makes a trip to Namibia truly authentic, and where experience-seekers will not be disappointed. The play was the perfect means of inviting the spectator to examine the relevance of one's cultural traditions to modern day society. In our own neighborhood here in D.C., we have seen that preserving and celebrating a culture’s legacy is paramount to keeping that culture alive. In Namibia, decades of colonialism have altered the landscape of its indigenous peoples, but the country’s roots and values are clearly visible and proudly displayed.
Each year, for the past three years, we’ve worked with our partners at Cardno Emerging Markets as part of the MCA-Namibia Funded North American Destination Marketing Campaign, to organize a North American roadshow for the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB). The overall goal of the annual roadshow is to build and strengthen business relationship with North American tour operators who can sell Namibian tourism products.
This year, we were at it again - with 15 Namibian suppliers (airlines, hotels, tour operators) braving the February cold in six North American cities, to host seven events in so many days. In terms of ground covered, it was our most ambitious roadshow yet:
The Roadshow is part of our overall trade marketing strategy in Namibia. We’ve found that face-time with current or potential business partners is crucial, and when Namibian suppliers come across as a group, it makes the message louder, indicates that Namibia is ready to welcome North American travellers, and gives North American operators confidence that the Namibian tourism industry is sophisticated and well organized. On a practical level, it also allows the Namibian suppliers to share costs with the tourism board on things such as venues, catering, transportation etc.
Organizing a roadshow is a detailed and lengthy process - but done right, it can generate significant exposure for the destination and create dozens of new business partnerships.
Here are 5 tips we've learned over the years:
Timing is Everything:
There are many factors to consider when planning a roadshow, but timing is critical. First, the time of year. Its important to consider the time of year for both the source market and the supplier market. In our case, February is the lowest season for both Namibians and North Americans, it also does not overlap with any other major tourism event (like ITB-Berlin or World Travel Market).
Secondly, its important to consider the time of the events. Our experience indicates that an evening reception works best (5pm to 8pm), however on this roadshow we were scheduled to be in Toronto on Friday, and opted for a morning session rather than a Friday evening session.
Be Persistent With the Reminders
Have you ever RSVP’d to an event and then not showed up? While (in our experience) Californians are more likely to honour their RSVP than New Yorkers, our statistics have shown an average 40% drop off rate. And when your suppliers have made a significant investment to come over to the source market - you really want to fill the room with high quality buyers, so start early (send out Save the Date emails a month in advance and then official invitations two weeks in advance) and be persistent (send out a reminder email the day before and give them a phone call to remind them as well).
But no matter what, plan for at least a 40% no-show rate to manage expectations of your participants.
Picking Cities and Venues:
When picking the cities, it is important to assess your database of contacts and determine which cities will provide the most high value contacts. We typically assume that people won’t travel more than 10 miles to get to a venue (except areas in California like Orange County, where you can invite people with addresses up to 30 miles away from the venue).
If you are not familiar with the city, reach out a trusted tour operator in the area. They will be happy to recommend a venue that is central, easy to get to and has parking.
Reach Out to Your Partners
Reach out to any organizations that you are a member of and ask them to blast it to their members (like ATTA or APTA). Associations are always trying to provide good local information to their members, and our partners have been more than willing to share our invites with their communities, which has helped us reach people we otherwise might not have.
Be sure to send a follow up email after the event, both to those who came and to those who did not. It’s a great way to stay top of mind and provide attendees with any info about your destinations sales tools
Are you a destination who is thinking about leading a roadshow in North America? Contact us today!
Instagram is nothing new - it’s long been one of our favorite social media platforms - but it still lags behind other tourism marketing tools. Don’t neglect this simple app that offers huge potential. Photos are a big part of travel marketing, and this humble app specializes in nothing else so there is no reason it shouldn’t be part of your tourism marketing plan.
But where should you get started? Luckily, Instagram is a very straightforward platform. Here are a few tourism players who are doing great things on Instagram, and some quick lessons we can learn from their success.
Highlight User-Generated Content
Why does Australia always make our lists of the best of the best? Because they are terrific tourism marketers. But don’t be fooled - you don’t have to have a huge budget like Australia to see results. In fact, Australia’s Instagram success does not come from employing hoards of photographers. Instead, Australia came up with an innovative way to crowd source their photos. Their entire social media strategy is aimed at enabling fans to build upon their platforms, like Instagram. They essentially turned their fans into marketers. Now, they receive 900 photo submissions each day and choose the best 4-5 photos to share with their 600,000+ Instagram followers.
Pay Attention to Hashtags
If you feel a little overwhelmed, step back and focus on doing one thing really well. Instagram has a variety of common hashtags that encourage sharing among users. The most popular one, by far, is #tbt or #throwbackthursday where users post older photos on Thursday. Within the tourism world, nobody does #tbt better than Delta. In fact, most of their Instagram content is throwback photos from the earlier days of the airline. Your photos don’t have to be new and shiny. It can be a great marketing tool to reflect on the nostalgia of a different time – especially since so many people have vivid travel memories. It also inadvertently emphasizes the long tradition of your brand and highlights innovation over time.
Throwback Thursday isn’t the only hashtag around either. Read here for a list of other great daily hashtags, and don’t forget to pay attention to current trends. Specific hashtags pop up all the time to celebrate events, holidays, and other happenings.
Don't Neglect Other Aspects of Your Brand
Yes, gorgeous travel photos are an easy sell on Instagram, but don’t neglect to highlight other aspects of your brand. Everything can’t be photos of sunsets or beaches! And those won’t necessarily help your brand or destination stand out in the crowd. Virgin America has found creative ways to highlight other aspects of the traveler experience. Their Instagram feed is full of passengers and cabin crew doing everything but taking themselves too seriously. Their photos help display the mood of the airline by emphasizing people and candid moments over scenery and posed shots. They always look like they are having fun, which is a huge feat for a company that deals in an area of travel most people consider to be a pain.
Virgin also runs some great contests, like this social media one from 2013. They offered 15 minutes of free in-flight wifi for Twitter, Instagram & Vine and encouraged passengers to use these social media platforms & a specific Virgin American hashtag to enter to win airline points. The easier you make it for users to interact with your social media (free wifi!), the more results you’ll see.
Educate Your Audience
Instagram isn’t just about gathering likes and follows. Like all social media platforms, the ultimate goal is to grow your audience and generate more customers. Sharing beautiful images is a great way to showcase your destination and inspire future visitors, but it’s also important to help nudge them down your sales funnel. You want them to go from aspiring traveler to actual traveler.
One way you can help this process is by focusing on educating your audiences with key pieces of information. This will also help set your destination apart. I know this is a huge need in tourism marketing because I had to look outside the travel world for a good example.
NASA’s Goddard Space Center does an outstanding job of marrying their breathtaking images with equally intriguing information. Each photo helps inform the viewer with interesting facts, tidbits and stories. You can do the same thing with your travel-minded audience. Rather than share a photo of a lake with only its name and location, mention a unique fact about it. Maybe it’s great for fishing or swimming. Maybe it hosts an annual festival. Maybe it’s a hidden gem that most visitors would be surprised to learn is easily accessed from a nearby hub city.
You should still try to be concise, but by adding one extra sentence, you can help move your traveler from the dreaming to planning stage of travel.
What is a Yummy?
Marketers now have a new segment to contend with and one with a terrible moniker: The Yummies. According to a new HSBC report, 'Rise of the Yummies,' a YUM is a Young, Urban, Male, who because they haven't married yet, have substantial disposable income that they are spending on luxury goods. A Yummy is the metrosexual coming of age, as the report puts it: 'The metro-sexual, that cliche from twenty years ago, is now becoming a commercial reality,'
The report isn't available online but Business Insider who had a copy of the report tell us that Yummies are:
Young, with a desire to show their status at younger age than ever before
Investing in non-traditional categories such as cosmetics and accessories. In case you are wondering, a 'traditional' category would be a car.
Tech-savy, and making their expensive purchases online
More socially acceptable than ever before.
One of the sectors where Yummies have impacted growth is outdoor sports, so presumably this is a segment that adventure travel providers may want to consider in their marketing.
Do they travel?
We can assume that they do. Travel gives young, upwardly mobile people cultural capital, - ie capital that can’t be purchased but that nonetheless contributes to their view of themselves and gives them perceived advantages in society. Although not mentioned in reports, I think we can assume these are typical money-rich, time-poor western travelers. So, while they won’t think twice about flying for the weekend to Argentina, they will be taking a taxi straight from the airport to their Wall Street offices.
Where do they go?
If we build on the persona described by Business Insider, we can assume they are highly educated, mainly coming from privileged backgrounds. Meaning they will have likely traveled while growing up and possibly studied abroad. Which means at this stage in their life they are more interested in adventure tourism destinations with vibrant urban centers, such as Argentina, South Africa, Kenya, Thailand etc.
During their vacations, they are likely spending time enjoying nightlife in cities, and then venturing out for adventurous activities, such as climbing, surfing, kayaking, safaris etc. However, while they seek adventure by day, they demand luxury and Michelin stars by night and don't think twice about paying for it.
How can we market to them?
Through Trade Partners
Working 18 hour days, and spending the rest of the time sifting through Tinder, doesn't leave Yummies with much time to plan. They are probably more likely to go through a trusted travel agent or tour operator. There are a lot of travel agencies that cater to this market, such as Excursionist, Indagare and Absolute Journeys. Destinations and suppliers should be working with North American trade partners who market directly to these consumers.
There are a few networks that cater to this subset - such as www.asmallworld.com, which also has a VIP travel club. Yummies are also tech savy, so consider listing your product on sites like peek.com, triptease.com etc. Getting listed on these sites, will put your product and destination in places where this target market is looking for them.
Races and Events
A Yummy persona is likely to be passionate about a sport - running, cycling, soccer, boxing or something similar. If your destination is hosting a marathons or adventure race, this might be an event that will help them make the final decision on their destination. Reach out to special interest clubs in key source market cities.
Consider partnering up with a company in a different sector to raise awareness of your destination or product in a place where people least expect it:
Greenland might consider partnering with cocktail bars, to feature Greenlandic ice in a cocktail with a Greenlandic name (A Sisimiut Sour, anyone?)
A fishing lodge in Alaska might seek to partner with a fish market and put their brochures next to Alaskan salmon for sale (Catch your own dinner in Alaska!)
Getting featured in a Yummy publication, like GQ or Mens Health will generate a boost in your destination’s awareness among this group. Pitch editors with a story on a event (race, festival etc) with a lead time of 8 months.
Leverage Word of Mouth
These guys are instagramming, Tweeting and Facebooking - so encourage check-ins, tags, etc so you can leverage their bragging to their yummy friends.
A Yummy traveler might be a persona your destination should market to! Solimar International has extensive experience in developing personas to guide your marketing messages, contact us today if you'd like to learn more!
Last week, 700 international delegates from various sectors of the tourism industry gathered in Killarney, Ireland for the 2014 Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS). The Summit aimed to promote Ireland as an adventure travel destination, connect hundreds of like-minded travel leaders from around the globe, foster peer-to-peer exchanges on best practices and operational strategies, and promote business development.
Two of our staff members, Natasha Martin and Gabe Seder, represented Solimar at the four-day summit. I spoke with Natasha, a seasoned veteran of the Summit, and Gabe, a newcomer, about their ATWS 2014 experiences in more detail.
The growth of adventure travel made ATWS a must-attend for Solimar. “When we did the first study in 2010, it was worth $89 billion, and now its nearly $250 billion – so more people are choosing adventurous holidays - which is great news for Solimar because we work, nearly exclusively, in adventure destinations,” said Natasha. “Adventure tourism is a great segment for emerging markets because adventure tourists don't care about developed infrastructure and fancy hotels– they want exceptional experiences.”
The Summit offered much more than just lectures and workshops. “Destinations compete to host world class events like ATWS because they create a unique opportunity to highlight the best of the destination to movers and shakers in all sectors of the tourism industry. Ireland made sure delegates got out of the conference center to go on a ‘Day of Adventure’—doing things like hiking, kayaking, climbing, etc. They also subsidize ‘pre-summit adventures’ for delegates to go on 3-4 day adventure tours around Ireland,” Gabe said. Therefore, said Natasha, “It’s a great networking opportunity as well as a chance to experience some adventure tourism.”
Natasha commented on the different experiences offered in this year’s host country, Ireland, and last year in Namibia, which she helped facilitate: “The Summit in Ireland was much different from that in Namibia -- but equally as exciting, fun, and inspirational. The ATTA and Ireland team did a great job of organizing a seamless event and they brought together a great diversity of delegates from around the world." And even as a newcomer, Gabe had a similar perspective on his first Summit experience this year, “This was my first time at ATWS. The bar for the event had been set really high because I've been hearing Natasha and other coworkers talk about the Summit for years, but it exceeded my expectations because everyone you meet is eager talk about their experience in adventure travel, discuss the industry, and learn about Solimar.”
A talk on conservation travel stood out to both Gabe and Natasha as particularly important for Solimar’s work,. “The session on Conservation Travel was particularly interesting - we discussed how tourism can be a type of insurance policy for conservation. In many types of tourism, visitors want to see wildlife, so it has an economic value,” said Natasha. “The ‘Conservation Travel’ session also spoke to Solimar's approach of creating a business case for conservation by demonstrating the quantifiable value of wildlife preservation for a destination,” commented Gabe. Other highlights: “The session on ‘Going Head-to-Head with your Digital Future’ included a Q-and-A with representatives from Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor, who advised tour operators and destinations on how to leverage the expanding reach of these platforms to engage and convert audiences around the globe,” said Gabe. “Several sessions discussed ideas on how to raise awareness of this type of tourism- I think it’s something we can bring into our work at Solimar,” commented Natasha.
Overall, the Summit was a great success, for our Solimar representatives as well as the rest of the adventure travel community. Solimar is excited for #ATWS2015 in Chile!
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It is no secret: Solimar International loves Namibia! And we have been fortunate enough to work with clients in the country of ‘Endless Horizons’ for the past 4 years- including several collaborations with the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB). In 2015 Solimar will launch a new, specialized trade marketing program for the NTB, with the goal of introducing North American travel trade and media to Namibia via the coordination of familiarization trips (FAMs).
Previously, we worked with the NTB on the Namibia Online Campaign (2011-2013) and North America Destination Marketing Campaign (NADM) (2010-2014). NADM's objective was to promote Namibia to North American travelers and ultimately, increase community based tourism and household income. Solimar's activities specifically targeted travel trade, marketing Namibia to tour operators, travel agents and wholesalers, incentivizing them to add Namibia to their destination portfolios by providing various sales tools, campaigns, FAM trips and special events.
While still awaiting the final campaign numbers on North American tourist arrivals, the projects were successful, resulting in a significant increase in the number of committed partnerships with North American travel trade, an increase in travel trade trained on Namibia, and an important surge in the number of Namibia tours and packages added to North American tourism business’ portfolios.
Solimar is excited to continue North American marketing for Namibia in 2015. We will collaborate with the NTB by organizing a series of FAM trips, intended to introduce members of the North American travel trade and media to Namibia.
Solimar will be involved with the FAMs from beginning to end - creating thematic itineraries that best exemplify Namibia’s cultural and natural experiences, reaching out to members of the trade and media, vetting and selecting the most qualified for participation, organizing air travel, and after the trip, working with the participants’ to help them market their new Namibia itineraries to their clients.
We are thrilled to continue working with the NTB and helping spread the word about one of favorite, and most unique destinations in the world.
Check out our website to learn more about the work Solimar International does for Travel Trade Marketing.
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Positive perceptions of the destination dramatically increase; commitments secured from high-value tour operators to double destination sales.
In December 2014, Solimar hosted a group of 11 tour operators and travel agents from East Africa and the United States to explore Rwanda first hand as part of a program with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to expand global awareness of the country’s diverse attraction, increase the number of available Rwanda itineraries, and boost the volume of Rwanda itineraries sold.
Rwanda is home to one of the world’s most incredible wildlife experiences – an intimate trek with the Virunga Mountain gorillas. Visitors from all over the world descend on the iconic Volcanoes National Park to be close to the stately, playful primates. For many companies based in East Africa that service local and international clientele, Rwanda is only sold as a two-day gorilla extension to longer safaris in Kenya and Tanzania. But Rwanda is so much more.
The international tour operators visited a diverse set of cultural and natural attractions. Rubavu, Musanze, Volcanoes National Park, and Nyungwe National Park. The program concluded with a networking session with local Rwandan tour operators, hoteliers, and tourism service providers in order to create new working business relationships.
The program proved a great success. Surveys taken by the trip participants before and after their time in Rwanda showed a significant shift in positive perceptions of the destination – including better understanding of how both nature and cultural attractions would be relevant to their clientele. As a result, every operator will now list itineraries of 5 days or more in 2015 – nearly doubling the average itinerary length offered by the group before the trip. Over 80% of participants stated that the trip will help them boost sales by at least 50%.
The RDB has set an ambitious goal of 10% increase in visitation year-over-year. The East African market is an essential component in meeting this target. The timing of this familiarization trip with the East African operators was strategic.
Despite a 6% growth in visitation last year, travel to Kenya and Tanzania have been flagging in the wake of global press about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. According to National Geographic Tanzania’s hotels have reported a 30 percent drop in business while 2015 bookings have plummeted 50 percent.
Rwanda provides a salvation for many of the tour operators on the trip. The country’s perception as a safe, clean, and “undiscovered” destination provides a desirable sales alternative for travel companies that have heavily relied on safari bookings and Indian Ocean beach trips.
To learn how Solimar can help you plan and lead a familiarization trip to boost destination awareness and sales, click here.