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Digital Marketing for Experiential Tourism

Written by Local Guest

Experiential Tourism is a global movement where the traveler is looking to connect with the destination on a local and genuine level through their culture, history and overall offering.

Some experts contribute the shift from massive, cookie-cutter travel packages to real and authentic experiences to the rise of social media and the digital age. Social Media is the king at the top of the funnel when users especially millennials are searching for travel options. Social Media = Inspiration. Users are constantly being bombarded with possibilities and “I want to go there” moments from influencers’ and friends’ Instagram accounts. What do they all have in common? They portray a “once-in-a-lifetime” or YOLO (you-only-live-once) experiences that are a click away. But, are they?

More and more travel agencies and/or operators have shifted their promotional efforts toward digital content and advertising but there offerings haven’t changed. The new generation of travelers is requesting new product and a new way of interacting with the destination. Plus, marketing experiential tourism requires a whole new perspective in developing successful campaigns. Some key efforts include:

  1. Authentic Photos: Long over are the days of fully saturated, stock-like photos with perfectly manicured models. Travelers want to see genuine people experiencing the destination. Developing UGC campaigns (user-generated content) will be key!
  2. Channels: All digital! Utilize your social communities and direct booking engine to distribute your services and products. The only way to build a healthy SEO is by creating good and engaging content.
  3. Community Storytelling: Whether is with the use of influencers or through your own social channels, creating authentic stories around your product and sharing how your services impact the local community are valuable aspects of digital marketing for experiential tourism.
  4. Digital Advertising: Give your storytelling a boost and increase your content reach and generate potential bookings by allocating advertising dollars to the mix. A common mistake is to utilize our entire budget into creating or developing a content strategy and then we don’t reserve budget for digital ads. Don’t fall short remember most social platforms are mostly pay by play.

The key is creating a strong focus on digital and mobile, snack-sized entertainment, real-time storytelling and user-generated content.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, they have predicted that tourism in emerging economies will grow to 57 percent of the global market by 2030, an increase from 47 percent in 2010. In part due to experiential tourism, so is the Caribbean ready to provide experiential tourism? If so, do we have the capacity of creating a Digital Marketing infrastructure to promote this new product to this new crop of traveler?

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