Traveling is trendy now. In today's world where we're judged by the content that we create and put out, people are making more of an effort to see and share new places.
Whereas Baby Boomers were marked by their striving for ownership of things, Millennials are spending more of their budget to buy experiences instead, and traveling falls very much into that category.
One destination that is booming is right on our agency's own doorstep: Japan. Tourism is booming in the country with 29 million visitors in 2017 and the government's aiming to get 40 million per year by 2020, the year of the Tokyo Olympics.
But like many other locales and businesses, everyone's struggling with the looming challenge:
How do we market to the modern day tourist?
There is no template answer, but doing tourist marketing well first starts by understanding the mindset of tourists and how they discover and decide on places to go.
3 points to know when marketing to tourists:
Being authentic and personal is best
Aside from major destinations, tourists want to see and experience things off the beaten path. The stylish, Instagram-worthy lounge may get crowds, but tourists also want to check out that run down bar with the rusty door run by the grandma with stories to tell. Looking around Tokyo, foreign tourists fill dingy alleys with grungy izakayas underneath train tracks because the vibe is raw and authentic.
The number of travel bloggers and vloggers have boomed, and they want to differentiate themselves by showcasing their unique experiences that aren't on major websites. Bringing a tourist directly to actual wasabi farmers like Inside Japan tours does, for instance, is a more unique experience that tourists will likely want to share rather than sitting on a tour bus with 50 others, stopping to take the same photos at guidebook spots.
Social media is the TV, is the travel magazine, is the guidebook
Many mistake social media as something difficult or only for the young, dismiss it and focus on "traditional" promotion channels. The truth is, though, social media is how people now communicate, and TV and print are being paid attention to less and less.
This means that focusing on those "traditional" channels often means spending more money to affect fewer people.
Flipping promotional priorities to focus on social media first would be a better allocation of resources when considering the modern day traveler. Tourists are using these channels to learn about places to go. In fact, almost half of Instagram's 800 million users use it to find travel destinations.
Instagrammer Tram @lovetram shares delicious eats which helps her 65,500 followers know where to get good treats.
Show, don't tell
With people sharing and consuming travel information on social media, there is a need to show the experiences being offered like a media company would.
Creating behind the scenes videos and showcasing locals or staff are just a couple of ways. Collaborating with a person with a popular account (influencer marketing) or a media channel is another great way to help reach interested travelers.
Here's a video by Great Big Story, a media company showcasing people who do incredible things. This video about Yasuo Yamaroku's family's traditonal soy sauce making has over 1.1 million views.
Promotion and getting awareness is only the first part. Showing more than telling also extends to when tourists actually visit. Making them read a pamphlet or listen to a guide talk about historical dates and details may not be the greatest experience for tourists who are, after all, on vacation. Providing them opportunities to engage or take part in the craft or activity is essential, and letting them take photos and videos also makes a difference because of the second point.
Once these basics are accepted and understood, businesses and tourism agencies can start taking advantage of the travel behavior shifts happening in tourism now. The quicker adjustments are implemented, the faster learning what works takes place and the better the chance of success.