Category Archives for Strategy and Planning

Marketing During A Crisis: What Should I Do?

 Yes, we have heard it all now, "These are unprecedented times." We can make comparisons to the SARS and H1N1 outbreak or the 2008 recession, but still these events don't compare because every single market and every traveler on earth is experiencing this crisis. There is no rule book, all we have right now is uncertainty. Imagine if you knew the quarantine would be over in a month and the travel industry would be back to 'normal?' Well, we don't have that luxury-- this is all brand new. You can imagine that the top two questions every tourism business owner is asking are:  SHOULD I still be marketing during a crisis?  and HOW should I be marketing in times of crisis like this?  Here's my recommendations: 

1. Should I still be marketing my tourism business now given the global situation?

Well, the answer is you have to define what you mean by marketing, there are so many facets to marketing, often, paid advertising is defined as marketing in general, which is only part of it. Marketing includes several other aspects that help to find and persuade customers including: content, social media, target market analysis, market analysis, email marketing, planning, strategy, pricing. Just to name a few. It's not just about ads. 

2. What should I be marketing during a crisis?

This is the second  most common question. And it really depends on the situation. Today, when we are locked up in quarantine or in social distancing measures, and the entire travel industry is grounded, here is a road map recommendation for you.

A. Discontinue paid advertising  (at least until there are signs that tourism is back in your market) 

Yes. I am a marketer telling you not to spend money that you don't have. When there are no travelers who have complete uncertainty as to when and how they can travel, it doesn't make sense to spend money that you don't have.  Can your cashflow be used toward something more important right now? (like paying your staff to work on projects) 

  • Paid advertising are Ads like Google ads, Facebook ads. My view this would be wasted spend right now, who has the cashflow? Many of you are trying to figure out how to keep your staff, feed your families for an uncertain # of months. Why promote to an audience who cannot travel at all right now?  And think about your customers mind state  – They are in panic, uncertainty, worries about money, health, and safety right now- right now is far too raw for them, and I believe that if you are not careful, some brands advertising will come across with negative sentimentAnd of course every country is going through different waves and different levels of this crisis.
  • Here is where paid ads could come across negatively:  I just saw an ad on Facebook from Get your Guide- it was for a tour in Colombia (which is where I am) and there are NO flights in and out of this country and the nation is in total lockdown.   They made no change to their copy at all – as if nothing is happening in the world – and I thought – "how insensitive to the people that would love to travel!" – not to mention the cash they are burning with no traffic.
  • Some brands however choose to advertise right now - Some large brands that want to make a big statement about the situation, and also have cashflow and big marketing budgets vs.entrepreneurs like you.   The tourism board of Portugal created this outstanding ad #can't stop hope.   This creates a big statement on the state of the world and invite travelers to come later. This will definitely create a positive sentiment to travelers, yet again, they are a large brand that have different goals which will help their tourism industry in the future (a multi-million dollar business) and they have very different budgets. Check out Nike's ad campaign as well. 
  • Important point: **Watch what is happening with the reopening of different countries over time. Travel will start opening up in waves, depending on the situation in each market. China and South Korea for example, are relaxing their restrictions, residents are able to go out, domestic travel is starting to open slowly , and Google traffic searches for travel are growing. Every travel prediction say that local travel will improve faster than international travel, and guests will want to control their environment such as taking road trips in their own car. The more you stay in touch with the constant changes, the more an opportunity to start promoting your business again with paid ads, and  most likely to a new audience. (we touch on this topic below) 
  • Paid ads is the right thing to do for businesses that are attracting new clients now, or tour businesses that are running virtual online tours right now, because there is a captive audience ready to buy.

B. Do 'Other Marketing' Right Now 

There are so many facets of marketing that make sense right now, because they can help you with important goals for the future of your business. 

1. Email Marketing: 

Is a great way to maintain a relationship with your past guests, update them with what is happening with you, your business, your market area, and what you are doing in the midst of the quarantine. Although there are many unknowns in terms of future travel restrictions and access, don't neglect the possible opportunity that they may buy your products again, and they can certainly recommend your business to others in the future. For example: I just received an email from a tour company - We Hate Tourism Tours, I bought a tour in Portugal in February – I was happy to hear from them, they made a point that they would be back, but for now they communicated (see website) on how they are focusing on delivering goods to their neighbors in need because they have the vans, suppliers and they know the streets. They asked me for a review – which I was more than happy to do again– on another review platform  because they asked and mentioned it would help them. Please use this time to ask your past guests for reviews! Here are some review tips. As travel restrictions change - updating your subscribers on what is happening to you and your business. What is changing and what you are working on.  Looking to start an email list? Here are some tips.

2. Social Media and Content Marketing: 

These two marketing levers can help you with a number of goals - Maintain awareness of your business, and help travelers through the dreaming phase - no doubt they are starting to dream about their next trip or remember their great travel memories. You can do this in a creative and useful way without spending alot of money. You can also share what is happening in your market, what you are doing now, and how you are planning your comeback in the future. Don't just post - Engage with your audience - ask them how they are doing, ask them to share their positive memories. Check out brands like  Devour Tours – they are doing a lot of quality IG posts,stories and video content– they share the new ideas they are developing, the new recipes they are creating - including videos from their guides quarantine in their homes. They share  inspiring stories of what is happening in their communities and how people are helping each other out.  Content marketing is the road map of topics, articles and posts you are planning for your business. Remember those 1000's of photos, video clips and ideas for content you put on the backburner when you were too busy to think about them? Now is a great time to organize your content like planning a calendar of topics, starting  a blog or develop new articles and edit previously shot videos and photos.   Looking for tips to build your content marketing topic list? Start here.

3. Marketing Analysis and Getting Comfortable with Your Technology:  

There is no better time (because you have more time right now)  to understand your data and past business trends and the resources you have at your disposal to analyze your business results. Even if your target audience and your tourism offerings change after the covid-19 outbreak, it's helpful to establish what your baseline was, and learn how to understand and evaluate your data. This can include both your quantitative data: real numbers, and your Qualitative data: reviews, comments, questions.

Here are some suggestions on where to analyze your business: 

a. Google Analytics- The top information to review and assess on this platform is: 1. Overall performance - new and returning visitors, where they were coming from and key time periods. 2. Acquisition - find out where travelers were finding you - direct (from your website) , from another website(referral) and social.  This platform also helps you understand which products and pages are generating the most revenue for you. If you do get some local and domestic traffic, where do they come from? This will help you decide how to target them on Facebook for example. 3. Behavior: This section allows you to see where viewers are looking and clicking on your site, and which pages they stay on longer; hence the pages that have better engagement. 4. Slow loading pages - This is a big opportunity to review and improve - site speed plays a big role in your bounce rate;the speed at which readers leave your site, that has an impact on your SEO and ranking on Google.

b. Google Search Console -This tool shows how you are performing on Google search results and which key words and pages are ranking on Google. Specifically you can use it to:  1. Find what keywords your website is ranking for 2. Find URLS that are linking to your site both internal and external  (which is a main factor in good SEO) 3. How to reindex your site on Google when you add new content  4. Ensure that mobile usability is working well on your website. I recommend you get to know Google search console, this is one of the most neglected tools. 

c. Sales Results: Your website booking platform is the best place to review your data, even if your market changes in the future, start with understanding your sales trends, key periods and those top customers will be worth contacting and staying in touch via email marketing when your travel business is open again.

4. Improve your Website - copy, design, hierarchy, sales and marketing strategies 

There is no better time to make changes and updates to your website even if the future is uncertain  Now more than ever, your purpose and values will play a role in your business and your life. Look at your website from a new perspective - how well do you tell your story? how well are you communicating what is important to you? Also how well are you leading the visitor from persuasion to conversion (the marketing funnel ) on your website?

Here are a few resources that can help you accomplish these goals: 

-Free mini training video to persuade and convert guests 

- Your secret weapon - Your About Us Page

- The amazing results of Purpose Marketing 

5. Crisis can be the mother of invention - can your tourism business go online now?

Travelers are yearning for an experience while they are home in quarantine now.  Is there an experience, education, lesson that you can develop online and earn some income now?  Respectfully, not every tourism business can do this, and not everyone can develop an experience with just the tools they have at home. The point here is, is there an opportunity to make some income and have some fun while we you are in quarantine?  Can you demonstrate how to make a dish from your country? Show viewers how to play a game or learn a dance from your region? Teach them how to do a new and valuable skill?  Perhaps a guide can do a virtual tour or tell stories about your business or area? Airbnb just launched their online experiences. Perhaps there are ideas here (or an opportunity to join) to build an online experience. Also the Online Tourism Academy is offering a Virtual tour course to help tourism professionals develop a product, and take them through all the steps to create a virtual tour. Here is an example by TakeWalks - home edition. This idea won't  generate the same income you had before, but it could be a fun, useful, and valuable experience to a captive audience online. If you do participate in online experiences, a small investment in paid ads makes sense (after you connect with your email and social audience). This is because you have an opportunity to make revenue now, with a captive audience ready to buy.

6. Your marketing strategy for the future - create a new and evolving plan knowing your business will never go back to "normal" 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but business is going to change as a result of this pandemic. As to the exact changes, no one knows but now is the time to make some assumptions, and hypotheses. Here are a number of questions to ask yourself as this crisis continues, and evolves to help you redesign your marketing plans moving forward. Today, it's too soon to anticipate how your business will change. However, it will be very important to think about and develop a new guest persona in the coming months.

Here are some important questions to ask:

a.How will the needs of your target guest change after the crisis? What will they be worried about, and want their needs and fears to be alleviated?

e.g. Safety will be key - you will need to show them that you take hygiene and cleanliness very seriously. Value will be very important so in the initial stages of opening you will want to show that they are getting a deal - because they likely have dealt with money problems and periods out of work. 

b. What kind of activities, amenities, rooms, tours, will be of interest to your target guest? and how their interests change when travel is back? And how will it evolve over time?

c. Will your target guest change to a different target after the crisis? ie. domestic traveler vs. the international traveler may be the only opportunity for you in the short term, as travel regulations open up.

d. How will your business change before there is a vaccine and after a vaccine? How will regulations impact and change your business and how will they evolve?

e. How will pricing change when tourism comes back?  Since supply and demand of travel services, and transport will change. 

- It's too early to know for sure, however with the early opening up of Chinese markets there are low price offers in the airline industry. You need to think  through scenarios, and assumptions will help you generate a picture of your guest, understand their needs, in order to best market too them. 

7. Improve your marketing skills - because you'll need them when this is over too.

There is no better time than now, to up your marketing skills. It seems like every business is online developing all kinds of great information, courses and skills. Here's a few resources to help:

- Free video course: How to persuade and convert your travelers into guests 

- 4 Steps to better reviews and referrals to get more bookings

- Weekly marketing tips

 The Corona Virus battle plan

- 13 ways for brands to use SEO and marketing now

-The tour business virtual summit

Now, let's hear from you, what are you doing with your marketing during the crisis and how are you improving your skills? Let us know.

undertainty in marketing during a crisis what should you do?

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6 Useful Ways to Optimize Your Business This New Year

"You are what you do, not what you say you will do." Carl Gustav

It's a new business year, and I hope you’re approaching it with optimism instead of getting overwhelmed. As always, there’s a lot of things to to focus on, but sometimes, a few small shifts to optimize your business can benefit your energy and performance. If I have to recall everything I’ve learned from working for many years in the corporate world, I can say that the most straightforward approaches are the ones that get used.

Who's going to refer back to a 30-page planning document anyway? And who wants to start the year overwhelmed with so many things on their to-do list? Planning and productivity are two areas of opportunity to optimize your business in 2020.

Six ways to optimize your business in 2020

A: Planning Approaches 

1. Develop a theme for the year

What is one thing that is of great focus for you – maybe a big challenge or opportunity for your business? Something that you think can be a key element for the year.

Here’s a great example of a theme: "The Year of Customer Service Excellence." Customer service is a big area of opportunity for your business and you want every staff member to think about it, own it and play a role in it for the year.

Your theme can also be about operations, marketing, building your purpose into your business, or something more relaxed like "The Year of More Fun at x Company". Regardless of your business’ theme, remember that it's a focus and symbol of what you want to improve.

Key point to remember: A theme is different from your revenue or sales outcomes. Instead, it should inspire you to move you toward to your sales goal – it’s the thing that motivates you and your staff to take advantage of a big opportunity and accomplish something.

My theme for 2020 is the year of utility. I want to put out the most useful and helpful content, blog posts, and courses to help my readers improve their businesses. I'm inspired by this because it helps me answer all the questions I receive from travel companies. I spend a lot of planning, researching and working with clients to ensure the content is useful to my readers.

Lastly, creating the theme does a cool thing: it gets you and your staff FOCUSED and INSPIRED to think of solutions and work together on an important aspect of your business.

2. Look at all areas of your business – including the personal aspects

Whether you’re a small business owner or own a larger enterprise, work is a major component of your life. It's often impossible to separate work and personal life. Often, we tend to get too focused on meeting sales and revenue targets that we forget the things that add the most value. Here are a few great ways to optimize your business and create personal harmony too: 

  • Focus on maintaining a good, harmonious relationship with your family, friends, and staff - have it as a goal
  • Helping others and making a difference to the lives of your staff, suppliers, partners and customers as you do business.
  • Learning and development – Are you making efforts to up your skills and motivate your staff and improve theirs as well?
  • Health – Are you making time for yourself despite your busy schedule? After all, your business always runs better when you’re healthy. 

3. Don’t get stuck in just 12 months of planning – look further ahead

Look at your annual goals and plans, but don’t forget to also consider what you want to accomplish in three years.

The problem with annual goals is they don't necessarily start and end in a 12-month time frame.

For example, your goal is to increase your percentage of guests from a specific market or with a certain type of behavior (e.g. solo travelers, couples) by 25%. This goal requires a lot of steps, such as running ads to these new clients and signing on new partners that cater to these kinds of travelers. You may not be able to accomplish all of these in one year, but you can start and plan the steps to get there.

The benefits of looking ahead:

  • Your 12-month plan can include the steps that will lead to a much bigger goal.
  • Looking three years ahead can help you plan out the best approach to apply this new year. 

4. Involve your key staff more in your planning

I used to take the approach of letting my staff do their jobs and not get them involved in planning and discussions of problems and opportunities to protect them. This was a huge mistake!

There’s no better time to make your staff feel more connected, feel that your business purpose involves them too and to part of the solution. In fact, I guarantee you’re going to gather better ideas and create better plans for the new year with more employee engagement.

Here are some ideas to increase staff engagement:

  • Ask their feedback on your business plans and some ways that they can contribute. 
  • Solicit ideas on how to better serve guests, improve communication, and solve problems. You’ll be surprised at what can come out of it.
  • If you’re a solo entrepreneur, the same concept applies. Ask your suppliers for feedback and bounce off ideas to friends and colleagues in the industry.

B. Productivity Approaches

5. The power of three

There is this theory in psychology that we, humans, can only realistically focus on three tasks at a time. Working and focusing on a maximum of three things ensures you put the right amount of effort toward each and guarantees you get them accomplished.

Focus on three goals or tasks every quarter, month, week, and day.

Benefit: Results show that you get more tasks done, especially if they are steps toward a much larger goal.

6. Less manual – greater use of technology and apps to save time and minimize errors

Time and time again, I hear from tourism companies that embracing software for use in their business changes everything. Often, the problem with getting there is the time to figure it out, but once you take that time, it can make a huge difference in your business. Software options are endless, and this includes booking software, channel management systems, and email management. 

Example: One way to start is to use software to help with your workflow so you can have fewer emails. You can see what needs to be done at a moment's glance, as well as what others are doing (your partners and suppliers). For this, I recommend Trello as it’s a great tool to manage project and task workflow with your team.

This video explains how Trello works, and it's completely free! This is a great start to gaining comfort in using technology to help you do your work more effectively and efficiently.

So, what is your approach to your business plans this year? And what productivity tools will you use to support your business? Let us know in the comments. 

optimize your business - a road path to 2020

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The What and How of Sustainable and Responsible Tourism

We have heard all the buzz words haven't we? – responsible, sustainable, low impact, eco-friendly. You name it – they are all out there.  There are also myths circulating as to what sustainable and responsible tourism means.But one thing is for sure: these themes are important to our guests and our businesses and environmental pressures are depending on us to act for tourism to survive.

image to portray sustainable and responsible tourism

Sustainable tourism, however, is not just about the environment or community-based tourism; it is much more than that.

One of the best examples of sustainable and responsible tourism in action in countries like New Zealand. This country has made sustainable tourism, their purpose and a significant platform for their country.  They are committed to standards for tourism businesses and communications to every traveler that visits New Zealand.  

example of newzealand and how they communicate responsible and sustainable tourism

New Zealand's sustainability communication to every guests coming to the country. 

What is the difference between sustainable and responsible tourism? 

For you to understand better, let's break all of these down to know what sustainable and responsible tourism means for tourism companies, how you can stay informed to make wiser decisions for your business, and how you can understand your guests’ point of view better. 

Sustainable tourism and responsible tourism are generally the same thing. But if we are to dig deeper, responsible tourism is the action, and sustainable tourism is the outcome of those actions.  Responsible tourism involves the accountable and ethical actions of travelers, tourism companies, suppliers, governments, and NGOs - all bodies. The result of those efforts? Is sustainability.

Four Areas of Sustainable and Responsible Tourism

To be truly sustainable, every tourism business needs to look at four distinct areas: 

1. Environmental Sustainability 

This is the aspect of sustainability that receives the most news for good reason, given our environmental crisis around the world. It includes:
  • Waste reduction – This includes reducing materials harmful to the environment, such as plastic, engaging with initiatives instead of dropping waste into landfills, and reusing, as well as asking your guests to participate in it
  • Restoration of environmental areas – This includes helping to restore nature, such as participating in beach and water clean-up events, tree planting, and other significant initiatives of restoring parks and ecological areas.
  • Carbon offset – This means reducing your carbon footprint. Generally, it includes energy efficiency, saving natural resources like water, transportation, and fuel, and making wise decisions on what you purchase and how these products are made. Carbon offset is the most complex of the environmental components. Fortunately, carbon measurement calculators are available to help measure your baseline and improvements.
  • Education – Simply, this means educating and informing your guests, your supply chain partners, and your staff on what you are doing to help and contribute to environmental sustainability. 

Good examples of environmentally sustainable tourism companies:

Eagle Wing Whale views themselves as a conservation company that just happens to do whale watching tours and sees to it that with every tour, they are a part of the solution to reduce carbon footprint. Carbon neutrality is one of their top goals, so they measure the carbon footprint of every one of their staff members. This video explains who they are. 

Another example is the sustainable efforts of Hilton hotels, such as installing measurement tools for energy and waste in their 300 hotels and challenging stretch goals and plans to achieve it.

2. Local Community Sustainability  

This pertains to the support of local people, animals and communities to ensure they are treated fairly, including: 

  • Providing fair wages for staff, as well as education, programs, and training that will help them succeed in their careers.
  • Ensuring tourism dollars are going to the people and staying in the communities where your business is, instead of going to international sources
  • Working with communities instead of dominating the agenda – helping solve issues, having open dialogues and working together on tourism initiatives and decisions
  • No animal cruelty - Wildlife attractions that involve poor and cruel treatment of animals for business gain, Often this is behind the scenes out of view of tourists like living in chains, denial of food and whippings to perform.  It includes activities like elephant riding, performing animals of any kind, or even taking a selfie with a dangerous and wild animal. 
  • Discouraging overtourism – Overtourism is a relatively new problem due to the growth of travel around the world. Understanding its negative impact and looking to distribute activities and tours to other areas instead of putting more burdens on densely visited areas should be done. Tourism boards also play a big role in limiting permits, visas, and usage of locations that cannot handle the scale of tourists in key periods of the year. You can play a role too, like this company:

A good example of a locally sustainable company:

TigerTrek, a tour company in Laos, recognized that all the tourism dollars were flooding to the province of Luang Prabang where Luang Prabang, a world UNESCO heritage site, is located, while many surrounding villages in the province are still struggling. 80% of the population is subsistence farmers, and some villages don't even have running water.

It is this disparity that prompted the launch of Fair Trek to bring tourism dollars to these villages and help residents with long term employment and personal development. They built hiking trails and Airbnb accommodations where the funds go back to the community. These guys are committed to a cause and communicate it very well on their website.

3. Visitor Care Sustainability 

 This area of sustainable and responsible tourism includes: 

  1. Educating travelers and visitors about behavioral and cultural expectations during their stay. This may include the way they should behave when photographing people and places, not exploiting children and no tolerance for sex tourism, and the way they treat animals.
  2. Getting visitor feedback on how to improve tourism to meet and exceed expectations. Gathering feedback not only about your business but also about their experiences in your city, country, and with your practices. If we can't enhance our visitor experience, how can we expect them to continue to visit?
How can you contribute to Visitor Care Sustainability?
  • Online surveys are an excellent start to understanding not only the feedback of your guests but also their expectations regarding what they want and what is not good. What could your city or country do better? And what do they need to be doing?
  • For traveler education, New Zealand tourism has created its guest behavior code that includes expectations on what they should do and not do while visiting NZ. This is a government initiative that attractions, hotels, and tours have adopted wholeheartedly with signage, information, and dialogue with their guests. Take a look at the link provided for more details.
  • Continue to innovate your product and service offerings, as longer stays of guests are another example of visitor care sustainability. 
4. Economic Sustainability 

If tourism is not financially profitable, it will not be sustainable. Financial growth is vital for future investments in infrastructure, employment opportunities, and management of traffic, pollution and every facet of tourism. Making money is not a bad thing; it's a necessity that allows you to offer jobs, pay your staff, and make business improvements, all while in the face of more challenging tasks like environmental sustainability. 

How Can My Small Business Play a Role in Sustainable Tourism? 

You 100% play a role in sustainable tourism.

It starts with:

  • Getting informed of all areas of sustainability and asking questions such as: "why do we do it this way?" and "what impact does this have on the economy, environment, people, and communities?" Although it may feel like you have no control over your supply chain of distributors, partners, and your tourism board, start by setting a good example (i.e. how you sustainably manage your business). 
  • Using your associations as a platform and voice to challenge others, and the best way to create change is to hear from your guests. Listen to their views about your area's sustainable tourism platform.
  • Measurement – You can't improve your sustainability efforts unless you set goals and benchmarks before you start. Things not measured cannot be improved.
So where do I start? 

Start with your goals. What facets of sustainable tourism are essential for your business, values, guests, and future? 

Sustainable and responsible tourism is the responsibility of all of us. Our voice – where we spend our money and what we chose to create for our businesses – is our power.

We have more tips and tools for sustainable tourism in upcoming articles, sign up to our newsletter here to be kept up to date. 

image explaining sustainability in tourism has 4 distince categories.

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The best tourism lead magnet template

If you read our post, 6 Effective Ways to Get More Travel Leads, you will know that one of the best ways to find new guests is to create a lead magnet, which is a piece of content that you provide to potential guests for free in exchange for their email. You have seen many examples of this in email marketing and yours will be relevant for travelers.

image explaining how to use a lead magnet template effectively to create a better lead list

A sales lead magnet can be a super valuable content piece because it can be used on your website and with your other marketing strategies, it will help you generate email leads.  It gives your readers value, making them familiar with your company and eventually persuading them to buy from you.The key is to create emails to use it in email marketing. So here is the best tourism lead magnet template to use it in your tourism business.

According to a published  McKinsey study, Email marketing is 40x more effective in converting consumers to buyers than social media. 

Not sure how a lead magnet works? - See example below

The lead magnet template for the tourism industry

Let's face it, we all have downloaded e-books and signed up for webinars at some point, but we haven't really read or attended them, have we? That is because your time is limited.

Although e-books and webinars are high-value, they are hard to consume because most likely, you are busy. Unless an e-book or webinar includes information that you need right away, you will likely save the e-book to read later or file the webinar recording to watch on a rainy day.

What is surprising is that lead magnets for accommodations, tours, and attractions are still not common. Probably, they are not effective, you say. No, it is because they are not effectively used in this industry. 

Examples of excellent lead magnet topics in the tourism industry.

A downloadable PDF of:

  • The best places to eat and drink in your area
  • A walking tour map of your area
  • A short checklist of how to prepare for traveling to your destination
  • A brief document to highlight a local's guide of the best things to do in your area
  • Top tips one need to know before traveling to ____
  • Pre-trip essential information
  • The perfect packing list when traveling to ______


example visitors guide lis from Orlando

How to Develop Your Topic Most Useful for Your Target Guest

  1. Determine the target guest you want to reach.
  2. Brainstorm ideas on the most valuable content to target guests. For instance, what are the most common concerns or questions these guests ask you?
  3. Do a keyword/phrase search of common searches for your city, country, or attraction type. For example, the best things to do in your city that you can create a shortlist of.
  4. Ask for feedback from guests. This is the best way to know for sure if your lead magnet is something that would be useful to them.

How to Decide on the Format 

You want your lead magnet to be of high value and easy to consume to your potential guests. The goal is simple: for them to download it and use it fast.

A several-paged e-book is only valuable for very specific and highly technical areas (e.g. learning Facebook Ads), but it isn't appropriate for your target guests. Remember, they want it to answer their questions fast and help them with their travel planning. People are overloaded with too much information, make it easy for them.

So the best option? A downloadable PDF with one to three pages only. If you can get the information on one page, the better. 


template examples for value for your guests from checklists to travel guides
email list option: a travel guide ebook of Oman

How to Create Your Lead Magnet

Your sales lead magnet does not need to look pretty. What it contains is more important than how it looks. The goal here is to get the email information of your readers and build your lead generation strategy; it's not about having the best design or spending hours to create something out-of-this-world.

You can make an efficiently designed PDF document in Canva, which is a free design service, upload your logo, and add various design elements (e.g. images that may cost $1-3).

Your lead magnet template can also be a simple Word document with your logo and contact details. You can make a nice cover for it, or just make something simple.  Before sharing it to your website, ensure that it is free of spelling and grammatical errors.

Or you can hire a freelancer to create a simple document or design for you.

Follow these steps to create  your lead magnet:  

  1. Create an opt-in box on your website – This is the advertisement of your lead magnet that shows how readers can download it once they fill in their name and email. This is the start of your email marketing strategy to gain leads to your business.
  2. Make a landing page that your readers can click to download your lead magnet and fill out their name and email in your opt-in box.
  3. Launch your lead generation strategy. To launch, you will need email marketing software like Constant Contact, Aweber, Drip, MailChimp, or ActiveCampaign to collect the emails/names and date them for your future email marketing campaigns.


lead magnet template example for a cruise

A simple opt-in box to advertise your lead magnet 

example lead magnet opt in box for bike trips

It can be simple like this - title, short explanation and fill in the box email

This whole process may seem daunting at first, but trying and experimenting with ways to generate new business is what marketing is all about.

Looking for help with your lead magnet, lead list and email campaign? Get in touch with us and we'll show you how.

For more marketing tips and tactics check them all out here.

image for pinterest - lead magnet template

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6 Effective Ways to Get More Travel Leads

We all want more travel leads, don't we? Sure, you work your butt off improving the SEO on your website, growing on travel review sites, and even collaborating with partners and OTAs. Still, sometimes, those seem to be lacking. That is because there are some other common marketing strategies out there – strategies that are designed to get the attention of travelers and eventually convert them to guests. These strategies are widely used in different industries and are also very useful in tourism. Surprisingly, not every tourism business is using them.
image to show how travel leads online work

6 Practical Ways to Get More Travel Leads

Requiring just a little focus, these common marketing practices can help you get high-quality travel sales leads to your business.

1. Create a Lead Magnet - a useful piece of content for your target guests in exchange for their email

What: Your lead magnet can be a checklist, a short outline of tips or steps, an e-book, or a short video. It should be a useful and valuable piece of information that your guests are looking for to help them with their travels.


  • We live and work in the sharing economy – offer value first, then sell. A lead magnet is one of the best lead generation tips because it allows you to email a potential guest, so you can continue building a relationship with them, moving their purchase journey from awareness to conversion.
  • A lead magnet helps build trust by offering something that meets their needs. It is also one of the first fundamental steps to getting potential guests to know more about you and your business. 

How: *Creating a lead magnet is simple; it doesn't have to be a difficult or tedious project. There are all kinds of lead magnets out there, so make sure it is effective (useful) for your guests and efficient (easy to produce) for you.

*LEARN HERE  How to Create an Effective Lead Magnet for Your Tourism Business with examples.

2. Market Your Lead Magnet on Your Website 

Why: When you add a lead magnet to your website, readers can stumble across it and download it even when they aren't ready to purchase yet. Most likely, these readers are in their research phase. Once you create a lead magnet and use it to generate leads, it becomes a valuable piece of content that you can use in different ways.

How: Add an opt-in box to your website and offer your lead magnet for free in exchange for their email. You can include this on the bottom of every page and every blog post (check your website theme for different options).

3. Start Your Email Marketing Activity Little by Little

What: Create a plan to benefit from these great emails that you have collected (as well your list of past guests, or guests who inquired).

  • Even if you think email marketing is annoying, it is highly effective in building trust over time, not to mention its conversion rates are 40x higher than Facebook and Twitter in converting your target audience to buyers.  It allows the people who reached your website to get to know you and your past guests to remember their trip, leading to them recommending you to their friends and family.   *Check out this study by McKinsey for why its so effective for travel leads online.  I don't recommend you walk away from social media, both email and social play different roles. (and they can work together see below #4)
  • Start slow. I recommend starting with a simple service like Mailchimp (free). Learn how to write welcome emails and regular emails effectively and how you can manage lists. Once you get comfortable with this, you can move into more advanced mailing strategies. Here is a great email marketing resource to start and stay tuned for more posts about email marketing tips on this blog.

4. Use Your Lead Magnet in Your Facebook Ads

a. Facebook Awareness Ads

What: Create a Facebook awareness ad and use your lead magnet as a download. A Facebook awareness ad is just one element in your Facebook Ad funnel; it serves as an introduction to your business. It can be incredibly useful for gaining awareness for your business and acquiring new business leads.

How: Create an awareness ad with a download; this can be used as one part of your funnel to drive travelers from awareness to consideration to purchase. You will need to test and try different titles and ad copy for different audiences to find the right ad that works for them. 

b. Use Facebook Retargeting Ads for those who already visited your website

How: Send Facebook ads to travelers who have previously visited your website. These travelers already have some level of familiarity with or interest in your business, so you have a good chance of winning them back with a retargeting ad. A retargeting ad is a great way to promote your business using an approach different from your previous ads.

5. Use Your Lead Magnet as an Offer with Your Connections and on Social Media 

What: Whether you are sharing a topic you speak about at a networking event or just meeting a new customer, sending someone a link to your lead magnet proves to be beneficial. You can also do this on social media posts (on occasion) to promote value. 

Why: It is a great way to offer value to someone you met as a leave-behind to remember you by.

How: Easy! Just send a link via email

6. Let your guests sell for you!

Ask for reviews!  And ask every guest. Then answer their reviews. 

Why: Great reviews and referrals are the most effective and most efficient way to get new leads. Remember those fantastic guests that said how much they loved your service and will tell everyone? Well, they can through online reviews for all viewers to see.

  • Sign up for review sites like Google My Business and TripAdvisor. Create a profile, ask for reviews, and answer all reviews. Here are our top tips for Creating Your Google My Business Profile and Optimizing Your TripAdvisor Profile.

Are you going to try out these ways to generate more leads? Send us an email here if you need more details on how to get started. Whether you are looking for travel agent leads, travel agency leads, or tours, attractions and activities these strategies can work for you.

Want to learn more about marketing or more lead generation tips?  stay up to date on our latest posts here.  

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How travel partnerships need to payback for you

Looking to accelerate your tourism marketing? One way is how effectively you manage your travel partnerships with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and partners. These groups are a compliment to your business growth, they can help you grow as long as they are win-win for you. The travel industry has to be collaborative to survive.  Travel partners are essential. They can help you run your business more effectively, open you to new guests, and sharing resources. These could include local partners, wholesalers, regular travel agencies and Online travel agencies.  

Your top considerations with a travel partnership

Make no mistake, these partners are not your primary business, they are your competitors too. It’s about striking the right balance with these partners because there are a number of negatives with working with this, such as

-The risk is:  what would happen if those partners closed shop tomorrow? A big piece of your business would disappear overnight  and you won’t be able to make that up with direct bookings or have another partner to replace those losses. At least in the short term

-These travel partners already impact the power of your branding - because you play a back seat role to their brand as those guests bought their  brand not yours- so growing your brand becomes more difficult with these clients (but not impossible) 

- And of course, your margins - as they take away as much as 10-30% from your revenues.

My point here is that you need your brand to stay in the driver's seat. Growing your business, your website and direct bookings guests should be your primary task. 

I’ve witnessed many tourism businesses as a marketer and a full-time traveler that slowly stop managing their direct bookings business entirely. Let's face it this industry is busy -- and your focus can move to other things

The top signs when a tourism business is spending too much on partners instead of direct bookings:   

  • When businesses stop doing regular analysis of their website, and where their traffic is coming from 
  •  or they stop making regular modifications to improve their website to persuade and attract new guests.
  •  Instead, they just use OTAS like as their booking service, instead of making it visible and available for guests to book direct. Sure it simplifies the task of booking, but they own this audience not you.
  • Some businesses don’t answer messages from potential or current guests, from social media like their facebook page, or just being generally not responsive from contact pages – and these potential guests  are at the stage where they are READY TO BUY. FROM YOU 
  • Other businesses don’t look at their capacity so they book their indirect guests first (from these partners or OTAS)  and leave no room for full margin, DIRECT guests who want to book with their brand DIRECTLY 
  • And finally, this problem can happen when tourism businesses don’t find strategies to continue the relationship with indirect customers - like getting their contact information and email to continue conversations on email or social media.  Remember that they experienced your business too. 

These watch-outs are all unfortunate ways to lose guests and ​get bad reviews.  

The benefit of maintaining your owned-assets is that you have 100% Control. 

Your website is a great example of this because: 

  • It’s the best location for your guests to truly understand your brand, and what makes you unique and it allows you to highlight what is important to you. 
  • It's where you can inspire them the most to book with you and you control the pricing 
  • These guests become part of YOUR guest list  - and you can 100% control how you stay in touch with them.and how they will recommend you in the future. 

Here’s the interesting things about your guests: 

-Many potential guests may still visit your website or your social mediums Facebook page even though they book through an online travel site of course when it's accessible to find you online or on social media.  

This is because of a few reasons:

They are doing extensive research for a vacation, not just a day trip

  • They want to find out about you and your business – They can learn about what you are all about, what’s your story, and more visuals and details that they won’t get the full picture from your OTA profile. 
  • They want to know the people behind the business
  • They want to make sure you are a legitimate business and that you are an actively running business. 
  • When guests see a Facebook page without any posts for several months, they start to question whether you are busy or still in business at all.  Because businesses come and go all the time. 

There are many travelers out there that do like to book direct – so why not make it easy for them? 

To maximize your direct bookings --- You need an action plan in your marketing plan every year. 

You need to know what % of your bookings are direct vs indirect so you can work towards a better % that works for your business. 

There are a number of simple strategies that you can do step by step to entice travelers to book direct with you.   

 So travel partnerships are key! If you found this video helpful join our community here at Travel Life and subscribe to our many free marketing resources for tourism brands like yours. 

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Your About Page: The Secret Weapon to Build Trust and Future Sales

Guess what? Your about page is likely in the top 3 of all viewed pages on your website - because travelers want to know about the people behind your business. So why do few travel brands capitalize on it? 

Let’s admit it: who likes to write about themselves anyways? After all, didn’t your mother and everyone you know tell you not to brag and talk about yourself? What about going to a job interview and being asked to summarize who you are and your experience? Where do you start?

For some businesses, this is where an About Us page gets avoided or becomes a summarized resume page – and neither is useful for your business.

You, on the other hand, have a significant competitive advantage ready to be utilized. I promise your About Us page can help your business earn trust. Not only does your About Us page share who you are and what you do, but it can also be an official page to build trust, which is the key to converting readers into buyers of your tourism products and services.

Why Your About Us Page Is a Secret Weapon For Your Tourism Business

1. It has traffic – a lot of traffic. Actually, it is one of the most viewed pages on websites. Whether you run a personal website, blog, or corporate site, this page is essential because it has traffic. The better the copy, the more it will benefit your business.

Think about it: when you are searching for a business that you don’t know about, usually you want to get a sense of what they are about and who the people are behind it; your About Us page is the place to find this information. So please, make it visible.

If you have an About Us page now, and it’s full of corporate fluff and is focused on what you do and your benefits, it isn't going to work for you. So read on and find out how to make it compelling for your business.

2. It helps people EVALUATE you on a different level compared to your Home Page. People want to buy from people they like and share their beliefs.  

3. It serves as a significant component in building trust, and when you build trust, you move potential guests down the funnel – meaning you move them from being lookers to bookers. When you create this page, it sets you up to take advantage of the content for so many aspects of your marketing communications.  

4. It saves you time and effort. Once you create this page, you can use and reuse the copy you developed in your marketing and communications. 

**Please don't make this mistake: some businesses take their About Us page entirely off the website’s top navigation because it is not deemed necessary compared to the other sales-driven pages on their website. Please keep it up there, and I'll explain further.

Your About Us page is about you and your brand through the eyes of your target guests.

A. Your goals for writing your About Us Page

  1. It is written in a way that your target guests can relate to you. 
  2. Perhaps they admire what you are doing, or you have shared values and beliefs, or you have made massive changes in your life to live the way you want on your terms. You want the reaction to be, "Wow, I can relate to that Dorene, she totally gets me."
  3. You write it in a way that conveniently answers the questions they probably have about your business (ie. those that addresses their needs).
  4. Your About Us page uses story-telling to share stories about you. Story-telling is one of the most powerful ways to explain anything. In travel, it is one of the most compelling ways to talk about your services, your business, and the experiences of your guests.
  5. Talk about your purpose in a bit of a different way – it is uber-powerful, too!
  6. It is not written like a resume; rather, it is written like you are talking to a friend you haven't seen for say 15 years and catching up on everything and sharing what you are deeply passionate about. If your About Us page isn't done correctly, it comes off as corporate and useless.

So, as your potential guest reads about you, they are validating if you and your business can help THEM.

B. How to Write Your About Us Page

There are several great learnings here taken from the amazing Marie Forleo in her course, The Copy Cure. These examples are proven and demonstrated by many successful businesses, including ones in the travel industry (see examples below). Please, if you write this super corporate – and say we are so and so the company and we deliver a high-quality experience to our guests blah, blah blah, you are only wasting your time.  

There is a couple of ways you can structure your page


It can be a backstory about you (or “we’ your company), which leads you to why you started this business. 

The key is that it should be an exciting story that your target guests could be interested in or admire.

You can use an Ah-Ha moment as the way to tell your story. What were some challenges you faced while developing your company? How did this discovery shape what you are today?

For example: If you say you were tired of the corporate world, and you had to get out, so you decided to start bed and breakfast, it won't cut it. However, if you had some major struggles that compelled you to create and do something you are passionate about and believe in – now that is golden!

2. Passion Story/Change Story

This is about how you evolved as a company. There is no shame in admitting that your business has changed, or personally, you, as well as the ideas you’ve adopted, have changed since you began.

When you have a story about your Passion for doing better, being a better human being, helping others, becoming a better person, realizing your business was going this way but you decided to change it – these are admirable traits that are respected by potential guests.

Whatever you choose: hit the Emotions. Remember how we want to connect with feelings here? So, tell your story and the struggles you faced. Explain how you felt and what you did to overcome them.

What Content Should You Include in Your About Us Page

1. The best About Us pages START WITH WHY. Your purpose is an absolute must-have. It can be woven into your story or included upfront. It can be written as a statement, or you can include some additional context like how you do it. You can also write this as a mission statement. Further, you can include whats and hows (e.g. We believe that _______so that ________). The important thing is that it is visible and easy to follow.

2. Who do you serve? Talk about your target guests – their issues and how you help them and try to weave it within your story. 

3. Add a Call to Action at the end. We want to leave them with something to do and to think about. Now, to figure out what your CTA should be, start by asking yourself, why is my potential customer visiting my About Us page? How can I help them get the information and solution they want the most? Perhaps, it’s downloading a free tool or an eBook, joining your email list or Facebook group, or contacting you to learn more about your business.  

4. Your Staff – Highlight your staff and include pictures of you all. You can include a bio or a fun fact about each of them. Better yet, you can interview them and include a phrase like: "why do they love to go to work every morning”.

5. Facts and Credentials – These are optional and can be included if they fit naturally. Here you add in things about your career, your experience in life that led you to create or build your business. It can include awards and credentials, case studies, and testimonials. But be careful not to lead with it; it should be a part of the story, a way to say:

“Hey we created this, this is why, how we do it and by the way, we are getting recognized for our great work.” These additions can back up your credibility. 

Also, include things like the awards and accreditations you received as a travel company. For example: Trip advisor, industry acclamations, and designations and associations (but these play a lower profile).

6. You can also show your personality. It is ok to share a few of your quirky and unusual interests and passion, as long as it's a super minor part of it.

Three Types of Frameworks for Your About Us Page

OPTION #1: The simplistic, story-telling, and preferred structure. Use bold subheads and some simple design elements. The goal here is to lead into your why and who you are. Use pictures to tell the story – show the struggle you had and the solution you took to overcome.   

OPTION#2: The FAQ, frequently asked questions, or a Q and A format. This format is excellent for supplying in all the random things you know people want to know about you and your company. It's also an ingenious way to bypass the writer's block because it is easy for us to answer questions. I've seen some travel brands use this for group tours because there are often so many questions your guest has about the group, the amenities, and locations, that it may be easier to create a bulleted list of information.

OPTION #3: So there's a reason that the 25 things you don't know about me meme were such a big hit. Lists are effortless to write and often entertaining to read as long as they address the needs of your guests, but if they aren’t written well, they tend to feel braggy. This method is not my preferred method, but if you have a quirky brand and can get some copyrighting help, this page could come off as very unique. 

Looking for some inspiration from some great About Us Pages? 

Here are a few pages that are fantastically written and uphold some if not all of the elements we discussed in this article.

Impulse Travel - These guys are clear on their purpose and explain it well, I like the drop down menu of how they break it down and how its easy to read in sections

Taste of Thailand Food Tours  - These guys state their purpose up front and they even include a infographic of their values. 

Pure Trek Canyoning - They state their mission upfront with a video and the owners story - it's well done.

Southwest Airlines -  These guys are the kings of purpose driven companies, which is why their about page is written well, its a big company so its done alot differently and worth looking at. 

Send us a note and let us know how you are getting along with writing your secret weapon - Your About Page?  How did these tips work for you?  You can reach out to us here. 

* note: Resource:  Marie Forleo's Copy Cure course that has been roadtested on many travel brands.

What are your best tips for writing your About Us page? Looking for more help with your marketing? You can find more tips here. 

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Getting It All Done: How Freelance Marketing Can Help You

You can have the best marketing strategy, a solid marketing plan, and a comprehensive budget, but how do you get it all done? There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything on your business, especially your marketing. This is the life of a tourism entrepreneur. Fortunately, our internet world has given us all kinds of options, and when it comes to staffing, there are a countless number of options. No longer is an in- house, full-time staff member the preferred choice for the employee. Freelance marketing help is a great option for tourism companies.

Working with remote staffers and freelancers are a great resource to maximize overhead flexibility, try out a resource first before you hire him/her long term or build your marketing capabilities.  

How to Get Started With Freelance Marketing Help

The first step, decide where you need help the most. Chances are, there are several areas where you need assistance, especially when it comes to marketing.

The best way to find that answer?  Ask yourself these 4 questions:  

  1. What are the most important tasks I need to do to move the business forward?  
  2. What are the tasks I’m doing that stop me from performing in question number one?
  3. What tasks am I doing or my staff is doing that slow us down due to limited skill, resources, or priority?
  4. Are there opportunity projects you would love to do but you can’t get to them because of limited know-how, or energy?

When you ask yourself these questions, new ideas and thinking come to light, and quickly you realize that working on everything is stopping you from working on the big things that matter the most. Typically tourism businesses end up having tasks such as content calendar building, social media, Google ads, Facebook ads, email marketing, website optimization, and SEO. All of these tasks could lead to growth, however, they require a time investment, and your time may be better suited to run all other aspects of your business. 

Remote or freelance marketing staff or project managers can be a great solution to manage your marketing tasks. Before you jump right in and hire them, consider these common mistakes : 

1. Take the time like you would hiring someone in-person -  Schedule a video interview, ask questions, access their fit within your organization. Even though they may not physically work in your office – assess whether they have the passion, interest in your purpose, your business, and your industry. A rule of thumb is to hire someone that is generally interested in what you do, because they will be passionate about delivering on it. 

2. Do not hire the cheapest hourly freelancer – This is probably the biggest mistake you can make. Online worksites make it very easy to be captivated with hiring someone with the most affordable rates because of the standard of living differences between countries. The key is to find the right balance. Often hourly rates are set low to get references and experience on these sites first, then rates tend to increase. Look at several factors beyond just the rates - Their skills, passion, quality of reviews, fit, and style with how they work and could work with you.  

3. Give feedback and answer questions quickly. –A freelancer is working independently, thus, you need to be available to answer questions so they can do the work you need. Establish a ways of working together up front. Sometimes freelancers become ‘out of sight and out of mind’ to the hiring manager - so staying available and having regular phone calls will make your relationship much easier and more efficient.  

 6 Great Options to hire remote staff and freelancers: 

  1. Need help with content, social media, or video? Reach out to your Travel Massive Community in your area and hire how bloggers, content creators, and videographers who can help you on various projects.You can also consider posting on the marketplace job posting for a specific role. 
  2. Upwork is a great option to post a free ad for marketing freelancers and small business projects. However, be beware that you need to look at reviews and quality instead of focusing on the lowest hourly rate. We have used Freelancers through Upwork many times, and many we’ve continued to use for years. 
  3. Freelancer – is a great way to find marketing freelancers. There are a lot of high quality candidates on this site. I like the payment process here as it keeps your payment on hold until the work is completed and you are happy with it. Freelance also claims that 95% of their customers rehire freelancers on their site.
  4. Hire a student/person building new marketing skills – GenM is an option to hire a student looking for real business experience and get references. For a small cost, you can hire an apprentice for three months, 10 hours per week in exchange for training and coaching them on skills and a reference at the end of your time working together. If you are looking for someone with tremendous skills, this isn’t the option for you. This website is also a great option to try someone before you hire too.   If you are interested in GenM, use our $25 Discount coupon to sign up and utilize your apprentice. 
  5. Fiverr – Fiverr is the largest freelance marketplace for small businesses. The idea is the hourly rate is just $5 (to start) then you buy different packages/add-ons depending on what you are looking for. Most freelancers here are using it to get some experience and their foot in the door, so costs are lower, but you pay a 20% fee with Fiverr on top. Be sure to look at reviews to verify their work, but this is better for short term projects, in my opinion. 
  6. If you work with us at Travel Life Media, Troy and I, work with our clients then hire vetted freelance and remote staff that we trust who work with us on all kinds of projects. Essentially, we work as a part or full service to bring marketing strategy and projects to completion including branding, social media, pricing, promotions, SEO, and the sky is the limit.

Working with freelance marketing help is an excellent option for the tourism industry. please feel free to reach out with questions on how to make remote marketers work for you.

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The Amazing Results of Purpose Marketing

One way to accelerate your Tourism Marketing and create a successful brand is 

When you let your Guests FEEL again. When you live and work with Purpose everything changes.

Purpose Marketing is What Your Consumers Care About.

We are in a societal crisis around the world. And this affects your tourism business. 

We are living in a world of speed, quick fixes, make money fast schemes,and artificial brands and lifestyles are sold to us every day 

This is all contributing to frustration, stress , and anxiety

Now more than ever, consumers are changing their views on brands and they value the  people behind them.  

Consumers are more cynical, but they value what feels authentic, transparent and REAL to them. 

They are Conscious consumers who value real stories, and the people and the brands who inspire them,

They value brands that don’t just make money, but they are equally focused on improving the world in some way. 

This is why we need more tourism brands that have a strong purpose, a purpose driven business, not a profit only one. 

Just having great features and benefits isn’t going to cut it. 

Sure, a brand may have all the benefits that a traveler is looking for – and it meets their  needs. 

But often brands are chosen because of gut feel  - meaning how your brand made that guest FEEL 

Because these travelers were INSPIRED by your business, not by the what you do and how you do it, but WHY you get up in the morning to run your tourism business.  That is purpose marketing at its finest. 

A Great concept to explain this is golden circle: (by Simon Sinek)

image of the golden circle from Simon Sinek

Start with Why by Simon Sinek - The Golden Circle explains what is wrong with how businesses run.

 Most businesses have it all wrong, because they are focusing on communicating from the outside in.  

They talk about what they do-- their services, then the how – How they do it – like their strengths and their USP

 but few businesses do a good job of clearly communicating their why --- 

AND making money isn’t a reason for Why you should do anything and that won’t inspire any guest toward your business 

Money and profits are results of What you do. 

Your WHY is about your contribution, your impact,  your purpose and it will have an impact on others too.  

The WHY inspires people period. 

 It is why you get up every morning, to go to work and do your work. Its what fuels and what motivates you. 

Purpose driven marketing means you market your brand with your Why in mind First,  which actually leads to much better marketing

because it supports your features and benefits --the What of your business and how you do it (your strengths) 

 –and it goes deeper into the WHY of marketing.  

the better way to run a business - an image of the golden circle with focus on your Why not What and how

 When you START WITH WHY instead of the what and the how drives the behavior of not just your guests, but of you and your staff. 

The guests you want to attract come your way, because you connect with them and they resonate with who you are,

 they get you and what you stand for.

Purpose also leads you enjoying your work more, because you have something to get up for in the morning.  

Stress and frustration no longer have the control that they once had on you.

 Because you find value in the work you do and so do your staff because they play a big part in it. 

Many owners and operators in the tourism business get into this business because they like to Travel. And let’s face it, Tourism can be a fun business. 

But your purpose is bigger than that -- how you excite and inspire your guests to see the  world differently is more powerful than just enjoying travel.  

And when your business has more purpose, clearly communicated to your guests, YOUR profits will follow too. 

Did you know that: 

90% of people that work in businesses, that they believe have a strong purpose, report strong financial results?  

So a successful tourism brand starts with purpose --- which leads to attracting guests that get you, 

and profits follow , so you can do the work that you love. 

A purpose driven business- Are these not the best reasons to get up and go to work in the morning? 

quote by simon sinek - people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Watch the find your why Ted Talk here

Join our community at Tourism Marketing That Works to find out more about purpose driven marketing and ask questions from our community of tourism professionals like you.

For more ways to accelerate your tourism marketing, get new tips and resources to improve your marketing every week.        

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How to Set Real-Life Goals that Work

“How much growth can we do next year? Hmm, that's not enough. Can we squeeze in a few more units?”

“Yeah, that isn’t going to work; that’s not going to pull in enough profits. How can we do better?"

These are the vivid nightmare conversations I had during annual goal-setting meetings when I was working in the corporate world. This is the goal process that set up many companies I worked for to fail. And it’s because of the intent – one that only focuses on profits and sales. If businesses run like money-making machines, they will fail, at least in the long run, and this is especially true in tourism, a business highly-focused on people. Shouldn’t goals be well-rounded and better represent the life goals of the owner and the entire company?  

We think so; in fact, so does your guest. Consumers are looking for brands that set standards beyond just profits and a precedent to focus on contributing positively to people and the world in some way. 

In fact, 87% of global consumers look for brands that place equal weight on society’s interests AND business interests.

That is why we want you to look at your goal setting differently this year. 

Goals Just Focused On Business Metrics Don't Work.

Real life Goals Take Into Account A Holistic View of Your Business and Life

We call the process Real Life Goal Setting because it looks at several factors to achieving your goals, a holistic approach that is personal, professional, and profitable. If we spend half of our lives in our jobs, isn’t it just right to include all aspects of our lives in our goals? 

After all, there is no such thing as work-life balance. So why don’t your goals also include your life? 

Jeff Bezos from Amazon said it well, "That work-life balance is debilitating and restricting --- instead, it is about work-life harmony, because balance implies you’re making some big trade-offs for one to another.”  

So, for all you owners/operators in this course – you know exactly what he means. 

Even if you aren’t the owner of the business and are a manager, a goal planning process is still essential, because you, too, spend most of your time and energy at work.  

Key Tips to Setting Real-Life Goals  

1. Create a vision for your business in the next 3-5 years

What do you want to accomplish in your career, your life, and your business in the next 3 to 5 years? 

A vision is a big, meaningful stretch goal. Yes, it may feel highly unattainable now, but it's a vision that would make you say, 3 to 5 years from now, “Wow! I accomplished a big thing in my career, and I’m very proud of it.” 

For example: Perhaps you want to become known as the top eco-tourism business in your country. It seems unattainable right now, but with many steps toward this goal, several years of work can lead to this.

Spend some time brainstorming about the vision for your business AND the vision for your personal life. What do you want to accomplish personally in the next 3 to 5 years? Does this vision compliment your business goal, and if not, can it?

Once you brainstorm your ideas, start summarizing the main themes to one or two overall vision statements. 

Once you have a vision, you need to be above to measure it, so you can track how you can get there. 

Let’s get back to our example of becoming known as the top eco-tourism business. If you use the words “most admired" or “most respected", you need to figure out how you can measure that. There can be a range of ways to determine it:

  •  It can be when you’ve made many changes to the standards for Ecotourism that you become a sought-after expert to discuss this topic in the media and at conferences.
  • It can be when you become the best at something, like having top ranking reviews on Google, TripAdvisor, or other online sites in your area.
  • You can also prepare questions related to how your guests feel about Ecotourism and how you support it on a guest satisfaction survey.

2. Goals - How to Set Annual Real-Life Goals

Your goals will be the road map and markers toward your vision. 

Real-life goals include:

1.Personal Goals – What are some personal milestones you want to achieve? Do you want to learn new skills? Take a course? Travel? Perhaps you want to create better relationships that will help both your personal and career relationships?  

2. Professional/Performance Goals- Perhaps you want to buy a new business? Hire a new staff member? Get better at managing reviews? Start a new training program for your new hires? Form a new relationship with an OTA?

3. Purpose goals - What are the things you believe in deeply? What gets you up in the morning? equal rights? the environment? changing views of the world?  Perhaps your big vision is supporting sustainable travel and ecotourism.  You can advance your steps to become that leader in Ecotourism. Do something like pitching some interviews with the media to discuss the topic, work with bloggers who write about Ecotourism, or get certified by a governing Ecotourism body. All brands have a purpose we have one too.

4. Profit Goals - Did you notice that this goal is listed last?  It is because if you only focus your goals towards making money – you won’t last, as you’ll have a hard time creating lasting and meaningful relationships with your guests. But of course, you have to be able to make enough money to support yourself and your family, pay your staff, and find growth in the future. Growth and profit are good things that come as a result of the good things you do personally and professionally. 

But wait! Goals are useless if you don’t measure them.

After all, "what gets measured gets improved", said one of the most famous business guys of all time, Peter Drucker. Why bother if you can't see whether they’re working or not, right?

How to Make Strong and Useful Goals

Make your Goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely 

If you don't write them this way --- you’ll have a tough time achieving them.  

By definition, SMART goals are: 

1. Specific 

Your goals will either be achieved or not. They should have specific results – just yes or no. Let’s say you want to hire a social media manager. The result is either you did it or you didn't.

2. Measurable 

You should ensure that there’s a way to measure your goal. If you don't have the data to determine whether or not it is achievable, how will you accomplish it?

3. Actionable/Achievable/Attainable

This is when you can take action, and you have the resources to attain the goal. Can you feasibly do it? A great example of this is planning to achieve a target such as growing your profits by 30%. Is a goal like this possible given the resources and skills you have? 

4. Realistic 

Is it so far-fetched that you won't ever achieve it? For example, if you plan to hire Justin Timberlake to promote your business, think first: is that realistic or not? Here is where you should look for goals that will provide 80% of the return for you and your business.

5. Time-bound 

This is the timeframe we set to make these goals a reality – the ‘getting them done’ part. For instance, by the end of January, you want to take Fridays off to spend time with your family – now, that would be a time-bound and measurable personal goal. 

Simply put it, Life Goals Matter! Especially those that impact your whole life and your business. Best of luck with setting your real-life goals that enable results beyond just your business now how about we get started on that marketing plan

For more posts about marketing strategy and goal setting in these posts.

picture of goal setting - how to set smart and real life goals

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