Why persona marketing is the key for your tourist destination

Whether guests visit your destination to stay in rustic, canvas yurts under the stars, or pay premium prices to be wined and dined by celebrity chefs and sommeliers — everyone is looking for something that fits their tastes, needs, and lifestyle. Persona marketing helps tourism and hospitality brands define their target audiences and set themselves apart from the competition by honing in on who really wants to visit their destinations. You don’t need to please everyone … you just have to please a select few.

Persona marketing unlocks destination discovery: 

There isn’t a “one size fits all” vacation model. There isn’t even an average standard for what vacations should look like. According to TripBarometer, only 34% of travelers in the United States fall into what is commonly defined as a “traditional,” or mainstream, travel category. The remaining 66% lean toward specialized travel subsets such as adventure or experiential travelers, solo, luxury, or service-oriented vacationers. As a marketer, you simply can’t make broad assumptions about who your target audience may be. You need to get narrow on who is most likely to visit your tourist destination, how they prefer to plan vacations, who they travel with, how they spend, when they go, and what they like. Personas are a great, actionable way to achieve this.

Persona marketing helps brands break away from dangerous generalizations and gain clarity about the demographics of the people most likely to visit their destination. The first thing people often decide when booking a vacation experience is where they want to travel. For this reason, persona marketing can be an especially effective means to promote your destination during this discovery period. For example, Costa Rica has become famous as a prime spot for eco-travelers and nature enthusiasts thanks to the country’s many treehouse resorts, surfing lodges, yoga retreats, zip-line courses, and sustainable tourism efforts. Tourist destinations in Costa Rica can leverage their position within this ecosystem by appealing to the specific personas who find these elements attractive. Knowing – and speaking directly to – the marketing persona that fits this profile allows brands to tailor their efforts to websites, journals, and blogs where viable prospects are already enjoying content. This reduces friction in the discovery process and reduces the amount of effort and time needed to secure a sale.

Tailored merchandising maximizes vacations and revenue:

Once you’ve attracted the attention of a potential persona and have a steady stream of visitors heading to your tourist destination, you can still use persona marketing to tailor the vacation experience on a deeper level. Consider a cruise ship. Cruisers are, in and of themselves, a certain type of travel persona: often, families with disposable annual income of $150K or more who are educated and want to see the world, but don’t want the hassle of planning the nuances of the trip themselves. Yet, within this persona, there are travelers who will naturally fall into a variety of sub-types: those who want to spend every day at the spa, those who want a steady-stream of kid-friendly activities, romantic couples, adventure seekers, water lovers, foodies, and bar flies. Knowing the personas that are attracted to your tourist destination and the nuances of the sub-types within those personas allows you to tailor your merchandising efforts for effectively so you can send spa discounts, dining recommendations, entertainment promotions, and event reminders to the right people at the right times.

Using persona marketing helps you make everyone’s vacation experience feel highly specialized and personal, which augments the tourist experience … and, of course, increases the chances that guests will spend (more) money at your site. In the United States, the majority of travelers cite “treating themselves” as a top priority when traveling, according to the Trekksoft travel blog. They look to sightseeing (53%), special dining (41%), accommodation (41%), activities (35%), and shopping (24%) respectively as the top areas to splurge. Knowing which of these items your guests are most interested in allows you to meet their needs and your bottom line.

Whether you already have a persona marketing strategy, or still need to define who your ideal target audience is, we are here to help. Contact us to learn more about the types of personas that fit your tourist destination. We can work with you to define the market and customer segmentation research needed to build and understand your personas, create a custom marketing plan around their needs, and track the results of how persona marketing can transform your tourist destination.

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