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Opinion: How to market a tourist destination

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Taking a trip is a great way to break up the stressful routine many of us find ourselves adopting.

A change of scenery and pace is often just what we need to recharge. So, when we get overwhelmed with our busy schedules or bored with our monotonous routine, we often start daydreaming about a vacation.

If you own, manage or work for a tourist destination or attraction, connecting with those travelers is key to sustaining your business and employment.

Journey before destination
As a performance marketer, it’s easy to fall into the trap of just finding what people are searching for and running ads, then optimizing for direct conversions. However, to effectively market anything, especially if you want true and lasting growth, you need to understand the customer’s journey.

If you run ads on Google’s search network, you’ll undoubtedly experience some results. A large majority of people research their trip’s destination with keywords like “things to do in …” and “hotels in,” ending with the physical location. However, a little keyword research and some ads don’t increase tourism in any given destination.

After all, those actively researching a trip to a destination already have the desire to visit.

To truly increase the volume of tourism, you must move further up in the journey of the potential customer.

This can be done in a couple of ways.

  1. You could target those who know they want to take a trip but have yet to decide where to go. Many travelers have a destination in mind, but many others are researching a few options and may search things like “top 10 beaches,” “best vacations for kids,” or “ski slopes for beginners.” With some well-crafted content, you may be able to sway some of those early-stage planners toward your destination.
  2. You could target those who don’t yet know that they want to take a trip. This shouldn’t be your first step, but it’s the best way to increase results after you’ve grabbed all the low-hanging fruit. There are a lot of ways to target those who aren’t searching yet. Google’s new Performance Max campaigns (as young a tool as it might be) are able to target a wide range of audiences with images, videos or text, and you can target those who aren’t actively searching yet.

The key to expanding into this segment of the market is not as much the targeting as it is the creative content and images. If people aren’t actively searching for vacation spots, you need to show them what they’re missing out on. Show them what life is like outside of their routine.

Does your tourist destination appeal to adventurers? Show them all the fun they could be having with a fast-paced video.

Is your location relaxing? Draw them into the tranquility that awaits with calming images.

Your goal is to paint a clear image of what their life could be like if they visit your location. Draw them out of their routine and appeal to their subconscious daydreams. Their current state is boring, so show them something exciting and new.

One caveat
You always need to know your tourists and your destination’s appeal. Knowing your appeal can help you understand what you have to offer (i.e., relaxation, adventure, wildlife, sports, music, etc.), and knowing what you have to offer can help you show potential tourists that you can give them what they want.

Even if they don’t know that they want it yet.

Ryan Baker is the founder of Kingly Consulting. He’s a certified Google Ads specialist and the author of “The Market Journey Path: How to Demolish Growth Barriers & Build Lasting Success.” He can be reached at


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