“All DMOs can access government statistics on the number of visitors to their destination, but by the time these figures are published, it’s often too little, too late. To optimise their destination marketing plan, DMOs need precise, real-time data,” says Michelle Wols, Head of Marketing at ForwardKeys.
Marketers in most industries follow the same basic marketing funnel that has the initial aim of raising awareness of a company’s offering and the goal of selling that offering, whether a product or service, in as much volume as possible. In general terms, therefore, the impact of a marketing campaign can be measured by total sales volumes. Yet for Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs), success is not so easily defined.
Gauging the success of destination marketing strategies
The aim of a destination marketing plan is to generate interest in a destination for the benefit of third parties that operate at that destination – namely tourism-dependent businesses like hotels, resorts, and visitor attractions.
As with any marketing campaign, tracking the success of a destination marketing strategy means monitoring numerous key performance indicators (KPIs) at various stages of the marketing funnel – and for DMOs, there is no KPI more important than overall visitor arrivals.
In today’s fast-changing and highly competitive travel landscape, however, it is not enough for DMOs simply to refer to official arrival numbers following a campaign. According to Michelle Wols, Head of Marketing at ForwardKeys, tourism bodies need to take an agile and proactive approach.
“All DMOs can access government statistics on the number of visitors to their destination, but by the time these figures are published, it’s often a little, too late,” she says. “To optimise their destination marketing plan, DMOs need precise, real-time data.”
Tracking destination marketing KPIs in real time
While running campaigns, DMOs require insight into the number of people expressing an interest in visiting their destination as well as the proportion of those ultimately booking trips. With live access to this information, tourism authorities can adjust their destination marketing strategy according to real-time figures, thereby increasing the prospects of a favourable outcome.
Yet the success of a destination marketing plan is not determined solely by total arrival numbers. Wols explains: “Generally when selling a product or service, the more sales you make, the better – but this doesn’t always apply in destination marketing. Today, DMOs are more conscious than ever of the social and environmental impact of over-tourism, so destination marketing plans should focus on attracting the right kind of visitor – those that will truly benefit the destination.”
Against this background, traveller profile information has become an important destination marketing KPI. For example, if a campaign aims to draw attention to the destination’s offering of sun, sea, and sand during the summer holiday season, most visitors arriving in that period should fit the ‘family’ or ‘couple’ profiles. If a significant proportion falls into the ‘visiting friends and relatives’ or ‘business’ categories, it suggests that the campaign has not reached its intended audience and that many visitors to the destination are not bringing true value.
The ForwardKeys solution
As a leading provider of travel data analytics, ForwardKeys has over a decade’s worth of experience serving DMOs, tourist boards, and other travel-related businesses. The company’s ever-evolving product and service portfolio aims to supply these organisations with the right piece of data, in the right format, at the right time.
Designed specifically for DMOs, Destination Gateway is a user-friendly platform that provides frequently refreshed information on total arrivals including an outlook for the months ahead; travel intent based on flight searches; week-on-week evolution of issued tickets; and tourist profiles according to trip purpose, length of stay and group size. This all allows DMOs to track destination marketing KPIs in real-time, monitor campaign performance, and boost their chances of success in a timely manner.
To learn more or request a demo, visit DESTINATION GATEWAY – ForwardKeys – or to find out how DMOs can create an effective destination marketing plan, read our follow-up article here.