During the pandemic, amidst closed borders and travel restrictions, tour operators had to adapt to keep the cash flowing. To overcome the downturn, many shifted the focus of their marketing efforts from international to domestic travelers, a move that has saved them from bankruptcy.
Now the pandemic is over and international travel is back on track, but it doesn’t mean that the domestic market is not profitable anymore.
It can be an important source of income to travel companies, as it is less affected by seasonality and it demands a lower investment in marketing campaigns.
If you want a share of this cake, you should tailor your marketing strategy to this public. In this article, you will learn how to use digital channels to increase the number of bookings from domestic travelers.
Domestic tourism refers to the act of traveling within one’s home country. So, based on this definition we can say that domestic travelers are residents of a country traveling for business or leisure in their own country.
For example, if you are based in NYC and you have a business trip to Los Angeles you are considered a domestic traveler. Or even, if you live in Sevilla and travel to Cádiz for the day or for an overnight stay, you are also considered a domestic traveler.
Road trips, weekend gateways, team buildings and staycations are popular types of domestic travel. They are usually short in duration and don’t need significant planning or budget.
The US, China, India and Brazil are popular destinations among domestic travelers. That is because these countries are big and have a variety of attractions and experiences to offer.
But, who are the domestic travelers?
Not only families are part of this group, but domestic travelers can also be:
Having an ideal customer profile is the first step when planning to sell tours and activities to domestic travelers.
Not only international tourism moves the economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), domestic tourism accounted for 73% of total Travel and Tourism spending globally in 2018.
In the same year, Visit Britain released a report showing that Britsh residents took 97.4 million overnight trips in England, totaling 296 million nights away from home (with an average trip length of 3 nights) and spending £19.3 billion.
For the next years, Grand View Research has foreseen that U.S. domestic tourism market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.0% from 2023 to 2030.
In addition to moving the economy, domestic tourism has other benefits:
Are you convinced that targeting domestic travelers is a good business strategy? So let’s check how you can do that.
Creating marketing campaigns aimed at domestic travelers is quite different than marketing to international travelers.
Not only does the geographic region of your campaign change, but also its approach. You should take into account that these are groups with different travel needs.
Domestic travelers are more flexible, they are already familiar with the country’s culture and language, and they use different channels to find and communicate with your business.
So let’s check how you can effectively shift your marketing efforts to attend the domestic market.
If you are focused on inbound travelers, probably your website is in English, Spanish, or another foreign language.
If that’s the case, the first thing you need to do is to create a “domestic” version of your website. Which means translating your website into your country’s language.
But not only that, you should also adapt the content in a way that resonates with domestic travelers. What I’m saying is, instead of images and videos showing international travelers, you should place content showing people of your own country enjoying your tours.
If you have a blog, start writing articles that are relevant for locals, such as “Best places to road trip in Spain”, or “What to do in Barcelona during one weekend”.
We are talking about local SEO. In other words, add your city name to all the pages on your website, especially your product ones.
Why? Because this is the way your potential customers search on Google for things to do at your location. For example, “bike tours in Barcelona”, or “things to do in Barcelona”.
The more references to your location you have on your website, the easier is for Google to index and display your business for local queries.
In addition to using your city name as a keyword on your website pages, you should also consider creating a blog.
Articles published in a blog can improve a lot your local SEO. The secret is to write pieces focused on keywords that domestic travelers are searching for.
For example, local travelers might be interested in “things to do near Malaga”.
An updated Google My Business account is essential when targeting domestic travelers. Especially the ones that live or are visiting your location. It is not for nothing that most local businesses have a profile there, nearly 50% of all searches have local intent!
GMB is your passport to Google’s top page for local searches, for example, “things to do in Barcelona”. Furthermore, you should have an account there if you want your business to feature in Google Maps, which grants you 13% more traffic to your page.
But the benefits of a GMB page go beyond Google search and Google Maps. Your listing there serves as an extension of your website. There you can add a business description, your website link, pictures and videos of your tours.
Another important feature of GMB is the customer reviews section. Great review management is very important to improve the number of your bookings.
Google Ads is another Google tool that should be in your marketing bundle for targeting domestic travelers.
It has very powerful segmentation options, you can target entire countries to specific regions, cities, neighbors and even streets!
If you are not familiar with Google Ads let me explain how it works. It’s basically an auction where you buy specific keywords and pay for the number of clicks you receive.
Besides placing paid links on Google search, you can use Google Ads to run campaigns on websites that are Google Partners, like news portals, or even video campaigns on YouTube.
In addition to all these channels, Google Ads allows you to target past website visitors. The idea to market domestic travelers using this feature is to create a specific audience just with web visitors from your country and run a campaign focused on them. This is called remarketing.
Facebook Ads is great if you are looking for fast results in attracting domestic travelers to your tour business.
Through it, you can segment the ad’s audience by location, age, gender, and interests. This way, you make sure the right people see your campaigns.
If you never used this tool, or if you need an extra hand in creating campaigns on Facebook Ads, check out our step-by-step Facebook Ads guide.
Facebook Ads also has the option to segment the target audience using emails. This is spot on if you have in hand an email list with potential customers from your country.
If you don’t have such a list, time to start one:
That’s it! Now you have your first email list of potential customers from your country segmented by profession.
Important reminder: use this list only to create your Facebook Ads campaigns. Remember, never send promotional emails without recipient consent!
Email is not dead, in fact, it remains the most cost-effective marketing strategy so far. For each $1 spent on email marketing, there is a return of $36.
Are you ready to start your first email marketing campaign for domestic travelers?
If yes, first you need an email list filled with contacts from residents of your country.
The right way to do this is to offer something interesting in exchange for their email addresses. That could be a downloadable material, such as an ebook, a city guide, a small gift, or something else.
Use email marketing tools such as MailChimp to help you build your list. Many of them come with free email templates for you to create professional pieces that will incite locals for booking your tours.
Once you have enough emails you can segment your contacts and create email campaigns promoting your products.
Social media marketing is an important driver of international bookings for tour operators, as so for domestic bookings. And a very popular way to engage potential customers on social media is through influencer marketing.
The difference is that instead of working with international content creators, you should look for local influencers that aim at the internal market.
Are you not sure where to find influencers that match your ideal customer profile, market and budget? Check out these platforms:
If your budget is limited for this type of campaign, a good idea is to partner with micro-influencers. The cost of the campaign is not only cheaper, but according to Emplifi, micro-influencers generate up to 60% more engagement than macro-influencers.
Every destination has its own influencers. I’m sure you can find good matches in your area to partner with and attract domestic travelers.
Domestic travelers represent an opportunity for tour operators who want to expand their target audience and add another source of income to their business.
It has many benefits in marketing to this group. You not only know better their customer profile, but domestic tourism is less influenced by seasonality.
In this article we have shown you a few strategies to promote your tours to domestic travelers:
If you feel like shifting your business toward domestic travelers but don’t want to spend a lot on advertising, you might be interested in reading our ebook Low Budget Digital Marketing Strategies for Tour Operators.
There we give valuable tips on how to promote your business by spending the minimum and even zero with marketing.
on August 4, 2023
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