We have previously discussed how long it takes to see results from digital marketing strategies, but now we are going to have a close look specifically at the tourism industry to understand how long it takes for inbound tourism results. For inbound tourism, in addition to basic factors (competition, budget, and brand awareness), it is important to consider the time needed during the decision process of the customers.
Try to think from the customers’ perspective: how often does it happen that you find a place that you want to visit, then you visit it immediately within a week? Almost never. Depending on the distance, travel time, and the budget required, you might consider visiting that location several years later!
If this destination has already been on your wish-list, you will probably prioritize it over other destinations. In addition to your own timing, you may have to also consider the availability of other people with whom you plan to travel.
Even if you are flexible on these points, you are probably considering when would be the best or preferred time to go. This can depend on a time you want to avoid, or can depend on a specific time for a specific season or event.
Perfectly matching all these factors requires a certain amount of time. When it comes to a not-so-famous destination, it goes without saying that the time needed becomes longer.
Considering these factors as well, it is easy to understand that it takes a long amount of time to see the results of an inbound tourism digital strategy – thinking long term is a must. An idealistic term is 3 years (assuming that nothing extraordinary happens to negatively impact the time).
Research conducted in 2015 in Italy (at that time, Italy was far behind neighbor countries like France and UK in digital marketing for inbound tourism) showed that just by offering foreign languages on a website and having a dedicated SNS strategy, the number of visitors to a museum or archeological area can increase by over 2 million. As a result, a media plan of five years (2017-2023) was established. Even a countrywide scale investment requires several years to see results from inbound tourism.
We agree that it is a pretty long time for an investment, but it is a realistic perspective that also considers the decision time, which is much longer than, say, the decision time to enter one restaurant or another. The steps involved include:
- Discovery: users discover a destination and start to consider it for a visit
- Research: users decide to visit the destination then begin to research about things to do, events to go to, best season to visit, travel opinions and so on
- Decision: after researching information, potential customers have a clear idea of where, when and what so from there, they start planning the trip taking into consideration previously mentioned factors such as timing, budget and availability
- Travel: the moment when you effectively see your return on investment – when tourists visit your destination and spend their money on services and activities
Even the economical proof of return of your invested money, there are other ways to evaluate the efficacy of inbound marketing. One is the increasing views of your website, which shows that people are searching for information about your destination. It is likely that they are already in the research phase and that in the future, they can become travelers who generate ROI.
It is also important to mention that in order to maximize the effectiveness of an inbound marketing strategy, all the factors involved must be oriented in the same direction: a company needs a website that includes information in foreign languages and accessible foreign-friendly social networks.
Constancy is the key for success, especially in a field with a lot of competition like tourism; it is a wise choice to not throw away what you have accomplished early in the process. Instead, reconsider what makes a good inbound marketing strategy – think of what you have done until now and work on effective improvements or changes. All of this requires time.