Is Social Media Effective in Tourism Marketing?
Facebook and Instagram are not useful channels in tourism marketing, according to Pesonen and Pasanen (2017). They found that tourists are not influenced by these sites when they start looking online for information about where to go on holiday. This is noteworthy, since marketers have increased the use of these sites in recent times.
Tourism Marketing Research
The researchers asked 57 tourists about how they decided to go to Savonlinna, a place in Eastern Finland.
85% of tourists had never been to Savonlinna before.
64% of tourists were male.
38% of tourists were 26-40 years old.
They were asked 3 questions:
- How did they decide to visit Savonlinna?
- What information channels did they used?
- How important were these channels?
Although the sample is not representative, the findings highlighted tourists’ behaviors online. Firstly, the study showed how online reviews should be easy to find. Secondly, it found that online bookings needed to be easy for tourists. Thirdly, it discussed how tourists use keywords to search for places to visit. Lastly, it showed how tourism marketers should work together to create chances for tourists to visit a few countries on their holiday.
Facebook and Instagram are seen to be useful tools for marketers. However, none of the 57 tourists mentioned any of the leading social media sites, such as Facebook or Instagram, as influencing their destination choice. Tourists mainly use the internet to get online reviews about places to go.
The main social media sites mentioned by the tourists were Booking.com and Trip Advisor. Therefore, tourism marketers should aim to get online reviews visible on their websites.
The study showed that websites needed be easy to use. In addition, tourists should be able to make an online booking easily. One tourist said,
‘It is important that I can plan and book everything by myself’.
Consequently, messy websites which made online bookings hard, led tourists to look somewhere else.
Tourism marketers need to make sure that their SEO matches with how tourists search for information. Most tourists said that Finland was their destination. Therefore, tourists were drawn to the national country and not to specific regions. This showed that keywords relating to the national country, such as ‘Finland’ should be used to increase SEO.
Pesonen and Pasanen (2017) noted how many tourists planned to visit other places outside of Finland. In effect, they did not limit themselves to a country’s borders. Neither should tourist marketers. Therefore, marketers should work with other tourism marketers to create experiences across national borders for tourists.
In conclusion, before turning to Facebook or Instagram, tourism marketers should aim to:
- get online reviews visible on their websites.
- make online bookings easy.
- use keywords which relate to the national country.
- create experiences for tourists which go beyond set borders.
LinkedIn: Orlagh Thompson
MSc Digital Marketing Strategy