A Look Inside Tourism Marketing: Relationship Marketing and Why It Matters

in Branding Strategy & Trends | by Kelsey Martinez

Consumer engagement via relationship marketing is the top trend in today’s tourism marketing landscape. More than ever before, tourism brands must create opportunities for engagement with today’s travelers, and brands that utilize and leverage digital tools are best-positioned to make a direct impact on visitor traffic and increase destination awareness.

According to Eye for Travel, a leading resource hub for senior-level travel executives, there are a few “need-to-know” statistics that tourism brands should consider when completing a marketing strategy. These statistics, which highlight the impact of digital influence and relationship marketing, include:

  • Every minute, there are 139 reviews written on TripAdvisor
  • Over 60 million tweets mentioned hotels in one year
  • 70% of followers have taken some action after seeing travel related content on social media

Based on these statistics, it is clear that destination locations must deliver authentic brand experiences in order to stand out from the competition and drive visitors. To do this effectively, tourism brands need to understand that marketing efforts are shifting more and more from traditional mass media, to individualized experiences that are shared across a wide range of media channels, i.e. dynamic websites, social media, YouTube, partner marketing, blogs and reviews.

With an understanding of relationship marketing and a strategy that embraces individualized experiences, tourism brands have the opportunity to leverage digital marketing in a way that can have a direct impact on word of mouth influence, consumer advocacy and brand awareness. Effective use of these owned media opportunities, can position a brand to have an impact on the target audience’s purchase decision and destination selection.

At Sparxoo, we understand the value of relationship marketing and the importance of creating unique experiences for targeted audiences. With our team of tourism marketing leaders, we have applied our expertise in digital and relationship marketing to some of Florida’s leading tourism brands, including Visit Natural North Florida and the City of Clearwater. Below are examples of our work with both of these brands:


Visit Natural North Florida:

Visit Natural North Florida (VNNF) is a governmental entity that was formed to promote tourism in north central Florida. The region encompasses Florida’s Big Bend coastal area, spanning Wakulla County in the west down to Cedar Key/Levy County in the south, east to Gainesville, and north to the Florida-Georgia state line. The Task Force is a founding partner of the official tourism marketing organization for the state, VISIT FLORIDA.

As part of the organization’s primary marketing objectives for 2015 and 2016, VNNF prioritized digital efforts, with the goal to increase the number of U.S. and international travelers who visit the north Florida region.

One major component of VNNF’s marketing efforts was the recent redesign and development of the organization’s website (www.VNNF.org), which launched in early 2016. A best-in-class feature of this site includes the trip planning tools that are embedded throughout the site. These tools help create meaningful customer interactions, increase on-site visit time, and encourage repeat visits.

As demonstrated on www.VNNF.org, the site includes a dynamic trip planning feature, that prompts users to begin their trip planning by visiting either a.) The VNNF customized map of “Things to Do,” “Places to Stay,” and “Places to Eat” or b.) the “Trip Planner” page, which provides informative instructions for how to use the Trip Planner.

Looking beyond the organization’s website, VNNF has big plans for the rest of 2016, including plans to create more customized user experiences on the website and a target digital advertising campaign to key markets.

City of Clearwater:

The City of Clearwater is an ideal destination for travelers of all ages and interests, occupying prime real estate along Florida’s stunning Gulf Coast. As a top, year round location for both leisure and business, Clearwater boasts an endless supply of sun, warm weather, great dining and shopping, along with extensive outdoor activities both on land and at sea.

Recently, the City of Clearwater embarked on a rebranding initiative. A significant part of this initiative included activating the new brand to target audiences, including: tourists, residents, and the community. Sparxoo worked with the City to activate the new brand using digital platforms including social media and video.

Understanding how important social media is, we worked with the City to elevate the brand on social media in order to engage followers and potential tourists. Our efforts included: social media contests, branded social templates and content recommendations.

A social media example included the launch of a social contest where social media followers could enter the contest by using the hashtag #BrightandBeautiful (the City’s new tagline) and a favorite picture of the City. This contest enabled the City to not only promote its new brand, but also engage with tourists and residents.

Relationship marketing provides brands, especially those in tourism, with the opportunity to build loyalty and prolong the customer lifespan. As demonstrated by VNNF and Clearwater, digital-focused marketing efforts are excellent opportunities for tourism brands to make an impact. To learn more about Sparxoo’s work with other clients, please click here.