Once in a while it is good to see that academic research confirms what people in the field already know. In this case a Finnish study by J. Pesonen and K. Pasanen from 2017 called ‘A closer look at tourist information search behaviour when travelling abroad: what is the role of online marketing in choice of destination?’. And how can it increase visits and income for tourism providers in the destination?
The result of this study was that banners and social media did not seem to play an important role in attracting new customers to a destination. The most important factors actually are:
- search engine optimization (SEO), especially Local SEO
- reviews (content marketing but content created by users)
- product quality.
Information search is crucial in the process of deciding where tourists want to go. Destination marketing organisations try to influence this process by branding and positioning. Whether this is effective is still not really proven. Especially now online reviews have completely taken over as most trusted source of information for a tourist or consumer.
Tourism businesses seem to be in a better position since they have more control over the factors affecting new customer acquisition as mentioned above. More than any destination marketing organization can ever have control.
The tourism businesses are the only ones who:
- determine the quality of the products and services they offer
- know best the stories and content describing their business and their destination
- are in full control of Local SEO.
So instead of paying money to centralized DMO sites for being mentioned or a member, the individual tourism business can better focus on its own marketing.