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Sustainable Marketing for Travel and Tourism Professionals

Feb 21st, 2023 by Sara Napier Burkhard

If you are a travel or tourism professional, you know that marketing is essential but gone are the days of printing out glossy brochures that will last for a season or sending out thousands of flyers that might spend more time in the recipient’s trashcan than on their travel itinerary. Today’s savvy tourism professional looks for sustainable marketing strategies to get the word out while cutting down on costs and waste. 

Not sure where to begin? Let’s look at creating a compelling, engaging, and sustainable marketing strategy for your destination, accommodation, tour, and all things travel.

The Importance of Sustainable Travel

Sustainable tourism, as defined by Sustainable Travel International, is “all about achieving a balance between economic growth, human well-being, and environmental health. It focuses on reducing tourism’s negative impacts and on maximizing its positive benefits for communities, cultures, ecosystems, and the planet.”

So why is sustainability important in tourism marketing? It’s necessary to protect our planet in order for the travel industry to survive. Much like our natural resources, a balance of conservation, practicality, and adopting technological advances are keys to creating lasting impact. Whether the goal is to protect a destination’s natural resources, preserve its culture, or adopt better habits, the shift to sustainability is becoming more engrained in the industry – and, eco-friendly practices are expected by today’s customers. 

Extending Sustainability to Travel Marketing

While adopting some environmentally friendly business practices takes time and resources, the best thing about marketing is that choosing more eco-friendly methods will save time and money for businesses and travelers alike. Sustainable marketing might look different in each location because every ecosystem has unique needs. Still, one area every brand or company can focus on is its content and distribution. 

You might think digital marketing is only for brands who want to make an online travel brochure part of their email strategy or that it’s a tool that’s only worth it when bringing travel magazines online, but there’s a good chance you’re already engaging in essential practices. Reaching out to potential customers is as easy as sending an email, posting on social media, or sharing a link. 

The world has gone digital in just a few short decades. The internet removes borders and creates a space where trip planning and travel come easily. With a single device, travelers book their transportation, accommodations, and in-destination activities. From there, they check in for their flights before ever setting foot in the airport. 

Take Advantage of Social Media

Social media provides never-ending opportunities to create impactful content. This is why it’s become an effective tool in helping travelers find and plan their ideal trip. A recent report from Sprout Social found that 55% of consumers learn about brands and companies through social media, with Gen Z and Millennials being most likely to use social media as a brand discovery tool. It’s important to be where your audience is, and creating eye-catching social content to establish a strong presence on social media isn’t only for today’s creative youth.

Work with Travel Influencers

Don’t have the resources to constantly create original content? You’re not alone! Many destinations deal with seasonality, which could mean fewer full-time resources in slower seasons or an over-extended staff during the busiest travel months. This is why it’s a great idea to work with influencers in the tourism community. Travel influencers can rack up thousands of views between their social profiles, blogs, YouTube content, newsletters, and more. Best of all, most are open to working with hotels, tourism boards, resorts, and other types of travel businesses to deliver engaging content that drives bookings from their loyal followers and beyond.  

Travel influencer and Emmy-winning tv host, Oneika Raymond creates engaging storytelling content about a variety of destinations. She brings in a personal flair, sharing her and her husband’s different cultural backgrounds and how they’re raising their family to celebrate and explore the world's cultures. As an influencer, Raymond speaks from a place of intersectionality and captures the attention and interest of several audiences at once. She is also engaging, well-informed, and creative, all of which make her an excellent host and producer of the About the Journey podcast for Marriott Bonvoy. 

Your brand could have its own success by working with an influencer who’s made a career out of well-researched travel content creation. While Marriott is a global brand, there’s no reason similar marketing concepts can’t be explored by brands focused on localized offers and accommodations. When good content about your offer connects with the right traveler, the bookings practically make themselves as wanderlust turns into working plans. 

Create Targeted Social Media Ads

Targeted social media is an effective and effortless way to end up on potential customers’ feeds without needing them to follow your brand’s profile. Curious travelers searching for offers like yours, whether a boutique hotel in the bustling city center or a tour through an exotic remote location, can find your ad while scrolling Instagram in their downtime or actively searching. With Issuu’s Social Posts feature, you can save time and resources by turning your publications into shareworthy content that’s ready for social media. The images from these posts can be used for social media ads.  

Sustainable Marketing Distribution

Word-of-mouth marketing is the oldest and often the most effective way to inform audiences of your offers and drive them to make a purchasing decision. The second is online distribution. If you want to “go green” and take your message further, the answer is as simple as moving more of your content distribution and marketing online. Here are some ideas that are low effort and highly impactful. 

Join a Destination Directory: A directory of businesses is still one of the most essential listings for your business. Get on the annual and seasonal lists put out by your local chamber of commerce or tourism board. This cuts down on printing duplicate information.  

Advertise in Digital Publications: Do you know of a great newsletter, digital magazine, or website that works with advertisers? Consider using some of your advertising budget for digital ads in spaces that would be popular with your audience.  

Start Syndicating Content: Have some interesting insights about a destination or type of travel? Beyond publishing articles for your digital magazines, brochures, or blog posts, you can take those ideas further through content syndication with key partners within your industry. If you’re an accommodation provider, look for hotel booking software companies that host a blog or other forum for articles. If you’re a tourism board, connect with video content creators of influencers in your space. There are so many original ways to syndicate your content. 

Types of Eco-friendly Travel Content

Now that you know where to place your content, here’s how to create eco-friendly content that resonates with your audience. Your content will only go as far as your keyword selection, unique selling points, and how your brand stands out against the competition. Here are some ideas to help you create sustainable marketing materials for your business in the travel space, whether or not you have a publication to promote.  

Digital Travel Magazine: Bringing travel magazines online is just one of the many ways your brand can create an environmentally friendly experience for your readers. By going paperless, you can reduce your environmental impact while cutting down on costs. And with Issuu’s Statistics feature, you can track how your content is being consumed by your audience. 

Sustainable Travel Guides: An online travel brochure is another surefire tool for those passionate about their environmental impact. Create a booklet highlighting the best things about your destination or even a series of guides on specific areas of expertise. For example, a campground could create seasonal directories with recommendations about how to set up camp, up-to-date information about local hiking trails, and best practices for fire safety and waste disposal. 

Start a Blog for Your Brand: As discussed in our Content Marketing Trends for 2023, blogs are still an important tool for digital marketing. A keyword-optimized blog post with evergreen content can keep your brand name ranking high in search engines and put your destination at the top of travelers’ lists. 

Looking for more eco-friendly marketing ideas? Read more.

The Future of Sustainable Travel Marketing

Ultimately, sustainable travel marketing and tourism practices will only expand as globalization opens up the world further. With more environmentally conscious travelers and an industry working towards eco-friendly practices, a solid foundation exists to commit to a marketing strategy that reflects those changes.

Ready to update your tourism marketing content? Explore how Issuu can help