Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to Drive Business for Attractions, Tours, & Activities
Attractions need to adapt by adjusting digital marketing strategies
As the COVID-19 pandemic wages across the globe, with some verticals in travel seeing recovery faster than others, attractions, tours, and activities are still facing hardships. As an industry that once encountered overtourism in many parts of the globe, this has been replaced by little to no tourism in some regions and an uncertain future. So, attractions need to adapt to recover and flourish, and this can often mean adjusting digital marketing strategies to get more exposure on channels you may not currently use.
Do any of these challenges resonate with you?
Search engine marketing (SEM), or paid search, can get you more exposure to travelers as they plan their trip online or look for things to do while in your city. SEM is essentially an auction, where many other attractions and OTAs are bidding to have the link to their website shown at, or near, the top of the search engine results page, as well as in Google Maps. Being at the top of the search results exponentially increases the likelihood that people will click onto your website to learn more about your attraction, or book a ticket online or offline. Google Ads is often the preferred paid search platform for attraction marketers as it helps you advertise on the Google Search Network, as well as its affiliate sites, and bid on certain keywords that you believe customers may use when searching for your attraction.
Keywords are frequently used terms that people search for. There are two types of keywords:
Search is one of the most important channels that travelers use before and during their trip, so a strong SEM strategy is imperative for attraction, tour, and activity marketers. Last year, eMarketer estimated that advertisers spent $5.84 billion on search, and attraction marketers allocated 17% of their digital budgets to SEM in 2019, according to Sojern’s 2019 State of the Travel Industry Survey. That 17% is the second largest chunk of advertising budget spent on any channel, following social media.
“The attraction to Sojern was that it’s a smarter way of advertising with excellent return on investment. In our competitive environment, you have to work a bit better and smarter than the rest, and that’s where Sojern comes in.” – Reiner, CEO, Overland Ireland
SEM protects your brand as chances are, third parties are bidding on your branded keywords and phrases to drive potential bookers to their site, rather than yours. For example, if you’ve inspired someone through your display, video or social media advertising efforts, and they later search for your experience, unless you have a strong SEM strategy in place, that person could be driven to a third party site to complete their booking.
When your customers book directly, you own the booking experience, which allows you to connect with them before they arrive to encourage positive online reviews, upsell additional services, and reassure them about the precautions you’re taking to ensure their health & safety. Even if you don’t have a booking engine, SEM is still a fantastic way to drive high-quality traffic to your website, making it one of the first impressions a traveler gets of your tour or activity.
Running SEM doesn’t come without challenges. Some of the frequent issues we hear from our attractions, tours, and activities customers when running their own SEM in the past are they weren’t sure which keywords to use, they didn’t have the bandwidth to optimize their budgets over the month or to test the most effective ads, they didn’t understand the reporting and insights to ensure they were getting the most out of their SEM efforts, or they didn’t have sufficient results that drove more business. This is why working with a trusted partner like Sojern can help.
“We differentiate ourselves by providing visitors with the hidden history of New York, so a strong SEM strategy is vital for my tours. There’s a lot of competition, with a lot of things to do and see in the city, and I want to make sure that if anyone is looking for a pub crawl, I’m at the top of the list. With this SEM campaign, we were focused on brand awareness, and in a short amount of time, our website traffic increased by 8%.”– Bobby Heaney, Owner & CCO, New York Crawling
Learn more about Sojern’s SEM solution for attractions, tours, and activities today.
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“Working with Sojern, it’s not just a cookie-cutter solution, as Sojern listens to our needs and recommends what’s best for our hotel. We have someone to bounce ideas off of, and Sojern gives us a higher-level perspective on how we can get the best value for our investment.”
“We love the simplicity of the solution and how clearly we can see results. The technology works so well that it leaves us to do our other day-to-day jobs. We are seeing increased interest in our superior and deluxe rooms as a result, which is improving the overall average booking value. I think we will be long-time customers for as long as Sojern continues to perform the way it does today!”
"Sojern and Roiback have a great relationship and work together to maximise our direct bookings. We have regular check-ins to review performance, and both Sojern and Roiback give us insights and recommendations for improvement. And the results speak for themselves! Their collaboration has been very helpful for us."
"I’ve definitely seen increased bookings. In fact, January through March is usually a quiet period for us, but this year, leisure bookings are double what we normally see, and this is due to Sojern. As a small hotel, I really value the relationship we've built with the Sojern team. You can tell when someone is genuine and willing to work with you, and I feel that with Sojern."
"I worked with Sojern at a previous hotel and had a great experience, so I knew I wanted to partner with them when I joined Ticino Hotels Group. Their Pay on the Stay package gives us a cleaner, more reliable business model to help with our direct booking strategy, and we’ve seen the results. To anyone considering Sojern for their digital marketing needs—I say go for it!"
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