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Online marketing crucial for inbound trade

South Africa's multibillion Rand travel and tourism industry is embracing tightly targeted digital media campaigns in order to boost visitor numbers and attract new business.

While retaining existing markets remains a priority, sophisticated online tools are being harnessed by the sector to identify and communicate with new sets of potential tourists in a way that's relevant to them.

"Digital marketing and advertising has come of age and this translates into significant advantages for the country's travel and tourism businesses," says Will Green, Managing Director of Apurimac Media.

Speaking at the Tourism Business Conference in Cape Town, Green said targeted online campaigns take a lot of the guesswork out of drumming up new business. "The numbers are compelling," he says. "There are nearly two-billion people online worldwide. Even if you correctly identify a fraction of that number as a potential prospect for South African travel and tourism services - and market relevant services to them directly - you have a massive audience."

Green says travel and tourism has been one of the most successful areas of online business historically but out of this has emerged a priority to focus on specific needs and requirements of travellers - whether it's accommodation, air travel, car hire or entertainment.

"Online travel and tourism marketing has undergone a metamorphosis," he says. "Gone are the days where you could just carpet bomb an online audience and hope for adequate returns. Nowadays there's enough data available online to talk directly to the people who are most likely to respond to a campaign. The more you target, the better your relevant reach and rate of return."

"An online strategy comprises three steps: building brand awareness; driving transactions and creating relationships with consumers that spread by word of mouth or virally online. Effective targeting narrows the audience down according to any number of factors including behaviour, geography, destination, travel needs, and travel interest," he says.

By way of example, Yahoo! gathered user data on a daily basis for targeted campaigns later on. Statistics from a Yahoo! database showed, for instance, that on August 16, 4,5m people showed an interest in travelling to South Africa. Of these 570 000 were from the US, with 101 000 residing in New York.

Says Green: "Because it's so exact, a behavioural targeting campaign yields three to five times better results than a normal online advertising campaign. "The travel industry should establish long term objectives and work towards them with digital media owners. It's also important to invest in good quality creative work and to keep the campaign fresh with at least one set of new images every four weeks.

Campaigns should also become localized with language, currency and imagery and be interactive, with a strong call to action and offering incentives and rewards."

Green cites a few points to remember when constructing a digital marketing strategy:
. Work with specialists;
. View the site from a user's perspective;
. Get as many stakeholders as possible together for a good kick-start to a campaign;
. Set realistic objectives by communication and reassessment after each campaign;
. Approach the long-term in phases and don't try to do too much too soon and;
. Hold back some budget and allocate it to the mid-campaign phase to get the most out of sections and sites.

Source :



Side Note : 

Online systems like Google Adwords, Facebook, Yahoo  gives you the ability to :

  • Have an add running in any city in the world as long as you know where your customers are coming from.
  • Most campaigns will only cost you money if customers click on your add
  • You can limit your exposure to a daily budget.
  • Using keywords you can decide who you want to target.
  • Complete ROI reporting.  We track how many users started on the adds, where they went in your website and which of these users ended with an enquiry.
  • You can have traffic on your website within 4 hours of the add going live.   


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