The Irish tourism industry and online marketing

This article may only be interesting to a few, but I found it pretty interesting. It describes how many smaller Irish companies in the tourism business are not doing enough web marketing:

“If you look at where people get their information from, about 30pc is coming through the internet, whereas if you look at spend in the tourism sector, only 1pc is digital,” says Conor Daly, founder and managing director of Travel Logic, an e-marketing and website development firm for B&Bs and smaller players in the hospitality sector.

I’m not sure that you see many B&Bs spending big money to advertise anywhere though. Each one will have a website, but that site won’t be marketed any better than my blog is in most cases.

Apparently the Ireland tourism brand as a whole faces the same issue:

The tourists definitely want to come here for our surfing, water sports, course fishing, golf, hillwalking etc and their primary search tool is the internet, yet Ireland has not fully grasped the potential of the internet to get the tourists here.

But what is the internet’s potential? We already know that banner ads don’t work. The two most popular options seem to be…

1. Paid search results like the ads you see after doing a Yahoo or Google search

2. Trying to manipulate the search engines into putting a site on top without paying them directly for the ads.

3. Referrals, where website A links to website B and if someone makes a purchase on B after following that link from A, then A gets a commission. There are no referral links on this blog. As far as I know they are more for bigger sites – Amazon and Ebay get lots of customers from referral links and I hear it’s possible for a webmaster to make some money by referring customers to Amazon and Ebay through “affiliate” links. I doubt you could make the same money linking to a small B&B that you make linking to Ebay so this is probably not going to be a huge boost for smaller travel companies.

I’ve actually tried the first two – this was back in 2003 when I made my first website. 5 years later I’ve given up – there’s too much work because of all the competition and I don’t sell anything or work online for a living. I don’t really see many B&B owners having the time or know-how to market their sites online. That leaves them with the somewhat risky option of paying a consultant or web marketing agency – risky because you pay money and there’s no guarantee of a good return on investment.

The Irish tourism industry as a whole, backed with government funding, should have no trouble. Official government sites tend to get very high search engine rankings without spending money if they go for option #2 above. If they go for paid search results, the government should be able to scrape up some money for the ads and someone competent to run the ad campaign.

In the end, most B&Bs and other small travel businesses are probbaly better off working on their product, encouraging visitors to recommend the place to their friends. Also, permission marketing, encouraging customers to come back.

Filed Under: Tourism marketing

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