Effective city marketing strategies can assist local governments, tourist boards, hotels, travel companies and other businesses, by helping to attract more travellers to the city in question. In this article, you will learn more about what city marketing is, what it entails, and some of the main techniques that can help you to boost tourism.

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What is City Marketing?

City marketing refers to a marketing strategy, where a specific city is promoted, with a view to attracting a greater number of travellers. It may also be designed to attract business investment and/or migration to the city. Generally, the intention is for marketing efforts to make your city stand out from other cities.

Successful city marketing strategies can serve to boost the local tourism industry. Aside from helping your city to stand out, city marketing can also help to enhance or improve a city’s reputation, or allow it to be seen in a different light.

Why is City Marketing Useful and Important?

The availability of airlines, travel websites, travel agents and transport mean it has never been easier to travel and travellers have never had a greater range of options for destinations. This can mean that your city is competing with a large number of other cities, towns, regions and resorts for similar people, with similar interests.

City marketing is useful and important, because it can help to promote your city as preferable to those other options, by drawing attention to its unique qualities and plus points. It can help the local economy, including hotels, restaurants, retail businesses and travel agents, by increasing demand across the board.

What is the Difference Between City and Destination Marketing?

The basic concept of city marketing is very similar to the concept of destination marketing, with both aiming to promote the plus points or virtues of a particular location, in order to attract travellers. However, they are not precisely the same thing, as city marketing focuses purely on a single city.

By contrast, destination marketing could be focused on a city, but it could also include things like country marketing, or marketing for a specific region or area. Nevertheless, the main objectives and techniques are similar.

Who is Responsible for City Marketing?

A variety of different individuals, organisations, like destination management organisations and groups can be involved in city marketing efforts, but strategic responsibility will usually be delegated to city marketing organisations, or city tourist boards. These organisations may have members or stakeholders, including local businesses and attractions, and these may pay a membership fee.

Such a group will champion the interests of the city, try to attract investment from businesses and attempt to encourage tourism and other forms of travel to the city. On top of this, anyone with an interest in tourism management, such as hotels, can engage in city marketing on a more unilateral basis too, promoting the city to attract customers.

14 City Marketing Strategies to Attract Travellers

Many different city marketing strategies have been shown to be effective for boosting the popularity of a city, and enhancing its standing as a tourist destination. Below, you will find 14 of the best tips.

1. Set Your City Apart From Alternatives

One of the most vital city marketing steps involves identifying precisely what it is that makes your city stand out from other cities around the world and pinpointing what aspects make it worth visiting. These could include famous landmarks, major tourist attractions, unique cultural aspects of the city, interesting architecture, and so on.

For example, New York City can boast landmarks like the Empire State Building and Central Park, entertainment venues like Madison Square Garden and Broadway, a number of sports teams, like the New York Yankees and the New York Knicks, and special interest events, like the New York Marathon. Try to find as many unique selling points as you can.

2. Be Clear on Your Target Audience

Next, all good city marketing strategies have a clear target audience, or a number of key target audience groups. This requires you to give careful thought to who is most likely to be interested in travelling to your city and their reasons for doing so. You may need to break this down into a number of example customer profiles.

For example, your city might be modern, with a thriving nightlife, helping it to appeal to younger people. Alternatively, it could be steeped in history and culture, appealing to older demographics, or a thriving business centre, appealing to corporate travellers. It could be a retail hub, appealing to shoppers, or a domestic tourism hotspot.

Identifying some core audiences can be invaluable in helping you to target your city marketing plan.

3. Adopt an Analytical Approach

City marketing strategies are at their best when they are focused on evidence. City marketing organisations and their stakeholders have the ability to collect data and use it for all kinds of purposes, from identifying who visits particular hotel or restaurant websites, to using Google analytics to find what pages engage people and which do not.

Hotels can identify their key demographics and their busiest times. Other travel companies can pick out trends in demand. You may even learn about preferred devices people use. All of this information can be collected, analysed and used to create a laser-focused city marketing strategy, aimed towards the right people, in the right moments.

4. Focus on City Branding

As a concept, branding is largely focused on making things easy to recognise, identify, understand and/or digest. Logos, slogans, colour schemes and consistent messaging all come under the ‘branding’ umbrella and it tends to play a critical role in most of the best city marketing campaigns, because it helps a city to stand out from alternatives.

A city can be branded in a number of ways. You might use a consistent logo or font which says something about your city. You could create a catchy name for a city marketing organisation, or a catchy slogan. The trick to good branding is to stick to it as much as you can, because consistency and customer familiarity are crucial.

5. Balance the Needs of All Stakeholders

City marketing strategies are likely to have many different stakeholders, from city officials, to local travel industry businesses, including hotels, restaurants, tour operators and travel agents. To make the most of this, you need to balance their various needs and give them reasons to become fully engaged.

Try to come up with specific elements of your city marketing efforts that each stakeholder can take a genuine interest in and assist with, and make clear to them how they can benefit from your wider strategy. See if you can collaborate with stakeholders on their own marketing efforts and try to come up with mutually beneficial messages.

6. Create a Compelling Website For Your City

A huge number of potential visitors to your city will turn to the internet for inspiration, which is why it is so essential that you create a compelling website to showcase your city and what it has to offer. A website can help you to promote your city’s unique selling points to your target audience in precise way you want to promote them.

To provide some examples, images, videos and blog posts can be used to promote specific city features, while you can also offer travel information, promote some of the city’s tourist sites, or offer vouchers or discount codes. Regardless of the precise content, your website must be mobile optimised and deliver a great user experience too.

7. Devise a Search Marketing Strategy

Many people seeking a city break or a city to travel to for any other purpose will research their options on the internet and search engines like Google are a common starting point. Ideally, when they search for terms related to your city, you want them to be directed to your own website, so that they read persuasive content.

The main way to achieve this is through search marketing. Paid advertising on search engines allows you to gain sponsored results on search engine results pages, while there are various practices, like targeting specific keywords, which can help you to place highly on organic search results. Greater visibility then leads to more website traffic.

Using SEO principles, it may also be possible to enhance the visibility of your videos and images as well.

8. Encourage User-Generated Content

If you think about the times you have travelled to different cities around the world, it is likely that many of those trips were motivated by you wanting to experience something. This is why your city marketing efforts should focus on promoting experiences too and a great way to do this is to try to turn visitors into ambassadors.

Think of ways to encourage your visitors to create their own user-generated content. You could promote a hashtag on social media, or include a section on your website for videos or photos. Many potential travellers will find this kind of indirect marketing more convincing, because it comes from ordinary people, who have no agenda.

9. Embrace Virtual Reality and Video

Virtual reality technology has a unique quality for city marketers, because it offers the power to allow your target audience to actually experience aspects of your city. This can be achieved through virtual 360 degree tours of hotels, or virtual reality experiences showcasing local attractions or landmarks.

More conventional video marketing content can also be effective in showcasing aspects of your city through a visual medium. The good thing about video content is it can also be very easily added to YouTube and then shared across social media, your city marketing website, and various other platforms.

10. Make the Most of Social Media

Of course, social media itself is a powerful tool for promoting your city, with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all offering different features and allowing you to reach different demographics. Social media posts can help you to generate a global following, while advertisements and sponsored posts are usually available too.

Using these features, you will have the ability to target very specific people, based on their interests, location, gender, places they have previously visited, their browsing history, and more. You can also use social networking sites to get creative with competitions or quizzes, in order to generate real engagement.

11. Collaborate With Social Media Influencers

In the modern age, so-called ‘influencers’ – those with a group of loyal followers on social media – hold a lot of marketing power. After all, many people have become wise to some of the more traditional advertising and marketing channels, and some are now much more cynical towards marketing from organisations or groups.

Influencers can have followings on various channels. While Instagram is the most obvious, other examples include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even their personal blogs. By collaborating with them, it becomes possible to market your city to people who may otherwise be out of reach, and they will also find the efforts more trustworthy.

Different influencers also appeal to different demographics too, allowing you to run multiple campaigns simultaneously.

12. Use Travel Websites to Promote Your City

While having a website to promote your city is valuable, highly effective city marketing strategies will involve reaching out to people who may be exploring their options, people who may not have settled on a location yet, or people who have not given any consideration to your city at all. Travel websites offer an ideal way to achieve this.

The precise travel websites you turn to will depend on the intricacies of your strategy, but they might involve widely-known international websites, niche interest travel websites, local travel websites, or travel websites that appeal to a specific demographic. Banner ads, video content, images and virtual reality tours are all options for content.

13. Invest in Other Online Advertising Plans

There are a wide range of additional advertising possibilities in the online sphere and many of these may be worth exploring as part of a city marketing strategy. For example, display advertising can be used on third-party websites and platforms, in order to generate interest or curiosity from people who may not be actively exploring city break ideas.

Content marketing is a possibility on both third-party platforms and your own website, and re-marketing techniques can be deployed to make sure you target people who have previously visited your city website, or the website of hotels, restaurants or attractions in the city, in order to encourage them to make a final purchasing decision.

14. Promote Your City Offline Too

Finally, it is important to develop a robust offline city marketing strategy too, as not everybody spends vast amounts of time online. Some of the offline mediums you turn to might include newspapers, travel publications and television advertising. These efforts can also be targeted locally, nationally, or internationally.

During this process, it is also important to take the time to consider the best times to promote your city and this should be based on data, experience and sound logic. It could be that your city holds particular appeal in the summer months, because of excellent weather, or it might be a popular location for Christmas, Halloween or Thanksgiving.

Travel Trends: Opportunities for the Travel Industry

The travel industry has been going through noticeable changes in recent years. With the technological developments that empower customers and give them the power to plan and book travel with a click of a button, businesses have realised the importance of staying up-to-date with the emerging travel trends in this industry. Technology has transformed travel experiences and to remain viable, those who work in this industry must make use of tech trend opportunities in order to provide their customers with better services.

In the article “Travel Trends: Opportunities for the Travel Industry”, learn how to thrive in the fast-paced travel industry by keeping up with the upcoming trends.

Technology Trends Emerging in the Tourism & Travel Industry

No-one can deny technology’s influence in the travel and tourism industry. After all, it is technology that shapes the way people travel and the destinations they choose. The main goal of any business in the travel and tourism sector is customer satisfaction since they deal with customers on a daily basis. It is, therefore, important to keep up with the latest tech trends in the travel and tourism industry.

For detailed information on the role of technology in travel and tourism industry, refer to this article, “Key Technology Trends Emerging in the Travel & Tourism Industry”.

In today’s interconnected world, people can easily book trips and travel almost anywhere. For your city and those in the local tourism industry, it becomes important to stand out from rivals and city marketing can be effective for this. Using the tips provided, you should be able to put city marketing strategies into effect and reap the rewards.

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