Welcome to the last part of our Tourism Branding Series.
First of all - congratulations! You’ve made it through. You’ve got a brand new tourism brand! Or a radically refreshed one.
Either way, you’re ready to get out there and go.
Before you do, let’s take a brief look back at what you learned in this crash course on Tourism Branding.
You learned what a brand is, and how it works in tourism (and that tourists and travelers are as much a part of your brand as you are!).
You learned what sets you apart, and how to tell your tourism brand story (and why you have to ask why five times!).
You learned what your tourism brand's voice sounds like(and the do’s, don'ts, and risks of choosing a voice!).
You learned what your tourism brand's visuals looks like (and why colors mean more and less than we’re told they do!).
You learned how to show off your tourism brand using those visuals (and how they affect the Traveler’s Digital Journey!).
And you learned how to listen to what others say about your tourism brand (and what to say when they say mean things!).
Not bad for a week’s worth of learning, I’d say.
Now, you’ve got three things to do:
Thank you for taking the time to go through the Tourism Branding Series. I wish you all the best with your new project, and can’t wait to work with you again soon.
Let’s do a little bit of review: why is your tourism brand so important?
Well, it’s the shorthand for your reputation.
It’s the promise you make to your customers - what they should expect, what they’ll experience, and how they’ll be treated.
And then it’s how your customers describe that same experience after the fact. How they talk about you, how they share, and where they share all end up being a part of tourism user-generated content.
Remember what we went over on Day 1: “Your brand isn’t only yours. A brand is also a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.”
Because a good part of your brand is what others think about it, and because it’s easier than ever to share publicly what we think about companies and services, today we’re focused on:
What are others saying about your tourism brand (and where are they saying it)?
With 87% of millennials saying they use social media for travel inspiration, it’s increasingly more important to make sure you’re a part of that conversation.
Part of any good conversation is listening. Or in this case, social listening, which is the process of monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, product, and more.
It’s done in two parts:
What should you listen for, exactly?
Over time, you may want to create a list of easily searchable terms to make the social listening process more automatic. This could include:
Now, what happens when, after all that listening, you don’t like what you hear?
When should you respond to what they’ve said? Especially when it’s negative?
What did we always learn as youngsters… if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s better not to say anything at all, right?
Unfortunately, not all tourists learn that lesson. Whether they had a bad day, whether you made a mistake, or whether they’re just plain impossible to please, the moment will come when you get…
A bad review.
But it’s not the end of the world.
(Even though it might feel like it.)
In fact, when you respond appropriately, you can come out looking better. Your customers understand that you’re not perfect. They understand not everyone’s going to be pleased. And more than all, they want authenticity. That’s why people trust 4.9 star reviews more than 5 star reviews.
First and foremost, your instinct should be to respond.
Just not right away.
With sites like Tripadvisor, deleting responses to comments can be tricky. On others like Facebook or Instagram, it may seem easier (look! An edit button!) but it’s also possible for customers to take a picture of what you’ve said and display it after the fact.
So, hold on. You might be mad. You might be worried other people will read it. But take 5 or 10 minutes away from the screen. Write down your comments on paper or talk them over with a coworker. Then once you’ve gathered yourself, feel free to respond accordingly.
Here are a few scenarios with negative reviews, and how you can consider responding.
Next steps: after you’ve dealt with the comment, figure out how to keep it from happening again.
If it’s your fault, what can you change?
If there’s a misunderstanding, how can you be more clear in your offer?
If it’s their fault, maybe there’s an opportunity to speak with your team about how they sell the offer.
Because while the occasional negative review won’t sink you - and may in fact make you seem more authentic - regular ones, and repeated ones, could do irreversible damage to your brand.
Be a good (social) listener. To get you active and engaged, use our list from before and adapt it to your tourism project and your destination.
Then put them in a document. Set a reminder to do a search on a regular basis (once a week, once a month, etc.) to get into the habit of tracking these conversations.
We're close to the end of this series. To finish off, we'll talk about next steps once you've established your tourism brand!
While nothing captures *my* imagination quite like the written word, I know I’m in the minority.
With social media, photos and videos are as powerful as they’ve ever been.
With smartphones, taking and sharing those photos is more possible than ever.
And with tourists and travelers sharing their journeys, creating and capturing authentic moments is more popular than ever.
So, it brings us to today’s question:
How will you show off your tourism brand?
To really “talk tourist” and turn potential customers from browsing into buying, you’ll have to make an emotional appeal. High-quality, professional (when possible) photos will help you deliver that appeal in whichever medium you’re promoting yourself on, whether it’s flyers being handed out at expos or your daily social media posts.
It’s better to view this as quality over quantity, especially in the beginning. Focus first on getting the messaging right, then you can focus on getting the message across in different ways.
To fully share what it is you do, the following photos will set your tourism brand apart:
Where is your traveler on their journey to you?
Once you’ve established your tourism brand through visuals, you may look for how to start sharing more regularly.
For that, I’m going to reference a bit of old school marketing (with a tourism twist). In marketing, the Buyer’s Journey (Awareness -> Consideration -> Journey) tracks a customer’s path from finding out about a product or service to purchasing that product.
For tourism, let’s call it the Traveler’s Digital Journey (TDJ). We can break it down based on five fundamental phases that your brand should consider:
[*Sharing can actually happen anywhere along the journey. While it feels most automatic at the moment of the experience (“Checking in at my hotel!” “Just hiked Machu Picchu!”), consider who posts pictures like “Dreaming of a trip to Peru!” then “Hit me up with your Lima restaurant recs!” and “6 days till the big hike!”]
As you consider your photos and what you’ll share, see how they line up with the 5 stages. Here are some examples of what that could look like:
It’s in the sharing that we get a sneak peek at tomorrow’s lesson: leveraging user-generated content to grow your own tourism brand!
But first, our exercise for the day (you didn’t think I’d forget our homework, did you?)
We’re going to practice thinking about photos in the context of our new favorite framework:
Your Traveler’s Digital Journey.
Start by filling out the first two categories:
My tourism project:
And what’s one photo or video you could share that would fit into each of the 5 stages of the Traveler’s Digital Journey?
Dreaming - _____________
Planning - _____________
Booking - _____________
Experiencing - _____________
Sharing - _____________
We spoke about what your tourism brand sounds like. Today, we’ll talk about what your tourism brand looks like. These are your tourism brand visuals.
To start, we can think about a tourism brand being made up of five elements:
Why Your Tourism Brand Visuals Should Be Consistent
Like using the same tone of voice in addressing your audience, staying consistent helps your future customers and clients recognize who you are. It creates trust. And as they get closer to the day of experiencing what it is you do - and then ultimately having that experience - that consistency will continue to create positive feelings.
Which is not just nice for them - it’s key for you to be able to create a successful, recurring business.
How To Think About Your Tourism Brand’s Logo
A logo is the graphical representation of your brand identity. It’s the apple for Apple. The swoosh for Nike. And it goes everywhere: on your tour company’s shirts, the profile picture for your social media accounts, and when your city gives your company a shoutout on their official page.
That last one is especially key: your logo will often be used outside of your own promotional materials, so you’ll need to really commit to one.
Aim for something simple, classic, and identifiable.
The Quick And Dirty Tips For Tourism Typography
Fonts can be overwhelming. If you’ve ever opened up Word, Google Docs, or Photoshop and scrolled through all the fonts, you know there are more options than you’ll have a use for.
So here’s what you absolutely need:
The rewards for sticking to your preferred two fonts are consistency and brand recall. The penalties for switching often aren’t serious… but it’ll look lazy and unprofessional.
Plus, whenever you can automate something for your business, you should consider it. Save time by not picking a new font every single time.
My advice? Set it and forget it with your two go-to fonts.
How To Pick The Colors For Your Tourism Brand
First, a word of warning for tourism brands attracting international audiences. Though there are plenty of resources online that suggest the meaning and significance of certain colors, these are often based in a certain culture. And no two cultures are exactly alike.
Red, for example, can mean love, fear, fertility, death, or, as in Thailand, Sunday.
Blue can represent serenity, depression, masculinity, or femininity, or Friday (Thailand again).
So, the first step would be to be mindful of the use of colors in your own region. From there, you can feel comfortable using these best practices with respect to logo colors:
As with fonts, simplicity is often your best bet. If you’d like to go with just one primary color, that can work, too.
And For The Rest Of The Visuals
Visuals are especially important for a tourism brand where a big part of the process is about engaging and inspiring their travel. Using visuals as often as possible is crucial.
Like you created a cheat sheet for your tone of voice, similar guidelines can help here with imagery as well as you figure out the right mix of promotional shots, photos featuring people, and pictures of the destination. We’ll get more into the mix of imagery and visuals tomorrow.
Let’s have a little fun with the logo, typography, and color. Give Canva’s free logo maker tool a try. If you’ve already got a logo, this could be good practice for your next business, or helping a friend with theirs.
Try and follow some of the guidelines above and see how you do with two main fonts, limited colors, and a simple, classic idea.
Today, we’re talking about your tourism brand voice. In a sense, this is also your brand’s personality.
It’s a way of sharing the values, beliefs, and culture of your company.
Every tourism brand has a voice
In the life span of a tourism brand, these are your brand’s first words!
And when you’re interacting with potential tourists, the voice and tone affect how those first few words are heard by your customers.
A law firm might present itself more seriously. After all, its target needs to trust in a law firm’s expensive services.
Netflix might be more irreverent. It’s an entertainment platform, so it can aim to be entertaining in all of its touchpoints.
High fashion is exclusive. It projects an air of individuality, so maintaining that is important to the prestige.
Why develop your tourism brand voice
Being able to communicate consistently lets you create a stronger relationship with your potential customers. When they see the same tone on your website and your social media and the emails you send out, they get a better understanding of who you are - and who you’ll be when they eventually sign up to spend time with you, stay at your hotel, or do your activity.
The opposite is true, too. If you’re funny and loud in your emails, classy and refined on your website, and purely factual on social media, it’s hard to get a sense of who you are… or who you’re trying to reach.
How to give your tourism brand a voice
Think broadly about who you might want to reach. Each of these groups of people is likely tuned into a certain kind of voice.
And, it’s worth noting, they might tune out other voices.
That’s okay. No brand is for everyone. There’s certainly a risk in picking a group (did you pick the wrong one? The least profitable one? The smallest one?), but it’s a risk worth taking to connect further with them.
(And this isn’t permanent - if you decide you’d like to change your voice, you can.)
Here are four examples of tones of voice that could be used for tourism brands, along with a few Do’s, Don’ts, and Risks.
Luxurious Brands (High-end hotels, luxury tours, 5-star services)
Descriptions: Elegant, refined, exclusive.
Do: Write longer sentences. Use evocative words that spark the senses.
Don’t: Use slang. Contractions. Exclamation points.
Risk: Only appealing to a small audience.
Dependable Brands (Transportation)
Description: Family-focused, useful, reliable.
Do: Write like a friend. Ask questions to demonstrate concern. Be trustworthy and warm.
Don’t: Change your tone between mediums.
Risk: Being even-keeled (or even boring!) might keep you from being interesting or holding someone’s attention.
Adventure Brands(Activities, extreme sports)
Description: Living on the edge, memories of a lifetime.
Do: Sell the adrenaline, the uniqueness, the limits. Write how people talk.
Don’t: Be mean or critical. Just because you’re daring and challenging doesn’t mean exclude.
Risk: Accessibility. Not everyone can do every type of outdoor activity.
Exciting Brands (Group tours, cultural tours)
Description: Fast-paced and exciting, the passion comes through.
Do: Be verb-driven (Dive into excitement, run into the wild, dig in!).
Don’t: No adverbs. No long sentences. Get to the point.
Risk: Niche-specific. What you’re interested in is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
If you have a tourism company or activity, look through your materials. Then fill out the start of your own Tourism Tone of Voice Cheat Sheet. Are there any areas that are conflicting? Consider how you might revise to create a more consistent approach.
If you’re looking to start your own tourism company, go straight to the chart below. Fill out your ideal Tourism Tone, the description, the Do’s and Don’ts, and the Risk.
Tourism Tone of Voice Cheat Sheet
Just know that by defining your tourism voice now, you’ll make everything that comes after - each email, social media post, advertisement, and more - easier.
Now that you have an idea what your tourism brand sounds like, it’s time to figure out the visuals.
Today, we’re focusing on what makes you… you. For tourism, that's the origins behind your tourism brand story.
For many of us in tourism, doing the work is the fun part. Whether it’s running an adventure business and going out with excited international clientele, providing exceptional hospitality at a hotel, or showing off local ingredients at your restaurant, the work itself is rewarding.
So much so, that we sometimes forgot to actually talk about that work. Granted, not everyone loves to talk about themselves. And even the ones that do love to talk about themselves might not be doing it right.
The best way to start talking about yourself? By crafting your brand story.
Your Tourism Brand Story
A tourism brand story is the story behind your brand. As humans, we love stories. Think of how you pass the time sharing with your friends and family over dinner. Or the movies and shows you see advertised every day. We’re suckers for narrative.
Your tourism brand’s story is how you create that same narrative for your customers. When done well, your brand story recounts the moments that led up to your brand’s creation, then shapes them into the purpose that continues to drive why you do what you do.
It answers questions like:
Through that, your customers see the emotional arc and the reason you care. Soon, they’ll begin to see themselves as a part of that story, too.
We’ll use an exercise called The 5 Whys. Developed originally for Toyota, this series of questions (which can sound an awful lot like a kid asking the same question over and over again!) is designed to get to the root of a problem.
In this instance, the problem is separating your brand from all of the others. Solving it will make it easier to talk about yourself and easier to get travelers to want to be a part of that story, too.
Why you? What was the defining moment, the problem you wanted to solve, the reason you had to start the business?
If you could do something else better, you’d probably be doing that. So whether it’s your experience, passion, connections, or something else, write a sentence or two about what makes you uniquely qualified.
Here’s the secret ingredient about a brand story: it should include your customer. Each person is the hero of their own story, so when you can make them feel like their own journey, adventure, or exploration is a part of yours, your own brand story is stronger.
This is key not only to getting someone to that first booking, but also to generating bookings after. What is it about your customer service, your attention to detail, your experience that’ll keep people talking?
In your own way, think about the positive impacts that come from what you’re doing. Even on a small scale, like supporting a family-owned business, this continues to allow customers to play a part in your brand’s story.
Our next post is all about your tourism brand growing up. It’s about to say its first words.
Welcome to the Tourism Branding Series.
Together, we’re going to spend seven posts talking about what branding is, as well as how branding works specifically for tourism.
With each post, we’ll spend time breaking down an essential branding question. Then we’ll finish with an activity that can be done in 10 minutes.
That way, by the end of this series, your tourism brand will be in great shape. Whether you’re launching a new project, refreshing an old one, or just want to touch up on the basics of branding, I’m excited to have you along for the ride.
Let’s get to it.
A brand is a way of identifying a business. From your side, the business owner, the entrepreneur, it could be a name, a term, a symbol, another feature which distinguishes you from someone else - or all of the above.
But your brand isn’t only yours. A brand is also a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.
So for as much work as you put into designing a fancy logo or coming up with the most creative name, your reputation is decided by your customers, too.
How Does Tourism Branding Work?
Branding works in a similar way for tourism. Destinations can have brands. Cities can have brands. Hotel chains can have brands.
And you and your tourism company have a brand.
Like above, you have control over a good portion of that. You can create your logo. You can design your website. You can run your social media.
But your brand is also how people experience your service or your product. That’s the key word. Wherever it’s possible to experience what it is you offer, your brand comes into play.
So, where does that happen?
In fact, there’s likely more. I’m sure you’re thinking of others - hit reply and send ‘em my way!
Using the list above, make a list of where you believe your customers (past and future) can and do interact with your tourism brand.
If your business exists, be honest and critical. If you are still developing your idea, think of where they could go/what they could do.
You can reply back to this email with your ideas and I’ll be happy to look them over and suggest others. Or you can keep them to yourself and work on this independently.
Tomorrow, we get into the fun stuff. Tomorrow, we ask…