May 30

Creating Successful Facebook Ads for Tourism Businesses

Running Facebook ads for your tourism operation can be an effective way to reach new customers, increase bookings, and raise brand awareness. From getting recommendations from friends on Facebook to finding picture-perfect inspiration on Instagram, these powerful social media channels have been an integral part of trip planning for many years. So how do tourism operators get in front of the right people with the right ad campaigns? Here are some key strategies that can help.

Tourism Marketing Strategy and Customer Journey

Before considering running ads on social media, you need to know if this is where your best guests can be found. This is where marketing strategy and ideal client research comes in. Generally speaking, Facebook skews towards a slightly older audience, so if you’re selling higher-end, luxury tours this could be a very good channel for your marketing efforts. (If you’re serving younger gen-Z guests, with less expensive tours, you may be better off using channels like Instagram and Tiktok.)

sailing ship

Assuming you’ve done your research and decided Facebook is a good fit, you then need to consider where this channel lies in your guests’ customer journey.

Using the Marketing Hourglass, we can see that Facebook fits best into the awareness or ‘know’ phase. Here we’re not expecting a lot of conversions, but to get people inspired and to be on their radar for down the road when they are ready to book. Ideally, you’ll want to get people over to your site, and onto your list for further engagement, with retargeting ads and email marketing.

marketing hourglass
Social media marketing, such as Facebook, is best used in the ‘awareness’ or ‘know’ stage of the customer journey to inspire future bookings.

Audience Building for Tour Operators

With the rollout of IOS14 changes in 2020, audience targeting has become a challenge for many businesses on Meta. While Facebook still has high-level interest and behavior targetting available, starting to build up your own custom audiences gives you more control of those groups.

At the top of the funnel, there are many travel-related audiences available from Facebook’s native targeting, for example:

  • Behavior > Frequent Travelers
  • Interest > Backpacking
  • Interest > Ecotourism

These broad audiences can be used to drive users to a lead form to start building an internal list of interested customers. Send users directly to your website to browse trips or use Facebook’s Lead Generation objective to quickly and easily collect the guest’s information. Offer them a lead magnet, such as a trip planner or ebook, in exchange for their contact info.

ebook signup form
Get them on your list with an ebook or something they will give their email to get!

Here, you want something that really shows your expertise about the destination, and would be of interest to your prospective guests. These are also great for building trust and positioning your operation as the go-to expert. If you have high-quality (non-stock) images available, and some good content already on your blog, you can find designers on services like Fiverr and Upwork who can put together a slick iPad-friendly PDF for very low cost. Use that to get interested contacts onto your email list, and nurture them through the booking process with a great automation sequence and more offerings.

Tourism operators should also take advantage of Meta’s pixel-based audiences to serve ads to people who have visited your website and browsed available trips, but did not download your lead magnet. Use retargeting to ‘remind’ them of your tours and destination, and to nudge them a bit further along, and get them on your list. This will keep your tourism business top of mind until they are finally ready to make that booking.

Nailing The Creative

Building effective and engaging creative is the single biggest opportunity for travel and tourism operators. Selling an experience through an ad is a unique challenge but certainly achievable through Meta’s platforms and ad formats. Some things to keep in mind when building out your creative strategy:

  • Make sure your ads differentiate you from your competitors AND feature the things your ideal guests care most about. For example, if you are a luxury tour operator specializing in unique culinary experiences, make sure those are featured in your ads.
  • Showcase the destination’s beauty and culture through a mix of image and video ads.
  • Build for the mobile experience. Use various sizes of creative to fit in Facebook feeds, Instagram feeds, stories, and reels. Ads tend to perform best when they feel native to the content that the user is already browsing.
  • Share stories and experiences of travelers who have visited your destination to create an emotional connection with your audience. Have your guides create content while on a tour or ask guests to share content they have captured. Use reviews in your copy to give potential travelers a glimpse into great experiences that other guests have had.
  • It’s not all smoke and mirrors. Make sure you are providing useful information to position your company as an expert in the destination or trip style. Share insider tips and recommendations on things to do, places to eat, and where to stay.
facebook ad sample
This video Facebook ad by Abercrombie & Kent does a great job speaking to their well-heeled audience and what they hope to get out of a trip.

Facebook’s Dynamic Ads for Travel

E-commerce brands have long taken advantage of Facebook’s range of features built specifically to help brands sell online. But few businesses in the tourism space are familiar with the features built for them to promote a catalog of destinations to interested users dynamically. Perhaps a customer looked at a luxury trip to the Bahamas on your website but didn’t book. Dynamically retarget them with ads about the Bahamas package to stay top of mind, but also market other luxury trips that you offer, like St. Lucia, Jamaica, and Antigua in case a different locale might be more enticing.

sample facebook travel ads
These ads by Tour Radar aim to highlight several of their key trips that might be of interest to a guest.

Get Leads from Your Competitors

The Dynamic Ads campaign type can also be used to find entirely new customers. Have you ever looked at a pair of tennis shoes on one website and suddenly all of your ads are taken over by every sneaker store? Facebook uses your intent for a ‘product category’ as a whole to show you ads from other brands that you may like, even if you have never visited those other brands’ websites. You can use this to your advantage. If your ideal customer is browsing a competitor’s trips, you can use that purchase intent to automatically promote your relevant trips to that same user and attempt to secure (steal) that booking.

While this strategy takes a bit more setup on the back end with your pixel and catalog, once completed the automation makes running ads simple and effective.

tropical sunset


Putting it All Together

We hope the strategies here have helped you get more from your Facebook and Instagram tourism marketing campaigns. Aventur Marketing is a tourism marketing agency with more than a decade of experience achieving industry-leading results for premium tour operators. Our Facebook-certified pros can help you set up and manage effective campaigns that will grow awareness for your business, build trust and bring in more high-value bookings. Reach out today for a free consultation.




You may also like

Tourism Marketing in 2023

Tourism Marketing in 2023
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get The Latest Insights And Trends In Tourism Marketing & PR Delivered Straight To Your Inbox Each Month

Your privacy is important. We will never sell or share your contact info. Our privacy policy.