April 15

Does Your Tourism Business Need a Fractional CMO?


Are you constantly putting out fires? Can’t see the forest for the trees? Attracting the wrong guests and not sure where the good ones are coming from when they do? Is your tourism marketing not differentiating you from your competitors? Does it feel like no one is truly at the helm and managing this crucial part of your business?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may have a marketing strategy and management problem. Enter the fractional CMO.

What is a Fractional CMO?

A fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is a marketing professional who works with businesses for a limited amount of time each month. In other words, they dedicate a fraction of the time that a regular CMO would spend on the operation, and they receive a fraction of the pay. For small-medium-sized tourism businesses, there are a lot of advantages to this model.

marketing roles
The fractional CMO may overlap with some of the more common tourism marketing positions in your organization. The difference is ‘strategy’ and ‘management’.


“The world of marketing has been evolving, and there’s a lot of overlap in what is expected today,” says John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing, and our agency partner. “Traditionally, a consultant was more ‘strategy focussed’ and agencies were more doers and a coach was there to help someone find their own answers. A fractional CMO bridges that gap.” While most business owners want ‘customers’ what they really need is clarity, confidence and control.


fractional cmo benefits


What do they do?

First and foremost, they are a marketing strategist brought into an organization to help set strategic direction.

Now, there may be an overlap between this role and what you might have in place with your current marketing team and suppliers, but their key role is bridging the gap between strategy and tactical implementation.

hiker jumping

Strategic Planning

They should have a 50,000’ view of your organization and be able to provide high-level guidance and direction. They know your vision and long-term goals. They work closely with your team and understand your niche. They are systems people.

Brand management

Knowing your brand inside out and positioning it in the most effective way possible is another key responsibility of a fractional CMO.

Overseeing Marketing Campaigns

On the tactical side, this person needs to make sure those Google Ads, tourism SEO work and whatever other channels you are using are aligned with your overall tourism marketing strategy, and hitting the mark with your audiences.

Analyzing Results

They should have systems in place to track the work that’s being done, and optimize and report.

Allocating Budgets

By overseeing the marketing of your tourism business, they should be able to make the decisions on what channels to be investing in and which not to be putting money into.

Team Management

Being at the helm should include overseeing both in-house marketing staff, like social media or marketing coordinators, as well as any outside suppliers like web developer teams, SEO agencies, paid-search agencies, writers and graphic designers.

growth in search for fractional cmo
Post-pandemic, there has been a big increase in demand for CMOs for smaller organizations.(Google search trends.)

Why Hire a Fractional CMO?

Having a CMO was formerly only possible for large, enterprise-level companies. But as marketing has gotten more complex, there has become a need for this role even in smaller businesses. And since they’ll only be working a few hours per week, the cost will be much lower and affordable. The median salary of a CMO is $344K according to salary.com. But a fractional CMO may only cost $4-6K/month, a significant savings.

I quite often get requests from business owners asking “Can you help us with our Facebook ads?” or Google Ads or Instagram or whatever. When I look at their website, it fails the grunt test. (If a caveman were to wind up on your website, could they determine what you do, how it makes their life better, and how to buy it from you in 30 seconds or less?) The owner will say they’ve spent thousands of dollars and have not gotten any results. 99% of the time, it’s a strategy and management problem and that’s where a fractional CMO comes in.

hiker in mountains

How do you find a Fractional CMO?

If you’re thinking of hiring a fractional CMO for your tourism business, you need to do your homework. They should have a good track record and years of experience in the tourism industry, and ideally in your niche. Have they worked with travel media, travel trade, and agents? Are they members of your industry associations? Are they big-picture thinkers?

If they say they do ‘marketing strategy’ ask them exactly what that looks like. What systems do they use? Can they explain their processes in plain English and show results? And most importantly, are they a good fit for your organization? Then, rather than asking them for a ‘proposal’ create a job for them, and see what they can do. A test job could be doing a customer journey map or a brand audit.

Setting up for Success

If you’ve tried piecemealing your marketing in-house or outsourcing it to a generalist agency, now is the time to consider hiring a fractional CMO. Aventur Marketing is a tourism marketing agency with more than a decade of experience achieving industry-leading results for premium tourism operators. To learn about our fractional CMO program contact us for a free consultation.




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