Social media has become the marketplace of the future, and in some cases, the present, as business strive to reach new customers and maintain existing ones. It is no different for the tourism industry, where every property promises a different experience for the visitor.
The Belize Tourism Board, beginning on Thursday, hosted a Digital Marketing Summit bringing together tourism professionals from around Belize and matching them with top marketers and designers in social media, digital content creation, travel trade and tourism marketing from the region and the world. Belize has had some experiments with social media marketing, such as the Steve Harvey/Miss Universe incident, the Breaking Bad “Send you to Belize” episode; and the NFL kicking controversy in which national team footballer Ian Gaynair used a soccer ball on Yabra Field to mock the misfiring professionals. They have had varying degrees of success, but according to Maynor Larrieu of the Belize Tourism Board, their primary accomplishment is putting Belize on the map:
“Just getting the name out there is a great value if you compare to paid advertisement. You mentioned some of the great quick wins that we had last year, Steve Harvey being the biggest. We are still taking to him to see if he will and could make it to Belize in the near future. Just getting the name Belize out as a primary destination and in the eyes of travelers is what we are trying to accomplish. We also want to inspire stakeholders to not be afraid of stepping outside of the box. You can’t be afraid to try new things.”
Larrieu says there is more to come on this score. In terms of reaching target audiences, Patrick Lawrence’s New-York based YoGroup advertising agency says cost is no object for the 18-to-35 or “millennial” age bracket when it comes to travel: the experience is. He has some do’s and don’ts for toruism businesses looking to cash in:
“Cost,I would say, is not as much as you think. It’s all about the experience and doing things that you have never done. To the participants I have 5 key things to remember. Do your research, start a dialogue, make sure you are presenting yourself in an authentic way and it’s all about creating a dialogue with your travelers because they can see if you are doing too much or presenting yourself in a way that is not believable.”