4 Steps to Create the Ultimate Promotion Plan For Your Eco-Tourism Company

Creating a result-driven promotion plan for your luxury eco-tourism hotel, lodge, accommodation, or touring company can be highly effective if you have the right mindset and proper strategies to gain exposure and attract more visitors.

Before you can create an online promotion plan for your high-end eco-tourism company, it’s important to ask yourself the following fundamental questions:

  1.  What are my goals for the future of my luxury eco-tourism company?
  2.  What do I want to achieve through my online promotion efforts?
  3.  What do I want people to know or perceive about my brand?
  4.  What action do I want people to take as a result of my efforts?

Once you have a clear understanding of what you want your online promotion efforts to accomplish, it’s time to create a strategic plan. Some people find planning dull, overwhelming, or downright boring. I can assure you, the more you plan, the more you are clear about what you want and where you want to go, the easier your efforts will be, and you’ll achieve the results you want more easily and quickly.

Here are 4 steps to creating a promotion plan that delivers results for your eco-tourism company:

Step I:

First, you have to know what you want to achieve. You must define success. If you have a strategic objective, use that as a guide. In addition, I suggest you sit down and interview yourself.

Some of these questions might include…

  1.  What type of visitors do I want to attract to my accommodations?
  2.  Do I want to build solid relationships with a handful of key bloggers?
  3.  Do I want my Tweets mentioned in Condé Nast Traveler?
  4.  Do I want to be featured in Travel + Leisure online?
  5.  Do I want my eco-tourism business to win a Responsible Tourism Award?

Be honest with yourself. What is it that you really want? Write it down.

It’s important to note that success isn’t always about having 4,000 fans or 8 million Facebook or Twitter followers. What’s more important is the connection you build with your online network. If you only have 100 fans or followers on Facebook or Twitter and a handful are retweeting your posts, that’s much better than having 300 fans or followers and no one interacting with you or sharing your information.

Step II:

Depending on your goals and the nature of your eco-tourism company, decide how you will promote your company online. By no means are you expected to use every possible online platform-you’d end up pulling your hair out.

Instead, use vehicles and platforms that will meet your needs and objectives. This sounds simple enough, but you’d be amazed how many eco-tourism companies are unclear why they’re doing what they’re doing. Do you know why you’re on LinkedIn and Digg, or even have a blog? Do you have a Twitter account because you were told that’s what attracts clients, or are you Tweeting with a purpose? Again, this goes back to step one-you have to set goals and know what you want.

In deciding how you will promote and what online platforms are best for your eco-tourism business, take inventory of what you’re doing now. Make a list of what’s working and what isn’t. Look over the list and ask yourself why that is. Are you actually connecting with your target market or key influencers? How can you better engage your network? Are you on the right platforms to connect and engage?

Once you are clear, choose a set of 2 – 3 social media platforms that you plan to be active on. If you’re already on a few and they work for you, stick with these social media sites. Remember, it’s better to be active on a few than to be on too many and never participate or add to the conversation.

Step III:

If you have an eco-travel blog or plan on starting one, create a blog editorial calendar. Eliminate last minute blogging, topic searching, and optimizing by creating an editorial calendar in advance. Here you can break down each topic you would like to discuss on your blog over the course 1 – 3 months.

When you have a blog schedule, sit down and write a few blogs at once, remembering to incorporate key eco-travel phrases in the first paragraph of your post-without being unnatural. Some key phrases you might use are luxury eco-travel company, sustainable tourism, FTTSA certified, green travel, and eco-tourism company.

Batching is always a great way to hone in on your writing skills and get a few posts out of the way.
It’s also extremely helpful to create an organized blog promotion schedule in your plan. Each week, set aside time to comment on like-minded blogs, ask other bloggers if you can be a guest blogger, or ask others to guest blog for you, and request to be on like-minded blogrolls.

Some like-minded blogs could be about eco-travel, sustainable living, general travel, travel photography, eco-tourism outfitters, and eco-friendly product blogs.

Step IV:

Set time durations for each task. When creating a plan, you want to ensure you set specific time durations you will spend on each task. If you don’t do this, you’ll quickly find yourself over stressed and unclear of the time you’re spending on these tasks. In your plan, write the specific time you will spend on each platform and what days you will post on these platforms. Often, setting weekly tasks is the best way to digest a larger promotion plan.

Forest Tourism – A Green Path Toward Sustainable Forestry

At the end of September 2011, the occasion being the World Tourism Day (27th September), the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), an organisation of which the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is also a member, promoted its view on the positive influence that ecotourism has on forestry.

Moreover, an increasing number of governments are considering ecotourism as a means to promote sustainable forestry management and support local communities.

Despite the grave economic situation in the last couple of years, according to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), international tourism has demonstrated healthy growth, with almost 5% in the first half of 2011, setting a new record of 440 million arrivals, according to the UN WTO. Moreover, in the UNWTO long-term forecast, Tourism Towards 2030, released in October 2011, international tourism is expected to continue to grow in a sustained manner in the next two decades.

Ecotourism, as a niche within the larger tourism industry, is one of the fastest growing segments of tourism worldwide, according to the FAO. Therefore, the perspective for long-term sustainable economic growth has the potential to stimulate also forestry funds to participate on the forest ecotourism market. In addition, through forest ecotourism, private companies will have the opportunity to make profit out of socially responsible investments.

Ecotourism involves responsible travelling to natural areas, with the purpose to educate the traveller without the environmental and cultural impact that may come as a negative consequence of traditional tourism. By definition, the more preserved a tourist site or object is, the more attractive it will be for potential visitors. And as forests and their wildlife are among the primary settings for ecotourism activities, it is only natural to assume that promoting forest preservation and investing in ecotourism would be the way to attract more ecotourists.

Forest ecotourism may be particularly beneficial in developing countries, which generally experience more difficulties in promoting sustainable forest management and obtaining much needed investments through forestry funds or other sources of financing.

According to Edgar Kaeslin, Forestry Officer in Wildlife and Protected Area Management at FAO, “Ecotourism has a far greater potential for contributing to income and livelihoods in poor rural communities than what is realised”.

Therefore, the possibilities that ecotourism provides in terms of forest preservation and local economy need to be looked into, especially considering the extent to which some indigenous communities depend on forests for their livelihood. In addition, ecotourism brings more income to local population than commercial conventional tourism that relies mainly on mass hotel chains and large tourist companies.

One of the most famous examples of ecotourism in developing countries is the interest attracted by the endangered mountain gorilla species in Uganda. Ecotourism activity surrounding the gorillas significantly helped to boost the economy of the country and at the same time led to a rise in the numbers of mountain gorillas.

Another African country where forest tourism is likely to benefit from increased governmental support is Tanzania, since the Ministry of Natural resources and Tourismrecently introduced the Tanzania Forest Fund among whose purposes is to support sustainable utilization of forest resources.

Despite its indisputable benefits, however, ecotourism still poses certain dangers to natureand local communities. A lot of activities which are advertised as eco-friendlymay lead to damage of natural sites and there is always the risk that due to the growing popularity of ecotourism, possible participation of forestry funds and involvement of larger tourist companies may diminish the financial benefits to local communities.

Nevertheless, at present, the benefits of ecotourism seem to outweigh the risks, specifically with regards to forest tourism, which has turned into a successful way of promoting forest conservation. One of the ways to further increase the positive influence of ecotourism is to ensure the involvement of local population into ecotourism services, which may be achieved through training and education. In addition, income from forest tourism should be used in order to promote sustainable forestry management.

In the last few years, the UN FAO has been providing technical assistance to various countries such as Laos, the Philippines and Tunisia to develop ecotourism as a sustainable forest use and recently started implementing an $18 million programme in collaboration with Pacific islands (Fiji, Niue, Samoa and Vanuatu) aimed at developing ecotourism as a major component of sustainable forest management. This is undoubtedly a clear sign for the potential benefits of forest tourism.

Creating a Social Media Plan For Tourism Marketing

If you wanted to take a vacation, you wouldn’t just hop in a car and go. You’d have a road map.

If you were going to bake a Boston creme pie, you wouldn’t just start mixing ingredients together. You’d have a recipe.

Seeing a trend? Most successful ventures in life generally start with a plan. Unfortunately, most who decide to use social media for marketing tourism and travel forgo necessary goal-setting and strategy. This typically leads them to wonder what they are doing wrong on sites like Facebook and Twitter when they don’t have as many followers or fans as they would desire.

Having a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t “just happen” overnight. However, through the careful planning and interacting on these networks (and others), you can drive traffic to your destination. Here are a few steps to improve your social media presence.

First thing’s first: Set your goals.

This is probably the most valuable takeaway from your plan. If you are aimlessly wandering into the world of Facebook and Twitter just because every one else is, you will have no way to measure your success because you won’t know what “success” is. What specifically do you want out of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? Increased sales of at least 25%? More inbound traffic to your CVB’s homepage? Be specific. Also, what’s more important: 1,000 fans or more hotel bookings? Decide this early on so you can determine what true social media success is.

Secondly: Know thy tourist.

You should have at least a general idea of who your audience is. The more specific, the better. This will help determine what networks you should participate in. For example, if your target audience is older than 45 or 50, MySpace is probably not the best network to join. Also, if you deal with niche audiences such as mothers, sports lovers or business travelers, there are specific niche social networks that you can join to help attract those groups.

Facebook seems to be a catch-all social network for most demographics, but knowing your audience will help develop strategies within Facebook that best targets your future tourists. Facebook marketing strategies range from paid advertising to fan pages and groups.

Third: Give them something to talk about.

This is the part that most jump into right off the bat, but it’s only after careful planning you enter this phase. Even after you begin this step of your master plan, you still need to know how to talk and what to talk about. For example: What are you going to do if someone negatively bashes your destination or staff? Respond openly or privately? Who is going to be the person updating your status everyday and does that person have a clear understanding of your online branding efforts? How much time daily are you going to commit to each social media account?

Also, remember conversation is two-fold. Don’t just talk. Listen, then listen harder. Go beyond comments written on your wall and find out what your fans are interested in on their own profile page. Learn what they like and don’t like and apply that to what you can do better.

Finally: Measure your efforts

Each month, measure your growth. Are you meeting your goals? Can you make better use of your time on Facebook and Twitter? Use tracking software and analytics to gauge where your traffic is coming from and learn from these reports.

Keep comparing your goals month after month and continue to improve on your efforts. Social media isn’t easy just because everyone does it these days. Creating a successful social media campaign means work and much time invested. However, if proper steps are taken in the set up and planning stages of your social media marketing plan, you will lay the ground work for destination marketing success.