Early this morning, news broke confirming something that many who keep an eye on the tourism industry had predicted would happen sooner or later.
Thomas Cook, the longest operating tour provider in the world, has declared bankruptcy and ceased all operations; leaving hundreds of thousands of tourists stranded abroad. While many countries and insurance companies are sorting out how to get these folks home, the unfortunate news also has many here in Lapland concerned about the upcoming winter and what repercussions it will have on an industry that had been experiencing exceptional growth over the last 5+ years.
After being hit hard by the recession in 2007, and ultimately bottoming out in 2010, Lapland has seen a return to the old days and even better. For the last three consecutive years, registered overnights and total tourist numbers have broken records in Lapland; and not only in Rovaniemi. Massive investment & infrastructure projects at Rovaniemi, Kittilä and Ivalo airports were initiated to accommodate the increased flow of tourists and to provide greater accessibility to even more remote areas of Finnish Lapland. All of this is great and will yield benefits for years to come, but what happens when the bubble bursts?
Alright, let’s not look at it like THE bubble, but rather one BIG balloon in a handful of many. You still have a handful of balloons that are pretty, but missing that big one sure makes what’s left look a lot less impressive. That’s what happened when Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy and a large majority of the tourism companies in Finnish Lapland looked at the “balloons” they had left.
They’ve still likely got a beautiful and colorful assortment of “balloons” that will get them through, but what do they do next? Replacing a big balloon like Thomas Cook isn’t easy, but now is the perfect time for tourism and hospitality companies in Finnish Lapland to dive into the nitty-gritty of digital marketing and to find new sources of potential customers. Here are a few ways that they can start:
Many tourism businesses in Finnish Lapland have very little idea how they have acquired the customers that they get. Sure, they may have them complete customer information cards upon arrival, but where did they actually discover your company or determine how to choose you over your competitors? Google Analytics is probably a good place to start to help you answer some of these questions. GA can help businesses to identify from where prospective customers live, what pages and content they are the most interested in, from what source your customers found you (direct, search, social, etc.) and much more. By utilizing the information provided through Google Analytics, tourism companies can then expand into two other areas of digital marketing: SEO & SEM
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
In addition to providing your the geographical locations, user behaviors and sources from which customers are finding your website, Google Analytics also provides information that can help you to optimize your website so that it will perform better in organic search results. Is your page loading to slowly? Are you lacking essential meta descriptions to differentiate your offerings from your competitors? Are people just coming to your website and then “bouncing”, and if so then why? Having a professional look into the structure, organization and content of your website could be the difference between you doing just alright and setting new sales records year-in and year-out.
SEM – Search Engine Marketing
Another great thing about Google Analytics is that is provides you with detailed information concerning how people are finding your website and which terms they are using in organic search. Most tourism companies in Finnish Lapland know what keywords their customers are searching for when they’re Googling them, but if their content isn’t in tip-top shape they may never reach those potential markets. Additionally, without knowing where your sources of traffic are coming from, you could be investing important marketing budgets into areas that aren’t yielding a solid ROI. The solution? A targeted and carefully tailored paid-search campaign. Google AdWords allows you to get started with a small budget and then grow out from there. See a steady stream of traffic coming from a country that you haven’t had customers from before? Now’s maybe a good time to run a test campaign to see if there’s potentially a new flow of customers. Google does provide a good set of basic guidelines for introducing it’s users to AdWords, but finding someone to explain the intricacies and manage the building, tracking and reporting of your campaign is your safest bet and will ensure that you’re not going to end up getting a huge bill that exceeds your budget for paid-search marketing.
What does Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy mean for Finnish tourism?
It’s too early to tell just what kind of impact Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy will have on the tourism sector in Finnish Lapland, but there’s no denying that it will cause far-reaching and potentially long-term repercussions in the region. It’s not necessarily a time to fear the future, though. Now is the time to work smarter; not harder. To spend a little money to make a lot of money. By investing in digital optimization, tourism businesses in Lapland will not only be helping to bring themselves into the present day and update their practices, but also begin to plan for the future and beyond so that the home country of Santa Claus can continue to welcome guests from around the world for the foreseeable future.
Does your website need an optimization overhaul? Are you interested in exploring a paid-search campaign for your business? Could you use some help with getting your social media rocking and rolling? Call or email us today to set up a meeting and we’ll see what we can do to help!