Destination Marketers: Turn Facebook Fans to Paying Customers

Destination marketers like hotels, resorts, tour operators or even airlines and travel-related businesses can convert Facebook fans to paying customers right now—and have fun doing it. After a year of interviewing the best social media sellers in the world I discovered a secret: giving customers a reason to offer more than a “like” creates leads and sales.

Destination marketers like hotels, resorts, tour operators or even airlines and travel-related businesses can convert Facebook fans to paying customers right now—and have fun doing it. After a year of interviewing the best social media sellers in the world I discovered a secret: giving customers a reason to offer more than a “like” creates leads and sales.

You can do this too if you start using Facebook to generate questions that your destination, service or venue gives answers to. Just start focusing your everyday efforts on solving problems for event planners and/or travelers. It’s that simple.

As it turns out what you already know works (before social media arrived) is the key to success.

The Gurus Were Wrong
Social media gurus claim that posting a certain number of times, on certain subjects, on certain days is the key that unlocks leads and sales on Facebook. Yes, tactical skills are essential to have but earning a customer’s business (whether it’s an event planner or vacation traveler) demands focus on their specific needs—not technical wizardry.

The true secret is getting back to basics and that means solving customers’ problems.

Forget about destination marketing for a moment. Harris-Teeter, a grocery store and pharmacy, pays customers to ask its dietician health-related questions on Facebook. Why would a grocer—or your organization—do that? Because helping customers put out a fire, right on the spot, is powerful. Answering burning questions opens the door to make a suggestion. It can be a friendly tip or useful trick or, if appropriate, outline benefits of selecting your venue or taking a FAM trip.

Solving problems for customers is not a new idea. It’s what your business likely does each day “offline” and that’s powerful.

Hand Out Candy to Create Response
Getting back to basics on Facebook, blogs, YouTube and other social media works but only if you provoke responses from your target market. Everything you put “out there” on social media—your updates, posts, tweets—must be designed to generate a behavioral response from your buyer. That means planning a bit before you for instance publish your next blog post or Facebook update.

Think of it this way: Want to generate more inbound inquiries or FAM tours? If so, your job is to provoke responses from your buyers. The key here is sharing useful, original (previously unknown) knowledge with buyers in exchange for understanding where they are in the buying process. In other words, entice them with something ridiculously valuable about your destination or property and generate a lead.

Ask yourself:

  1. What do most buyers not know about our destination/property that is honestly opportunistic given their specific need?
  2. How can we help event planners avoid unnecessary risks? Can we help them avoid risks they don’t even know they have yet?

The idea is to start showing customers opportunities they’ve never seen before or providing solutions to problems they don’t yet know they have. That’s the candy. That’s how you can become truly provocative and earn leads. The trick is showing customers ways to capitalize on opportunities and solve problems that ultimately connect to your venue.

Think of it like making everything you do on Facebook, YouTube or a blog scratch meeting planners’ or travelers’ itches.

That’s when the fun begins. Once you’ve identified the candy you’ll hand out think of a way you can highlight the value your location adds (to your buyers’ life) in ways that scratch that itch for the buyer using a blog, Facebook or YouTube.

Give Customers a Reason to Move Toward Transacting
So just remember to make everything you do on social media help event planners or travelers’ solve problems or aid them in getting something important done.

Here are tips on getting started:

• Change it up: Resist asking, “What should we be doing with Facebook?” Rather, ask “How can Facebook make what we already do for event planners better?”

Talk to me: Give your buyers a reason why they need to think about something important to them in powerful new way that gives them a reason to talk to you … so they can more clearly understand what you just provoked.

Make it easy: Use contests, calls to action, bold statements—do what it takes to prompt a reaction and make it easy for buyers to qualify themselves as leads.

Re-purpose content: Are you already helping buyers put out fires or do more with less? How? Where? Collect and organize this information using simple, accessible tools like a blog. Consider ways to prompt event planners within Facebook to visit your blog, induce a response and capture a lead.

Good luck!