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Visit Scotland | Alba

Effective marketing to attract and retain customers

The rise in demand for cycling tourism creates a business case for marketing strategies to attract and retain customers.

There are ways you can effectively reach your target audience and build a strong customer base. You can do so with the right messaging, highlighting the unique experiences and benefits that cycling tourism offers. But also by tailoring messaging to different types of cyclists.

This page offers more advice on how to attract cycling visitors and which channels to use for the best performance and visibility.

Account for these facts when planning any activity

37%

of UK visitors book their trip within one week of travel

29%

of US visitors book their trip over 90 days in advance

50%

of international travellers use travel agents or tour operators to book their trips

General advice

  • Changing media landscape

    The media landscape has become more fragmented. This is due to the number of platforms consumers use and the different ways they search for information. The legislative framework has also made tracking consumer engagement more challenging. There is, for example, an increasing focus on privacy rights.

  • Focus on data driven

    It's more important than ever that any marketing activity should be data driven. It needs to identify key audiences and tailor channel selection to ensure it will deliver the best results.

  • Online video drives engagement

    Online video is currently the number one driver for best engagement and results. But creative content must be more distinctive in order to stand out and sustain attention. Visitors are more likely to make use of your business, the longer they remain engaged with your content or activity. Remember to tell compelling stories to sustain that attention and engagement.

  • Constantly review your offer

    It's also worth reviewing the experiences you offer. Assess each stage of your customer journey - see, think, plan, do, advocate - and change this wherever you see potential to improve.

Consider your marketing channel distribution

Visitors choose to book holidays and experiences in several ways. This is influenced by their cultural norms, convenience, and how familiar they are with the destination or experience type.

There are many competing destinations looking to attract cyclists (of all types) to their shores. So, it's important to understand how your potential customers are planning and booking their holidays.

Find out which distribution channels they will seek out to inspire, plan and book. Think of:

  • social media
  • search engines
  • large tour operators
  • a personal travel advisor
  • online tour operators (OTAs) such as Booking.com and Expedia

For cycling holidays, consumers will often look for specialists based in their own country. These may then contact local Scottish-based suppliers to deliver the ground handling for their clients.

The purposes of distribution channels are twofold:

  1. to give potential customers the information they need to make a holiday choice
  2. to allow them to book once they have made their holiday choice

Choosing the best distribution channels for your business to develop and grow requires research and time.

Routes to market

We're living in an online age where there's a lot of businesses trying to get visitors to book the service that they're providing. This means that it's best not only to be bookable, but also to be discoverable.

There are broadly speaking two ways to catch the eye of visitors online; direct and indirect bookings.

To really stand out and not get lost in a sea of competitors, it's best to see if there's a business case for you to pursue both routes to market.

This might maximise the views for your business, potentially leading to the biggest amount of bookings possible.

Direct bookings

This is where a customer books with a business without that business having to pay a commission.

Examples:

  • by phone, email, or direct message
  • through website's online booking engine

Being online bookable is essential for today's travellers, especially those on the move, such as cyclists.

There are people who increasingly plan and book their holidays online. This makes investment in a user-friendly booking system essential to attract these visitors.

It's also the first step in being able to distribute through third party channels.

Indirect bookings

This is where a customer uses a third party to research and book their travel. 

Examples:

  • an online tour operator
  • a travel agent
  • a traditional tour operator

You can sell any "bookable product" through a travel distributor, be it leisure, business, or special interest based such as cycling. It could be a hotel room, a self-catering cottage, a private tour, food and drink, an attraction, transport, an activity or a combination of any of these.

Many international visitors rely on advice they trust when planning and booking their holiday. Local travel advisors, tour operators, and specialists are key sources of advice. This is particularly true for long-haul and emerging markets.

Online tour operators such as Expedia, Booking.com, Viator are widely used globally. Visitors use these services to book their holiday. So, using them gives your business the benefit of their global marketing reach.

Work with social media and influencers

Word of mouth and social media are the two main sources of travel inspiration. Adding cycling-focussed content to your social media channels is a great way to attract cyclists. It's also useful to show why your business should be their first choice on their cycling trip to Scotland.

Why not consider working with infulencers to explore how a cycling trip could look in your region? Or take some high-quaity imagery of the cycling amenities your business can offer.

Viewing VisitScotland on social media

Join in our social media activity

Getting your content shared by us doesn't need to be difficult. We're always on the lookout for fantastic, relevant content to share with our audience to inspire people to visit Scotland.

A very effective way for us to do this is to showcase the content being produced by industry, bloggers, and visitors.

Join in our social media activity and get your content shared on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels.

Top tips

  • Share authentic content

    Keep your content authentic. We aren't looking for staged of branded pictures, just high quality images or videos that focus on the destination.

  • Use appropriate hashtags

    To allow us to notice and see your content, make sure you use the hashtags #VisitScotland and #OnlyInScotland on your Instagram posts. Make sure your captions include key information such as the location and any interesting tips.

  • Tag us on Twitter

    Tagging @VisitScotland in your Tweets will allow us to notice and see your content. If your Tweet is relevant for our audience and includes a high quality video, image, or link, we may retweet this to our audience.

Consumer PR

Our PR teams are always looking for new story angles to pitch to journalists. Do you have a unique cycling experience to share with the world that you think is distinct and could stand out from the crowd? Share it with our press team at travelpr@visitscotland.com.