Boosting Bookings

Creating a Year-Long Marketing Calendar for your Tour & Activity

Post by
Samantha Hardcastle

February 17, 2022

Creating a Year-Long Marketing Calendar for your Tour & Activity

If you’re managing your own marketing, or you oversee the creative communications efforts of your tour & activity, you may often experience writer’s block. Or feel like you’ve run out of things to say. Does that sound familiar? 

If you’re looking at social media as purely a promotional tool, then it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re repeating yourself or that your posts lack pizazz. At some point you will sound like a broken record if you don’t take time to pause and plan out your storylines. 

We have already shared with you five engaging social media posts for your tourism business, but today we’re going to go into the process of creating a long-term plan for your content creation. But first, three things to keep in mind as you’re creating content: 

  1. Being a strong content creator means remembering that the spotlight of your social media posts shouldn’t be on you, it should be on your guests and their desires. The spotlight method reminds us to focus on your guest’s aspirations, because they want to be seen and heard. That’s how you create an emotional connection with people before they book. 
  2. It is OK to repeat yourself, because not everyone is seeing 100% of the content you’re posting. That being said, only repeat what is worth repeating. Repeating the same emotionless promotion is one thing – repeating a valuable story with a lesson or important takeaway is another. 
  3. Your passion and excitement for the experience you offer will shine best through stories. Studies suggest that other people’s moods may be as easy to catch as their germs. People can sense passion just as easily as they can sense indifference or neediness. Don’t let your emotions repel your customers!

There is an art and science to planning out your marketing for a year. Some people make be resistant to planning so far in advance, but it will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run. Here are a some key steps to making this work for you: 

Break out your year into quarters & holidays

A full year can feel a bit unruly if you don’t have any structure. Start planning quarter by quarter, focusing on the seasonal aspects of your business within that quarter. So many tour & activity operators have busy seasons and planning ahead for those is incredibly important. When we get busy, we drop the ball on our marketing. 

Next, within each quarter, highlight the holidays that you want to align your marketing communications with and how far in advance you want to begin talking about them. Don’t just highlight national holidays – focus on what sort of festivals and events are going on in your destination that you can align with. These tourism drivers are important even if you’re not participating in them. 

Even aligning with worldwide holidays and movements can help you create new storylines and content that coincides with your ideal guests’ values and interests. Some of them may be a bit silly, but some of them also have strong followings and buzz behind them. 

Come up with your own theme for each quarter 

Once you can see the way the world and your ideal guests are moving throughout their year, you can come up with a campaign focus that coincides with those societal themes. I call these micro-campaigns, where I encourage you to focus on one key message for three months. 

These messages should coincide with your values, vision, and greater purpose. If you had to pick four key pillars or themes for your brand, important messages that express what your tour & activity stand for, what would they be? 

For example, if you dedicated yourself to 3 months of speaking about the importance of spending time in nature, it would give you a strong focus to create content and stories around. Doing this forces you to break out of any overly salesy or promotional loop. 

Map out a content mix that works for you 

After all, people don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to constantly. Focus your content around speaking to your prospective guests’ curiosity and their desire to experience your culture/lifestyle. Shoot for the 80/20 rule – 80% of your content should be helpful and educational, 20% can be promotional. 

Stories are just one form of content. Thought-provoking questions, fun facts, behind-the-scenes looks, lighthearted musings, memes, challenges, testimonials, celebrating wins, inspirational quotes, lessons learned, memories, recommended events… the possibilities are endless. Which ones feel good for you? Commit to a handful and build them into your calendar so that you have some structure when it comes time to create content. 

If you can sit down and plan 1 quarter over the course of a few days, leaving space of course for things that pop up, you will have a helpful resource to keep you on track all year long. Using a tool like Notion can help you when creative ideas arise and you need to quickly add a note to your calendar. The goal is not to be rigid, but to create some guidelines to keep your marketing communications efforts on track! 

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