When you’re tasked with promoting travel and tourism for your physical location, trying to reach event planners in an online world can be frustrating. Should you connect with event planners in your area? Over the World Wide Web? And how can you demonstrate what sets your destination marketing organization, convention center, visitors bureau, or destination management company apart from the rest?
Building relationships with event planners can definitely be challenging, but the payoff is worth it. To help you out, we’re sharing a few digital marketing tips you can use to connect with event planners for your DMO, location, or event venue.
Research past events
Before you begin reaching out to event planners, take some time to research the events your DMO or location has held in the past. Pull out information like:
- Where have you held the most events? Or where have events in your area been held? Hotels, convention centers, parks, event spaces, etc.
- What time of year are most events held and why? Is it the weather, or are events centered around holidays?
- How many people have attended, on average?
- What types of events were held? e.g. corporate retreats, conferences, festivals, weddings, fundraisers, etc.
This research will help you understand why people are already flocking to your destination. From there, you’ll know which types of event planners to work with, and you can have numbers and info to share with any event planners who are interested in working with you.
Use local SEO to get your name out there
Local search engine optimization, or local SEO, can help market your DMO, event venue, or destination to customers based on — you guessed it — location. Even if the event planner you’re targeting is not in the area, local SEO can boost your brand visibility and reputation to your local audience. To take advantage of local SEO, you might do the following.
“Localize” your website
Include your city, county, or region name naturally throughout your website. It’ll help you rank better in search engine results, making your organization more visible when someone searches for a DMO or venue in your area.
Make sure your NAPW is up to date
That’s your name, address, phone number, and website URL. When that information appears together online in one chunk, it’s called a “citation.” Citations are commonly found in directories or business listing sites like Yelp or Google My Business.
Check all your business directory listing to make sure your info is up-to-date.
Reach out to local businesses or organizations
If you mention a local business or organization in a brochure or blog post, ask them to feature or share your content on their own site or social media. Creating backlinks can boost your authority and improve your position in search results.
Show off what makes you unique
Don’t forget to show off what sets your destination apart from the rest. Why should event planners come to your town or city? What makes your event venue or convention center special for attendees?
A great way to provide this social proof is to share testimonials on your website and social media. Use testimonials that explicitly say why your event or location is unique. Maybe it’s your thoughtfully planned tourist itineraries, wedding packages, or amenities for corporate meetings and retreats. Maybe it’s your venue design and decor. Maybe it’s your 5-star chef. Whatever it is, share it using guest feedback or online reviews.
Share feedback, features, and reviews on all the relevant social platforms — but make sure to add LinkedIn into the mix. Many event planners use LinkedIn for networking and information, so it’s a great platform to get some more eyes on your social proof.
Create content that event planners want to consume
Content like blogs, additional web pages, and even case studies or “event recaps” are also great ways to boost SEO, keep your website active, and increase the odds you’ll connect with a great planner. Not sure what kind of content to create?
Think about questions event planners may ask about your destination, like:
- Peak seasons to avoid/best seasons to host events
- Nearby businesses or attractions that might interest their demographic
- Highlights from your venue (i.e. ballrooms, dining areas, hotel rooms, views, etc.)
- Past events (share photos, how you planned and executed the event, and so on)
- How your event venue, destination, or DMO can support event planners
An event planner may search for this kind of content and connect with your location or organization. It also makes it easier to build a relationship when you have resources to show any interested parties. When you do create this content, consider ways you can capture planners’ and other professionals’ emails so you can continue to connect to them with curated emails.
Build relationships with event planners
After you’ve invested in your DMO’s online presence and business information, it’s time to use your in-person skills to build relationships with event planners. Networking with event planners face-to-face can be an incredibly effective way to make an impression and get your name out there.
Look for networking events, expos, and conventions where you can meet event planners in person. Even if an event planner chooses not to work with you, they might refer your organization to others. Once you’ve made some connections, don’t let them go to waste! Take the initiative to build those relationships with event planners. Send follow up emails after meetings (and make sure they’re mobile responsive). Also, make sure to add your new connections to your email list to ensure they’re seeing all the great value you provide.
When working with event planners, remember that huge corporate events or expos take years to plan. Demonstrate your value to the event planner. Be helpful, timely, and anticipate their needs ahead of time. They’re more likely to want to come back if your partnership is beneficial. And if they return for future events, you can concentrate some of your resources on nurturing that partnership instead of focusing all your efforts on forging new ones.
Attract event planners with the right digital marketing tactics
With careful research, local SEO strategy, strong content creation, brand awareness building tactics, and networking skills, you’ll attract event planners to your event venue, DMO, or destination in no time. Need help creating your local SEO strategy or sifting through your social media feedback and reviews to attract planners (and visitors)? V9 can help. Learn more about what we can do for your brand now.