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Maximizing Your Tourism Marketing Strategy: The Power of Paid, Owned, Earned Media


As consumers are constantly exposed to a plethora of information thanks to the immediacy and ease of online communication in the digital age, your marketing is no longer solely about the messaging content you convey. Today, it is also about what guests, reviewers, influencers, and peers say about your tourism business online.

This shift has brought Paid, Owned, Earned Media to the forefront of tourism content marketing. And, as success in tourism marketing hinges on crafting content that effectively communicates with your target audience, utilising these three key media content types plays a pivotal role in driving your tourism businesses toward success.

Understanding Paid, Owned, and Earned Media in Tourism

Graph of the three types of media content - paid owned earned media

The Power of Paid, Owned, Earned Media in Tourism Marketing

1. Paid Media in Tourism

Definition: Paid media involves any content or advertising space your tourism business pays for, such as social media ads, search engine marketing, or influencer partnerships.
Why It’s Important: Paid media is a powerful tool to reach a broader audience, generating immediate results. It complements your organic efforts and ensures your tourism services are visible to potential travellers who might have yet to discover you.

2. Owned Media in Tourism

Definition: Owned media includes all the digital channels and content controlled by your tourism business, such as your website, blog posts, social media profiles, and email newsletters.
Why It’s Important: Owned media serves as a platform to shape your brand identity and engage directly with travellers. It’s where you have control over your messaging and can establish your tourism business’s unique voice.

Definition of Owned Media

Definition of Owned Media

3. Earned Media for Tourism

Definition: Earned media in the tourism industry involves content or exposure gained organically, often from guests, influencers, or online reviews. This includes customer testimonials, social media mentions, and blog posts.
Why It’s Important: Earned media provides authenticity and trust, as it reflects the genuine experiences and opinions of tourists. It helps build credibility and a positive reputation for your tourism business.

Let’s dig down further…

The Three Types of Earned Media You Should Fully Comprehend

1. Positive Organic Earned Media

Definition: Positive organic earned media is the most cherished form. It results from genuine and unsolicited endorsements and praises from travellers who have had delightful experiences with your tourism business. This content is typically spontaneous and authentic, stemming from the sheer enthusiasm of your satisfied customers.
Importance: Positive organic earned media is invaluable in building trust and credibility. When tourists share their positive experiences without any incentives or requests, it signifies your tourism services have made a genuine impact.
Examples: Customers spontaneously sharing stunning holiday photos on social media, leaving glowing reviews of their unforgettable experience, or writing heartfelt blog posts recounting their adventures all fall under the category of positive organic earned media.

2. Brand Stimulated Earned Media

Definition: Brand stimulated earned media involves content you actively encourage or incentivize consumers to generate. It may include contests, giveaways, or campaigns where participants create content related to your tourism offerings. This type of earned media is still genuine but results from your deliberate efforts to spark engagement.
Importance: Brand stimulated earned media can help you magnify your reach and engage with a broader audience. It allows you to control the narrative to some extent, ensuring the content aligns with your marketing goals.
Examples: Running a photo contest where guests submit their best pictures of your tourism business, offering rewards for the most creative posts, or encouraging visitors to share their experiences through specific hashtags are all instances of brand stimulated earned media.

3. Spurned Earned Media

Definition: Spurned earned media is the least desirable form of earned media. It encompasses unsolicited harmful content, including critical reviews, complaints, or negative feedback. This content may come from tourists, the press, or other sources, often reflecting unfavourable experiences or opinions.
Importance: While spurned earned media is not something tourism businesses seek, it’s an essential aspect of reputation management. Addressing and managing negative feedback professionally can demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and highlight opportunities for improvement.
Examples: Negative TripAdvisor reviews, critical comments on social media posts, or blog posts detailing unsatisfactory experiences can all be categorised as spurned earned media.

Types of Earned Media Graph

The Three Types of Earned Media

Managing and responding to spurned earned media is critical to maintaining a positive online reputation. Addressing issues and taking steps to improve customer experiences can turn negative feedback into opportunities for growth.

How to Use Each Type of Media in Crafting a Tourism Marketing Plan

Paid Media

Paid media is a powerful tool to grow brand awareness and drive traffic directly to your owned media properties. Consider these strategies:

  • Social Media Advertising: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok offer highly targeted advertising options. For example, running an Instagram ad campaign showcasing your scenic tours to a highly engaged audience can yield significant results.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM): paid search ads on Google to appear at the top of search results when potential tourists are looking for relevant information.
  • Influencer Partnerships: Collaborate with travel influencers who can authentically promote your tourism experiences to their engaged followers.

Owned Media

Owned media serves as the digital channels and content that you have complete control over. It’s where you create and manage content unique to your tourism business. Here’s how to maximise owned media in your marketing plan:

  • Website and Blog: Your website is the cornerstone of your owned media. Create captivating web content, including blog posts about your destination, experiences, and travel tips.
    FURTHER READING: 20 Tourism + Destination Blog Post Ideas to Drive Engagement
  •  Social Media Profiles: Your social media accounts are extensions of your brand. Regularly post engaging content, share updates, and interact with your audience. For example, post stunning visuals of your tourism offerings on Instagram and engage with travellers’ comments and questions.
  • Email Marketing: email newsletters to connect with potential and previous guests. Send updates about upcoming events, special offers, and travel recommendations. Crafting a monthly newsletter featuring the “Top 10 Hidden Gems of [Your Destination]” can keep your audience engaged and give you further return bookings.
  • Video Content: Video content is a powerful owned media asset. Create videos that showcase the beauty of your destination, offer travel tips, or share customer testimonials.
  • Online Listings: Ensure your tourism business is well-represented on online listings and directories. Keep your information accurate, and encourage customers to leave reviews and ratings. A comprehensive profile on your ATDW with updated photos and helpful information can attract potential tourists.
  • Ebooks and Guides: Offer valuable resources in the form of ebooks or travel guides that can be downloaded from your website. A guide titled “The [Your Destination] Adventure Handbook” can establish your authority and attract travellers seeking in-depth knowledge.
  • Interactive Maps: Create interactive maps on your website to help tourists navigate your destination. Include key points of interest, local recommendations, and contact information. These maps can enhance the user experience and provide valuable information.

By harnessing owned media through these strategies, you can control your brand narrative, engage with your audience, and provide valuable information to potential tourists, ultimately driving them to explore your destination and book their travel experiences.

Earned Media

Earned media is about building credibility and trust. It often involves travellers talking positively about your brand. Here’s how to harness it:

  • Encourage User-Generated Content (UGC): Encourage tourists to share their experiences on social media, creating authentic content that can attract potential tourists. For instance, a beautiful Instagram photo with your destination’s hashtag can inspire others to visit.
    FURTHER READING: User Generated Content in Tourism Marketing – A Quick Guide
  • Leverage Positive Reviews: Showcase positive reviews and testimonials from satisfied travellers on your website and marketing materials. These are strong indicators of quality and trustworthiness.
  • Engage with Travel Bloggers and Influencers: Collaborate with travel bloggers and influencers who can provide authentic reviews and endorsements of your tourism offerings.

How to Measure Each Type of Media in the Tourism Marketing Plan

Accurate measurement is essential for refining your tourism marketing strategy. Here’s how to measure the impact of each media type:

1. Paid Media Metrics

Impressions: Track how many times your paid content was displayed to users.
Click-Through Rate (CTR): Calculate the percentage of users who clicked on your ad after seeing it.
Conversion Rate: Determine the number of users who completed a desired action, such as booking a tour.
Return on Investment (ROI): Calculate the profitability of your paid media efforts.

2. Owned Media Metrics

Website Traffic: the number of visitors, page views, and time spent on your website.
Email Open Rates and Click-Through Rates: Gauge the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
Social Media Engagement: Measure likes, comments, shares, and follower growth on your social profiles.
Content Performance: Track the success of blog posts, videos, and other owned media content through metrics like views, shares, and comments.

Additional Considerations

Consistency: Maintaining uniformity across all media types ensures a cohesive and compelling brand image.
Adaptation: Continuously adapt your content to reflect changing traveller preferences and industry trends.
Engagement: Actively engage with your audience on social media, responding to comments, questions, and reviews.
Feedback Integration: Incorporate feedback from reviews and user-generated content into product and service improvements.
User Journey Mapping: Understand your guests journey from inspiration to booking and tailor content accordingly.

3. Earned Media Metrics

Social Media Shares and Mentions: Count how often your brand is mentioned or shared on social media
Review Ratings: Monitor the average rating and the number of reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor and Google.
Influence Engagement: Assess the impact of influencer partnerships through metrics like follower growth, engagement, and referral traffic.

Wrapping it Up

As you can see, leveraging Paid, Owned, Earned Media is vital for building trust, engagement, and credibility in tourism marketing. Each media type contributes to a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy that helps tourism businesses reach and resonate with their target audience. By measuring the impact of each media type, refining your approach, and embracing the power of user-generated content, you can create compelling content that inspires tourists and drives growth for your business.

Tania Shirgwin

Tania Shirgwin

Founder + Head Consultant

Tania is a marketing strategist specialising in tourism, wine and hospitality marketing. As founder of Decant Digital (formerly bizeez communications), Tania’s unique role over the past 14 years has enabled her to follow her passions of travel and her marketing obsessions of strategic marketing planning, consumer-focused web development, search optimisation, and training. With over 80 customised websites built to date, successful event marketing campaigns and new business branding, Tania’s wealth of experience ensures businesses continually increase website traffic, direct bookings, and sales via proven marketing tactics.

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