This is a guest post written by Mr. Timo Hänninen from Konvertigo.io, a global digital marketing agency. If you want to write a guest blog about personas, please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The pandemic is taking its toll on businesses worldwide, but one of the industries that has to endure the most, is the tourism industry.
While the situation may be only temporary, it will most likely change the way we live in the future as well. If you’re working in tourism and currently experiencing a big low, there are things you can do right now to get more business in the short and long term.
Today, we will discuss the use of personas to discover what your target audience’s needs are right now and how to adjust your business in such a way that you can better meet these needs.
We will feature 3 ways in which you can use personas to your advantage during and after the pandemic. We will not only answer the ‘Why’, but also give you a list of actionable steps that you can apply to your business today.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Personas – A Short Introduction
Personas are fictional people based on your target audience. You can uncover the characters driving these people by doing research, taking surveys and talking to the actual people that purchase your products or services.
Every industry can use personas to discover more about the needs of their target audience, the same is true for tourism.
By creating personas, you can get out of your own head and better understand the needs, behaviors and demands of your customers. Personas help make every customer-facing process of your business less complex and distant, and more personal.
More importantly, however, personas give you the opportunity to create the best experience for your customer, leading to satisfied customers and in turn, more business.
This Is How Personas Can Help You With the COVID-19 Pandemic
Personas are useful for every business and during every time. However, the challenges posed by the pandemic can be turned around by relying more heavily on personas. Here’s how.
People’s behavior has changed. Things are different now, not only because of the restrictions of the various degrees of lockdowns that have been imposed globally – people have also become more wary and scared.
Emotions are inevitably linked with their behavior and right now, people are scared to leave their homes. This means tourism businesses are no longer able to stick with their traditional business model – the industry must adapt in order to survive, at least to a certain degree.
The best way to find out how to better serve your customers, is by pushing aside your current user personas (if there are any!) and start from scratch, right down to the research phase.
By researching the current market and speaking with your customers personally, you will come to better understand their emotions and their needs.
2. Focus on the Right People
This is not the time to develop or offer products or services your target market has no use for. Rather than marketing to everyone, buyer personas help you to narrow it down.
Due to the pandemic, many people have lost their jobs and are in a different situation financially than they were a few months ago. Relying on your old personas, or even none at all, will lead you in the wrong direction. The tangibility of a specific set of personas will help your organization to shape an offering that works for your customers.
While it may feel counterintuitive to rely on buyer personas and limit your target market, the opposite is true. The goal is to create a larger set of personas so you can reach thousands, while at the same time making it feel personal.
3. Reshaping the Future of Tourism
The main objective of your company should not only be to sell products and services, but also to solve a problem or fulfill a customer need. What challenges does your most important target market face?
And it’s not just challenges you have to deal with. At any given time – and now more than ever – there are a number of objections you must take away in order to persuade your target market to choose the solution you offer. When you know the objections your target market faces when it comes to buying your product or service, you can create content that refutes these objections. What’s more, they support the organization in finding an even better solution to their potential customers’ problems.
Research lies at the heart of every marketing activity, and this is even more true for personas. By uncovering the story that drives your customers, you can actively reshape the future of your industry and help your own organization thrive at the same time.
Buyer Personas for the Tourism Industry – 8 Actionable Steps
1. Name your Persona to Make Her Recognizable
Give your buyer persona a name and find a picture of your ideal customer. This will allow you and your team to better identify with this person. It also makes it easier to talk about them.
If you find it difficult to come up with a name, talk to your sales department. They are in constant contact with customers and probably have a certain name for a certain type of persona.
2. Add Basic Data
Time to fill in the basic data. Who exactly is your target customer? Adding some basic information will make your buyer persona come to life. Think of data such as:
- Family composition
3. Core Values and Drivers
To get to know your persona a little better, write down his/her core values. These define their personality.
Think of things like:
- Traditional vs. progressive
- Intuitive vs. factual
- Practical vs. creative
This information is especially important for the way your customers make choices and decisions.
Someone who focuses on facts will also want to see details and figures. But someone who is visual or more intuitive, doesn’t have much interest in facts and makes choices based on their emotions. A website with a lot of visual material, nice branding, pictures of (smiling) people and icons might do better for such a person.
Besides defining the personality of your target customer, you also need to look at their goals. What does he/she find important when looking for a product or service, such as a city trip?
- Are they looking to spend some time with their family?
- Do they want to enjoy cultural or historic sites?
- Or are they more of a party-goer?
Answering these questions is important to best serve your target market.
5. Problems and Challenges
When you formulate goals, you also face problems or challenges. There are things standing in the way of achieving your goals. Therefore, think about the problems your persona encounters in achieving the goal. Especially given the circumstances of the pandemic, the problems and challenges of your target market have changed.
It is your job to figure out what your market can and cannot do, the limitations of the country they are in and how to offer a workaround.
Problems can also arise from other areas, such as work environment, personal knowledge, technology, and health.
Where there is a problem, there is also a solution. What can your product or service mean for your persona?
In the past, you may have focused on getting people to book a trip abroad. Lockdown limitations might make this impossible for now – or impractical at the least! Your customers might be better served with city trips within their own country.
So think about what your product/service will bring to your persona and what problem you can solve, and how they can reach their goals.
7. Use of Media
Now that you know what your product/service can do for your persona, it is time to focus on where they get their information for that solution.
Which sources do they trust? And where do they look for solutions to their problem? Knowing which channels they use will help you shape your content. And it gives you an idea of where you need to present your content to reach them.
Think about the following:
- Social media channels
- Traditional channels, such as television
- Personal network
8. Purchase Behavior
Finally, let’s take a closer look at the purchase behavior of your persona. What you would like to know is what process your buyer persona goes through before they decide to purchase a product or service.
You can find out by answering the following questions:
- What role does your persona play in the process?
- Does your persona regularly buy similar products/services?
- What are reasons for your buyer persona not to purchase the product/service?
Looking for a more in-depth guide on creating personas? Check out our guide to using Buyer Persona Templates here.
The world has changed. In order to survive, your business needs to change, too. By staying on top of your market’s challenges and quickly responding to changes, your tourism business can come out stronger and ready for the future. Personas are a powerful tool to reach that goal.
Still not sure how to collect all the data to come up with powerful new personas? Konvertigo can help you get the marketing research you need. Click here to get started!
About the author: Timo Hänninen works as a COO in Konvertigo – Digital Marketing Agency. Experience in digital marketing and startups. Also interested in personas and customer segmentation. https://www.linkedin.com/in/hanninentimo/