The power of advertising on Facebook for tourist operators

No, not stupid photos of cats or yet another incarnation of ‘keep calm and blah blah blah’ posted to the wall of your Facebook business page: we are talking Facebook advertising.

Although you can argue the social media merits of Facebook, the fact people post so much of their personal lives to their profiles is actually a massive opportunity for your tourism business.

Facebook knows people better than they know themselves. They know who someone’s friends are, what pages they like, what pages their friends like, what those friends’ interests are, and a lot more, as well as where all those people got their soy latte from last Tuesday. They know when someone is in the market for a holiday as they have been surfing around looking at the Facebook pages of resorts and attractions.

Because of this, within the Facebook advertising platform, businesses can very specifically target who they advertise to. They obviously don’t disclose who someone is, but they know what you are and they can target you or people who ‘look’ just like you (according to Facebook’s powerful algorithms).

There are three main types of Facebook advertising:

Demographic targeting

This is where you target people based on where they live, how old they are, relationships, etc. For example, I want to show my ad to males between 25 and 45 years old, within 20km radius of Maroochydore, who are interested in surfing. This method is the least ‘targeted’ approach but is ideal for building new ‘likes’, or getting visitors to your website. It is also a hell of a lot more effective than radio or TV advertising where you’re simply targeting people who happen to be consuming content at the same time.


Showing ads to people who have visited your website in the past is done by inserting a tracking pixel on your website, which tracks that user so that the next time they go to Facebook your ad is shown to them. Showing ads to those people gives you another knock of the marketing hammer. You only pay for the ad if it is clicked, and if it is that means you obviously have a very highly engaged prospect.

If you think that’s clever, read on…

Lookalike audiences

One of the best ways to use Facebooks ads is to create what is called ‘lookalike audiences’. You can create a lookalike audience of Facebook users based on an existing database.

You can upload any list of email addresses or mobile phone numbers to create a custom audience. In our experience, about 60% of people use their main email address for their Facebook account. And while you can then market to those people on Facebook, the real power is creating a lookalike audience, allowing you to reach new Facebook users who are more likely to convert as customers because they look just like your existing customers!

From your customers’ profiles, Facebook intuitively creates audiences of like-minded people with similar interests or demographics. This type of advertising is amazingly powerful for local businesses trying to step out to a national audience.

So let’s say you get a bunch of people coming from Brisbane to stay with you on the Sunshine Coast, but you are having problems getting new customers from Sydney. You upload the email list of your Brisbane customers, Facebook creates a lookalike audience and you start advertising to those people in Sydney.

The targeting is amazing and so is the return on investment. You can suddenly be sourcing leads from all over Australia from people just like the ones who have already stayed with you. Of course, it works better for some market segments than others. And tourism is absolutely ripe for the picking because Facebook is primarily something done in people’s leisure time.

If you don’t have an existing database to start with, Facebook can also create lookalike audiences from people who already like your page or any other previous audience including those who have converted for past ads.

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7 years ago

Well said Glenn, we have used FB advertising with all sorts of combinations over the past ski season, trying the varying functionalities with varying levels of success. It seems sometimes what worked last week didn’t work the week after but hey thats marketing. The great thing about FB is that there are a heap of tools and use what works.

7 years ago

Great advice, with Facebook the for your business the one thing is to be consistent and post relevant content to your business.

Glenn @ Kook
7 years ago

Thanks for your kind words. Checkout the August issue of Resort News for more on the topic.

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