×

Digital Adoption in the BC Tourism Industry – An Original Study

Conner Galway

BC is home to some of the most incredible destinations, and some of the most talented tourism marketers in the world, but over 25% of its businesses aren’t making use of even the most basic free resources.

I’ve noticed that when it comes to digital media most people seem to think that everyone else has it all figured out. We all seem to have this illusion that we’re lagging behind while our competition is sailing along implementing, innovating, and publishing as if it were second nature. Junction’s role as consultant and coach to a wide variety of brands puts us in a unique position to know just how incorrect that story is, that even the big, polished-looking brands are figuring out this stuff as they go.

There’s power in understanding the reality of the landscape: Which tools are under-utilized? Which ones are being used across the board? And are there small but telling pockets of the market taking advantage of specific tactics? Exposing those insights was the motivation behind our study of the BC Tourism market. Our goal here is to lay out, in simple terms, exactly which tools the majority of businesses are using to help other similar organizations make informed choices about where they can be spending their time and resources.

A Bit of Context

To gather our study’s data we used a variety of tools and software that allow us to aggregate publicly available information. The data collected is from a total of 201 businesses that are currently in operation across the province of BC. The sample size is roughly 2% of the total number of active travel and tourism businesses across BC, which means that we’ve got a 7% confidence interval and a 95% confidence level. In other words: it’s reasonable to expect that these numbers are accurate representations of the entire province within about 7% above or below the numbers that we’ve reported here.

In order to qualify as a subject businesses must have had active websites or at least one active social media channel – we used that as a proxy to make sure that we were studying only brands that are alive and well, but of course it did create some bias in our data by filtering out any active business that has no digital presence.

Google Products & Facebook are Table Stakes

Here’s one number that jumped out at me right out of the gates: 75% of businesses have claimed their Google My Business listing, and the same number have Google Analytics installed.

These tools are free and super powerful, and from our work with these businesses I knew that there was a group who hadn’t yet taken advantage of them, but I really didn’t expect that a quarter of them are flying blind online.

When it comes to Facebook, of course, this study doesn’t tell us how effectively it’s being used, but we can see that the vast majority (95%) of businesses have at least taken steps to get a page started. What we can see is that from that 95% total, 22% have become inactive, so that means nearly three quarters of tourism businesses across BC are posting to their Facebook Pages at least once per week.

Instagram has Taken the #2 Social Spot

There was a time when Twitter was the defacto social media channel, especially in the tourism industry. However, since 17% of BC’s tourism accounts have gone dormant, and Instagram has picked up significant market share, IG is now in the lead with 47% of our study regularly posting.

Most Brands are not Advertising on Facebook

Only 26% of our businesses have active Facebook Ads accounts, which stands out for a couple of reasons:

  1. How have more people not figured this stuff out by now? Social ads are the most efficient media available, especially for tourism with its geographic and behaviour-based targeting capabilities.
  2. There’s still a lot of opportunity to differentiate using social ads. I’ve noticed a perception among brands that “everyone” is running Facebook Ads, so it may be time to shift attention to the next new shiny thing. We can see pretty clearly that’s just not the case. In fact, three quarters of our study is not using it at all, not to mention all of the ones who may be using the ads ineffectively.

Remarketing Is Barely Touched

Less than 9% of BC marketers are retargeting their website visitors.

Especially when it comes to advertising to travellers, remarketing presents a significant opportunity. Think about the last time that you booked a trip – it’s almost never the case that you’d see a property or product for the fist time, click to the site and slap down your credit card. Travel is a high shopping purchase – people spend weeks, or even months planning their next trip, comparing options, and reading review sites. The opportunity to know who has been checking you out and then serve ads only to that audience, encouraging them down the purchase funnel is significant and it’s being left on the table by a huge majority of businesses.

We’ve Just Scratched the Surface

Both in terms of this study, and the digital marketplace in general. The perception that everyone else is sailing smoothly through their social media calendars is clearly misled, but there are certain regions and markets that are leading the way. In the Okanagan, for example, 71% of businesses have active Twitter accounts, and 97% of the Fraser Valley has claimed their Google My Business accounts.

What to Do With the Data

Please don’t read these results as a call to run out and claim/install every trick and tactic available. That’s actually the opposite of what we’re seeing as an effective strategy.

A smart use of these findings may be to take a look at how your business measures up and ask yourself: Are we just getting by, or are we setting ourselves apart?

The best brands are the ones that identify the specific area(s) where their ability to act is high, the audience’s attention is piqued, and competition for that attention is low.

Finding that sweet spot is magic when it happens, and it’s what I hope this study is able to help you achieve.

Expect to see lots more data broken down in the future, and the tourism industry is just the start. Enter your email address below to be sent our latest ideas, findings, opinions, and digital news in The Brief, which is sent every Monday. Also, if you have an industry, an area, or a specific topic that you think we should dig into, shoot us a message: Hello@Junctionyvr.com.

Thanks and research credit for this study goes to Shraddha Sekhon and Mel Webb Wilkinson.

Header image photography by Viviana Rishe on Unsplash.

For more information on the study, information on methodology, source data, or how to commission your own study, contact Conner@Junctionyvr.com

Every Monday we send the Social Brief – it’s an email with our opinions and insights about digital and social.
Sign up to be kept in the loop.