dinosaur with megaphone wearing suspenders

Beyond the Hype: Why Tourism Conversion Funnels Are Far from Extinct

Tourism marketing is a unique beast.

Yes, it can be tricky. But fortunately, the journey from dreamer to explorer is a tale as old as time. All your strategy needs to do is meet folks right where they are in the process.

Cue “marketing funnels.”

And despite what the Tiktok “gurus” have to say, funnels are not dead, elusive, or even things of lore. 

At Von Mack, we employ funnel strategies every day. We can attest that they are alive and well. And when executed correctly, they work wonders.

Sounds like it’s time to debunk the myths, shall we?

The Essence of the Tourism Funnel

So what is a marketing funnel?

Think of it as a psychological roadmap, guiding travelers from that initial spark of wanderlust right through to their final booking.

It’s the art of understanding and influencing a traveler’s psyche that elevates at every stage.


marketing funnel diagram


Awareness: Crafting Perfect First Impression

The first step is to get noticed. Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s better if you know who you’re talking to. And that’s a step that so many tourism businesses take in the wrong direction.

Fun Fact: 81% of U.S. travelers noticed advertising early in their planning process… and we’ll bet money that the majority of the folks behind those ads had super deliberate targeting.  In the realm of tourism, first impressions matter.

So take a hard pause on the “who” you’d like to get in front of before you make some noise. It’ll make all the difference and save you a lot of headache.

Then go clang some pans together. We recommend digital media as a great place to start.

Pro Tip: Segmentation can increase web conversion rates by up to 300%, as highlighted by Forbes.

Interest: Beyond the Brochure

After capturing their attention, the real challenge is to deepen that interest. How do you pique their curiosity? Is there a bit of allure?

This is where the right headline matched with shots of pristine beaches, bustling markets, or serene mountain trails comes into play. You’ve found the right audience, so this is where you make them say, “Hey, wait a minute there. What exactly is this about?”

Per Adobe, approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy — but they may be willing to provide contact information in exchange for valuable content.

Your ads need a hook. Think about what you can say that’ll make them swim up close.

A great headline to a lead magnet works wonders.

Pro Tip: Interactive content, like virtual tours or destination quizzes, can significantly boost engagement because audiences can take something from you without having to give much back. Think about what you can offer! 

a sea monster on a jet ski

Decision: The Art of Persuasion

With interest piqued, guiding travelers towards a decision requires a blend of emotion and logic. The promise of unique experiences, combined with practical considerations like budget or safety, plays a pivotal role.

What can you do to eliminate decision barriers and have folks book now over later? This is where the psychology of scarcity, urgency, and social proof are useful.

Companies that are successful at nurturing leads generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. (Forrester Research)

Take out anything that causes buyer hesitation by answering to it with strategic visuals and copy. Then help them book by giving them absolutely all of the “why’s.”

Pro Tip: Personalized email campaigns noting exclusive discounts or limited-time product offers can be particularly effective in nudging travelers towards a decision.


Action: From Dreamer to Explorer

In the action phase, dreams turn into plans, or as marketers would say, “sales conversions.” It is the finish line, so if you’re doing well here, great job.

Here, funnels work best when the buying press is quick, easy, and not arduous at all. And the harder the sale, the easier the booking flow should be. (If you need a reference, just think Amazon.)

But remember, the journey doesn’t end with a booking. Building lasting relationships and ensuring that your guests become advocates for future sales are the next milestones. And when you go back to the beginning of the funnel, keep lookalike audiences and everything you’ve learned in mind for expansion.

Pro Tip: Post-trip surveys and feedback can provide invaluable insights, helping refine both the travel experience and the marketing strategy.

Bringing it Together

Despite the changing digital landscape,  the marketing funnel remains a cornerstone in tourism marketing. And even with the loss of tracking on the horizon, they’re alive, kicking, and totally real.

To stay successful, just hold true to the foundational principles of marketing psychology and the fundamentals of integrated campaigns.

It’s very much worth the effort. We promise.

And if you need any help, you know who to call.