Use Geofencing and Geofilters to Encourage Visitation

By Kristin Dillensnyder

Use Geofencing and Geofilters to Encourage Visitation

By establishing digital fences around geographical locations, geofencing and geofilters allow you to target visitors with timely messages related to your destination. Read time: under 3 minutes

Some destinations are taking advantage of geography-based technologies (Geo) to help keep them top of mind during the travel planning process, to enhance the visitor experience while they are in town, to further leverage the user-generated content (UGC) being created while visitors are exploring your destination, and even to bounce visitors forward to upcoming events. One new technology is called Geofencing and it can be an effective delivery method for timely and relevant marketing to specific target audiences. Simply put, geofencing allows you to establish a virtual fence around specific geographic locations—like restaurants, convention centers, whole sections of town, or even an area (outside of your destination) that may contain likely travelers to your area. Once a device passes into this boundary, the user begins receiving targeted ads on social media and within their mobile browsers relevant to their recent location. Have you ever walked into a shoe store and then later that day noticed an ad on Facebook promoting the store you just visited? That’s a result of geofencing! There are virtually unlimited ways to use geofencing to enhance the visitor experience and encourage future visitation. Here are a couple of examples:

Ads intended to encourage a repeat visit

  • Create an ad that contains a coupon code for tickets to an event coming up in the next three months. For example—the last time I was in Myrtle Beach, I was targeted with ads promoting June’s Carolina Country Music Fest, encouraging me to return.
  • Create an ad that highlights family-friendly parts of your city to encourage repeat visits with more people. For example—on the same trip to Myrtle Beach, I was targeted with ads for kid-friendly museums that would encourage me to return with my family in tow.

Ads promoting city exploration

  • Try promoting your complimentary attractions and/or events to visitors that are similar to the ones they are visiting (there are actually ways to tell who is a visitor to a location vs. an employee, etc.). Accompany the ad with a message suggesting these other opportunities are not to be missed.
  • Share transportation options—Uber/taxis, public transit system, trolley, or easy park-and-walk locations. The Gaylord Opryland in Nashville does a great job of this. While they’re located a good distance from downtown, their advertisements target visitors staying at their hotel with information about local transportation to the heart of Music City.

Geofilters can help enhance the power of UGC

In addition to geofencing with ads, you might be familiar with geofilters that have been made popular by Snapchat. Based on the same location detection technology, a creative image filter can be offered for a user to add as an overlay to their photo or video that they then share with their friends. This is a great way to build brand awareness by leveraging user-generated content or what is now often referred to as UGC . With 187 million daily active users, Snapchat is not something to keep on the back burner—even if you don’t use it personally. Creating a filter frame for a conference, concert, event, or attraction could help promote your destination by people who are exploring and visiting your city. [caption id="attachment_3119" align="aligncenter" width="400"]Example of a Snapchat image filter Example of a Snapchat image filter[/caption]

Marketing with Geo

We recently tested out two custom geofilters using Snapchat—one for a Food Truck Takeover and the other for a local festival. For the first one, we defined the geographic location of the event and created a filter—in this case, a city skyline graphic and brand tagline—that was available to frame any visual content shared on Snapchat. [caption id="attachment_3115" align="aligncenter" width="610"]Geofenced area used to make the Snapchat filter available to festival attendees. Geofenced area used to make the Snapchat filter available to festival attendees.[/caption] For less than $100, the filter was made available to all users within the geofenced area for the duration of the event. 241 people saw the filter, 52 used it (21.6% usage rate), and 2,500 people viewed the filtered photos—giving that destination more "branded" exposure than they would have experienced without it. We used the same tactics and geofilter for another festival and garnered over 12,000 views in a 24-hour period. And all for a media budget under $200. We know it takes a lot of time and effort to grow tourism and travel in your city—especially when cities all around you are trying to accomplish the same thing! Using geography-based marketing tools to influence visitors is a great way to make your marketing efforts go further and generate more visits. Start by looking at the target groups identified in your marketing action plan and begin strategizing how Geo strategies could help influence the appropriate target audiences to accomplish the roles you have identified that will lead to your success with them and on behalf of your destination overall.