7 Ways to Target Tourists With Paid Ads.

By Jeroen, 3 July 2023

Industry Marketing, Tourist Marketing

7 Ways to Target Tourists With Paid Ads

With all the money involved, the tourism industry is often a great opportunity to drive more sales for your business. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the Netherlands earns around 30 billion euros every year from this industry. And with the power of paid ads, you can effectively reach out to tourists and promote your business. However, many businesses struggle to reach tourists because the target audience is often spread across the world, and targeting people worldwide is ambitious and will eat up your budgets.

Therefore, the right strategy and a deep understanding of your target audience, their behavior, and the channels they prefer to use when searching for travel-related information is necessary. Determining your strategy can be overwhelming but we are here to help! Let’s dive into the available opportunities.

1. Examine your own data

Market research among your current customers is essential and can lead towards valuable insights. For example, if you know that more German customers are visiting during a specific holiday, it might be a good idea to put extra focus on Germans in this period and increase your campaign’s budgets.

It might sound logical but often this simple step is overlooked. Make sure market research is your starting point to target relevant and highly specific audiences.

2. Use geographical targeting

Next, it is important to narrow your target by focusing on the geographic areas where your target audience is likely to be. It’s great that more Germans are visiting during the holidays but focussing on the entire country and targeting over 83 million people might be a bit too enthusiastic. Therefore, it is important to let your geographical targeting work for you. Focus on the areas that are converting and keep in mind that you can also exclude certain locations. For example, targeting universities during summer holidays might not be effective since students won’t be there at all.

On top of that, you need to use the right settings. If you want to reach people at home while they are preparing their holiday, you can use the option Search interest to target people that are searching for your target location. On the other hand, if you want to reach tourists while they are already in town you should focus on the option Presence to target people that are present in your target location and combine this with, for example, German language settings.

Een screenshot van specifieke target locatie-opties in Google Ads

3. Use interest and context targeting

Another strategy to target tourists is to focus on the user’s interests. The options are endless and, depending on the channel, you can also focus on context targeting. For example, on TikTok you can use relevant tourist hashtags like #museumsamsterdam #amsterdamguide.

For Google you can use context targeting by entering relevant keywords or placements where your YouTube and/or Display ads ads will be visible. For example, entering keywords like top 10 things to do in Amsterdam will likely show your ads among blogs or videos on what to do in Amsterdam.

Google takes interest targeting even a step further with custom audiences. This option enables you to target people who have browsed specific keywords like ‘what to do in Amsterdam’ or target specific websites like, or

Een screenshot van hoe je Custom Segments in Google Ads kan instellen.

4. Creative is key

Even with the perfect targeting strategy, the success of a tourist campaign is highly dependent on the creative. It’s all about the experience, so content should be visually attractive. Using images and videos is a must! Make sure your content is in line with what you sell. So, don’t use an image of people on electric bikes if you only rent ‘normal’ bikes.

5. Benefit from user-generated content

It’s well-known that one of the best forms of marketing is social proof. People base their decisions on the recommendations of others. Nowadays, everyone shares their holiday experiences on social media. This is a huge opportunity for your business. Encourage customers to share their experience online with an incentive like a little discount, for example.

On top of that, user-generated content often performs very well in digital marketing. Asking your customers to tag you in their post or to use the hashtag of your business will prove to others that your company sells something they can’t miss out on!

6. Make smart use of remarketing

Most of the time, your remarketing audience is one of your biggest sales drivers. However, with tourists you must make smart use of remarketing since this audience will be in town for a short period. Ask yourself how long is the average tourist in town — meaning: how long do I want to target this audience with my ads?

Create separate remarketing lists for tourists with a short membership duration. Make it even more specific by adding a language setting, so you remarket people that are likely to be tourists.

Een screenshot van een remarketinglijst in Google Analytics

7. Select the right channels

Google Search is the most popular search engine but remember that tourism is an international phenomenon. For example, global audiences frequently use Bing. Therefore, do not focus solely on one search engine. Advertising on Bing is often cheaper than Google, and you can already start with small budgets and smart bidding strategies to bid cost efficiently. This way you make sure to be present among a wider audience and increase your online visibility.

But have you also thought about YouTube? It’s the second biggest search engine in the world where you can advertise cost-efficiently with very specific targeting. TikTok is also frequently used as a search engine — especially in the tourism industry. And what about TripAdvisor? A search engine dedicated solely to the tourism industry.

How can Hide and Seek help you reach your right audience?

The amount of possibilities may seem daunting at first. But no worries, we got you covered! With years of experience in the tourism industry and expertise in a variety of digital channels, we can create a customized strategy for you to target tourists in the most cost-efficient way. Reach out to us and let’s chat over a nice cup of coffee.

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