Growth Hacking for Tourism: Unleashing Success

Unlock powerful growth hacking secrets that can transform your tourism venture.

11 min


Marina Lu

The tourism industry is a massive and ever-growing sector, but competition in this space can be intense. As travelers become more aware and technology continues to disrupt traditional business models, businesses in the tourism industry need to adapt and find new and innovative ways to attract customers and drive growth. 

This is where growth hacking comes in. By leveraging data-driven, creative, and often new and unconventional tactics, growth hacking can help businesses in the tourism industry achieve rapid growth and success. 

In this article, discover how to utilize growth hacking to leverage your customers effectively through innovative strategies and unlock the agency growth secrets that industry leaders have been using to stay ahead of the competition.

Strategic innovation to drive growth

Knowing the basics of growth hacking and understanding the tourism industry is an essential first step. 

What is Growth Hacking?

"Growth hacking" is a relatively new term first coined by entrepreneur Sean Ellis in 2010.  It is mainly about finding new and innovative ways to drive growth and achieve business goals, often through a combination of creativity, experimentation, and data analysis.

It is a marketing strategy that focuses on rapidly growing a startup or business by identifying and implementing data-driven strategies that can help acquire new customers, increase engagement, and improve revenue.

Growth hacking is often associated with digital marketing tactics, such as social media marketing, email marketing, and search engine optimization. However, it can also involve more creative and unconventional strategies, such as referral programs and influencer marketing.

When it comes to crafting a winning tourism business strategy, incorporating growth hacking techniques is essential.

Understanding the Tourism Industry

The tourism industry is a diverse sector that includes a wide range of businesses and activities. These can include everything from hotels and resorts to restaurants and airlines. Other key players in the tourism industry include tours, travel agencies, and online travel and booking platforms.

It is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world economy. It contributed $9.2 trillion to the world economy in 2019 and boasts 1.5 billion travelers that same year. One of the key drivers of growth in the tourism industry is rising affluence and a growing middle class in emerging markets. 


As more people around the world gain access to disposable income and can travel, the demand for tourism products and services is expected to continue to grow. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) forecasts a 3-4% increase in international tourism arrivals by 2030.

Growth Hacking Strategies for Tourism Businesses

Here are some growth hacking strategies specifically tailored for tourism businesses. These strategies focus on leveraging digital platforms, optimizing customer experiences, and maximizing exposure to drive growth and establish a strong presence in the market.

By implementing these growth hacking techniques, tourism businesses can effectively reach their target audience, increase bookings, enhance customer satisfaction, and ultimately achieve sustainable growth in a rapidly evolving industry

1. Collaborate with Local Partners.

Forge strategic partnerships with local businesses, including hotels, restaurants, and tour operators, to create a collaborative ecosystem that amplifies your growth in the tourism industry. 

By joining forces, you can cross-promote each other's services, offer joint packages or discounts, and share customer referrals, leading to increased visibility, customer acquisition, and revenue generation. 

These partnerships expand your reach by tapping into the existing customer base of your collaborators, allowing you to access a wider audience that may be interested in your unique offerings. 

Additionally, by combining services, you provide a comprehensive and convenient experience for travelers, enhancing their satisfaction and loyalty. Through this collaborative approach, you create a mutually beneficial network that drives growth, strengthens your brand, and establishes a prominent presence in the competitive tourism market.

Growth hacking strategies

2. Implement Referral Programs

A referral program is a great way to get new customers. It's also a way to build customer loyalty and create more revenue by encouraging your existing customers to share their experiences with others.

A good referral program should be easy for both sides: the referrer (the person who has referred you) and the referee (the person who has been referred). The referrer gets an incentive for referring someone, while the referee gets an incentive for signing up as well as something extra from the original referrer if they become a paying customer.

In addition, user-generated content can help you improve SEO by giving search engines more information about what your business offers or does best!

3. Utilize User-Generated Content (UGC)

Utilizing User-Generated Content (UGC) is a game-changer for growth in the tourism industry. UGC, created by your customers, holds immense potential to drive engagement, build trust, and attract new travelers. By leveraging the experiences and stories shared by your customers, you can create an authentic and relatable brand image.

UGC serves as a powerful form of social proof, as potential travelers trust the opinions and recommendations of fellow adventurers. Sharing UGC across your marketing channels expands your reach, taps into a wider audience and increases visibility for your tourism business.

Running UGC campaigns and contests encourages customers to actively participate and share their content. This not only generates a steady stream of fresh and diverse content but also fosters a sense of community around your brand. By reposting and recognizing UGC contributors, you make them feel valued, strengthening their loyalty and advocacy.

Additionally, UGC helps build an enthusiastic community of brand advocates. Encouraging customers to share their experiences not only deepens their connection with your brand but also inspires them to promote your business within their own networks. This word-of-mouth marketing can have a significant impact on attracting new travelers.

Customers trust social proof

Incorporating UGC into your growth hacking strategy allows you to harness the power of genuine customer experiences, amplifying your reach, building trust, and driving growth in the competitive tourism industry.

4. Provide Exceptional Customer Service

Customer service is the most important factor in customer satisfaction. It's not just about being nice to customers; it's about providing personalized, efficient and effective support for each individual or group.

Customer service can be used to help businesses stand out from the crowd by offering an experience that other companies don't provide. This can take many forms including:

  • Providing exceptional assistance before, during, or after a purchase (e.g., answering questions about products)
  • Using social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook to answer questions quickly

5. Leveraging Local Events and festivals

Leveraging local events and festivals is a potent growth hacking strategy for tourism businesses. It allows you to increase exposure, tailor offerings, form collaborative partnerships, and attract event attendees to your services. By capitalizing on the excitement and interest generated by these events, you can drive growth and establish a strong presence in the tourism industry.

For example, If you run a winery or brewery, then it's likely that there will be many wine festivals happening in your area at least once per year. These events give you a chance to connect with potential customers who might not otherwise know about what you do and how awesome it is!

If there isn't currently an event nearby that fits this bill for your industry (or if there are multiple), consider creating one yourself! Create something unique that stands out from other events happening in town at the same time period--maybe it'll even become an annual tradition over time!

6. Harness the Power of Influencers

Harnessing the power of influencers is a game-changing growth hacking strategy for tourism businesses. By collaborating with relevant influencers, you can tap into their established credibility and engaged audience to drive growth. Here's how you can make the most of influencer partnerships:

Identify the Right Influencers:

Research and identify influencers whose audience aligns with your target market and have a genuine interest in travel and tourism.

Collaborate on Sponsored Content:

Work with influencers to create sponsored content that highlights your tourism business. This can include blog posts, social media endorsements, videos, or live streams where the influencer shares their experiences with your destination, services, or products.

Influencers for collaboration and content

Tap into their Reach:

Leverage the influencer's reach to expand your brand's visibility and attract new customers. Their audience will be more receptive to recommendations and endorsements from someone they trust and admire.

Authentic Storytelling:

Encourage influencers to authentically share their experiences with your business. This creates genuine and relatable content that resonates with their audience and builds trust in your brand.

Track and Measure Results:

Monitor the performance of influencer campaigns by tracking key metrics such as engagement rates, website traffic, and conversions. This allows you to assess the effectiveness of your partnerships and optimize future collaborations.

7. Offering Unique and Exclusive Experiences

Offering unique and exclusive experiences is a great way to stand out from the competition.

In Corfu, Greece, visitors can rent boats for a day or half-day to visit secluded beaches only accessible by boat. This type of experience allows guests to enjoy all that Corfu has to offer: beautiful scenery and sandy shores along with an interesting adventure!

The key to creating a memorable experience is by creating something that is unique, exclusive, and memorable. When you’re looking for ways to stand out from the competition, think about what makes your business unique.

If you can’t think of anything, then try looking outside the box. What is a unique experience that your business can offer? Can it be adapted to fit into other parts of your industry? For example, if you have an indoor pool, why not offer swimming lessons for children at an additional cost? This way, parents can relax and enjoy their vacation while kids are occupied with fun activities.

Examples of Successful Growth Hacking in Tourism

Here are some examples of successful growth hacking strategies implemented in the tourism industry:

Airbnb's Referral Program:

Airbnb, a leading online marketplace for accommodations, implemented a highly successful referral program. Existing users were incentivized to refer their friends to sign up for Airbnb by offering them travel credits or discounts on their bookings. This strategy not only fueled user acquisition but also created a viral loop, as new users were motivated to refer others, resulting in exponential growth for the platform.

TripAdvisor's Review Incentives:

TripAdvisor, a popular travel review website, implemented a growth hacking strategy by offering incentives for users to write reviews. They encouraged travelers to leave reviews by running contests with prizes such as free vacations or gift vouchers. This incentivized user-generated content creation and significantly increased the volume of reviews on the platform, enhancing its credibility and attracting more users.

Tourism Boards Collaborating with Influencers:

Many tourism boards have successfully collaborated with influencers to promote their destinations. They invite travel influencers with large followings and engaged audiences to visit their destinations and share their experiences through blog posts, social media content, and videos. These collaborations help generate widespread awareness, attract visitors, and boost the tourism industry in those destinations.

Free Walking Tours:

Some cities have implemented the strategy of offering free walking tours as a way to attract visitors and promote local attractions. These tours are often led by enthusiastic local guides who share interesting stories and historical facts about the city. While the tours are free, guides often accept tips, creating a win-win situation for both tourists and local guides.

Future trends and opportunities

Here are some future trends and opportunities that growth hackers in the tourism industry should consider:

Sustainable and Responsible Tourism: 

As sustainability becomes increasingly important to travelers, growth hacking strategies that highlight eco-friendly practices, community engagement, and responsible tourism will gain prominence. Emphasizing sustainable initiatives, such as carbon offset programs, eco-friendly accommodations, and local community partnerships, can attract conscious travelers and set your business apart.

Personalization and Customization: 

The demand for personalized travel experiences is on the rise. Growth hackers can leverage technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze customer data, understand preferences, and deliver tailored recommendations and offers. By personalizing marketing messages, itineraries, and services, you can enhance customer satisfaction and drive loyalty.

Alipa Port - Digital Transformation case study

Experiential Travel: 

Travelers today seek immersive and authentic experiences. Growth hacking strategies that focus on curating unique and memorable experiences can be highly effective. This could involve partnering with local artisans, organizing cultural workshops, or offering off-the-beaten-path tours. By tapping into the desire for experiential travel, you can attract adventurous and curious travelers.

Technology Integration: 

Embracing technology trends such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and wearable devices opens up new opportunities for growth hacking. For example, offering virtual tours of destinations, integrating AR features into mobile apps for interactive experiences, or utilizing wearable devices for personalized recommendations can enhance the overall travel experience and differentiate your business.

Influencer Marketing Evolution: 

Influencer marketing will continue to be a powerful growth hacking strategy. However, as the influencer landscape evolves, growth hackers must adapt their strategies. Micro-influencers and nano-influencers with smaller but highly engaged audiences may gain more significance. Authenticity and relevance will remain crucial, and collaboration with influencers should align with the values and interests of your target audience.

Voice Search Optimization: 

With the increasing popularity of voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, optimizing your online presence for voice search will be essential. Growth hackers should focus on creating content that is optimized for voice queries, including long-tail keywords and conversational language, to ensure their businesses are visible to voice search users.

Growth hacking offers tremendous opportunities for the tourism industry to achieve rapid and sustainable growth. By leveraging partnerships, user-generated content, influencers, and local events, businesses can expand their reach and create memorable experiences. While challenges exist, utilizing tools, adapting to trends, and embracing innovation can drive success. Growth hacking is a transformative approach that empowers tourism businesses to differentiate themselves, meet evolving customer demands, and thrive in a competitive landscape.