While most well-known tourist destinations in the world are still making investments in modern methods of marketing despite their popularity and wide customer network, Iran has been neglectful in using modern tourism marketing tools.
The lack of digital marketing, including today’s trendiest strategies, appears to be the country’s biggest weakness that reduces its competitiveness in the global tourism market, the Persian daily Donya-e-Eqtesad reported..
Digital marketing, also known as data-driven marketing, is the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising and other digital means.
A large number of potential tourists are based overseas, therefore distance marketing using digital media is essential.
Because of a marked shortfall in using digital techniques, Iran is lagging far behind other states in the field of tourism marketing.
Ahmad Rousta, a marketing expert, said Iran is way below global standards in terms of employing tourism marketing, particularly its digital form.
“Digital marketing requires organized teams of people with expertise in different fields. However, no systematic and purposeful move has so far been made to form such groups and the current efforts are few and far between,” he said.
Rousta noted that a central policymaking authority should integrate the activities, but it is essential for this entity to have no motive to directly get involved into economic affairs.
Ashkan Borouj, another expert in the field, referred to a comprehensive portal of tourism as a prerequisite to enter the world of digital marketing. He blamed Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization for failing to launch a website for the purpose.
“Even in social networks that have a large audience, tourism authorities lack plans to introduce Iran’s attractions,” he said.
The only efforts in this regard are restricted to those of the private sector, including hotels and travel agencies, that have slightly improved the conditions.
However, these programs have not produced desirable results due to the absence of a reliable statistical system.
“Tourism companies need regular statistical information to gain a proper understanding of their customers,” he said.
According to Mehdi Navvabi, also a marketing expert, private organizations lack adequate knowledge about the field.
“Most digital marketers only rely on social networks such as Telegram and Instagram or ticket-sale websites, while a majority of global experts believe that email-based advertizing is still the most efficient strategy and social networks are ranked next,” he said.
Many advertisers still adhere to the traditional view that all attempts have to be directed at selling what is at hand.
“This is while successful marketing lies in constant interaction with customers to assess their needs, following which products based on feedback from this group should be designed and presented,” he added.
Lack of proper infrastructure such as high-speed Internet is another issue facing the sector.
“Besides establishing contacts with customers when they are home, a great deal of interaction with tourists occurs when they arrive at the airport or are searching for sites, but they are devoid of proper Internet access,” Navvabi said.
In 2015, digital marketing accounted for 35% of the global marketing expenses and the figure has reached around 45% in the current year.
Online and digital marketing is expected to dominate the sector in the near future and Iran will be sidelined from the global market if it does not utilize this useful means of growth.