Over 75% of American travelers will take at least one leisure trip in the next 3 months, according to the latest data from Destinations Analysts. As destination marketers ramp up efforts to reach interested visitors, how can you stand out?
Let's look at 5 examples of destination marketing organizations getting it right.
1 | Double down on car traveler segments
The majority of American leisure travelers—70%—plan to head out of state for their summer vacations. Only one in ten will travel internationally. Cars remain the dominant form of transportation, while 34.2% will get on a plane.
It’s no wonder that many destination marketers like the Arizona Office of Tourism are calling 2021 "Year of the Road Trip." On its Instagram, Visit Arizona is using a highlight to showcase a variety of experiences while road tripping through the state including hikes, small towns, and vineyards.
Tip: Find ways to collaborate with regional DMOs on multi-city programs. Think food trails, hiking trails, and road trips.
2 | Focus on what makes your destination unique
When asked what they want most out of travel this year, Americans are looking to "escape and relax, experience beautiful places, do new things and visit places they have been dreaming of."
Promote the unique, local experiences your visitors can't get anywhere else. What is authentic and draws visitors to your destination? How do these experiences tie into your brand pillars? Structure your campaigns around these "only-in" things to do, eat and see, like Visit Valencia.
It’s no secret Valencia is renowned for its world-class paella. Every year, the city hosts an international paella cooking competition. Last year due to the pandemic, they were unable to physically hold the event. Instead, they created a video that merged two of the area’s passions: soccer and paella. The video was a hit on their organic channels and helped residents and visitors support local restaurants.
Tip: To cut through the noise on organic social media, invest in creativity. Dubbing soccer-style commentary over visuals of making paella isn't something you'd expect, but it speaks to the soul of what Valencia is about, which is why this campaign worked so well.
3 | Amplify outdoor experiences
Outdoor experiences continue to dominate 2021 summer vacation plans both across the United States and Europe. Americans are looking for scenic beauty, warm weather, outdoor activities, beach destinations, national parks, and road trips. Across Europe and the UK, over 1 in 3 with upcoming travel plans will head to coastal destinations, while 15% are planning to visit nature and the outdoors.
Travel Wisconsin's tourism strategy for 2021 is to surface unexpected images, experiences and fresh takes on traditional Wisconsin things like farms, cheese, beer, and outdoor recreation.
The campaign "will target a record-high 12 markets, twice as many as the department’s most successful year of 2019." Traditional out-of-state, drive markets like Minneapolis and Chicago are important, as are new markets across Iowa, Minnesota, and in-state as well.
Tip: From a website and SEO/SEM perspective, capitalize on warm weather and outdoor-related searches related to your area. Tailor your messaging and visuals to showcase the breadth of outdoorsy things to do and uncrowded spaces.
4 | Lean into new social media channels
If you have the resources, tap into people's receptiveness to travel inspiration across new social channels like TikTok and Instagram Reels. Both have been rising in popularity, especially among younger travelers. Nearly a quarter say it is an ideal place to reach them.
Throughout the pandemic, Tempe Tourism Office has been creating its own unique Reels to promote local businesses and engage with its audience.
Tip: Even if you don't have the time or budget to experiment with new channels, keeping your Instagram and Facebook up to date is effective to reach Millennials and Gen-Xers, while websites resonate better with Baby Boomers.
5 | Revisit old campaigns
With many hotel occupancy rates inching closer to pre-pandemic levels, there's an opportunity to revisit older content initiatives. This is exactly what Visit Austin is doing with its 3D portrait series, which was a campaign they ran in fall, 2019.
This January they circled back to the initiative to shine the spotlight on local creatives for music, art, and food. The ultimate goal was to draw visitors in and give local businesses exposure. So far, the series has been a hit.
Tip: Leveraging your locals is a great way to talk about the pillars of your destination, keep fans engaged, and create content you can use all year long.