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Destination MarketingMarketing Strategy

Embracing the New Wave of Summer Travel: What to Expect in 2024

As we start what promises to be an incredible summer for travelers, small businesses, and the tourism industry, it’s clear that our hard work is about to pay off. Many of us have faced unprecedented challenges in our tourism jobs, but we’re now looking ahead with optimism and excitement.

Leveraging Lessons Learned

At Imagine, a branding and marketing agency with offices in Florida and Virginia, we specialize in local government, tourism, and economic development. Our end-to-end process for clients includes research, strategy, implementation, and campaign optimization advice. This summer, we’re putting all we’ve learned from locals, businesses, and community leaders to good use.

Starting with Research

Our journey begins with research. There’s a wealth of data available to help us prepare for summer visitors. By understanding guest, business, and community leader insights, we develop comprehensive marketing plans, website development, and branding campaigns.

Analyzing Current Campaigns

Next, we examine existing campaigns. By looking at successful video, branding, and reach campaigns, we can learn what’s working well and apply those lessons to our own strategies.

Building Strategic Foundations

We then establish strategic foundations based on demographic, psychographic, and geographic factors that will influence summer travel. Understanding these factors is crucial for tailoring our campaigns to meet traveler needs and preferences.

Tools and Tactics for Campaign Optimization

No tourism campaign can be “set it and forget it.” It’s essential to monitor performance and make adjustments as needed. Here are some tools and tactics to help ensure your campaign stays on track:

Visual Heatmapping

Visual heatmapping tools like Crazy Egg and Hotjar provide valuable insights into how visitors interact with your website. By analyzing click activity and scroll patterns, you can optimize content placement and improve user experience.

QR Codes for Feedback

QR codes have made a significant comeback. Use them for brief surveys to gather qualitative feedback from your guests quickly and efficiently.

Social Listening

Platforms like Awario allow you to monitor every mention of your destination across major social channels. This uncensored, honest feedback is invaluable for understanding public sentiment and adjusting your strategy accordingly.

Local Ambassador Councils

Consider forming a local ambassador council comprising bartenders, shop managers, and other frontline workers who interact with visitors daily. Their insights into common guest experiences can help you address issues and improve overall satisfaction.

Travel Trends for 2024

Astro Tourism

Astro tourism, or stargazing vacations, is gaining popularity. Destinations can capitalize on this trend by promoting clear night skies, organizing star-gazing events, and partnering with local astronomy clubs for guided tours.

Eco Diving

Eco diving appeals to environmentally conscious travelers who want to explore marine life while contributing to conservation efforts. Destinations with rich underwater ecosystems can attract these travelers by offering eco-friendly diving tours and conservation programs.

Train Travel

Train stations and scenic rail journeys are making a comeback as travelers seek sustainable and leisurely travel options. Destinations can tap into this trend by promoting rail travel itineraries, highlighting the scenic routes, and partnering with train operators for package deals.

Sports Tourism

Sports tourism is thriving as fans travel to watch their favorite teams or participate in sports events. Destinations can leverage this trend by hosting sports tournaments, promoting local sports facilities, and creating packages that include tickets to major sporting events.

Coolcationing

Coolcationing, where travelers seek destinations with cooler climates during hot summer months, is becoming increasingly popular. Destinations with cooler weather can market themselves as perfect summer retreats, offering activities like hiking, cycling, and cultural festivals to attract these visitors.

Small-Town Advantage

Smaller destinations with green spaces and less congestion are poised to benefit the most. Cities with conference centers and theme parks may face more challenges, while small towns can capitalize on their unique appeal.

Creating Your Campaign

To create an effective campaign, start by identifying your key messaging points, campaign pillars, and target audiences. Use the following template as a foundation:

Key Messaging Template

  • Audiences: Capture important demographic data for each traveler type.
  • Interests: Align psychographic categories like attractions, health and safety priorities, etc.
  • Messaging: Plot the importance of each interest by audience category, and collect key phrases and tone notes for use in marketing.

Final Thoughts

As we prepare for the upcoming travel season, staying adaptable and responsive to traveler needs is crucial. By leveraging research, learning from successful campaigns, and utilizing effective tools, we can create compelling marketing strategies that resonate with our audience and make this summer a standout success for tourism.

Feel free to reach out to me for a copy of the Excel file template mentioned above or any other questions you might have.

Here’s to a fantastic travel season in 2024!  Let’s chat about your destination!

Rebecca Barnes

Rebecca aka DMO's Best Friend is the CEO of Imagine. With more than three decades of experience launching and operating award-winning companies, she gained invaluable insights into the intricate challenges that businesses encounter. Harnessing this expertise, she has build successful tourism marketing programs, initiatives, and campaigns for counties, cities, towns, venues, hotels, and captivating destinations. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her Grands, reading, traveling, and sleeping.

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