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Catering to the Long-Term Traveler

Long Term Traveler Strategies

In Europe, the idea of taking a month-long break from work to recharge and experience life away from the daily grind is a common thing. It’s expected. Over here in the States, the idea of a long-term traveler is someone that takes off from Friday through Monday. That is quickly changing as more and more people are finding independence through remote work and school.

The trend of taking longer vacations has been on the rise this year, with Destination Analysts reporting that over 40% of travelers are planning longer trips. Now that the CDC has announced that vaccinated people can now roam the country as they did before the pandemic, it’s time to put some strategies into place for those long-term travelers.

Below are some considerations to put into place to ensure that those who visit your area stay longer.

Gamify the experience.

Brewery and winery trails are a concept that’s been growing for a few years, and they’re a great way to connect destinations by a specific and popular interest. This idea can be expanded to mobile apps for historic sites or shops with badges or virtual rewards to collect along the way.

At Imagine, we’re testing an app for scavenger hunts that can be set up in or around your downtown area. By placing QR-code signage at specific points, visitors can be guided to the most scenic parts of your downtown at their own pace. This is an engaging, socially distant activity to help visitors become acquainted – and treat them to local promotions.

Set itineraries by audience and interest.

The typical long-term traveler is looking at multiple destinations in a single trip this summer. A lack of attractive features in your area may cause them to only spend a day or two in town. To help them experience a fuller visit, make sure that you have categorical itineraries laid out on your site.

Chicago does a great job of this, but it can be just as easily implemented on a website for a smaller city. Maybe even more so.

Start with your key audiences – many common ones include:

  • Romantic getaways
  • Fun for the whole family
  • Slow and easy
  • Adventure lovers & thrill-seekers
  • Foodies

For each category, give a couple of options for where to stay, where to eat (or drink), attractions for each day, nightlife, and shops that cater to their interest. Many sites bucket their offerings by food, hotels, etc. and it forces the traveler to bounce back and forth on their website to plan the ideal visit. This is a point of friction that could cause a planning traveler to decide somewhere else. Build your site around the visitor, not the features of your destination.

The Long-Term Traveler Isn’t Loaded

Just because they’re staying longer doesn’t mean that their vacation budget is in the same proportion it was in the past. People want more experiences but they’re very budget-conscious, making their dollar stretch as far as possible.

This can be addressed through gamification as I mentioned before, but it can also be helped by promoting your more casual dining options as much as fine dining. A “Bargain Shopper” itinerary can also be added to your itinerary categories.

A common long-term traveler activity is finding the least expensive ways to see the world. But it’s not that they’re cheap – they’re simply frugal. They want the experiences but are very cost-conscious. Providing them the info they need to do more with less will help to keep them in our neck of the woods.

Stay vigilant on cleanliness and safety.

I’m pretty sure this could go without saying but the fear of COVID isn’t going away any time soon. Although people are getting out and wandering the world again, the need to promote and maintain cleanliness and overall safety will still be a primary concern for travelers.

I know it may seem redundant at this point, but don’t remove any content in your marketing about the steps your local businesses are taking. It’ll also be helpful to let potential visitors know which businesses are allowing mask-less customers – if your state hasn’t already made announcements one way or the other.

As much as I’d like to see Americans take the same rejuvenating month-long holidays that Europeans do, we’re not there yet. However, with the right strategies in place, long-term travelers can help destinations make up the revenue they lost in 2020.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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