6 Things DMO’s Should Do to Attract Local Travelers in 2022
What we have learned from 2021 is that a pandemic is unpredictable. When we thought things were going well, a new variant surges to remind us that we still have a long way back to normality.
Out of all uncertainty, one thing is for sure, 2022 will not be a typical year for tourism. Because of that, destination marketers and managers should take a look at the past two years and plan their strategy based on what they have learned about travel behavior during pandemics.
That is, local and regional travelers will continue to book whilst international arrivals are conditioned to travel restrictions.
In other words, targeting local travelers is still a good business.
Why DMO’s should pay especial attention to local travelers in 2022
According to OCDE, since the middle of last year, domestic tourism has helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic on jobs and business in several destinations and will continue to be a key driver of recovery in the short to medium term.
The reason is simple, people prefer to gravitate nearby their homes in case new restrictions are announced. Furthermore, domestic travelers are more independent and have less contact with strangers while traveling.
Google made available a tool anyone can check the intent to travel domestically for multiple destinations worldwide. According to it, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the U.K. have a growing domestic travel demand.
In the U.K. for example, the interest for places to stay within the country has risen by 90% in the past 12 weeks!
The question is, how your destination can stand out and convert all this interest into bookings?
Create a data-rich travaler profile
Forget your old datasets around who to reach, when and where. Two pandemic years were enough to disrupt the industry and travel habits. Now it’s time to build a new ideal traveler profile for 2022.
Clicks, likes and impressions may give you a hint of who to target next year but to truly understand your ideal traveler you should mine further into your email marketing platform, social media and web analytics.
Once you have compiled the data, you will have a clear idea about travelers’ geographic location, age, income and interests. Use that to tailor your outreach as well as message to have a greater impact on local audiences.
According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, 76% of customers expect personalization during their online experiences. So use that in your favor.
Digitalize your tourism offer
Have you ever heard the saying “If it’s not on the Web, it doesn’t exist at all”? Well, sorry to inform you, but that’s true.
Digitalization in tourism is expected to continue accelerating for the next years. That includes a higher use of automation, contact-less payments and services, virtual experiences and real-time information provision.
Google research found out that travelers who took a large trip in 2020 spent 71% of their time researching their trip online. Also, 65% of worldwide sales in tourism were made online last year.
Travelers are searching online for things to do near them. If they don’t find what your destination has to offer they will book somewhere else. Because of that, it is very important to have all your local experiences listed in one place.
A platform like TourExplorer centralizes all your touristic offers, so travelers can easily find the information they need and book straight from your website.
That’s the case of Visit Zagorje. This Croatian county has launched a platform with all the local tours, activities and experiences one can live while traveling through the area! That’s destination digitalization at its finest.
Invest in sustainability
People who really are mindful about their impacts when traveling are aware of their carbon footprint, especially as it relates to flying, so many choose to stay close to home.
This type of traveler is interested in how your destination is committed to fighting climate change. That could be a partnership with an NGO, joining a cohort of sustainable destinations, the adoption of clean technologies, sharing your destination’s assessment of carbon footprint, and many other actions.
Also, conscious travelers will look for experiences with a minimal environmental impact. For that reason, make sure to highlight all that information in your communication and campaigns.
Costa Rica is a great example of how sustainable tourism can drive economic growth and help local communities. Visit Costa Rica makes it clear on their website, and also on their promo videos.
Highlight outdoor experiences
Sharing the same room and objects with others is still an issue for many people. This is one of the reasons why the interest in nature and outdoor experiences remains strong.
According to a study by the European Travel Commission, 34% of European travelers favor holidays by the sea and 15% have a preference for nature and outdoor experiences. No surprise the adventure tourism market is expected to grow up to 2 billion dollars by 2030.
As a destination marketer better show all the nature and open-air activities your destination has to offer.
That’s the case with Discover Puerto Rico. The DMO’s campaign “Population: YOU” showcases different landscapes and outdoor activities one can experience while visiting the island.
Get inspired by it and attract regional travelers looking for some outdoor adventure in your location.
Target road trip travelers
Chances are local travelers will arrive at your destination by car. The American rental marketplace Outdoorsy released an annual report in which 91% of respondents answered they are planning to take a road trip in 2022.
On the other side of the Atlantic, taking the road is the choice for 36% of Europeans with short-term travel plans.
The growing preference for this type of transport is due to work flexibility, travel restrictions, and avoidance of mass transport. Plus the convenience of traveling with the family by car.
DMO’s can take advantage of this trend by offering travelers an itinerary with attractions and activities they can enjoy while road tripping. Another option is creating a route that includes cities and hidden gems that are accessible by car.
Travel Nevada has a great guide with road trip planning ideas that you can get inspired by.
Partner with local influencers
Partnering with local influencers is a powerful and affordable marketing strategy to grab the attention of regional travelers. More than 60% of travelers made a travel purchase partially based on social media content from influencers.
Micro-influencers have an inherent connection with the local community, which makes their message more appealing to this audience. Also, they know better than no one what is worth showing in their destination and how to sell the attractions to domestic travelers.
But how to find them? That’s quite easy, you can search on local hashtags, search among your own followers or on other local profiles. If you are not lucky searching by those means, you can use influence platforms.
Domestic travel will play an important role in tourism recovery next year, and you should target this group of travelers in your campaigns.
By implementing the actions listed o this article, chances are your destination will stand out and local travelers will be hyped to visit the gems your destination has to offer.
If you are thinking further and want to make your destination appealing for the post-pandemic traveler, check out SmartDestination.Travel and discover how this initiative can help you turn your location into a destination of the future.