Retail

Three hot tourism marketing trends driving summer travel

Insights
Woman swimming in a pool at a Woodlands hotel

Summer is in full swing, and travel is on the rise. Every day, thousands of visitors step off a plane at IAH or Hobby, or out of the family van, looking for an experience they can’t get anywhere other than Houston. And in one of the most diverse and sprawling cities in the nation, that quest for a memorable trip could take them to any of countless places. Maybe it starts with a stay at a swanky downtown hotel with a Texas-shaped swimming pool. A leisurely brunch. An afternoon tour of the NASA Space Center. And by evening, box seats at Minute Maid Park to watch the Astros do what they do best.

Modern travelers come from all walks of life, but all search for essentially the same thing — the next great adventure, memory, and Instagram-worthy moment they can share with their friends and families. For destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs), the shift in experience-driven travel has raised the bar for marketing strategy in how they appeal to business and leisure travelers across generations, and how their destinations stack up against competitors.

Man at the gold course in the Woodlands

Tourism matters

Destinations rely on tourism dollars to fund local governments and business economies, and DMOs/CVBs are the key drivers for bringing in this vital revenue. In 2018 alone, tourism generated more than 88,000 jobs in the city of Houston, $1.2 billion in tax revenue, and accounted for $12.6 billion in direct spend.  Simply put, no destination can thrive without tourism.

Here’s a short list of proven strategies that will guide your approach to marketing for hospitality and tourism more effectively:

1. Establish a distinctive persona

One way travel marketers are reshaping their strategy is by personalizing and investing in their own brand.

Many have positioned themselves away from the traditional ‘DMO’ and ‘CVB’ titles in favor of something more welcoming and actionable, like ‘Visit Music City,’ or ‘Experience Scottsdale.’ Along with clever names, successful CVBs are rolling out visually stunning creative campaigns and targeted marketing to compel potential visitors to click and book.

Another proven way to attract interest is through direct social engagement, and creating personalized, sharable experiences. For example, running an Instagram story photo contest encourages your followers to get involved (offering travel discounts as an incentive doesn’t hurt, either!) Or, commissioning a local artist to create a graffiti art wall adds a shareable photo op for visitors while boosting your organic following across social platforms. Win-win, if you ask us.

2. Know your audience

Younger generations are quickly becoming the most influential, and travel marketers are following suit by shifting the ways they think about the customer journey. By next year, Gen Z (currently ages 4 to 24) will be the largest generation. With up to $143 billion in buying power and a constant connection to social media, this is a group with a lot of pull when it comes to shaping travel trends. Within the Millennial and Gen Z demographics, two-thirds of travelers are destination indecisive, meaning they are likely to gravitate toward a destination based on its social media presence, brand persona, and targeted marketing that speaks to them.

3. Mix business with pleasure

“Bleisure” is more than just a buzzword that references the popular trend of mixed business and leisure travel. Even though business travel is a main revenue source for DMOs, today’s meeting planners are looking for more than just a convention hall — they’re looking for hosting cities that bring something different to the table. And while they need to know things like meeting room square footage and A/V capabilities when coordinating an event, what they really want to see is all the fun, off-the-clock things to do that make a destination unique, and create a memorable experience for their guests.  

Market leisure activities with business travelers in mind. Blurring the lines between work and play is a key tactic that appeals to a growing audience segment. Whether it’s a curated list of the best team building activities in town, a guide to the top happy hour spots to unwind after 5, or family-friendly hotels that encourage bringing the spouse and kids along — business travelers lean toward destinations that take the time to curate experiences with them in mind. And once there, they’re more likely to extend their trip into the weekend, bringing in added revenue for the destination. 

Child paddleboarding on the Woodlands river

Selling memories and moments in The Woodlands

How do you take a destination that’s already nationally ranked as a top city to live, and turn it into a destination equally recognized for travel?

This was the opportunity posed to Adcetera last year as we began working with Visit The Woodlands — the Official Convention and Visitors Bureau for The Woodlands, Texas.

The Visit The Woodlands team felt their existing brand voice and marketing creative didn’t do justice to what they had to offer — a place where natural beauty and modern luxuries juxtapose in perfect harmony, and an attention to detail and curated experiences that gave them the potential to stand out against top regional competitors. Fulfilling that potential is where Adcetera came in.

By applying our own deep-rooted insights on The Woodlands alongside an all-new brand persona and a strategy-driven go-to-market plan, we’ve helped Visit The Woodlands achieve 33% year-over-year (YOY) growth in site traffic, including 194% lead-generation growth. The campaign has also helped drive a 215% YOY increase in hotel revenue last year, with support for expanded omni-channel marketing strategy going into the next few years.

The Woodlands magazine and featured gold course + restaurant

Let's journey together

Whether you’re a well-established city looking to refresh your image and draw in a new crowd of younger visitors, or a small town creating your brand from the ground up, Adcetera has the proven expertise to help you craft a unique voice, get heads in beds, and create a memorable brand for your destination.

Explore some of our previous work, and whenever you’re ready, let’s see what we can create together.

The Woodlands lets journey together

Sources:
1. Travel Texas, 2018 Economic Impact Study
2. Expedia Group Media Solutions