Memorial Day 2022 has passed us by, which means the days are getting longer, the white jeans can come out of the closet, and we are on the cusp of a new fiscal year.
After two years of pivoting and thinking on our feet, things are starting to level out and we can put our planning caps back on. Things are looking up, as people venture out and about, and travelers take to the road again, enjoying the activities that summer brings, whether at home or on vacation.
At this point it’s likely that your FY 2022-2023 budget is stamped with your board’s approval and it’s time to start putting those plans into action.
So what is left to do now?
June is the perfect opportunity to take a step back before things heat up (both literally and figuratively), look at the big picture and refine your strategies and tactics to ensure your efforts are on-target and bring the best results. Here are three steps, based on best practices, to count you down to go-time, and making sure you are putting your best (sandaled) foot forward.
- Get an up-to-date view on economic conditions.
Seems like things change at the drop of a hat these days. Has anything changed with typical visitor spending post-pandemic? How are inflation and gas prices affecting disposable income for travel and community activities? Is there a way to incorporate a promotion to incentivize car travel or show how someone can enjoy your district car-free? Get a big picture view on all of the economic drivers that affect your audiences.
Tourism helps communities thrive, and reinforcing marketing efforts for destinations is vital during a struggling economy. Although the current inflation levels have affected spending across the board, now is a crucial time to bring advertising to the forefront. According to a study in the Journal of Advertising Research, brands that ramp up advertising during an economic recession receive higher sales throughout and afterwards. During the 1980 recession, companies that produced and distributed the highest number of ads had 256% higher sales than those that went dark.
The state of California has a proposed $45 million budget that would be spent on media buys for tourism marketing. Visitor spending in California increased by 50% from 2020, although there is still a long way to go to meet pre-pandemic levels. Destination marketing drives revenue to local businesses and boosts the economy for the entire state. Using smart creative strategies to market your destination and make it stand out are essential tools to recover and improve tourism numbers.
- Confirm goals & objectives have a firm foundation and take current trends into account.
Take a critical look at your goals and objectives through the lens of this updated information. Make sure you have set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based) and that steps to reach these goals are broken into objectives to lead you to accomplishing these goals. Confirm that your strategies and audiences are well defined. Take current trends into account.
For many travelers, the point of their trips nowadays is to connect with loved ones, rather than to visit a specific place. From road trips with the entire extended family to weekend getaways with close friends, there are a range of traveler types you will want to accommodate. Prioritizing activities and accommodations that are able to be shared by all ages, personalities and backgrounds matters. Make sure your channels are aligned and this content is clear and accessible for trip planners.
After spending so much time in their homes, travelers are searching for places to stretch their legs in the great outdoors, from tree-lined hikes in the hills to the sprawling greens of the golf course. Including information about your destination’s outdoor offerings on your website and creative campaigns will draw potential visitors in with this trend continuing all throughout 2022.
Think beyond spa days and plush robes when it comes to wellness getaways; according to an American Express survey, a majority of respondents reported that the act of planning a trip gives them something to look forward to. What opportunities for relaxation and holistic wellness does your destination offer? Are there local events and celebrations that spark joy and unite the community? Do you have dining options that tell a story? Think of how visitors can immerse themselves in your destination and plan a mindful trip, and allow that to guide creative campaigns.
- Create an action plan to make it all doable.
When looking at trends like rethinking destination marketing with visual stories, it can feel overwhelming to keep up. Pull out your goals and strategy then create a content action plan that has the right mix of content based on best practices and takes your key audience’s motivations into account.
A robust plan can be the recipe for success in your marketing and communications, but it can also be overwhelming. If the “to do” list feels too long or difficult to tackle, your plan could find its way onto the back of a shelf to gather dust. Take your action plan quarter by quarter, and calendar each activity to provide realistic, interim deadlines. Breaking your plan into smaller bites will allow you to accomplish the building blocks you need to conquer the big initiatives and allocate resources as needed.
The first step to creating your own brand of unique and effective visual stories is to gather visual assets that pack a punch, so to speak. These visuals, including photos and videos, can be utilized in a variety of ways: website galleries, social media stories and e-newsletter marketing, just to name a few. For example, take a look at this theme park page on the Visit California website, which integrates a gallery of visual stories to showcase a few parks. A great way to capture these images and videos is to source user-generated content (UGC). Since 2020, 80-90% of content published by Visit California has been UGC. This helps paint an authentic picture of your destination by showing the perspective of visitors and locals alike.
A comprehensive strategic understanding of your organization and its goals is needed to put together an effective plan to guide your success. If you need a partner to ensure your marketing efforts are supporting your goals, contact [email protected].