4 Advertising Tips for Tourism and Leisure Activities: How to Plan for the Future ‘Travel Boom’

04.19.2021 Cox Media

As vaccination rates increase and travel restricts ease over time, the tourism and leisure industries are poised for an explosion of demand from consumers. After more than a year in which travel plans have been limited or cancelled altogether, many consumers are eager to resume vacations and travel that they’ve had to bypass during the pandemic.

More than half of all American travelers are enthusiastic about traveling in the near future, and just under half of those individuals expect to start traveling by the end of April, or sometime in the summer.

While the rate of reopening and travel may be specific to individual states and regions across the United States, there’s a general expectation that a surge in travel will be taking place by August and September. With that travel season just a few months away, would-be travelers are busy making plans now—and tourism and leisure businesses, as well as government tourism agencies, are busy building strategies to capture as much of this tourism money as possible.

For businesses and communities reliant on tourism, your future success starts with mapping out a solid advertising strategy. Here are some tips on how to advertise to tourists and achieve your organization’s goals.

1. Identify Timelines for Mass Returns to Travel

While late summer/early fall is likely to be a period of peak travel in 2021, these travel trends may vary from region to the next. For example, locations that typically enjoy heavy tourism in fall, such as New England, may experience a longer, more gradual tourist season than destinations where the typical tourist season is isolated to the summer.

School start dates, local vaccination rates, local travel restrictions, and other variables may affect when, and to what degree, any location might expect a surge in tourist activity. Be mindful of these factors when planning out your tourism marketing.

Keep in mind, too, that regardless of location, tourist season won’t arrive overnight: Instead, the rise to peak tourist activity will be gradual, giving businesses opportunities to generate revenue through advertising on both sides of this peak.

And as you target your ads, be mindful of where travelers will be coming from: With 44 percent of travelers focused on domestic destinations, and 38 percent seeking out less crowded tourism options, the makeup of your clientele, as well as the distance traveled to your destination, may be different than in year’s past.

2. Promote the Great Outdoors

One of the biggest trends anticipated for the 2021 travel season is a record demand for outdoor travel destinations. As travelers remain mindful of safety concerns—and as they seek a break from all the time they’re spending indoors—they are seeking out outdoor travel destinations that provide a stark, yet safe, contrast to their daily lives.

From national parks to rural cabin rentals to camping, a wide range of outdoor activities provide the experience and considerations today’s travelers are looking for. Surveys have shown a double-digit rise in interest regarding outdoor destinations. In North Dakota, camping reservations have risen by 35 percent this year, breaking records at state parks, and demonstrating the unprecedented interest in getting outside.

While outdoor destinations have a natural inroad to target this desire through their messaging, other businesses may consider how they can position their operations as being adjacent to outdoor activities and attractions, providing comfort and services in close proximity to the rugged outdoors.

3. Plan Messaging Around the ‘Working Vacation’

The rise of working vacations is being driven by several factors. Some workers simply struggle to fully disconnect from their jobs, or have trouble taking large chunks of time off from work. Others see value in taking longer vacations where they mix in work and play, rather than shorter vacations focused exclusively on time away from the office.

The rapid adoption of remote work operations is making “working vacations” easier than ever, and it’s changing how working professionals take time off—not just now, but possibly for the foreseeable future. Tourist businesses and destinations can target these travelers by highlighting access to a wide range of important business services, such as WiFi access, printers, and other basic business services, that make it easy to plan out a working vacation without stressing out Internet connections or other points of friction.

This strategy might be particularly effective for hotel and resort advertising strategies.

4. Offer Add-On Services and Other Personalized Touches

As tourists return to their traveling ways, they’re craving some of the luxury experiences they’ve been missing. At the same time, they might also be ready to splurge after saving on travel since the start of the pandemic.

Your business can attract customers and create rewarding experiences by tapping into those desires: Offer free upgrades to your standard services, or consider creating add-on packages where tourists can truly pamper themselves. With so many businesses vying for the same clientele, these personal touches and luxury experiences can help set your brand experience—and your tourism marketing—apart from the competition.

As you plan out your ad strategy, it pays to connect with a partner experienced with advertising in tourism and leisure. Find out how Cox Media can help you craft messaging and target your audience across a broad spectrum of traditional and digital channels—contact us today to learn more.

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