How much time do you spend planning a vacation? It turns out that most people spend more time planning their vacation than their retirement. Planning a vacation means figuring out in what time period they can put their regular lives on a complete pause. And, most people need months, if not years, to save enough money and vacation time to go on a proper trip. Selecting a destination is something most people take seriously. A destination must push through the many obstacles stacked against it, including serious competition. Indeed, travelling is a big deal.

Travel is fashionable, but this is no fad. The number of travellers will only increase, and with that increase comes an opportunity for destinations to capitalize. A positive and memorable experience will improve the destination’s reputation, which brings more travelers and more spending.

So then, how can marketers help a destination increase tourism?

Well to start, marketing can only do so much. There must first be a marketable product, because people easily see through familiar and interchangeable attractions. A destination must be unique in order to make it worthwhile for a tourist to spend their savings on it. What’s its must-see attraction? Does it have an Eiffel Tower? If it cannot offer a unique experience to travellers, a destination will lose out on the spending that tourists might bring to other destinations that offer what it offers and more. Costa Rica found their Eiffel Tower in the Happy Planet Index. Costa Ricans were found to be the happiest people in the world, compared to the 114th ranking that the USA held. They leveraged the disparity of the ranking between the two countries to attract American tourists. Costa Rica’s unique feature set itself apart from competing destinations. Through this campaign, Costa Rica added $150 million in increased local spending from increased tourists, an 18-fold return on investment.

To add to a traveller’s unique experiences, there are key attributes that make a destination worth visiting, and contribute to a positive and memorable experience:

  • A destination should offer tangible attractions or experiences that lend themselves to storytelling. The prevalence of cameras and smartphones means that virtually all tourists will take pictures while traveling. There must be things and people worth photographing, not only for social media, but for in-person sharing with friends and/or family. These tangibles anchor the story of the trip, which travellers will surely recount when they return, in person and online. It is these stories that build the destination’s brand. The more riveting the experience was for the traveller, the keener others will be to consider the destination in the future.
  • The destination should offer good transportation. Having an accessible airport nearby and a well-established train system within the destination will improve a tourist’s experience.
  • The destination’s inhabitants should also believe in the destination itself. When travellers come to a destination with locals who ask, “why are you here?” or “you should have gone somewhere else”, it encourages the tourist to forget the destination and not recommend it to others. If the people who live there don’t like it, why should anyone else like it? Also, having locals who are warm to tourists also improves the experience. Travelling can be intimidating, but with friendly, welcoming and encouraging locals, a tourist’s experience improves. If the destination has unfriendly locals, a marketer should shift some focus to the locals to get them involved, as interaction with them is part of a traveller’s experience too.

With all that in mind, consider France, the most-visited country in the world, which boasted 84.7 million visitors in 2014. France offers almost everything travellers could desire from a trip. It has a blend of attractions and experiences that make people go there, and tell people from their network to go. There is cultural food (e.g. bread, desserts, cafes, etc.) and beverages (e.g. Champagne, wine, beer, etc.); good weather; world-renown attractions; a mix of beaches, mountains, beautiful urban and rural landscapes; world-leading industries; fascinating history; and excellent transportation. One knock against France is their pride for their language and culture, which manifests as annoyance with tourists. Whether this is a true phenomenon or not, the country still has a reputation that might prevent some tourists from going there. But, they are working on being friendlier to tourists to improve itself as a destination. The French Government actually asked France’s citizens to be nicer to visitors.

While improving the destination itself is helpful, marketers also need to consider who to attract. There are many reasons for which people travel, but below are the major ones. There are also types of people (listed below the reasons) who generally travel for these reasons. Tourists travel for one or a combination of these reasons:

  • Reason: For self-discovery, to learn, or to gain perspective
    • Traveller type: Millennials (single or friends)
    • Traveller type: Couples with no children
  • Reason: for an escape or to take a break
    • Traveller type: Anyone
  • Reason: Because others are doing it, or for social currency
    • Traveller type: Millennials (single or friends)
  • Reason: For shared experiences, or for building relationships
    • Traveller type: Families
    • Traveller type: Couples with no children
    • Traveller type: Honeymooners
    • Traveller type: Empty nesters
    • Traveller type: Retirees
  • Reason: For adrenaline, or to go on an adventure
    • Traveller type: Millennials (single, friends or couples)

In order to maximize tourism, marketers must match the destination with the kind of people who would most likely engage with it, and use a tone and messages that will appeal to them.

There are a lot of choices for prospective tourists. Factors like finding a time period that works for them, finding someone to look after what they’re leaving behind, and when they have enough money to visit all limit their choices. But there will be a shortlist of destinations left over, from which they will select their destination. A single destination won’t appeal to everyone, but armed with the destination’s version of the Eiffel Tower, and audience insights, marketing the destination will yield more tourism-based spending.

About Zachary Fritze

Zachary Fritze has written 1 post in this blog.

Account Coordinator @ Berlin Advertising and Public Relations