How Attractions Drive Group Travel

By David Allred

How Attractions Drive Group Travel

To effectively drive group travel to a destination, DMOs must collaborate with area attractions. Marketers must be familiar with their attractions’ latest offerings and leverage new ways to promote those partners.

We’ve written a lot about group travel and its (potential) economic impact on your destination. From targeting SMERF markets and motor coach tours to reaching out to meeting planners with information about your convention district, there are many angles your destination can pursue to maintain and grow its group travel segment. But one thing is certain: every planner is looking at what will motivate their audiences to participate in their offering - and your attractions are some of the most important attractors.

Become more engaged with your attractions

Start by looking at your website and visitor guide. Make a list of the attractions your DMO has listed/identified. Make a plan so that each attraction is visited by you or a member of your staff at least once per year. To make this process manageable, plan for no more than one attraction visit per week. Let the attraction know prior to the visit that you would like to discuss how to generate more visitors to their attraction. This should get their attention because their goal is typically the same as yours - to increase visitation. Discuss the previous week’s visited attraction in the following week’s DMO staff meeting. Share what is new at this attraction and what was learned during the site visit. Brainstorm with your staff about how this attraction could help drive group travel to your destination.

Benefits of attraction familiarization and planning

  • By experiencing each attraction first-hand, you and your staff will stay more engaged and informed about all that your destination has to offer
  • Understanding what is currently working for each attraction will help give you ideas of specific group travel opportunities to pursue for your destination
  • Familiarity with the attraction helps you share valuable knowledge when speaking with planners so they know they can trust you to take care of them
  • It will help inform your attractions about their role in your destination’s success
  • It will help attractions understand the role of the DMO and help them see you as their marketing partner

Drive group travel through promotions

In your ongoing promotional efforts targeting group planners who are a good fit for your destination, try featuring meeting venues in conjunction with unique attractions that you know appeal to their groups. If your website includes a blog, for example, make it a practice to feature attractions that are popular with groups for evening events along with meeting spaces conducive to the daytime activities of these groups. An example blog series headline could be, “The Difference is Night and Day.” It’s also a good idea to regularly include engaging attractions in your social media editorial calendar rotation that you know appeal to groups. Read more specifics on how to do this with Facebook Carousel ads. Try mentioning the range of how many participants the attraction can handle with a caption like: From a party of one to one hundred, (insert attraction name here) will (insert what the attraction offers). If you have received good press coverage or a good testimonial from past group planners, include their statements with the images as well. These strategic efforts to regularly feature some of your key attractions that are especially conducive to groups should help your destination get noticed among group planners as well as lift your destination’s offerings up for virtually every one of the target audiences identified in your Marketing Action Plan.