Marketing to Women—Is Your Destination Missing the Mark?

By Victoria Belton

Marketing to Women—Is Your Destination Missing the Mark?

One of the largest demographics you could possibly target in travel is women. But with a large range of interests and consumer habits, how does a CVB tackle destination marketing to women? Continue reading to put your DMO in the know. Read time: 4 minutes

DMOs have long understood that women make the majority of travel planning decisions. BUT hold the phone, don't read another word of this blog (or anything else this week) until you read this: Women now comprise nearly two-thirds of all travelers. Based on the research and data cited in this article, many DMOs should start to seriously consider how they can tailor more of their destination marketing efforts to attract women. While women don’t make up a homogeneous group with identical likes, dislikes and personalities, they do share some tendencies that can prove useful for DMOs. More so than men, women tend to prefer a more immersive travel experience. They take the time to gather information about authentic cultural highlights and base their purchasing decisions more on emotional responses to what their research is telling them. So, what does this mean for your DMO?

Tell Your Story

When it comes to attracting women of any demographic to your destination, it helps to have a narrative that they can get lost in. Featuring local business owners and their stories is a great way to establish this intrinsic connection—turn your list of hot spots and amenities into brief stories that contribute to the overall narrative of your destination. How does that locally-owned boutique reflect the heart of your community? What can visitors expect to experience at your farmers market? Where can they go to actually meet local artisans practicing their craft? Is there a cooking demonstration where they can learn from a chef how a local favorite is made? Tourism is now about more than just providing people with locations to check off their bucket lists. It’s experiencing destinations on a deeper level. Telling your stories in ways that will capture the imagination of potential visitors will draw them in. And if you deliver on the promises you have made, you will have these visitors telling your destination's story to others they know. And with any luck, they will be visiting your destination again and possibly bringing others.

Be Social

An effective way for destination marketers to reach women, whether she is going to be traveling for business or leisure, is through the use of social media.

Social Media Usage between women and men. 62% of Twitter users are women versus 38% men. 58% of Facebook users are women versus 42% men. 58% of Instagram users are women versus 42% men. 85% of Pinterest users are women versus 15% men.

With high social media usage by women, DMOs should look to establish a strong social presence to “engage in conversation.”

With women dominating the social media landscape, it’s imperative that DMOs establish a strong social presence that encourages engagement. Not sure how to go about doing so? Building a social media action plan is a great way to get started. And while social media is important for getting your message out there, it’s also a potentially valuable tool for keeping the female traveler continually engaged once she is exploring your area. On average, women will “like” or recommend products or services through social media 10 times every month, request product or service recommendations 7.25 times per month and re-tweet or re-pin products or services an average of 9.5 times each month. Make this easy for her to do by keeping your social media activity relatable and interactive, encouraging a genuine relationship with your destination. Doing so will likely result in an overall uptick of interest in your destination in general as female visitors share with others (similar to her) in their personal social networks.

Emphasize Safety & Security

A frequent complaint—especially among businesswomen—is that they don’t feel they are appropriately represented in certain advertisements. For example, women often appear as the companion of men in commercials that run on endless loops at hotels, disregarding the reality that increasing numbers of business travelers checking into these hotels are actually women—by themselves. And these women often value different things than men when booking accommodations—such as safety and security. Thankfully, many DMOs are catching on to this and making a point to emphasize hotels in their area that offer things like secure on-site parking, discreet staff and around-the-clock reception services. With women making up nearly half of all business travelers, this is a great way for DMOs to stay relevant within the business community.

Don’t Stereotype

A common mistake when DMOs are tailoring their destination marketing to women is that they fail to acknowledge the complexity of the female demographic, often falling back on stereotypical marketing techniques that accommodate narrow views of what women want while on vacation. Dig deeper into the research and you will find that three-quarters of women between the ages of 20 and 70 years old take nature, adventure or cultural trips and are not necessarily drawn to shopping malls, spas and ocean-side relaxation. So think about the unconventional, adventurous or cultural activities that your destination has to offer, and make an effort to ensure that women are accurately represented in your marketing with regard to these activities and points of interest - not (only) just getting a hot stone massage in a cabana or with shopping bags in their hands. We have been just as intrigued as you with these trends and are working with our DMO clients to develop and pursue targeted marketing efforts based on this data. From that experience, we will be sharing how we are reaching a variety of female travelers ranging from businesswomen to solo vacationers to moms with families to retirees on behalf of our DMO clients. Stay tuned! And, as always, don’t be shy! Contribute to the conversation in the comment section below. We’re always interested to hear about how your DMO is strategizing to reach your ideal target market.