What is a weekend?

By David Allred

What is a weekend?

As domestic leisure travel begins to show early signs of recovery (in some places more than others), there is an opportunity to leverage leisure to try to (also) fill in some of the weeknight slump in occupancy due to the loss of weekday business and convention travel.

As of the end of August, 2020, the travel and tourism industry is still very much feeling its way. In an 8/29/20 article in the Athens Banner-Herald, Joe Marinelli of Visit Savannah stated that “weekend visitation has picked up in Savannah in recent weeks” but followed that statement up with “weekday business and convention travel to Savannah remains non-existent.”

While every destination has a different mix of travelers that make up their overall occupancy mix, it is understood in the tourism and travel industry that virtually all destinations depend on some mix of business and leisure travelers. And within these two segments, there are numerous sub-segments and even a trend over the last few years with these two segments blurring in a segment often called bleisure travel.

Many industries thought leaders project that business travel and a majority of group business-related to seminars, conferences and meetings (traditionally weekday overnight travelers) will take many years to recover to 2019 levels. So, even as leisure travel begins to show signs of domestic strength, we are left with the more price-sensitive & time-constrained leisure traveler segment to try to (also) fill in some of the weeknight slumps in occupancy. 

In select destinations, we might just see that happening. In an 8/28/20 article in the Wall Street Journal, Jodi Refosco of vacation-home rental company Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales operating in Maryland’s Garrett County stated that “Day of the week does not matter—we’re getting Sunday to Wednesday, which normally wouldn’t happen.” Revenue at Taylor-Made is up 40% year to date, compared with 2019, despite the lengthy shutdown. To keep up, the company has hired 35 more employees, nearly one-fifth more than the headcount projected before the pandemic. This article goes on to note that one big reason for the increased demand is that, with many workplaces and schools operating on a remote basis, many travel parties have much more flexible schedules. 

So where does this leave your destination? If you will revisit the MAP you created prior to 2020, you should have the leisure visitor sub-segments that were most likely to visit your destination already prioritized as different Target Audiences (or as subgroups of your Leisure Traveler Target Audience). These visitors' Roles (in your success) should still be relevant but their Required Beliefs (in order for you to succeed with them) might have shifted somewhat in the last 6 or so months. Once you have made updates to these Beliefs based on the times we are now living through and you have updated the corresponding messaging that will motivate your identified Leisure Traveler Target Audiences, what Processes that you previously identified in your MAP can you afford to leverage to inspire these visitor segments to plan a visit to your destination? 

When you’ve gone through the MAP development process, it functions as a guide to the steps your marketing program should take. And when unexpected changes to the tourism landscape (enter coronavirus in this case) impact your original plan, it’s no longer a daunting task to rethink your marketing plan, because you’re not starting from scratch. As outlined above, you take the current scenario into account and make revisions to the “boxes” that the scenario impacts. If you’re reading this and don’t have a Marketing Action Plan, maybe now’s the time to create one for your DMO. Start here: 7 Secrets to Developing an Effective Strategic Marketing Plan for Your DMO.

If you need help updating your Marketing Action Plan (or need help developing a MAP for your DMO), we’d be happy to help. We offer in-person MAP development services as well as our increasingly popular virtual MAP development services. Contact us and we can discuss your needs and our corresponding options that would be a good fit for your DMO.