Regardless of why visitors have chosen your destination for their next trip—whether for business, leisure or bleisure travel—tourism experts agree that there are fundamental expectations your destination must meet in order for visitors to recommend their experience to others and to return with friends or family. These key elements are known as the 5 A’s: Access, Accommodations, Attractions, Activities, and Amenities.
Key Element: Attractions
With experiential travel emerging as a dominant tourism theme in 2019, consider leveraging your destination’s unique attractions as a pillar of your marketing strategy to pique the interests of potential visitors. Attractions vary widely among destinations, and identifying your city’s main attractors is the first step towards positioning your destination as a compelling travel option for your target markets. As we’ve previously discussed, attractors can be people, places, things, and/or experiences that attract visitors who value what those attractions represent. Becoming familiar with who your attractions appeal to and why is important for successfully marketing what makes your destination appealing to the right people. And keep in mind how accessible these attractions are to travelers with limited mobility. Let’s take a look at a few possible offerings your destination may have and what type of traveler they most appeal to:
- Natural Wonders: mountains, bodies of water, scenic views, hiking and biking trails, and other outdoor attractions fall under what’s called the geophysical-landscape-aesthetic category. Travelers who appreciate the environment and have an appetite for adventure will likely place attractions like these at the top of their priority list when planning their trip. They enjoy the outdoors and place a high value on experiences that maximize the time they can spend taking in the beauty of a place. Think about kayak rentals and tours, foraging classes, spelunking, or even camping. What attractions can your DMO work with to curate the right travel experience to attract these visitors?
- Man-Made Attractions: this category can include anything from theme parks and ski lodges to monuments, structures and architectural marvels. Think about attractions like the St. Louis Arch, the Washington Monument, Times Square, or Six Flags—what does your destination have to offer visitors in this category that other cities don’t?
- Cultural or Historical Attractions: cultural, artistic and heritage activities consistently rank among the most popular with U.S. travelers and cover a wide array of attractions. Think about your city’s heritage, development and culture. Ballets, local theatres, symphonies, museums, and regional art and entertainment all qualify as attractions in this category. Visitors who value cultural expression, appreciate history and are lifelong learners gravitate toward attractions in this category.
- Special Events: events unique to your city are also attractors. If your DMO is struggling to identify established attractions in your destination like the ones listed above (unlikely, but not unheard of!), events are a way to put your city on the map. Things like food, beer and wine festivals, food truck events, marathons, holiday markets, themed 5K’s, and art shows are all viable options for reaching those visitors who are looking to experience something unique to your area.
This list of possible attractors is by no means exhaustive. It’s important that as you go about identifying your city’s unique offerings, you think critically about how they align with the values of travelers who frequent your destination. Completing a Marketing Action Plan (MAP) is useful in this endeavor, as it can help your DMO identify who your target audiences are (if you don’t already know), what they need to believe about your destination in order to contribute to your success, and how your DMO can effectively reinforce those beliefs. Equipped with this information, you can then go about curating unique travel experiences different types of visitors crave.
And when it comes to promoting your various attractors, there are numerous ways go about it. We highly suggest that you leverage User Generated Content (UGC) and combine it with the targeting power of social media to hone in on potential visitors interested in certain types of attractions. Creating landing pages within your existing website can very efficiently deliver the content specific groups of potential visitors are seeking as well as provide more in depth analytics related to each promotional initiative.
- Feature your main attractions on social media. Boost these posts to deliver this content to only those Target Audiences who value what the attraction represents. Your content will still be visible to everyone, but boosting it will help extend your reach to those travelers who may not yet be following you on social media. And make sure to show your stakeholders some love by tagging them in any post that features their offerings.
- Incorporate User Generated Content (UGC) in your promotion efforts. Travelers want to hear from their peers. They crave an insider’s look at your destination’s attractions. Featuring UGC on your website and social channels is a great way to foster authenticity and generate excitement about your attractions. Most travelers are excited to have their content featured, but make sure you always obtain permission before doing so.
- If possible, create unique landing pages for each of your attractions. This will make it easy for travelers to learn a little bit more about what your city has to offer and share that information with others. It’s a great way to organize your attractions, provide a one-stop-shop for research, planning and booking tickets, and communicate to potential visitors that you value their interests/want to make it as convenient as possible for them from the moment they start planning their trip.
Attractions are (obviously) a central part of your destination’s identity, and marketing them appropriately is important for maximizing tourism and travel’s impact on the economy of your place. For questions about or more ideas on how to go about identifying and promoting your destination’s attractions, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.